Free - Beyond Collapse

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Reasons The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free

Guest post By Jonathan Turley

Below is a column in the Sunday Washington Post.  The column addresses how the continued rollbacks on civil liberties in the United States conflicts with the view of the country as the land of the free. 
If we are going to adopt Chinese legal principles, we should at least have the integrity to adopt one Chinese proverb: “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”  We seem as a country to be in denial as to the implications of these laws and policies. 
Whether we are viewed as a free country with authoritarian inclinations or an authoritarian nation with free aspirations (or some other hybrid definition), we are clearly not what we once were. [Update: in addition to the column below, a later column in the Washington Post explores more closely the loss of free speech rights in the West].

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit.

These countries also have constitutions that purport to guarantee freedoms and rights. But their governments have broad discretion in denying those rights and few real avenues for challenges by citizens — precisely the problem with the new laws in this country.

The list of powers acquired by the U.S. government since 9/11 puts us in rather troubling company.

Assassination of U.S. citizens

President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism. Last year, he approved the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaqi and another citizen under this claimed inherent authority. Last month, administration officials affirmed that power, stating that the president can order the assassination of any citizen whom he considers allied with terrorists. (Nations such as Nigeria, Iran and Syria have been routinely criticized for extrajudicial killings of enemies of the state.)

Indefinite detention

Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While Sen. Carl Levin insisted the bill followed existing law “whatever the law is,” the Senate specifically rejected an amendment that would exempt citizens and the Administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal court. The Administration continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion. (China recently codified a more limited detention law for its citizens, while countries such as Cambodia have been singled out by the United States for “prolonged detention.”)

Arbitrary justice

The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice. (Egypt and China have been denounced for maintaining separate military justice systems for selected defendants, including civilians.)

Warrantless searches

The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records. The government can use “national security letters” to demand, without probable cause, that organizations turn over information on citizens — and order them not to reveal the disclosure to the affected party. (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan operate under laws that allow the government to engage in widespread discretionary surveillance.)

Secret evidence

The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security — a claim made in a variety of privacy lawsuits and largely accepted by federal judges without question. Even legal opinions, cited as the basis for the government’s actions under the Bush and Obama administrations, have been classified. This allows the government to claim secret legal arguments to support secret proceedings using secret evidence. In addition, some cases never make it to court at all. The federal courts routinely deny constitutional challenges to policies and programs under a narrow definition of standing to bring a case.

War crimes

The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law. When courts in countries such as Spain moved to investigate Bush officials for war crimes, the Obama administration reportedly urged foreign officials not to allow such cases to proceed, despite the fact that the United States has long claimed the same authority with regard to alleged war criminals in other countries. (Various nations have resisted investigations of officials accused of war crimes and torture. Some, such as Serbia and Chile, eventually relented to comply with international law; countries that have denied independent investigations include Iran, Syria and China.)

Secret court

The government has increased its use of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has expanded its secret warrants to include individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations. In 2011, Obama renewed these powers, including allowing secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group. The administration has asserted the right to ignore congressional limits on such surveillance. (Pakistan places national security surveillance under the unchecked powers of the military or intelligence services.)

Immunity from judicial review

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has successfully pushed for immunity for companies that assist in warrantless surveillance of citizens, blocking the ability of citizens to challenge the violation of privacy. (Similarly, China has maintained sweeping immunity claims both inside and outside the country and routinely blocks lawsuits against private companies.)

Continual monitoring of citizens

The Obama administration has successfully defended its claim that it can use GPS devices to monitor every move of targeted citizens without securing any court order or review. It is not defending the power before the Supreme Court — a power described by Justice Anthony Kennedy as “Orwellian.” (Saudi Arabia has installed massive public surveillance systems, while Cuba is notorious for active monitoring of selected citizens.)

Extraordinary renditions

The government now has the ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers — including the possible transfer of U.S. citizens.

These new laws have come with an infusion of money into an expanded security system on the state and federal levels, including more public surveillance cameras, tens of thousands of security personnel and a massive expansion of a terrorist-chasing bureaucracy.

Some politicians shrug and say these increased powers are merely a response to the times we live in. Thus, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) could declare in an interview last spring without objection that “free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war.” Of course, terrorism will never “surrender” and end this particular “war.”
Other politicians rationalize that, while such powers may exist, it really comes down to how they are used. This is a common response by liberals who cannot bring themselves to denounce Obama as they did Bush. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), for instance, has insisted that Congress is not making any decision on indefinite detention: “That is a decision which we leave where it belongs — in the executive branch.”

And in a signing statement with the defense authorization bill, Obama said he does not intend to use the latest power to indefinitely imprison citizens. Yet, he still accepted the power as a sort of regretful autocrat.
An authoritarian nation is defined not just by the use of authoritarian powers, but by the ability to use them. If a president can take away your freedom or your life on his own authority, all rights become little more than a discretionary grant subject to executive will.

The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

The indefinite-detention provision in the defense authorization bill seemed to many civil libertarians like a betrayal by Obama. While the president had promised to veto the law over that provision, Levin, a sponsor of the bill, disclosed on the Senate floor that it was in fact the White House that approved the removal of any exception for citizens from indefinite detention.

Dishonesty from politicians is nothing new for Americans. The real question is whether we are lying to ourselves when we call this country the land of the free.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University.
Washington Post (Sunday) January 15, 2012

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Guest Post By L. Neil Smith
Yesterday, I received in my Inbox, a message from a well-meaning individual whose mailings I generally enjoy. He sends me many jokes, funny pictures, and the occasional right wing rant appropriate to one who clings to his guns and his religion. To me—as one who clings to his guns and Atlas Shrugged—this makes him a goodguy, a fellow traveler. 

He also occasionally sends me messages—and he is far from the only one—like the one reproduced in part below. Usually, I let them pass—he probably doesn't care what I think about intellectual property rights, or other controversies within the libertarian movement. But on this occasion, he sent me some ideas I need to talk about. 

Before I start, I should mention that my grandfather died in an Army camp near Waco, Texas, in 1918, a volunteer for Woodrow Wilson's "war to end war ... and make the world safe for democracy" who never got a chance to fight, thanks to what was then called the "Spanish Influenza". 

In 1944, my father, who never got a chance to meet his father, was a bombardier, a young Army Air Corps lieutenant in the nose of a B-17 who flew something like 29 missions over Europe before being shot down over Germany. He was taken as a prisoner to Stalag Luft Drei for about a year, had many horrible adventures both before and after he was captured, and was rescued, with his fellow inmates, after the D-Day landing. 

After the war, Dad tried civilian life, discovering that some corporations—United Airlines, for one—are worse than government. He re-enlisted in the brand new shiny Air Force as a staff sergeant, and, owing to the Korean War, was then recalled to his commissioned rank and ultimately assigned to Strategic Air Command. The war in Asia ended before his training did, so he never had to go "over there", but he went on to achieve the rank of Major and retired as a 30-year veteran. 

I grew up on and around Air Force bases all over North America from the time I was five years old until I graduated from high school. As a kid, I agreed with my father that he was helping to keep America safe and free from communist aggression, by flying a B-52 with a belly full of fusion bombs up over the North Pole two or three times a week, and hanging around at the edge of Soviet airspace, just to let the badguys know what they were up against. Who the hell knows? Maybe it worked. 

For the most part, I liked life as a military dependent, I liked growing up within the military community, and I actually pitied the civilian people I met who weren't a part of that warm world. But as time went on, Dad began to question a culture that somehow, by mere coincidence, managed to provide a war—or two—for each and every generation. And by the time he had retired, in 1965, and had two sons of military age in the middle of the murderously futile exercise in Vietnam, he was certain. He never read Smedley Darlington Butler's War Is A Racket, but he managed to figure out what the score really was. 

I still like and get along with military people, of all branches of service. They tend to like me, and what I do. I was told once that my first novel, The Probability Broach was, in popularity aboard our nuclear submarine fleet, second only to Garfield comics, and I felt highly complimented. If there had been a Navy R.O.T.C. program when I was at Colorado State University, my life would have turned out very differently. Air Force brat or not, I desperately wanted to be a sub-driver. 

But thanks to the Vietnam War, which I successfully avoided, I never had any illusions. I was not about to sacrifice a minute of my life to enhance the power of that giant ball of mucus, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who represented a vastly greater threat to my life, liberty, and property than Ho Chi Minh or anybody like him ever did. He was the fat, lying, murderous bastard who accused Barry Goldwater of wanting to fight a land war in Asia, and stuck us with the 1968 Gun Control Act. 

So with all that in mind, let's consider the Memorial Day claims my friend sent to me, and I can only hope he'll be my friend after this. 

"It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion."
The truth is that neither the veteran nor the preacher ever gave us such a right, it is ours, under natural law, the very moment we are born. It can certainly be suppressed, and has been other places in the world, and here, as well—ask any Mormon—but this government hasn't fought a war to defend any American's rights since the Revolution. 

"It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press."
Once again, not so. When the War of 1812 "broke out"—the U.S. was attempting to bestow the blessings of American life upon Canada whether Canada wanted them or not—and people objected (New England nearly seceded over it) people were accused of "sedition", a charge that should be impossible under the First Amendment, and thrown in jail. 

Later, Abraham Lincoln used the Army to smash the printing presses of his political opposition and intimidate voters during the 1864 election. 

"It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech."
Freedom of speech and of the press are natural rights, as well, which governments in general, and the American government in particular, have always regarded as a threat. If any single individual can be thanked for it, that honor belongs to John Peter Zenger (look him up). At some point, the establishment press became so corrupt, concealing or excusing government atrocities, that they became a part of government, and a new press—the Internet—had to evolve in its place. 

"It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble."
Having once been a "campus organizer" myself, I am well aware how little we had to do with defending the right to assemble, and how very badly it was done. But please, don't be ridiculous. Two words: Kent State.
"It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial." 

Actually, to the extent that any human institution is responsible for the right to a fair trial, it's a thousand years of English Common Law

"It is the veteran, not the politician, Who has given us the right to vote."
A dubious gift, at best, but it didn't come from any politicians or veterans. Thank the Greeks, and don't forget the Basques, whose methods of self-government were consciously imitated by the Founding Fathers.
I like and admire veterans, My dad was a vet and his dad before him. But name any war the United States ever fought to defend American rights. 

As I said, the War of 1812 was a failed attempt to conquer Canada. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the British in 1812? 

The Mexican War was declared on us by a crazy military dictator who couldn't believe he had been humiliated by an Army of farmers and ranchers. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Mexicans? 

The War Between the States was fought to consolidate an empire forged out of the shattered remnants of a confederation of free republics. Many northern soldiers thought they were fighting slavery, but the slaves who labored though the war on the Capitol dome might disagree. The South was tired of paying 80% of the taxes being collected. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the South? 

The Spanish-American War was an attempt by idiots like William McKinley and William Randolph Hearst to extend Lincoln's Empire overseas. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Spaniards?
World War I had nothing to do with America, but Americans were sent "Over There" by the evil Wilson to establish us as a global power. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Kaiser? 

Even World War II had nothing to do with us, although it's easy to understand—and difficult to resist—the impulse to destroy a monster like Hitler. It's important to remember that Hitler was created by the incredible stupidity of the victorious allies in the First World War. The sad thing about it all is that it was not a conflict between good and evil, but between differing brands of fascism.
Fascism won. 

Korea was an exercise in absolute insanity. I'm glad that the south remains prosperous and free, but the price for us was far too high. There was no reason whatever for Americans to be involved on the peninsula. What legitimate American interests were threatened by North Korea?
To this day, nobody is absolutely sure what Vietnam was all about. There's even a movie, Twilight's Last Gleaming, in which an Army officer hijacks a missile silo to force the President to tell the world the terrible truth of the thing. We killed 60,000 of our own— possibly including someone who, later in life, might have found a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's disease—and two million Vietnamese who are among the finest, bravest, most admirable human beings on this planet. What legitimate American interests were threatened by the Vietnmese? 

And now Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and whatever else is to follow. What legitimate American interests are threatened by any of those nations? 

Nothing about individual rights, property, or American life except their further destruction by the only government close enough to do us harm. Both major U.S. parties are controlled by warmongers who want to keep the government money flowing at any cost—to you and me, that is. Every legitimate American interest is threatened by the current government. 

There are ways to stop it, if you're interested.

L. Neil Smith is the Publisher and Senior Columnist of L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE, as well as the author of 33 freedom-oriented books, the most recent of which is DOWN WITH POWER: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis:
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DOWN WITH POWER was selected as the Freedom Book Club Book-of-the-Month for August 2012
He is Senior Editorial Consultant with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

16 Food Storage Tips for the Space Challenged Prepper

storage main

Guest Post By Gaye Levy
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

One of the more common prepper challenges is finding room for stored food and water. Lucky you if you have a large home with a basement or cellar – you have plenty of space at just the right temperature. But the rest of us? Not so much. Many people live in apartments, condos, mobile homes, RV’s or, in my case, a one bedroom cottage. This means we are cramped for normal pantry and closet space let alone space for our emergency food and water.
Couple the lack of storage space with the six enemies of food storage (temperature, moisture, oxygen, light, pests and time) and the storage problem compounds exponentially.
This does not have to be an impossible situation. With a bit of creativity, almost everyone can find a bit of extra space for their emergency food storage.
So with that in mind, today I would like to offer some ideas for storing food for the space challenged. I am going to do this by using my own home as an example.
In the photos below you will see the results of my walk-around assessment of usable storage space in my own home. As embarrassing as it might seem to expose my messes and disorganization for the world to see, I think it will help give you some ideas where you too can find some extra space in your own home.

16 Food Storage Tips for the Space-Challenged Prepper

1. Build some shelves under the stairwell
storage 1If you are like me, that awkward space under the stairwell is a big mess. I actually cleaned this area out before taking the photo – that is how bad it was. If you don’t want to build shelves, consider putting some buckets along the back wall then placing a board on top. On top of this make-shift shelf you can store #10 tins or canned and packaged foods. This is going to be the number one makeover in my home.
2. Shelves above the washer and dryer
The area above the washer and dryer is not ideal since it is prone to heat and humidity. Still, if you are diligent about rotating on an annual basis, this area is perfectly acceptable for storing some canned goods or Mylar bags filled with rice, beans or oatmeal.
In my case I have some dead space next to the cupboard – perfect for a shelf or two.
3. Build some shallow shelves behind the clothes in your closet
Most closets are far deeper than necessary for your hanging clothes. Adding a shelf just wide enough to hold canned goods will take advantage of this extra space without compromising your clothing one bit.
4. Clear out the junk on the shelf above your clothes in the closet
storage 4Talk about a waste of space. I have stored some decorative shams up on the closet shelf above my hanging clothes. I used to keep the shams on the bed but to tell the truth, it made making the bed too much trouble so now I pull them out when company is coming. Most certainly, these pillows can be stored in my garage where it gets really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.
5. Shelves on the backs of doors
As an alternative to shelves, you can purchase some inexpensive over the door shoe organizers for storing canned goods or bottled water.
6. Stack canned goods or jugs of water behind the sofa
If your sofa is pushed up against a wall, consider moving it out a few inches and using this new found space for food and water storage.
7. Shelves under the sink
As long as the food you store under the sink is well sealed, it is perfectly okay to use this space for storage. Consider a shelf just wide enough to hold soda or juice jugs filled with rice or beans – perfect.
8. Storage in the deep recesses of your cupboards
storage 8This is a storage area I had not thought of before. The back on the very top shelves of my cupboards are areas that I consider to be no-mans land. I climbed up on a step stool to peek inside and stored there are cups and saucers that I never use, odds and ends of glassware, and items I have dragged from home to home during my 38 years of marriage. This stuff should be thrown out or given away. Why do I keep this stuff?
Take a look inside your own cupboards. Do you have casserole dishes you never use? How about the “good china” that is only used once a year if that often? These are candidates for the garage or the garage sale. Box them up and make room for your food storage.
9. Storage above the refrigerator
Ditto the above. Mine is too high to get to on a daily basis and too deep to be practical. At the very least, the back of the area above the refrigerator can be used to emergency food storage.
10. Storage in decorative baskets
storage 10This is one of my favorites.  I love baskets and use them to store all sorts of things in plain sight. I use one for my bread making supplies, another for pet food and treats, another as a potato bin. These are right there in my living room but no one is the wiser. Like I said, hidden in plain sight.
11. Storage behind the books on your bookshelf
If you happen to collect books, think about pulling the books out toward the edge of the shelf and storing food behind the books.
12. Storage under the bed
This one is easy so I am surprised more people don’t consider this option. Not only that, you can use some well-placed bricks to raise your bed and to increase the height of your under-bed storage area.
13. Storage under the sofa or other pieces of furniture
storage 13Do not discount the shallow storage area under your sofa, chairs or other furniture. This is where I store my extra large 15” cast iron skillet (my 12” skillet calls the oven home) as well as my baking sheets, pizza peel, board games and other items. As you walk around your own home and inventory space, be on the lookout for things that can be moved around and stored in out of the way places such as under the furniture.
14. Fill up those empty suitcases
Unless you are a business traveler, chances are you only use your luggage once or twice a year. Empty suitcases are ideal for storing food that has been packaged in Mylar or FoodSaver bags. This works equally well for pastas, rice, cereals and other packaged items from the grocery store.
Consider storing the individual packages of food in a large garbage bag then stuffing the whole thing into a suitcase. That way you can simply remove the single large bag when you are ready to travel, set it aside for the duration of your trip, then replace it when you get home.
As a bonus, if you need to evacuate, you can grab your suitcase full of food and take it with you. Pretty neat, huh?
15. Store buckets in the bathtub
I know people that never take a bath or do so only occasionally. This is not to say they are dirty – they simply prefer the shower. Why not fill the bathtub with well sealed buckets of food? You can put up a nice shower curtain and no one will be the wiser. You could also store a bucket or two in the shower. Removing it before turning on the water is not such a big deal, after all.
By the way, the reason you want to use a bucket in the shower is so that the humidity from the bathroom does not leach into your food. That, plus the fact that is easy to just hoist the bucket and set it aside – so much easier than a bunch of separate packages or cans.
16. Build a loft for storage in the garage
storage 16We built a storage loft in our garage.  If you do not have a high peaked ceiling like we did, you can put a shelf around the upper perimeter of the garage instead. This is a great place to store those little used kitchen appliances, off season clothes and other little used items – making room inside your home for more food.

Making It All Worthwhile

There are some factors to keep in mind as you evaluate these hidden food storage locations in your home.  The first is simply this:  your stored food should be used, replaced and rotated. This is especially true if your storage conditions are not optimal.
Let me give you an example. You live in a warm, humid climate and do not have air-conditioning. On a hot summer day, the temperature inside your home may be 80F and the humidity may be 80%. Okay, it is what it is. Rather than fret about the diminished shelf life of your stored food, plan on using it after a year or two. As long as you replace what you use, you are fine. You food will still be nutritious and edible so rotate it into your day-to-day food pantry and eat it.
The other thing is that your food storage is “not an inheritance for your grandchildren”. I wish I can claim credit for that statement but it belongs to Barbary Salsbury, the author of Preparedness Principles: The Complete Personal Preparedness Resource Guide for Any Emergency Situation. I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara a couple of months ago and I was knocked to my senses by this statement.
It is okay to purchase what you need to get you through a one month or even a one year emergency. But use your food. Cook with it and it eat it. Learn to cook your food outdoors, perhaps in a fire pit or on a rocket stove. Try eating it cold.  Learn what you like and what you will take a pass on the next time around. But most of all, don’t think that you have to hoard your food. Eat it, enjoy it and replace it.

The Final Word

Now that you are armed with some great (I hope) ideas, take a stroll around your own home. Look for your own set of hidey holes and or areas where junk has accumulated and think about how, with a wee bit or organization and handyman skills, you can store some extra food.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

American Monetary Policy - The Root Of All Evil

Hidden History: According to Benjamin Franklin, the real reason for the Revolutionary War has been hid from you

American history has been a compendium of our ongoing battle with the privately controlled Bank of England, beginning with the revolutionary war.  To understand our history, we need to go back to Benjamin Franklin who is often called the "father of paper money" though it been used thousands of years earlier (more accurately, he was the father of colonial American paper money).

Franklin's paper money was a primary reason for fighting America's War for Independence.  But first, let's explore colonial scrip money...
In 1729 he wrote “A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency.”
"This pamphlet, a brilliant tour de force, was well received by the common people. The rich, however, hate it, but they have no writers among them able to answer it. Franklin’s arguments carry the day, and the paper money bill gains a majority in the [Pennsylvania] assembly."  - link

Colonial srip was very succesful:
There was abundance in the Colonies, and peace was reigning on every border. It was difficult, and even impossible, to find a happier and more prosperous nation on all the surface of the globe. Comfort was prevailing in every home. The people, in general, kept the highest moral standards, and education was widely spread.”  - Benjamin Franklin
No doubt, many of the colonies were doing very well, especially Pennsylvania and Massachusetts where the amount of new paper money was controlled.  But not all the colonies had the same success as earlier attempts in South Carolina resulted in a currency deprecation. A system was clearly needed and Franklin forged that system with his - "A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency.”

Franklin begins his pamphlet by noting that a lack of money to transact trade within the province carries a heavy cost because the alternative to paper money is not gold and silver coins, which through trade have all been shipped off to England, but barter.  Barter, in turn, increases the cost of local exchange and so lowers wages, employment, and immigration.  Money scarcity also causes high local interest rates, which reduces investment and slows development.  Paper money will solve these problems.
But what gives paper money its value?  Here Franklin is clear throughout his career: It is not legal tender laws or fixed exchange rates between paper money and gold and silver coins but the quantity of paper money relative to the volume of internal trade within the colony that governs the value of paper money.  An excess of paper money relative to the volume of internal trade causes it to lose value (depreciate).
First, Franklin points out that gold and silver are of no permanent value and so paper monies linked to or backed by gold and silver, as with bank paper money in Europe, are of no permanent value.  Everyone knew that over the previous 100 years the labor value of gold and silver had fallen because new discoveries had expanded supplies faster than demand.  The spot value of gold and silver could fluctuate just like that of any other commodity and could be acutely affected by unexpected trade disruptions.  Franklin observes in 1729 that “we [Pennsylvanians] have already parted with our silver and gold” in trade with England, and the difference between the value of paper money and that of silver is due to “the scarcity of the latter.”
Second, Franklin notes that land is a more certain and steady asset with which to back paper money.  For a given colony, its supply will not fluctuate with trade as much as gold and silver do, nor will its supply be subject to long-run expansion as New World gold and silver had been. Finally, and most important, land cannot be exported from the province as gold and silver can.  He then points out that Pennsylvania’s paper money will be backed by land; that is, it will be issued by the legislature through a loan office, and subjects will pledge their lands as collateral for loans of paper money.
Finally, Franklin argues that “coined land” or a properly run land bank will automatically stabilize the quantity of paper money issued — never too much and never too little to carry on the province’s internal trade.  If there is too little paper money, the barter cost of trade will be high, and people will borrow more money on their landed security to reap the gains of the lowered costs that result when money is used to make transactions.  A properly run land bank will never loan more paper money than the landed security available to back it, and so the value of paper money, through this limit on its quantity, will never fall below that of land.
If, by chance, too much paper money were issued relative to what was necessary to carry on internal trade such that the paper money started to lose its value, people would snap up this depreciated paper money to pay off their mortgaged lands in order to clear away the mortgage lender’s legal claims to the land.  So people could potentially sell the land to capture its real value.  This process of paying paper money back into the government would reduce the quantity of paper money in circulation and so return paper money’s value to its former level.
Automatic stabilization or a natural equilibrium of the amount of paper money within the province results from decentralized market competition within this monetary institutional setting.  - link
When the colonies united to fight for their freedom, congress issued Continental dollars (redeemable in silver and gold) to pay for the war.  Unfortunately, the U.S. had no gold or silver and promised to pay later.  The value of the currency deprecated since many knew that it was unlikely that they would ever be able to redeem the obligation.  And England printed large amounts of counterfeit Continentals to devalue the currency.
In a letter to Joseph Quincy in 1783, Franklin claims that he predicted this outcome and had proposed a better paper money plan, but that Congress had rejected it...around 1781 Franklin writes a tract called “Of the Paper Money of America.”  In it he argues that the depreciation of the Continental dollar operated as an inflation tax or a tax on money itself.  As such, this tax fell more equally across the citizenry than most other taxes.  - link
The term "fiat" money is very misleading, as you can see the colonial scrip was backed by the collateral of land.  And so it is today, as private Federal Reserve notes are backed by the people and property of the United States.  The banks may profitably create it for virtually free but it is backed by us; so why does our nation pay others for money that we alone secure?
On to the Revolutionary War....

Before the war, the colonies sent Benjamin Franklin to England to represent their interests.  Franklin was greatly surprised by the amount of poverty and high unemployment.  It just didn't make sense, England was the richest country in the world but the working class was impoverished, he wrote “The streets are covered with beggars and tramps.”
It is said that he asked his friends in England how this could be so, they replied that they had too many workers.  Many believed, along with Mathus, that wars and plague were necessary to rid the country from man-power surpluses.
“We have no poor houses in the Colonies; and if we had some, there would be nobody to put in them, since there is, in the Colonies, not a single unemployed person, neither beggars nor tramps.”  - Benjamin Franklin
He was asked why the working class in the colonies were so prosperous.
“That is simple. In the Colonies, we issue our own paper money. It is called ‘Colonial Scrip.’ We issue it in proper proportion to make the goods and pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In this manner, creating ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power and we have no interest to pay to no one.”  - Benjamin Franklin
Soon afterward, the English bankers demanded that the King and Parliament pass a law that prohibited the colonies from using their scrip money.  Only gold and silver could be used which would be provided by the English bankers.  This began the plague of debt based money in the colonies that had cursed the English working class.
The first law was passed in 1751, and then a harsher law was passed in 1763.  Franklin claimed that within one year, the colonies were filled with unemployment and beggars, just like in England, because there was not enough money to pay for the goods and work. The money supply had been cut in half.
Franklin, who was one of the chief architects of the American independence, wrote:

“The Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War.”  - Benjamin Franklin

This opinion was confirmed by great statesmen of his era:

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."  - Thomas Jefferson

History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.  - James Madison

“Banks have done more injury to the religion, morality, tranquility, prosperity, and even wealth of the nation than they can have done or ever will do good.”  - John Adams

English historian, John Twells, wrote about the money of the colonies, the colonial Scrip:

“It was the monetary system under which America’s Colonies flourished to such an extent that Edmund Burke was able to write about them: ‘Nothing in the history of the world resembles their progress. It was a sound and beneficial system, and its effects led to the happiness of the people.
In a bad hour, the British Parliament took away from America its representative money, forbade any further issue of bills of credit, these bills ceasing to be legal tender, and ordered that all taxes should be paid in coins. Consider now the consequences: this restriction of the medium of exchange paralyzed all the industrial energies of the people.  Ruin took place in these once flourishing Colonies; most rigorous distress visited every family and every business, discontent became desperation, and reached a point, to use the words of Dr. Johnson, when human nature rises up and assets its rights.”

Peter Cooper, industrialist and statesman wrote:

“After Franklin gave explanations on the true cause of the prosperity of the Colonies, the Parliament exacted laws forbidding the use of this money in the payment of taxes. This decision brought so many drawbacks and so much poverty to the people that it was the main cause of the Revolution. The suppression of the Colonial money was a much more important reason for the general uprising than the Tea and Stamp Act.”

Our Founding Fathers knew that without financial independence and sovereignty there could be no other lasting freedoms.  Our freedoms and national sovereignty are being lost because most people do not understand our money system.

All the perplexities confusion and distress in America arise not from defects of the Constitution, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.  -John Adams

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The ONE Mitigating Circumstance…

Guest Post By Capitalist Eric

“There are no ‘mitigating circumstances’ when it comes to rebellion against a liege lord.” 
Yoshi Toranaga

“Unless you win.” 
John Blackthorne

 –James Clavell, SHOGUN

It is an interesting thing, to listen to activists on the left and right sides of the political aisle, to denigrate each other, and it is especially entertaining if you identify with either party against “them.“  But the sad reality between the political parties is best summarized in the following:

“There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties!” Alabama Governor George Wallace, candidate for President, 1968

An objective look at the track-record of the last 45 years (since that observation was made), will demonstrate that both parties aren’t interested in the welfare of the American people, but looking out for the welfare of their own pocketbooks.  The country is now run by two battling factions, the globalists and collectivists.

The globalists are interested in money and power.  They aim to accomplish the dream of past tyrants like Napoleon, Hitler, Lenin and Stalin: world domination.  Their fiat-currency schemes have crippled every economy around the world- save Iceland, ironically- and utterly destroyed the sovereignty of every single nation on the planet.  The financial whiz-kids of the American financial system, in cahoots with their British counterparts, have created an economic virus which has infected every corner of the globe.  The purpose of this virus is to bring the global economy to its knees at the same time, so that power can be consolidated, and a centralized bank for the entire world unveiled as the savior to all our financial problems.  But of course, a global bank will no more save us than the Federal Reserve has saved us, but that should be obvious.
The fly in the ointment of their globalist plans, has been the United States of America, which has been an economic powerhouse, due to manufacturing know-how, ingenuity, strong property rights and an economic system that fosters innovation.  As an added bonus, those same unruly Americans are armed to the teeth.  How does one bring down such a large stumbling-block to the well-laid globalist plans?

Corrupt their country, of course.  This has been done by corrupting the staunch property rights by eroding the rule of law, the work ethic of Americans in the schools, corrupting the parent-child relationship, and making the international trading laws such that the economy of the USA can be hollowed-out.  To further corrupt Americans, turn every possible group one against the next (think of hyphen use in how you identify yourself, while I am simply “American”), pit the poor against the rich, pit the right against the left, and militarize the police so that people are afraid to speak up, to stand for what’s right.

Finally, since the globalists ARE the banksters and use the Federal Reserve- as well as the European Central Bank- to work in conjunction with other countries, they will continue to devalue the currencies until they’ve reached their intrinsic value, which is (in the case of a dollar bill) merely a scrap of paper.  As a hidden bonus, let’s make it difficult to use physical currency or obtain precious-metals, and make all transactions digital (including new money “printing”), so when the collapse occurs, your dollar isn’t even worth the paper it’s NOT printed on…  Merely erase the files, and voila’!  No money, because it never existed to begin with.

It’s truly diabolical, what they’ve done.  Their end-goal remains the same, though…  money and power.  If THEY control all money, in the end, only they will HAVE money, and therefore all the POWER.  Their actions- as manifested by the Federal Reserve and ECB, the “template” of Cyprus which they will use globally to steal anything they’ve not already stolen, shows they have no compunctions with such minor things as ethics and morals.  These people are amoral in nature; that is, they don’t care about what is or is not moral, because such things don’t matter.  ALL that matters to them, is power.  Total power isn’t just a goal, it’s the only goal, and only amoral people would ever desire such a thing.  So whether it’s right or wrong to murder someone, starve an entire country to death (as Cyprus was threatened with), or genocide…?  The ends justifies the means.   This is the summary of the globalists and what they’re doing.
On the flip side of the coin, are the collectivists.  Some are “democrats,” some are hardcore liberals, some socialists or communists, and so on…  Of course, others are masquerading as “Republicans,” or whatever they need, to seem as an alternative to the leftist ideologues.  But with a few rare exceptions, they’re all the same; playing a game, to pad their wallets.  True representatives of the people are avoided as much as possible; witness the “Republican” party bank-rolling easily-controlled puppets, and vilifying anyone who might not toe the party-line (such as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”).  The Republican and Democrat parties are a sweet-heart deal, because while they’re completely controlled, the illusion of “choice” remains…

But as has been demonstrated under every President since at least Ronald Reagan (and the case could easily be made all the way back to Eisenhower), every administration has been in the pocket of the big banks and the big military contractors.  Each administration simply does what it must, to fulfill their agendas, while doing what’s necessary to line their own pockets at the same time.  This is why legalized insider-trading was just signed into law by Obama, after receiving overwhelming support in the House and Senate.  Everyone’s on the take, and NOBODY is representing the people…

The collectivists of the left-leaning variety, push the police-state agenda.  They dearly want to quash any sense of individualism, profit, capitalism, representative government, and so on.  In other words, they’re your typical communist activists, struggling to develop their idealistic view where everyone is equal, everyone gets the same pay, nobody stands out, nobody profits.  That this system has utterly failed every time it has been tried, they think is only because they weren’t running the show.  A lot of them honestly believe this, and believe that with the right government controls, they can stamp out poverty, inequality, famine, disease, and all the other vagaries of existence.  They mean  well, in that they think that government can overcome the nature of man, and they think that with enough wishful thinking, enough emotion and enough conversation, they can convince everyone else that their beliefs are true…

To accomplish the utopian goal of universal equality, there are certain things that need to happen, to erode the individuality and make such a system possible.  At this website, the 10 Planks of Marxism are listed, with our modern American equivalent (additional comment are from the linked website):
1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
Americans do these with actions such as the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1868), and various zoning, school & property taxes. Also the Bureau of Land Management (Zoning laws are the first step to government property ownership)
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
Americans know this as misapplication of the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 1913, The Social Security Act of 1936.; Joint House Resolution 192 of 1933; and various State “income” taxes. We call it “paying your fair share”.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
Americans call it Federal & State estate Tax (1916); or reformed Probate Laws, and limited inheritance via arbitrary inheritance tax statutes.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
Americans call it government seizures, tax liens, Public “law” 99-570 (1986); Executive order 11490, sections 1205, 2002 which gives private land to the Department of Urban Development; the imprisonment of “terrorists” and those who speak out or write against the “government” (1997 Crime/Terrorist Bill); or the IRS confiscation of property without due process. Asset forfeiture laws are used by DEA, IRS, ATF etc…).
5. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
Americans call it the Federal Reserve which is a privately-owned credit/debt system allowed by the Federal Reserve act of 1913. All local banks are members of the Fed system, and are regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) another privately-owned corporation. The Federal Reserve Banks issue Fiat Paper Money and practice economically destructive fractional reserve banking.
6. Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
Americans call it the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) mandated through the ICC act of 1887, the Commissions Act of 1934, The Interstate Commerce Commission established in 1938, The Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Executive orders 11490, 10999, as well as State mandated driver’s licenses and Department of Transportation regulations.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
Americans call it corporate capacity, The Desert Entry Act and The Department of Agriculture… Thus read “controlled or subsidized” rather than “owned”… This is easily seen in these as well as the Department of Commerce and Labor, Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Mines, National Park Service, and the IRS control of business through corporate regulations.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
Americans call it Minimum Wage and slave labor like dealing with our Most Favored Nation trade partner; i.e. Communist China. We see it in practice via the Social Security Administration and The Department of Labor. The National debt and inflation caused by the communal bank has caused the need for a two “income” family. Woman in the workplace since the 1920′s, the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, assorted Socialist Unions, affirmative action, the Federal Public Works Program and of course Executive order 11000.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
Americans call it the Planning Reorganization act of 1949 , zoning (Title 17 1910-1990) and Super Corporate Farms, as well as Executive orders 11647, 11731 (ten regions) and Public “law” 89-136. These provide for forced relocations and forced sterilization programs, like in China.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
Americans are being taxed to support what we call ‘public’ schools, but are actually “government force-tax-funded schools ” Even private schools are government regulated. The purpose is to train the young to work for the communal debt system. We also call it the Department of Education, the NEA and Outcome Based “Education” . These are used so that all children can be indoctrinated and inculcated with the government propaganda, like “majority rules”, and “pay your fair share”. WHERE are the words “fair share” in the Constitution, Bill of Rights or the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26)?? NO WHERE is “fair share” even suggested !! The philosophical concept of “fair share” comes from the Communist maxim, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need! This concept is pure socialism. … America was made the greatest society by its private initiative WORK ETHIC … Teaching ourselves and others how to “fish” to be self sufficient and produce plenty of EXTRA commodities to if so desired could be shared with others who might be “needy”… Americans have always voluntarily been the MOST generous and charitable society on the planet.
Do you notice how many of the 10 Planks have been implemented?  The answer is, of course, ALL of them.
But much more interesting, is how most of them dovetail with the globalist agenda…  Which is why they were implemented so easily.  Basically, real Americans are fighting against not one, but two internal enemies, that are Hell-bent on destroying the U.S.A.

The leftist ideologues are pushing the agenda in their belief that the end result will be a world free of pain, hunger, worry, failure or success…  They believe in it so much, that they’re perfectly happy to commit treasonous acts against this country, because those “evil dead white guys” who wrote the Constitution were a bunch of twits, who didn’t give a damn about the “little guy.”  They think their viewpoint is the only one with a sense of compassion, and that anybody who doesn’t agree with the is truly evil and heartless.  So they’ll commit crimes, hurt or kill “heartless” people, to save the rest of humanity from the evils of capitalism.
Your opinion that God will judge them harshly, falls on deaf ears.  After all, the leftist utopians are (by and large) irreligious- at best, indifferent to religious tenets, if not downright hostile to such beliefs…  because adherence to such beliefs would compel one to act with a moral core.  And leftist ideologues believe- like the globalists- that the end truly justifies the means.  An example is the question of abortion; leftists believe that convenience and whatever they happen to believe at the time, is the truth.  If they decide to believe, on a whim, that a child is not really human until the age of three, than it becomes a logical extension to allow “abortions” until a child is aged three.  Yes, they really proposed this, as they claim that newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”.

THIS is proof positive that the leftists are irreligious, and amoral.

Your warnings that they will burn in Hell for the crimes they are committing, will fall on deaf ears, because they care only about THIS life, their power OVER you, and clearly, they have no qualms about murder of the most repugnant sort.  Do you think they’ll have any qualms about killing you, or your children?
This grotesque display of logic by the leftists, also serves as a clear indication of why every communist state has ultimately turned on itself, resulting in literally mountains of skulls.

But it is also the result of collectivism in all its forms: socialism, communism, fascism/corporatism and progressivism.

You’ve probably noticed I lump in the “Republicans” with the Democrats, socialists and communists, and perhaps you’ve disagreed with me on this point…  Before you get angry that I would use such a broad brush, I would ask you to read an absolutely brilliant essay, “The Political Spectrum Con,” written in 2005 by Nelson Hultberg.

While his explanation is beautiful, I will try to summarize it as follows:

1.  We’ve been taught the political spectrum is divided as shown:

However, the fallacies of this are that a.) Communism, Socialism and Fascism are all dictatorships, different only in the details, b.) there are shades of total governance, but nothing mentioned about the lack of governance (i.e., shades of freedom or anarchism), c.) socialism is good as long as it’s “democratic.”
He makes the point that other spectrums are used, such as how the economy works:

The entire distortion is a subtle attempt to make advo­cates of individualism and capitalism appear as extremists or fascists and convince everyone that the ideal system is our present centralized welfare state. This is certainly not a correct picture. The true political spectrum that properly portrays reality according to Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean would be as follows:

What this basically means, is that both the left AND the right are trying to consolidate power for their own ends.  The Republicans use it to line their own pockets and have an empire (based on military exploits) while the Democrats are using government to line their own pockets while mouthing the utopian platitudes.
We’ve delved into the no-mans’ land of total government control (remember George W. Bush signing the PATRIOT-USA act?), and whether you vote for the right or the left, you will NOT get your freedom back by merely voting on election day, because all of the “acceptable” candidates are pushing further and further left… on the above graph.

THIS is why nothing ever changes in Washington D.C., and only continues to get worse.
THIS is why our “representatives” claim monopoly power to use force, while we are literally being disarmed by our government.

Ex-president b.j. clinton once said “Terror mean[s] killing and robbery and coercion by people who do not have state authority and go beyond national borders.”
If the government wants to plant bombs at the Boston Marathon, it’s not terrorism, it’s state policy.  If the government commits false-flag attacks, to promote the increasing level of government control, it’s not a crime or terrorism, it’s merely “politics.”

Remember Melissa Harris-Perry, that “African-American” professor at Tulane, who claimed that your children belong to the state?  She bragged that she starts her political science class that when a criminal steals your money at gunpoint, we call that armed robbery; if the state does that, we call it “taxation.”
Yes, the leftists (as used on the last graph above) truly believe all of this…  stuff.

So now, we get to the heart of the matter…  We’ve been under attack from all sides, for the better part of 50 years…  by banksters, by government lackeys and hangers-on, by people in it for the money, crooks and thieves, swindlers, etc.  We’ve also been under attack by those who would presume to know what’s best for us, no matter what we really want or need.  And so, let’s take a look at where we stand, in this war being waged upon us:
  • We have no honest media, only propaganda outlets (talking about the MSM).
  • We’ve lost the schools, and we’ve almost lost our kids.
  • We have no justice system, and the governments are hopelessly corrupted with liars, cheats and whores.
  • We’ve no more property rights, no more rights at all (look at the thugs in Boston, for an example).
  • We’ve lost our economy, and our livelihoods, with little prospect of them returning any time soon.
  • The treasury has been emptied of gold, replaced with IOU’s that are worth nothing.
  • The retirement funds are empty; default on some $238 Trillion of actual debt is certain.
And NOW, they’re using jack-booted thugs (cops, DHS, TSA, to terrorize and intimidate any who dare express their anger.

The only thing we have left, is the “doomsday option” built into the Constitution: the 2nd Amendment.
We’ve lost everything else, but at least we still have our arms (unless they can somehow take those away).  And until they figure out how to make that happen, gun owners remain a very real threat to them.  If you can’t beat them on the battlefield, make them think you’re stronger than you are…  and that’s what they’re doing.

In my viewpoint, the only logical conclusion to the war that has been waged on us by the collectivists (from both the left and right) is revolution.  And I know, to even say such a thing, makes me a “potential terrorist.”  *Yawn.*  It’s common-sense.

The FedGov has made anyone who even thinks outside their approved narrative, a designated “potential terrorist,” for the intimidation factor.  If- by some strange chain of events- real Americans finally say “I’ve had enough,” it’s game over for the FedGov fools (and any more local people who’re trying to collect their own power).  The government tries to be everywhere at once, make a show of how tough  they are with their tacti-COOL gear, their MRAP armored cars (which can’t navigate off of roads) and their overwhelming numbers (like they did in Boston)…

It’s evil to talk about revolution.  It’s evil and dangerous to question your government.  And (according to the government) there are NO mitigating circumstances under which rebellion is acceptable…
Unless you win.

Please let me know your thoughts, on this…  I’m not a professional blogger, I just do this to hopefully put out useful information, and perhaps synthesize “the big picture” into something manageable, better understood, I guess you could say…  So I guess it’s my weird way of keeping my sanity, in an insane world.  If you have suggestions on what else I should study and write about, I’m open to your thoughts…  Capitalist Eric

Rise Up or Die

Guest Post By Chris Hedges 

Joe Sacco and I spent two years reporting from the poorest pockets of the United States for our book “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt.” We went into our nation’s impoverished “sacrifice zones”—the first areas forced to kneel before the dictates of the marketplace—to show what happens when unfettered corporate capitalism and ceaseless economic expansion no longer have external impediments. We wanted to illustrate what unrestrained corporate exploitation does to families, communities and the natural world. We wanted to challenge the reigning ideology of globalization and laissez-faire capitalism to illustrate what life becomes when human beings and the ecosystem are ruthlessly turned into commodities to exploit until exhaustion or collapse. And we wanted to expose as impotent the formal liberal and governmental institutions that once made reform possible, institutions no longer equipped with enough authority to check the assault of corporate power. 

What has taken place in these sacrifice zones—in postindustrial cities such as Camden, N.J., and Detroit, in coalfields of southern West Virginia where mining companies blast off mountaintops, in Indian reservations where the demented project of limitless economic expansion and exploitation worked some of its earliest evil, and in produce fields where laborers often endure conditions that replicate slavery—is now happening to much of the rest of the country. These sacrifice zones succumbed first. You and I are next. 

Corporations write our legislation. They control our systems of information. They manage the political theater of electoral politics and impose our educational curriculum. They have turned the judiciary into one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. They have decimated labor unions and other independent mass organizations, as well as having bought off the Democratic Party, which once defended the rights of workers. With the evisceration of piecemeal and incremental reform—the primary role of liberal, democratic institutions—we are left defenseless against corporate power. 

The Department of Justice seizure of two months of records of phone calls to and from editors and reporters at The Associated Press is the latest in a series of dramatic assaults against our civil liberties. The DOJ move is part of an effort to hunt down the government official or officials who leaked information to the AP about the foiling of a plot to blow up a passenger jet. Information concerning phones of Associated Press bureaus in New York, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Conn., as well as the home and mobile phones of editors and reporters, was secretly confiscated. This, along with measures such as the use of the Espionage Act against whistle-blowers, will put a deep freeze on all independent investigations into abuses of government and corporate power. 

Seizing the AP phone logs is part of the corporate state’s broader efforts to silence all voices that defy the official narrative, the state’s Newspeak, and hide from public view the inner workings, lies and crimes of empire. The person or persons who provided the classified information to the AP will, if arrested, mostly likely be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. That law was never intended when it was instituted in 1917 to silence whistle-blowers. And from 1917 until Barack Obama took office in 2009 it was employed against whistle-blowers only three times, the first time against Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The Espionage Act has been used six times by the Obama administration against government whistle-blowers, including Thomas Drake. 

The government’s fierce persecution of the press—an attack pressed by many of the governmental agencies that are arrayed against WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and activists such as Jeremy Hammond—dovetails with the government’s use of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to carry out the assassination of U.S. citizens; of the FISA Amendments Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution was once illegal—the warrantless wiretapping and monitoring of tens of millions of U.S. citizens; and of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which permits the government to have the military seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them in indefinite detention. These measures, taken together, mean there are almost no civil liberties left. 

A handful of corporate oligarchs around the globe have everything—wealth, power and privilege—and the rest of us struggle as part of a vast underclass, increasingly impoverished and ruthlessly repressed. There is one set of laws and regulations for us; there is another set of laws and regulations for a power elite that functions as a global mafia. 

We stand helpless before the corporate onslaught. There is no way to vote against corporate power. Citizens have no way to bring about the prosecution of Wall Street bankers and financiers for fraud, military and intelligence officials for torture and war crimes, or security and surveillance officers for human rights abuses. The Federal Reserve is reduced to printing money for banks and financiers and lending it to them at almost zero percent interest; corporate officers then lend it to us at usurious rates as high as 30 percent. I do not know what to call this system. It is certainly not capitalism. Extortion might be a better word. The fossil fuel industry, meanwhile, relentlessly trashes the ecosystem for profit. The melting of 40 percent of the summer Arctic sea ice is, to corporations, a business opportunity. Companies rush to the Arctic and extract the last vestiges of oil, natural gas, minerals and fish stocks, indifferent to the death pangs of the planet. The same corporate forces that give us endless soap operas that pass for news, from the latest court proceedings surrounding O.J. Simpson to the tawdry details of the Jodi Arias murder trial, also give us atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide that surpass 400 parts per million. They entrance us with their electronic hallucinations as we waiver, as paralyzed with fear as Odysseus’ sailors, between Scylla and Charybdis. 

There is nothing in 5,000 years of economic history to justify the belief that human societies should structure their behavior around the demands of the marketplace. This is an absurd, utopian ideology. The airy promises of the market economy have, by now, all been exposed as lies. The ability of corporations to migrate overseas has decimated our manufacturing base. It has driven down wages, impoverishing our working class and ravaging our middle class. It has forced huge segments of the population—including those burdened by student loans—into decades of debt peonage. It has also opened the way to massive tax shelters that allow companies such as General Electric to pay no income tax. Corporations employ virtual slave labor in Bangladesh and China, making obscene profits. As corporations suck the last resources from communities and the natural world, they leave behind, as Joe Sacco and I saw in the sacrifice zones we wrote about, horrific human suffering and dead landscapes. The greater the destruction, the greater the apparatus crushes dissent. 

More than 100 million Americans—one-third of the population—live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations—Viacom, General Electric, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Clear Channel and Disney. The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible. 

In the Lakota Indian reservation at Pine Ridge, S.D., in the United States’ second poorest county, the average life expectancy for a male is 48. This is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere outside of Haiti. About 60 percent of the Pine Ridge dwellings, many of which are sod huts, lack electricity, running water, adequate insulation or sewage systems. In the old coal camps of southern West Virginia, amid poisoned air, soil and water, cancer is an epidemic. There are few jobs. And the Appalachian Mountains, which provide the headwaters for much of the Eastern Seaboard, are dotted with enormous impoundment ponds filled with heavy metals and toxic sludge. In order to breathe, children go to school in southern West Virginia clutching inhalers. Residents trapped in the internal colonies of our blighted cities endure levels of poverty and violence, as well as mass incarceration, that leave them psychologically and emotionally shattered. And the nation’s agricultural workers, denied legal protection, are often forced to labor in conditions of unpaid bondage. This is the terrible algebra of corporate domination. This is where we are all headed. And in this accelerated race to the bottom we will end up as serfs or slaves. 

Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings. We will have defended what is sacred. Rebellion means steadfast defiance. It means resisting just as have Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, just as has Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical journalist whom Cornel West, James Cone and I visited in prison last week in Frackville, Pa. It means refusing to succumb to fear. It means refusing to surrender, even if you find yourself, like Manning and Abu-Jamal, caged like an animal. It means saying no. To remain safe, to remain “innocent” in the eyes of the law in this moment in history is to be complicit in a monstrous evil. In his poem of resistance, “If We Must Die,” Claude McKay knew that the odds were stacked against African-Americans who resisted white supremacy. But he also knew that resistance to tyranny saves our souls. McKay wrote: 

If we must die, let it not be like hogs 

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, 

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, 

Making their mock at our accursèd lot. 

If we must die, O let us nobly die 

So that our precious blood may not be shed 

In vain; then even the monsters we defy 

Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! 

O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe! 

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, 

And for their thousand blows deal one death blow! 

What though before us lies the open grave? 

Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, 

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! 

It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none. It is time to employ the harsh language of open rebellion and class warfare. It is time to march to the beat of our own drum. The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.” 

Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick” grasps the dark soul of global capitalism. We are all aboard the doomed ship Pequod, a name connected to an Indian tribe eradicated by genocide, and Ahab is in charge. “All my means are sane,” Ahab says, “my motive and my object mad.” We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. 

Rise up or die.