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States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies

States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies

By Russ Castronovo (Editor), Susan Gillman (Editor)

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Reality Catches Up to the Free Market

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Posted on Sep 18, 2008
commons.wikimedia.org / Manfred Brückels

The Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels monument in Berlin.

By William Pfaff

Karl Marx, were he still about, would surely be interested in the report that unregulated free-market capitalism has died in a flash, by its own hand; whereas it took 70 years and a Cold War to bring down the Marxist economy established in the Soviet Union following the Bolshevik Revolution.

The Marxist economy died of its internal contradictions.

This was the fate Marxism (or Marxism-Leninism) had predicted for capitalism, not for itself. Unregulated free-market capitalism may be said to have killed itself by greed, vanity and excess, all amply evident before and at the death scene, but the ultimate guilt must be attributed to the vacuity and perversity of market ideology, which contradicts human nature.

In this, it exactly resembles the American national foreign affairs ideology, that democracy will always eventually triumph over all else. Regrettably, this is an illusion, clung to in American governmental, political and, to a considerable degree, academic circles. It is stubbornly adhered to because everyone would like to think it true, since it is very reassuring to Americans, and an uplifting idea.

Both market and democratic ideologies rest on a belief in the essential goodness of mankind, admittedly blocked from time to time by institutional or intellectual obstructions, which have only to be removed for harmony to be restored.

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Market capitalism rests on the observation that, all things being equal, a free market is the most perfect known mechanism for setting priorities in an economic system manufacturing goods or providing services.

It declares that in free-market conditions, everyone will make, sell and buy within an equilibrium established by the coincidence of their true interests. People will buy what they need or want according to the value they place on the good or service, and manufacturers or service providers will meet these needs according to whether the value offered incites them to do so, rather than to do something else.

It also is assumed that the employer will pay the true value of the employee’s work, since otherwise the worker will go to an employer who will do so, who naturally will understand that paying a higher wage is in his competitive interest vis-à-vis his competitor.

Owners and managers will be rewarded according to the true value of what each contributes to the common interest. Otherwise they will lose business and fail.

Those last two clauses demonstrate how artificial this theory is. That artificiality—that remoteness from how the real world functions—is why the market has to be regulated, a lesson last learned in the United States 80 years ago in the Great Depression, and progressively disregarded or discarded during the Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

What is this perfect and all-wise free market composed of?

Legitimate actors with legitimate goals, plus speculators, swindlers, confidence men, guys trafficking in inside information, and criminal actors. Yes, the defenders of the market say, but it all averages out in the end. So we see, as the market today destroys global credit and global value. Everyone currently acts as if all this happens as the result of an act of God or the will of the law of averages, or is the result of forgivable miscalculations. President George W. Bush said it’s all been very simple. They built too many houses.

Of course “they” didn’t build too many houses. “They” swindled too many people who bought those houses, or wanted to buy them, by giving them the money to buy them, or to refinance them in order to have a cash gain, with mortgages or second mortgages that these people could not responsibly be expected to repay. That is where it started.

The subsequent manipulation of the funds, so as to bundle bad debt with good debt and pass it off on the international financial market as “securitized” good debt, has had more than enough discussion since the crisis blew up this summer.

The financiers, as Joseph Stiglitz has observed (in a recent CNN interview), were doing what the system demanded of them. They were assured generous rewards for managing risk and allocating capital so as to improve the efficiency of the economy enough to justify their generous compensation. “But they misallocated capital; they mismanaged risk—they created risk. They did what their incentive structures were designed to do: focusing on short-term profits and encouraging excessive risk-taking.”

And this does not take account of an Iraq war financed by debt, and the unconscionable Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, the president’s perverse punishment of the very working- and middle-class voters who had elected him.

As Stiglitz says, the first measures in recovering from the disaster must be to reconstruct the system of corporate incentives to serve the public interest rather than private interests.

Prior to that, however, public policy must be reconstructed on the basis of a historical understanding of how people actually behave rather than on theories about how they might be presumed to behave in the world of abstractions.

This understanding is called realism, and in American public affairs during the past two decades it has been scorned. However, one good thing about realism is that being realistic eventually turns out to be right. The distinguished Protestant theologian and political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr once remarked that of all the doctrines of the Christian religion, only one is invariably self-validating: the doctrine of Original Sin.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.


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By Frank Cajon, September 23, 2008 at 10:19 pm Link to this comment

We should look at this whole mess as an opportunity. We have a chance, if we don’t let the fascist aristocrats that stole our capital walk off with what is left of it, to start with a clean slate with a new Socialist Experiment that can avoid the mistakes of the Soviet model and the corruption and mismanagement in the Maoist Chinese hybrid. Immediate wealth redistribution is a mandatory key: I have no affinity for either party candidate but at least Obama puts a platform forth that advances taxes on the wealthiest-we need to take this as a beginning and expand it to top individual incomes at $2 million per year. All bailouts must make the working class members of the country shareholders in all future profits with annual premiums paid directly after strict government planning and regulation-including those already rescued, AIG, and mortagage banks. The Communist Manifesto should be required reading in all high school civics classes and be the boilerplate document guiding the principles of our restructuring of a Socialist New Deal to restore the dictatorship of the Proletariat. The managers who accepted performance bonuses for companies that have now begged the government for a socialist bailout should be arrested, jailed, and tried for securities fraud, conspiracy, and mail fraud; if found guilty by juries of workers they should be imprisoned and made to perform manual labor with the profits to pay for their care.
We need more regulation. More taxes, and more services, responsibilities and accountability by the central governing authority. The electoral college and other 1790 vestiges of slave trade should be constitutionally abolished; the winner of every election from dog catcher to president will be the candidate with the most votes, and no lobby donations will be permitted under criminal penalty. The environment should be protected by laws that prohibit import or manufacture of engines with more than 4 cylinders except commercial trucks or similar vehicles and in five years 50% of vehicle sales will be required to be gas/electric hybrid or non-gasoline powered, there will be no offshore drilling. The US will need to withdraw all troops from Iraq and maintain only a UN presence in Afganistan, and withdraw all other troops of occupation while cutting defense spending in four years by 50%. The ridiculous NASA goal for a Mars mission, a military cover, should be scrapped and the space budget reduced. Not one dollar will be sent to either Israel or any mideast Islamic nation for arms or weaponry.
We need to get ready for some hard times as a class. We are the workers and we have always had to struggle for our share of the means of production and capital in a bourgeoisie greed frenzy lasting 70 years. This will be no different. We will be scoffed at, viewed as outsiders. The fascists who rule now will continue to take what few rights they have not already illegally stolen from us. We need to realize that they have seen the light, though, and are coming around. Capitalism is over. Done. Failed, a flop experiment smoldering in the sewer of its own greedy filth. The first years will be the hardest. Heroes will emerge as those who are willing to use civil disobedience to make themselves heard in their communities, in the streets, to take the power back. It starts on the web, in the classroom, in the family discussions, in meetings, and goes up from the grass roots until it is an unstoppable force of the united working class moving as one to build a new America.

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By Xntrk, September 21, 2008 at 11:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie, I am sure that the Cubans understand the basic dichotomy of more stuff vs ideological purity. That’s why they haven’t made any decisions and are in the process of debating all the ramifications.

Events keep changing the game board: Attempted coups in Venezuela and Bolivia; repeated hurricanes; each threat has to be added to the factors.

Another book I forgot to mention is The Flying Cat, by Abel Pietro, the Minister of Culture. The premise of the title is that crossing a bird with a cat does not create a hybrid with some features of each, but an entirely new and fantastical creature.The book is wonderful, complex and intricate: literature, not entertainment. But as we’ve been discussing Cuba and the differences between Cuban Communism and that of China and USSR, et al, it struck me that Pieto is using the ‘Flying Cat’ as a metaphor for Cuban Communism which is much different then other brands. In some respects, it too is a magical and fantastic creature.

Cuba has such a diverse racial structure, coupled with a romantic streak. I think this is how Cubans view the Revolution, not only is it successful, and continuing, but it is also exciting. In 1986 Tad Tsulc ended his book with a portrait of Castro just fading away into kind of a limbo for used up old revolutionaries. Nothing new could or would happen on his watch, and eventually he’d be gone.

Instead, the USSR vanished. Fidel was forced to re-energize his country which had become bored with the road to no where. Suddenly, they had to recreate agriculture, the electrical power system, and deal with Peak Oil 15 years before the rest of us.

Then, just when it appeared Fidel had gone about as far as he could, he is critically ill and clinging to life out of stubbornness.
After 50 years, the guard is changing. But wait, he’s recuperating! He’s writing learned essays regularly on the internet [cubadebate.cu, if you read Spanish]

And now, once again they have to re-invent Cuba because of the extreme storm damage [Galveston was a picnic compared to 3 days of a class 4 hurricane, that hit only a week after a Class 3 hurricane devastated Isla De Juvantud and Pinar Del Rio.

Maybe Fidel is the Flying Cat…

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By Anarcissie, September 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

Xntrk: ’... Raul, OTOH, thinks the people would work harder in response to the same, or similar, bribes as those in the Democratic-Socialist nations of Europe. ...’

There seems to be a conflict, then, between people wanting stuff and more stuff, and not having to work hard.  People who want lots of stuff and don’t mind putting themselves and their fellow humans and everything else to the screws will go for capitalism.  I wonder if that’s understood.

There is also the question of whether, if you don’t have lots of stuff, you will have adequate military power to defend yourself, I suppose.

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By yours truly, September 21, 2008 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Restructuring Corporate Incentives So As To Serve The Public Interest Rather Than Private Interest Is The Way To Go

“Why not revolution?”

“Because on account of global warming there’s just not enough time left for us to turn things upside down/inside out plus simultaneously our having to come up with something new & workable.”

“Whereas?”

“Restructuring corporate incentives is doable right now.”

“How?”

“We elect someone who’s going to work with Congress to accomplish this.”

“And then what sort of world?

“It’ll be up to us.”

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By Folktruther, September 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

Great comments.  If they would just let people get together to actually discourse, we could solve our own problems.  Even the important ones, although these would be solved in the usual way people have done so thoughtout history, by yelling and screaming, jumping up and down, and holding one’s breath till one turns blue.
                ***
I agree with Jackpine too, Outraged; we need metaphor in our spiritual lives.  Great insight. The truth fairy has floated down form heavens to kiss Jackpine on the stomach.  This is where the anchient Chinese thought the mind was located.

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By Xntrk, September 20, 2008 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie: That is the conflict they keep referring to between Fidel and Raul. Fidel has always believed, and in the main succeeded, in motivating the Cubans thru speeches and examples. Altho the Miami boys deny it, the public love admire and respect Fidel. But, they see US TV, they know all the stuff they could have if he was less intransigent. I think his faith in the Revolution is what keeps his government and Ministers underpaid. The only guys who get to cheat are the guys who travel and they are fairly regularly fired and shunned.

Raul, OTOH, thinks the people would work harder in response to the same, or similar, bribes as those in the Democratic-Socialist nations of Europe. He’s a kid brother! He’s less impressed then many of Fidel’s supporters, but no less loyal.

These hurricanes have hammered Cuba. But, the reaction of the many many countries aided by Cuba during the past 40 years is overwhelming. I think this may motivate the Cubans to once again shoulder the burden of the Revolution and get to work, just as the ‘Special Period’ did.

And, the dissenters will wind up in Miami under the wet foot-dry foot policy. That will just tickle the hell out of the anti immigrant crew!

I read a Conservative news article about the October surprise for 2008: 35,000 Cubans over-running public facilities in Miami just like the Mariel Boat lift - This time, it would be W’s fault!

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By Outraged, September 20, 2008 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment

Re: jackpine savage

Your comment: “As to the religious motif threatening to take over the thread, the greatest mistake of the religious person is to mistake the metaphor for the truth.  And the greatest mistake of the agnostic/atheist is to discard both the metaphor and the truth.”

>> Well put….LOL

I hear you, and agree.  However, there is a fine line we need to recognize, and in this regard, it isn’t so much disregarding truth or metaphor, as it is indulging or qualifying fantasy.

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By KDelphi, September 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Xntrx—Thanks! I will certainly look this stuff up. The more I think I know—the more I find that there is much more to know—or something like that.

Glad you liked the joke. BTW, the xoxoxo—K, was from a friend of mine—not that you dont seem really nice!! LOL

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By Anarcissie, September 20, 2008 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi:
Anarcissie—Actually , it was Marx who said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

Correct.  That is why I quoted Stalin according to Wikipedia.  (I thought the phrase I quoted was Lenin’s, but never mind.)  That is what Raúl is proposing—a person’s work, that is, production, is supposed to be measured in some way, and the person will be rewarded accordingly.

I’m not really sure that that can be “proven” fallible or infallible.It is rather matter of opinion, I would think.

As Kropotkin (and others) have pointed out, except for completely isolated and individual production, it is not possible to disentangle the combined elements of production and say that one person produced this much and another that.  Instead, a political process ensues in which the people who have the most influence upon the allocating bureaucracy get the biggest shares.

Liberalism isn’t a lot different, but it is simpler: instead of dividing up the goods according to production, they’re divided up by whatever the participants agree to before and during production.  This is also generally a contest of power.  Within the large corporations of modern liberalism-capitalism, one often observes both the Dilbertian bureaucracy fumbling around with its false knowledge and poor understanding of work, and the exercise of power and influence within the managerial structure.

Since it is not given to humans to correctly allocate the contributions to production, the only just solution would be to divide them equally—communism.  But people want stuff and power, not justice, so this is not a popular thought.

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By Xntrk, September 20, 2008 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

KDelphi, No Blog - I am too disorganized… To prepare for my trip [5 weeks, no permit] I read: Non Fiction; Fidel by Tad Szulc - Great book, but about 10 years too long [or short] ends in 1986 before the down-fall of the USSR. Szulc is a US Hungarian immigrant, and not a Fidel admirer, btw.

Fidel’s Cuba [I would have called it Cuba’s Fidel] It’s an autobiographical accounting by one of the famous Cuban news photographers. He and his father returned to Cuba from NYC during the Revolution and spent their lives documenting Fidel and the Revolution. Excellent photos, and a good text also. Osvaldo and Roberto Salas; Photographers and Gregory Tozian, writer

Cuba: Grace Under Pressure By Rosemary Sullivan, Photography by Malcolm David Batty, Foreward by Margaret Atwood. [This is the book that started my planning - I wanted to see it before it was too late].

Fiction, any and all of Leonardo Padura’s Havana Mysteries. He’s a native of a ‘Habana Centro Barrio’ and gives a great portrayal of contemporary Havana [He still lives there].

I read all the Cuban Newspapers. I set up my Google News so I get the Cuban Headlines, and that gives you access to all of them, as well as the rabid anti Castro Miami papers.

Read Machatera.org for Latin America in general. It’s by a group of translators who post the latest from Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina etc. But, the biographies help to give it meaning; ie Machatera has a couple of stories about Celia Hart and her brother Abel Santamaria, who died in a car accident in Havana on September 10th. They were the Children of Armando Hart and Haydee’ Santamaria who were at Moncada with Fidel in 1953 and later married. Haydee was also a lawyer for Fidel during his trial and Armando Hart has served in the government for most of the past 50 years. Both her brother Abel Santamaria [the 1st] and her fiance were captured at the Moncada Barracks, tortured and murdered by Batista’s military.

Anyway, knowing some of the back story adds meaning to today’s news. I believe Celia Hart was a scientist educated in East Germany who was heavily involved in Guevarista [for Che Guevara] politics in Latin America. Needless to say, she was also a ‘Fidelista’ and a Trotskyite.

Another excellent source for Chavez’ Venezuela and events in Bolivia is venezuelanalysis.com

Thanks for the joke btw, I needed it!

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By libertarian, September 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If an overall three-trillion dollar debt is going to be piled up by the feds, they could spend it on something other than overseas adventures, crooked finance guys and shiny new missiles for China’s Red Army. For $3 trillion, you can build twenty million $150,000 homes for American citizens..no mortgage, no payments, gratis.

Someone please correct me, but I believe we’re servicing the $1-trillion debt we owe China at ~3% Annual interest. This means we are forced to pay them $60-million dollars a day just in interest. This is 30-billion in one year..more than enough to fund the complete revamping of their military, this while our own mastery of the world is slipping: well-publicized news reports out of Europe state that in computerized close-combat matchups, the Russian Sukhoi-30’s beat our new Lockheed F-35 Fighter aircraft “like they were clubbing harp seals.”

Bush/Cheney have sure been great for national security. Two recessions, 911 and declining military power. No wonder we haven’t been attacked again; all the enemy has to do is sit back with his feet up and watch.

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By KDelphi, September 20, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Xntrx—I just do not know enough about the Cuban Revolution to respond to that—I mean, I certainly never lived there. Can you refer me? Do you have a blog?

Now here is an email I got to make you laugh. I think its pretty funny, anyway.

Thought you might like this. It’s pretty funny.
xoxo - K

————————————————————————————————————————

Sent: 9/19/2008 6:13:06 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: A little financial humor


Investment tips for 2008

With all the turmoil in the market this week and the collapse of Lehman Bros and acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, this might be some good advice. For all of you with any money left, be aware of the next expected mergers so that you can get in on the ground floor and make some BIG bucks.

Watch for these consolidations later this year:

1.  Hale Business Systems, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Fuller Brush, and W R. Grace Co. will merge and become: 
Hale, Mary, Fuller, Grace.

2.  Polygram Records, Warner Bros., and Zesta Crackers join forces and become:
Poly, Warner Cracker.

3.  3M will merge with Goodyear and become:
MMMGood.

4.  Zippo Manufacturing, Audi Motors, Dofasco, and Dakota Mining will merge and become:
ZipAudiDoDa .

5.  FedEx is expected to join its competitor, UPS, and become:
FedUP.

6.  Fairchild Electronic s and Honeywell Computers will become:
Fairwell Honeychild.

7.  Grey Poupon and Docker Pants are expected to become:
PouponPants.

8.  Knotts Berry Farm and the National Organization of Women will become:
Knott NOW!

And finally…

9.  Victoria ‘s Secret and Smith & Wesson will merge under the new name:
TittyTittyBangBang

 


————————————————————————————————————————
Looking for simple solutions to your real-life financial challenges? Check out WalletPop for the latest news and information, tips and calculators.

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By Xntrk, September 20, 2008 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Actually , it was Marx who said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”

KDelphi is right - but that is not what the Cubanos attempted. Nor did they follow the Stalin model of work vs ability. Rather, they actually went down the road of equalitarianism, where everyone is paid about the same, that Raul referred to. For years, Cuba has been a uni-level society [pretty much including the leaders, altho I remember reading that Fidel enjoyed an SUV]. It is incomprehensible that not only was this the ideal, but it was the reality. When I was there at the time Fidel retired, it was a single class experience. There were a few hookers visible - and obvious, because they were too well dressed. My friend Lucy who bailed out this foolish old woman two or three times when I was just overwhelmed, told me she was “...so glad I am Cuban and don’t have to work…”

That is the problem Cuba was and is facing: a total lack of motivation. That may have been fine when the population was growing, and they were younger, but now, like Europe and Japan, they are facing declining birthrates and an aging population.

That is the raging economic discussion in the Cuban Congress and Halls of Government and Academia: How in the hell can they motivate the people to work, without destroying the Revolution. That is why Raul emphasized that it should not be mistaken for equality, whereby everybody has the same opportunities.

Living in Hawaii, I can relate, there are other things in life then preying on your fellow humans - or there damn well should be!

Its been 50 years since Fidel and Che led the college kids out to the sugar fields to cut cane. The lesson from that exercise was that experienced cane cutters are worth about 3 college kids, any day of the week.

But, it also meets the definition of ‘equalitarianism’, something the American population has neither tried, nor believed in. George W. cuts a lot of brush, maybe we can ship him to Guantanamo and he can cut cane instead of raising it…

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By KDelphi, September 20, 2008 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

jackpine—Yes, Marx. Lenin and Stalin were all very different, although people like to lump them together.

Like when I hear Lou Dobbsians say “communist china” or “communist dictatorship”. Doesnt really exist.

However saocialist democracies exist, and, are doing alot better then the uS is, as far as standard of living for the majority of people.

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By jackpine savage, September 20, 2008 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

The larger question is whether the USSR was actually a Marxist economy.  For starters, Lenin recognized that Marxism was mostly inapplicable to Russia in so far as it was all geared around industrial laborers.  Early Soviet economics was called Marxist-Leninism, and the birthing pains were too much to bare.  Enter the NEP, a policy that would be basically reconstituted under Gorbachev.

How the USSR might have evolved had Lenin lived and continued his experimentation with nationalizing major industry while allowing small, local free markets is a matter of interesting conjecture.

What we got instead was Stalinism: a system that only paid lip service to Marx.  It was, in fact, fascism with the canard that the proletariat controlled the means of production because they controlled the State.  But every Russian/Soviet knew that he/she didn’t have any control over the state.

And the whole system failed long before 1991, or even Gorbachev’s rise to power.  It was propped up with all sorts of sleight of hand, etc…much like American capitalism has been propped up for years now. 

As to the religious motif threatening to take over the thread, the greatest mistake of the religious person is to mistake the metaphor for the truth.  And the greatest mistake of the agnostic/atheist is to discard both the metaphor and the truth.

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By Capt. A., Principality of Monaco, September 20, 2008 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thought: “One should NOT aim at being possible to understand, BUT at being IMPOSSIBLE to misunderstand!”

Mr. William Pfaff’s indulgence, indefatigable and hackneyed assertions and unmitigated sophistry begin with the title of this specious article, “Reality Catches Up to the Free Market.”  Let’s see why…

FREE MARKETS?  Not on your life or the lives of your first-born or other carbon-based organisms—have “truly free markets EVER existed!”  Yet the masses “buy” into this tripe!  There has NEVER been a complete “de-regulated” free market within an institutionalized social system.  Blame laid at the feet of truly “free-markets” is a bold attempt to herein ridicule something that never existed in the first place! This article subtly foments and then derides a non-existent entity and yet the fallacies of rational argument hide behind a diaphanous veil of assertions that stultify any knowledgeable individual.  It is with rare exception that truly free markets (amongst individuals excepted) take credit for the salubrious benefits and affects that truly free markets bare.  Again, to place any blame on a non-existent entity is laughable to anyone with a scintilla of reasoning gray matter. (A functioning, critical-thinking brain)  Nevertheless Mr. Pfaff distinguishes himself in trying to do so.

If true unfettered free markets were to exist and the rules of the game placed clearly for all to see, (Like in a game of honest Texas Hold’m) then maybe, just maybe you might see a clear exacting diminishment in the collectivistic moral turpitude that has wrought nothing but tragedy on mankind since time of existence.  Pundits talk of “capitalism,” as a pejorative when in fact they should be addressing “CRAPitalism!”  CRAPitalism is that special blend of forces that “control,” instigating the false idea that ownership, real private property and unfettered markets do exist.  They don’t and never have! (100% ownership AND control = non-existence)

You can’t help but smile when a “rationally insane” jester steps into the limelight with suave, sophiscated arguments and ideas and tries to meld into the process of truth, the very process of something Marx spent his adult life also trying to do.  Yes, there ARE individuals that tragically manifest execrable ideas of how people should accept and rely on his or her “rulers” while abandoning self-responsibility/determination.  America is NOT the paradigm for freedom, liberty, private property rights, free markets and finally “privacy.” (Not the “secrecy” so readily apparent in governments, especially the American government, which is and has lead the country into the debacle of banana republics the world over.  C’est la guerre.  Americans will get exactly what they deserve ... not what they want.  So let us stop the fallacious bantering about “free markets” and get on with the REAL events occurring comrade…. Only wheedlers, trough suckers and gimme-gimmes will rail in an attempt to overturn the truth of statements that “free markets” are a failure and now we must return to the “good old days” of Marx and Engels!  Where do we find such ultracrepidarians that write articles like this one ... and worse, people that believe them?

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By KDelphi, September 20, 2008 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie—Actually , it was Marx who said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

I’m not really sure that that can be “proven” fallible or infallible.It is rather matter of opinion, I would think.

I mean, should peopl who are born with ( or through circumstances of life not under their control)less ability, be forced to live in qaunder? They didnt choose to be born, nor to be born as they were.

It is plausible to say “not everyone according to his needs”. I just dont think taht we can consider ourselves a moral society , if we continue to say that with all the confiscated wealth in the upper income brackets.

But, thatis my opinion.

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By Anarcissie, September 20, 2008 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

“If you work more than me and you sacrifice more than I do, you should receive more than me,” said Raul, pointing at one of the farmers.

Or as Stalin said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”  However, Kropotkin showed (in advance) why this was a fallacy.

Liberalism replaces the judgement of the bureaucracy with the judgement of the market, but it is still a fallacy.

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By hippy pam, September 20, 2008 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

There are MANY PEOPLE DOING and that HAVE DONE “strange things”-“miracles[if you want to lable them].....Jesus…...........Muhammed….............Houdini…..Chriss Angel….David Blain….

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment

Mmmmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmmmmmm

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By Outraged, September 19, 2008 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

Re: WriterOnTheStorm,

I have only recently responded to Fadel, just shortly before this post to you.  Just to set the record straight.

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By Outraged, September 19, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

Re: Fadel Abdullah

Let me address this line by line.  Your first comment:  “You really like to live up to your “outraged” fictitious name! Again, I ask: “Aren’t you as fanatic in your “atheistic religion” of hate for all religions as the ones you relish to attack?!”

>> Flimsy try Fadel.  You have come to truthdig many months ago and attempt to REQUIRE everyone to show fictious “respect” for YOUR religion.  I do not see advantage in ANY religion, that includes yours.  Do you see me crying like a baby as you attack me calling me “fanatic” and that supposedly I have a “hate for all religions”.  I do not engage in any of these things.  But I will NOT EVER qualify YOUR religion simply because in your fantasies YOU feel I should.

Next: “And I ask again, “Why didn’t you attack William Pfaff as the writer of this piece for bringing religion in his article and quoting a well known theologian thinker?!

>>  Actually Fadel, when I came upon your utter joy and glee over the suffering of others, I was struck by the way you initiated YOUR RELIGION as a qualifier.  Only sick people FIND JOY in the suffering of others and when they USE their religion to qualify it, I find it DOUBLY nauseating.

Next:  “And again, “Why didn’t you comment on the fact that the Greeks, as originators of all Western thought who believed in multiple of gods and goddesses, believed in NEMESIS as the goddess of retribution?!”

>>  Obviously, your rant proves that RELIGION is your sole source of “truth”.  This may be difficult for you Fadel, but I do not QUALIFY any religious mantras or creeds.  So your comment here again only serves to show how MUCH you wear your religion on your sleeve.  **“NEMESIS as the goddess of retribution?!”**  Are YOU INSANE?  Why…, as an atheist, would I invoke such stupidity other that to show YOU, just how INANE religion is..?  What do you not understand? 

Next:  “In your very hostile response to what I said, you are guilty of the double sin of attacking both the message and the messenger.”

>>  Are you here speaking of the “message” you gave asserting that western religion is somehow more wrong than yours.  ALL are wrong in my book, so get over it.  I do not, and will not EVER be required to give your religion validity.  Funny how you attack me and proceed to make your baseless claims.

Next:  “You prove your fanatic intolerance to other people’s believes and convictions, and you’re guilty of the thing you’re accusing me of having: the sin of wearing your intolerant “religion” of secularism on your shoulder!”

>>  Consistently, as I’ve stated above, you feel compelled to USE your religion to qualify and in fact FIND HAPPINESS in the suffering of others.  Reread your original post, how happy you are to see the suffering and you then proceed to USE your religion as a pretext for YOUR debasement.  You are sick.

Next:  “My friendly and brotherly advice to you is this: Learn to tolerate, if not to respect, the faith and believes of about 3 billion people who adhere to Judaism, Christianity and Islam (almost half of humanity) for all those cannot be wrong and you’re right. And please, learn to see the majority of the good apples in the pile rather than seeing only the rotten ones!”

>>  Guess which “apple” I think you are…?

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By KDelphi, September 19, 2008 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

There is no need to bait people like you. You bite without bait.

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By Xntrk, September 19, 2008 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Raul Castro Addressing motivation post-hurricanes:

>>In speaking with farmers in Pinar del Rio, Castro talked about the importance of gradually eliminating the double currency in Cuba and paying workers for what they do as a way to boost production.

“It would be bold to say that in a period of four to five years we could eliminate the double currency and make salaries decent, but it has to be done… people have to be paid according to what they produce,” said the Cuban president. He emphasized that equalitarianism, where everyone is paid about the same, should not be mistaken for equality, whereby everybody has the same opportunities.

“If you work more than me and you sacrifice more than I do, you should receive more than me,” said Raul, pointing at one of the farmers.

Metros comments:
>>Hong Kong was closer to “unregulated free-market capitalism” than any place on earth.  China has imposed relatively little control over Hong Kong while China has transformed into a socialist-capitalist hybrid…

...The current indemnification (nationalization) of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, etc. has both socialist and capitalist elements.

It is capitalist in that underregulated financial activities led to the crisis, and the resulting robber-baron mentality that both inspired and necessitated the (selective) government intervention.

It is de facto socialist in that the government has moved toward dominating an integral facet of our economy.<<

First, Mao himself said it would take several generations to purge the Chinese of Capitalism. I think what you categorize as a hybrid of Communism/Capitalism in China is in reality a gloss of Communism by Party Members [Lipstick on a Pig?] which allows them to seize control of the money as they dissolve the People’s Republic in favor of unregulated greed a’la the USA.

As for the yin/yang of Capitalism and Socialism in the Wall Street Bail Out, Socialism for the rich has nothing to to with Socialism, and everything to do with Fascism in which the Government or State controls wealth and Industry for the benefit of the rich while the military maintains the power structure.

I am not blaming the commentators on this board for these limitations to understanding. Given the education system we live with, having intellectual discussions about political and economical systems is almost impossible. Because I was almost blind and could read but not enjoy TV, I’ve spent years delving into little esoteric historical narratives. Now, at 71, I may be one of the few posting here who is digging out snippets of the Spanish Civil War, Eugene Debs, Peron of Argentina etc.

Too bad I am not Black, I’d be the living embodiment of the new ‘elitist’

And just one more question: Is anyone else reminded of W.E.B. DuBois as they watch the attempts to ridicule and defame Obama? DuBois was a ‘community activist’ and Harvard Magna cum Laude, before he formed the NAACP [with help of course]

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By Anarcissie, September 19, 2008 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment

felicity: ’... “we know about and can measure, understand and direct human nature” is the false assumption made by economic theorists and the fact that ‘understanding’ human nature is a crap-shoot at best is why economic theorists and their theories are a plague on society. ...’

The problem then arises as to what to do about anything, since Marx’s supposition in the Manifesto that, with the breakdown of the old order, “man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind” appears to be overly optimistic—to say the least.  Most human beings will do anything but.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

You’re not very good a baiting.

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By KDelphi, September 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

The “numbers” are true, as you say. Very clever. But that is not what you implied at all.

(Actually the stuff about whether “jesus is better than muhammed” implies—I dont even know!)

So you would agree that white, rich male landowners should be the only ones to have rights in the US. USD.

YOu must be thrilled to note that it has changed very little.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi wrote:

“GW- how was the Constitution set up to “protect the minority from the majority”? What was the “minority” then? I just dont see that at all. I know youve heard it al before, but the constitution (which is not a sacred text) was written by a few rich, white male landowners.”

I think you’ve answered your own question.  Wouldn’t a few rich, white male landowners constitute a minority?

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By Alan, September 19, 2008 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well there is a lot of religionating foolishness
going on in this discussion.  In the beginning,
there was just plain ornery, ordinary foolishness.
Damn near all animals except maybe bees have it.
Then some time passed, weeks, months, millennia,
the time it takes a bad bond to mature.  Then
lo and behold, beyond good and foolishness,
comes some crowd o’ wackos who got together
and begat Mediterranean monotheism with its
three dangerous, snarling, vindictive heads.
What do you expect from the intrinsic
obsessional character of all forms of monotheism?
They all quickly become monomaniacal passions
ready to stone people, convert them by torture,
subvert them etc. etc. all for the glory
of “the one true god”.  The historical
negative apotheosis of Mediterranean
monotheism was hitlerism.  Hardly
a guiding light!
Please Mediterranean monotheists,
please build yourselves a separate
planet and leave us in peace and market tranquility.

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By KDelphi, September 19, 2008 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

See? The masses are falling back on their opiate again.

GW- how was the Constitution set up to “protect the minority from the majority”? What was the “minority” then? I just dont see that at all. I know youve heard it al before, but the constitution (which is not a sacred text) was written by a few rich, white male landowners.

Worship of the constitution is just another religion. The elite’s hatred of (and dismantling of his legacy) FDR made Marx inevitable. If you want tp save “capitalim” (I dont) then you best get regulatin’!

Both of the duopoly candidates took more money than most of us wil see in our lifetimes from Wall St. To be a “failure at capitalism” is , often, to simply be a moral human being.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, September 19, 2008 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Re: Fadel and Outraged.

Much as I enjoyed your debate, the very idea that religion of any kind, or even more generalized morality as professed by religion or as theorized by great philosophers, can mitigate the forces of greed in our society is a non starter. In latter-day America it is probably more correct, and certainly more edifying to say that capitalism is our de facto religion.

As members of the flock, to speak of anything other than wealth and fame (the latter as a short cut to wealth) as worthy life goals is the new heresy. Greed is valorized as the new faith. Banks are the new churches. The Fed is the new Papal Seat etc, etc.

To achieve wealth is to reach the inner sanctum, as the priests of profit well know. Once there, one must then work to grow that wealth, to render it unassailable, thus ensuring sanctity down through the generations—not a metaphor for heaven, but real heaven on earth for your children and their children.

There is a school of thought among sociologists which says that those who turn to Christianity, Islam, Scientology, or any other (alternative) religion, are often people who have failed in the primary religion of capitalism. Those who, in the greater society, are seen as the lowest rank, the worker/consumer, will seek more sublimated other-worldly ideals in order to find solace.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

To Fadel,

Ideally, a democracy is representative.  That is, minorities have a voice—representation.  Our constitution is set up to (among other things) protect the minority or individual against the abuses of the majority.  If recent events are any sort of touchstone, then I’d have to say the the majority is quite often wrong.  Two days after 911 for example, it may well have been possible to declare open season on Muslims in this country based on majority sentiment.  I somehow doubt that would have been the correct response, despite that fact we’ve conclusively proven with your own argument that Jesus is better than Muhammad.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

To Fadel,

Oh, I imagine that the majority of Christendom is not nearly as enlightened, forbearing, or magnanimous as you are.  That is, I’d bet that they would indeed view Jesus as superior to Muhammad.  In fact, given the numerical superiority of Christians over Muslims, it’s a virtual certainty that more people think Jesus is superior to Muhammad than the other way around.  So to paraphrase your apt entreaty, I am sure if you look, with detachment from your own cosmological niche, at the importance of the “majority” issue, then you have to admit that it is a valid criteria to judge the validity of something or some idea, such as the superiority of Jesus over Muhammad.

Strictly based on the weight of numbers, or course.

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 19, 2008 at 11:04 am Link to this comment

By “G"utless “W"itless Hitler, September 19 at 6:15 am #

Hey Fadel,

According to the link below, more people believe in Christianity than Islam.  So, based on your majority-knows-best formula, I guess you’d have to admit that Jesus is the realer deal.
=============================
Though I hate to response to non-entities, as “G"utless “W"itless Hitler seems to me, I will take your challenge and surprise you with the answer “yes” as to the reality of Jesus. Yes, he was a real and historical figure, and I, as a Muslim, must believe in that in order to be a good Muslim. So is Moses, Abraham and a long line of Prophets, who were reformers and revolutionaries sent by a Merciful Universal God to the people of their times when they went astray.

However, that does not mean that Jesus was better than Muhammad, or Muhammad was better than Moses, for this is like comparing apples to oranges since each must be measured separately based on what reform they brought to their people at their own time. It further follows that the Christians of nowadays are not necessarily better holders of the truth than Muslims or Jews or vice- versa. Though I hold the validity of certain universal truths, I am also enlightened enough to admit that not all followers of organized religions live up to the ideals of their religions. There are good Muslims and bad Muslims as there are good Christians and bad ones.

I am sure if you look, with detachment from your own emotionalism, at the importance of the “majority” issue, which you try to ridicule and belittle, then you have to admit that it is a valid criteria to judge the validity of something or some idea, for after all isn’t democracy based on this very concept?! Or may I say that you believe that the dictatorship of a person or a minority group is better than the democracy of the majority!

It doesn’t surprise me how fanatic secularists think in circles, since, in your case, you are willing to suppress your own actual identity and adopt a fake one related to “Hitler”! It tells me, at least, what type of nut you are!

I hope I managed to to make you feel good by taking you seriously in responding to your childish acrobatics!

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

The real problem is that we’re a nation of believers (read: swallowers) and thus are too lazy to think critically about anything.  Even now in the 21st century, we have no problem unhinging our jaws and “believing” a load the size of Christianity, so putting a little faith in what the snake oil salesmen tell us about the free market is a compartively simple task.  What can a few responsible thinking people do in a nation of witch-hunting diluvian catastrophists whose idea of accountability is to either chalk up every problem to will of God or blame it on a scapegoat du jour?  What an embarrassment Americans are for America!

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By felicity, September 19, 2008 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie - “we know about and can measure, understand and direct human nature” is the false assumption made by economic theorists and the fact that ‘understanding’ human nature is a crap-shoot at best is why economic theorists and their theories are a plague on society. 

Psychologists have been singularly unsuccessful in convincing anybody that theirs is a science.  And for the same reason economics is not a science - in spite of the fact that too many economists think it is.

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By Anarcissie, September 19, 2008 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

jake3988: ‘As always it goes back to being in the middle.  Pure socialism will always burn and never work….’

Socialism is the ownership or control of the means of production by the workers, and millions of cooperatives, partnerships, and self-employed people show that it works as well as anything else.

However, most people seem to want bosses, so they have to deal with the bosses’ “Original Sin” and “realism” as well as their own.

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By jake3988, September 19, 2008 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As always it goes back to being in the middle.  Pure socialism will always burn and never work.  Pure capitalism will always burn and never work.  We must have a balance of both for it to work.  Somewhere in the middle with a heavy dose of both realities.

Enough free market to allow people to do their things without the government actually physically running it, but enough regulation to not allow them to be greedy economy destroyers.

Hundreds of millions of people shouldn’t have to lose their entire life savings because of a bunch of greedy billionaires.  Which is why the government had to step in.  We need to regulate it so we don’t HAVE to step in.  But arguing (not in the post, but any commenters) that they should have kept falling and destroyed all those lives is not right.  And downright sickening.

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By Anarcissie, September 19, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

William Pfaff:
’...Prior to that, however, public policy must be reconstructed on the basis of a historical understanding of how people actually behave rather than on theories about how they might be presumed to behave in the world of abstractions.

This understanding is called realism, and in American public affairs during the past two decades it has been scorned. However, one good thing about realism is that being realistic eventually turns out to be right. The distinguished Protestant theologian and political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr once remarked that of all the doctrines of the Christian religion, only one is invariably self-validating: the doctrine of Original Sin.’

I doubt if Niebuhr could beat me in a pessimism about human nature contest, but the doctrine of Original Since, while it’s an interesting and productive fable, is philosophical crap.  There is nothing self-validating about it.

Even so, it’s not as bad as “realism”.  “Realism”, as used above, depends on the idea that we know about and can measure, understand and direct human nature.  But this is not so.  While we do know that human beings are generally irrational, don’t like to think or plan, are usually dominated by greed and anger, and are fond of violence and destruction even to their own significant disadvantage, we can’t predict what they’re going to do, or how, or when.  Moreover, even if we could, the elites we would appoint to use this knowledge to govern human affairs would share the very defects we were trying to eliminate or control.

Realism, like Original Sin, is another myth, another fable.  “Public policy”, that is, governance by ruling classes, if it were going to at least observe the Hippocratic Oath, would start with a confession of ignorance and leave the people alone as much as possible.  Fat chance, however: they too are full of Original Sin and realism.

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By felicity, September 19, 2008 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

“Both market and democratic ideologies rest on a belief in the essential goodness of mankind…”

A less truncated reading of Adam Smith and one discovers that, realizing the absolute possibility that some people would get obscenely wealthy under laissez-faire, Smith said and actually believed that because man is innately compassionate when the wealthy man sees his fellow man suffering he will automatically share his largess with him.  Maybe in 1776 that was true, but today it sounds like pure unadulterated poppycock.

Speaking of wrong-headed reading of human nature, Marx believed that cradle-to-grave security would make every man happy and content to the point where there would be no crime and, finally, government would disappear because there would be no need for it - given that government only exists to protect us from each other and ourselves.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Hey Fadel,

According to the link below, more people believe in Christianity than Islam.  So, based on your majority-knows-best formula, I guess you’d have to admit that Jesus is the realer deal.

http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

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By Paul_GA, September 19, 2008 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

If y’all will permit me a quotation ...

“Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven’t had capitalism. A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank. It’s not capitalism when the system is plagued with incomprehensible rules regarding mergers, acquisitions, and stock sales, along with wage controls, price controls, protectionism, corporate subsidies, international management of trade, complex and punishing corporate taxes, privileged government contracts to the military-industrial complex, and a foreign policy controlled by corporate interests and overseas investments. Add to this centralized federal mismanagement of farming, education, medicine, insurance, banking and welfare. This is not capitalism!” ~ Ron Paul

And thus, “free markets” are not really “free”, either.

Laissez-faire capitalism is genuine capitalism; what passes for “capitalism” these days is a fraud of monstrous size.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, September 19, 2008 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

By Fadel Abdallah

“My friendly and brotherly advice to you is this: Learn to tolerate, if not to respect, the faith and believes of about 3 billion people who adhere to Judaism, Christianity and Islam (almost half of humanity) for all those cannot be wrong and you’re right.”

Good point!  Because we’ve never known a majority to be wrong about anything have we.  No wait, there are a few examples.  Take that whole flat earth business.  I guess you could say the majority dropped the ball on that one back in the day.  And then there were those geocentrists… and the heliocentrists.  Well, as it turns out, our little solar system is rather not at the center of anything.  And of course we shouldn’t overlook that whole anti-cat crowd in Europe during the Plague years.  Funny thing—cats turned out not to be the plague-spreading tools of Satan that everyone thought they were.  In retrospect, the majority probably shouldn’t have killed them off in droves because, as we’ve since come to learn, if the majority kills the cats that eat the rats that host the fleas that carry the plague that blackens the flesh and bursts the nodes that ooze the lymph, we all fall down. 

Yeah, that nutty majority, it can’t possibly be wrong.

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 19, 2008 at 5:54 am Link to this comment

By Outraged, September 18 at 10:42 pm #
=======================================
You really like to live up to your “outraged” fictitious name! Again, I ask: “Aren’t you as fanatic in your “atheistic religion” of hate for all religions as the ones you relish to attack?!” And I ask again, “Why didn’t you attack William Pfaff as the writer of this piece for bringing religion in his article and quoting a well known theologian thinker?! And again, “Why didn’t you comment on the fact that the Greeks, as originators of all Western thought who believed in multiple of gods and goddesses, believed in NEMESIS as the goddess of retribution?!”

In your very hostile response to what I said, you are guilty of the double sin of attacking both the message and the messenger. You prove your fanatic intolerance to other people’s believes and convictions, and you’re guilty of the thing you’re accusing me of having: the sin of wearing your intolerant “religion” of secularism on your shoulder!

My friendly and brotherly advice to you is this: Learn to tolerate, if not to respect, the faith and believes of about 3 billion people who adhere to Judaism, Christianity and Islam (almost half of humanity) for all those cannot be wrong and you’re right. And please, learn to see the majority of the good apples in the pile rather than seeing only the rotten ones!

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By yours truly, September 18, 2008 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Unregulated Free-Market Capitalism Has Died In A Flash, What’s to take its place?

“Depends.”

“On what?”

“Our electing someone president who’s going to work with Congress tp reconstruct the system of corporate incentives to serve the public interest rather than private interests.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes we can.”

“And then what sort of world?”

“It’ll be up to us.”

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By Outraged, September 18, 2008 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment

Re: Fadel Abdallah

Your comment:  “And the way I see it is that excessive and greedy capitalism, the way it’s practiced in the world today, is essentially a usurious economic system. And usury is a system devoid of natural humanity as my religion teaches. Hence, it’s the ultimate economic sin. And if the Christian most self-validating doctrine is the Original Sin, I would like to add here the complimentary theological doctrine of Christianity’s younger sister, Islam, that big sins committed by recalcitrant human beings will necessitate retribution and reckoning by a God of Justice, which is in reality not very much different from the law of cause and effect!”

While you may FEEL your religion sacrosanct in some fictitious arena of invisible entities, one in which YOUR religion “holds all the cards” so to speak.  Your comment is outlandish.  Could I not find the ERROR in your own fictitious longing for the subjective “God of Justice” apparent in your OWN religion…?  Consistently, you appear to wear “your god” on your shoulder, so to speak.

While you insist that YOU have some prescient “knowledge” of the affairs of others, the facts you aver are non-existent.  How is it that those of YOUR religious affiliation kill and maim?  The facts, my friend, do NOT support your ridiculous assertion.  Your religion, of which it is apparent you so highly prize, has a few demons of its own.

I do not support the Christian religion, but do not attempt to qualify the Muslim religion either.  Debauchery, apparently does NOT use religion as a presupposition.  These are the facts on the ground.  YOUR religion is as vile as any Christian religion.  Intolerant, superficial, and flat out full of shit.

So don’t be dancing “jigs” of superiority.  Your religion has inflicted UNTOLD atrocities upon mankind, as has the Christian religion.  But let’s not forget the “right winger” Jews…. as ALL have visited death to the people of this world.

DECENT PEOPLE, do not rejoice in the suffering of others, only sick ideologically minded people do.

The good and decent people of the world DO NOT endorse the demise or suffering of others, nor do they relish in it.

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By Xntrk, September 18, 2008 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fadel Abdallah:
I don’t think I am particularly anti-God, but organized religion of any faith is an anathema to me. I believe more lives have been wasted in religious wars then any other causes [going back to the wars of antiquity too].

Today the major players are the Judeo-Christian faiths, plus Islam of course which is simply the younger brother. But even the Burmese are killing the Buddhist Monks, and the Chinese butcher the Tibetans. The names change, but the acts are the same…

OTOH, when the Jews and the Catholics cut their deal to allow money-lending for interest on an Inter-Faith basis, it was a sad day for the working, and peasant classes. The anti-Usury laws handed down on Sinai definitely worked to the advantage of the lower classes.

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By G.Anderson, September 18, 2008 at 10:34 pm Link to this comment

The more unreal the more a preference for unreality…

Yet here it is the mother of all financial problems. Sure there is plenty of blame to go around, and there are people who live within their means, and can afford to own their houses.

But few people pay cash for them homes, this means that they must rely on other peoples money to move in. 

In case you haven’t noticed, in the Ghetto, everyone usually has about the same level of material wealth, few people have more, that would be a liability. This may be an important fact to remember in the coming years. 

Is China, a capitalistic country, certainly not. Does it use the tools of capialism to compete with us, of course it does.

America stopped being a capitalistic country when the wealthy, asked our workers to bear the risk inherent in all capitalistic economies, instead of bearing it themselves. When we shipped our manufacturing overseas, allowed uncontrolled imigration to depress wages, and crippled our labor force with unremitting debt.

Those some workers that Washington ignores, can no longer bear the burden of the Wealthy, and their feckless delusions. Not one scintilla more of debt. 

If congress does bail out Wall street it will be the beginning of civil unrest the likes of which this country has never seen. Maybe that’s what they want, what better way to estabilish Martial Law.

We are now a certified Plutocracy.

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

By Fadel Abdallah, September 18 at 7:24 pm
========================
As a follow up to the above referenced comment of mine, I would like to add that even before monotheism was introduced in the Near East, the Greeks, as the source and originators of all Western thought and philosophy, believed in NEMESIS as the goddess of retribution, who punishes human transgression of the natural, right order of things and the arrogance and evil greed that cause it.

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By samosamo, September 18, 2008 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

**Both market and democratic ideologies rest on a belief in the essential goodness of mankind**

**unregulated free-market capitalism has died in a flash, by its own hand**

**Legitimate actors with legitimate goals, plus speculators, swindlers, confidence men, guys trafficking in inside information, and criminal actors. Yes, the defenders of the market say, but it all averages out in the end.**

I don’t know what will fix it but the combination of few corporations owning and operating in vertical and horizontal markets which are not conducive to competition but all about crushing competition and allowing the few to gather ever increasing amounts of money to themselves in an insane greediness that does no good for any but themselves. This will still continue to be played out in the coming years.
There is an innateness of good in humans but when dealing with the destruction of barriers for the overall good of the many,  then there is the attraction of the criminal and devious types that will play the ‘free money’ ride as far as it will go for their benefit. And that benefit has added to the upper ranks of the super rich or created a lot more ‘lesser’ very rich people that had gained their fortunes on the not so kindness to fellow humans by grand larceny.
But with the invention of the media particularly the tv and movie industry, it did not take long for the sleazy side of humans to see what will just about totally take a huge segment of a population and create the ‘vegged out’ population that would be very easily made to believe what it was allowed to see and hear. Which led to the fast fall of 60 to 70 owners of the msm to just 4 to 6 owners who have gone to long lengths to employ vast marketing divisions to keep people from knowing what is really happening to them.

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By yellowbird2525, September 18, 2008 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

our politicians & courts have been owned by the same folks who owned the large plantations; they are in total agreement but “deceive” the public by claiming to be 2 & that you MIGHT change their minds thru emailing them; in reality they are following a laid out long term goals: Ronald Reagan stated Corps shouldn’t have to pay taxes: now the people are paying Corps taxes; all regulations & restrictions PROTECTING the people have been removed; usury laws: gone; bank protection, gone; the AMERO of course is alive & in off shore accounts with the trillions & trillions & trillions stolen from the USA citizens who were NEVER supposed to be taxed; but all taxable things to have come from the profits of big business. The other plan was to cut down all trees, you seen one you see them all: commercialize & build condominiums; THIS is the “big change” coming to the USA while you were side tracked watching the “conventions”; from Fed to ST to County, to City: the “politicals” are the “powerful” who have total immunity to do as they please; THEY own the land; THEY own the water; busy adding & changing laws as they please just like done in Washington DC; the whistleblowers office: set up by Bush; man SAT on over 100; finally left with Bush thanking him for service to his country: he had done WHAT THEY WANTED him to do; now the whistleblower law is no more; Businesses are FREE to harm anyone anywhere anytime who wants to “squeal”; and of course, our lawless lawbreaking lawmakers do whatever they want (Corps) and grant immunity; for being so broke have you noticed all the shiny new police cars running around? they have NEVER kept their word to the Indians, the Vets, or anyone else; they will not keep it to these either: (by the way, they prefer to hire criminals); for the FBI, police, & other “death squad” type of things;

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By Fadel Abdallah, September 18, 2008 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

“The distinguished Protestant theologian and political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr once remarked that of all the doctrines of the Christian religion, only one is invariably self-validating: the doctrine of Original Sin.”
=========================
I was not eager to bring God or religion into a discussion about the failings of excessive and greedy capitalism, especially in a forum where most people are either atheists or agnostics at best or are open enemies of God and religion at worse.

However, after reading the paragraph quoted above at the end of progressive Pfaff’s article, quoting the Christian theologian and political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr, I was encouraged to bring God and religion into the discussion from the angle this minor humble theologian and thinker sees it.

And the way I see it is that excessive and greedy capitalism, the way it’s practiced in the world today, is essentially a usurious economic system. And usury is a system devoid of natural humanity as my religion teaches. Hence, it’s the ultimate economic sin. And if the Christian most self-validating doctrine is the Original Sin, I would like to add here the complimentary theological doctrine of Christianity’s younger sister, Islam, that big sins committed by recalcitrant human beings will necessitate retribution and reckoning by a God of Justice, which is in reality not very much different from the law of cause and effect!

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, September 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

The obvious answer is for everyone to own a gov. approved money printing press with freedom to print at will. 

I don’t know why they don’t give me one.  I’d be responsible.  It wouldn’t have to run as fast as the one the government has.  I’d still be satisfied.  I’d even consider having it well-regulated, like the local militia. 

What’s the procedure for writing a bill and getting it sponsored?

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By xntrk, September 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have we been living in a bubble of total denial for the past 30 years? Absolutely!

Frank said: Free market capitalism is nothing but an economic extension of the natural world. Companies will rise and fall. Some will die, and others will rise to take their place. It is the natural order of things.  Regulation is not a necessity for the survival of the economy, it is simply a measure to make what is a harsh, cold and unforgiving natural order more ‘civilized’, and helps minimize the collateral damage to the financial prosperity of the average person.<<

Capitalism is nothing more then the economic extension of the Natural World???

And which ‘natural world” is that, pray tell? The one dreamed up by Disney and beamed into the minds of children from 6 months till 12, when they switch the channel and start watching Star Wars and play Death Rides Again Games. I’ve been reading and listening to Palin and thinking ‘First Dude’? Are we really enamored of something so mindless? I guess so, because now everyone under 65 seems to want to sit on their asses and say “Oh My! How long before my IRA regains its value?”

We’ve been robbed! Cheated! Swindled! Many will be living on the streets this winter with no heat when the Unemployment Extension runs out. Who’s going to pay their rent? Paulson? McCain? W?

But the thieves will be sitting in the Caymans once the hurricane season ends, counting their money and laughing about how easy it was to rob us blind!

Adam Smith and Karl Marx and Engles and most of the other great economists of the 19th Century never foresaw a future of unlimited power through the gasoline engine and electricity. They never dreamed of magnifying the value of a farmer or mechanic with unlimited horsepower to construct colossal enterprises. Air travel, electronic communication, instant money transfers, debit cards and credit cards and no-interest loans were not on anyone’s radar [nor was there any radar] in 1900.

To read the sophomoric statements of some of the posters is mind-boggling. It ranks right up there with listening to McCain explain the economy to us, and how printing up a bunch of worthless money to bail out the big guys [again] is going to do anything but start an inflationary spiral to match the one in Germany in the ‘20s.

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By Ellipsis, September 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s tragic that you think that with regulation, corporatism, cronyism, and protectionism (not to mention the substandard education creating high barriers to access) that we have had anything approaching an actual free market in the US. 

It’s even more tragic that your solution to these excesses of greed and outright stupidity can best be managed by a central all-knowing “authority.”

What makes you think that a government bureaucrat can do a better job than a corporate board of directors?  Marxists take a dim view of human nature, with which I am inclined to agree, but unless you are advocating putting the reins firmly in the hand of some perfect, moral superhuman - the problem of our nature will persist.

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By troublesum, September 18, 2008 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

Lipstick on a pig FRANK.  That argument was around decades ago but there is no connection between natural selection and a man made economic system.  You guys like to use Darwinism as a methaphor but tell where the “bail outs” are in natural selection.

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By David White, September 18, 2008 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The War Inc. ventured trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to ‘secure’ America.  Banks Inc., a subsidiary of War Inc. earned VERY lucrative interests on mortgages and weapon deals.  A partner company, Oils Inc. has discovered many natural resources.  All three companies and their select few elites are doing really well today.  They have entered into a growth phase now where they are allowed to dump all the loss and liability to the common people whenever they want.  WAKE UP AMERICA, WHERE IS YOUR SHARE OF PROFIT?  If you do not want blood money, then at least say so wherever you are.  What a great business these companies are doing with your money!!

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By Frank, September 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

Claiming free market capitalism has ‘died’ or failed because of the failure of a few large corporations is tantamount to saying evolution and natural selection has failed because the dinosaurs or various other species went extinct. Those who would make either claim simply don’t get it.

Free market capitalism is nothing but an economic extension of the natural world. Companies will rise and fall. Some will die, and others will rise to take their place. It is the natural order of things.  Regulation is not a necessity for the survival of the economy, it is simply a measure to make what is a harsh, cold and unforgiving natural order more ‘civilized’, and helps minimize the collateral damage to the financial prosperity of the average person. 

With or without regulation, capitalism and the economies build around it will rise and recede, crashing and rebounding, continuing an eternal march forward, just as nature does. It will never fail, and it will never stop.

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By jobart, September 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By G.Anderson, September 18 at 2:55 pm #

William Pfaff   Sep 18, 2008

“Both market and democratic ideologies rest on a belief in the essential goodness of mankind, admittedly blocked from time to time by institutional or intellectual obstructions, which have only to be removed for harmony to be restored”.

The essential “goodness” of mankind ??  WTF ??

There are multitudes of “Utopia” books that can be found in the fiction/philosophical sections of your local library/bookstore. All of this genres’ area that I have read seems to put the “blame” for the ideology’s failure” DIRECTLY on “the essential “
goodness” of mankind ??”  No, more pointedly, it is quite the opposite.  It’s the “essential DARKSIDE of mankind” that makes a Utopia impossible.  And, as long as you trust in the voracity of the “talk”, you’re exposing yourself to be the “victim”, directly as a result of that trust.

There needs to be a total oversight of all Gov’t “instruments” ensuring compliance and understanding of “who” they work for. Like,
“you work for the American taxpayers/employers”;
The need for transparency in everything they do, or don’t, as a Gov’t. agency
They must be “legally” bound to abide with all laws prescibed in “The Constitution”. It’s the basis of our country and our hopes. No big deal? I think this basis (our Constitution)made our country become what it has.
I believe that we can only survive as a true nation if we hold onto those hopes that got us to where we are. I, for one, would welcome truth ,transparency, and a “United, American” populace.

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By Aaron F, September 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here comes all the anti-capitalism rhetoric.

The economy is collapsing because of government intervention, and more specifically by the Federal Reserve. There are two main reasons. One is the setting of artificially low interest rates by the Federal Reserve which encourages mal-investment (such as the housing bubble). Secondly, our fiat money system is controlled entirely by private banks with virtually no congressional oversight (even in a capitalist system, monetary policy is still controlled by the government).

These institutions should be allowed to fail. Yes, it will hurt the economy in the short term, but it is necessary to flush out all the bad debt so the market can correct itself. It will result in a healthier economy in the long term as it will build back up on a solid foundation.

Capitalism is not to blame here. Bad policies and government intervention is to blame. The government mismanages everything it touches, but for some reason people think it’s a good idea to put the same idiots in charge of the economy and my health care.

No thanks.

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By Janice P., September 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

G.Anderson,

That is not true. American wages are up if you look at the data.

The problem is people living beyond their means and purchasing houses they could not afford. Its about personal responsibility. Now people want to blame the banks for those individuals that were irresponsible.

I purchased a home recently and did so within my means and a locked rate. Everyone who gambled is getting a free ride on the policy Clinton implemented to make it easier for people to get credit without proving they could afford it.

This whole mess is a problem created by the Dems!

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By Ricardo, September 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Capitalism dead? Since when was the American market ever “capitalist”? You leftists got your regulations and your government bureau’s, etc. All it’s managed to do is reduce American productivity and drive companies away to China - who ditched Marx for Capitalism by the way. Now we’ll have inflation because DC had a “everyone has to own a home” policy. And now you have your biggest wish, nationalized housing. The same people - Demos and Republicans - who brought us Iraq and the Federal Reserve system now basically own your home. Can’t wait to see how that one is going to work out.  Yeah, lets have 70 years of FDR’s Marxism and then claim that Marx was right when it all busts. Total drivel.

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By dale Headley, September 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Something to think about: Communism enjoyed a wild ride, with both sucesses and failures, but ultimately died of its own contradictions, especially the innate greed of human beings.  Now read that sentence again, changing “Communism” to “unfettered, laissez faire capitalism.”  I think that is what we are witnessing the beginnings of.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, September 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

It’s been my perception, that the more unreal somone is the more they prefer unreality, to reality, dreams to the truth.

In Graduate school, I had many migraines from long hours reading Marx over strong coffee, but I consider those long hours well worth the effort. I doubt if he is taught much any more, his words rarely ever considered.

American’s turned to their homes for the money that they no longer made in wages. But then their debt was sold and leveraged to make more money. Everyone expected that housing prices would keep going up, but then houses became so expensve that very few people could afford to buy a home.

Added to the debt burden was credit card reform, and bankrupcy reform, a way to secure America’s debt, making it more attractive to investors. But these reforms made it much more dificult for American workers to survive.

That no one is talking about 35% interest rate on some credit cards, and credit card fraud against consumers, during this time, indicates how far off the radar American workers are to those in Washington.

Yet when the Fed asked people to respond via E-mail if they had grievences against their credit card company, they had something like 35,000 responses on a weekend.

Last weekend on the WSJ report, an investment banker, indicated he thought American’s debt was still a good investment. How sad, is that all we have to offer to the world, Debt, and War?

So now it’s become inneficient to bail out the banks one at a time, Paulson is proposing to bail them out all at once by buying, their debt, and putting the worker on the hook for it.

This should make those who leverage our debt and their investors very happy. But it will not keep Americans in their homes.

The buying and selling of derivatives should be made illegal. It’s a Ponzi scheme and nothing more, until we have some reality on this issue our economy will continue to sink further and further down.

While crooks on wall Street have their malfeasance rewarded, the crooks will be able to continue this game risk free.

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By desertdude, September 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

The fat cats on wall street got bailed out by the feds. The Gov’t screwed every American by bailing out
the very people who got us into this mess. They walk
away with all their money and the American people get stuck with the bill. Thanks GW, Thanks Congress and thank you John Mccain you deregulated everything and see what you have done. Now you want to be President. I DON’T THINK SO.

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By P. T., September 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

Actually, the biggest capitalists do not support free markets.  That would be far too risky and not in their self-interests.  Hence the major industries are consolidated into oligopolies.

Similarly, U.S. foreign policymakers are not promoters of democracy.  In fact, foreign aid goes disproportionately to governments that are gross violators of human rights.  U.S. business tends to find such places to be very profitable to operate in.

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By kath cantarella, September 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

‘one good thing about realism is that being realistic eventually turns out to be right.’ LOL!

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