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June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014
Dear ______:
I did indeed find your retired nuclear physicist’s commentary on solution (or at least a slowdown) of the approaching climate catastrophe of great interest, though understanding such science is beyond my pay grade. I took physics in high school and college but it was not my cup of tea. I passed, but it was the usual regurgitation of the professors’ lectures, not anything that grabbed me (like economics and political science). The same goes for the math in high school and college. Sometimes (especially after some brush with the works of George Lakoff, professor of cognitive science and brain expert) I wonder whether some brains are wired for physical science and some for social science. However that may be, I cannot pretend to expertise in your friend’s back yard or, for that matter, Lakoff’s arena of expertise. Perhaps as interesting (though not with the same dire results) as the study of how to save the planet is how to figure out just how the brain works – and even more profoundly – why. Darwin was just a start.
Your views of what is (and is not) happening in the equity and debt markets are here noted. I suspect that greed is the motivating factor behind increasing purchase of junk bonds, as putative investors seek ever higher and higher returns (which aggravate Piketty’s r > g formula of increasing rate of return on capital as opposed to rate of growth of the economy). There is also talk among the supposedly knowledgeable that there is too much money available for investment and too few decent investments to make, which would tend to have such investors make marginally secure investments (see Greek bonds).
It is disquieting to see the EU people (dominated by Germans) make loans to Greece for the questionable purpose of propping up Greek debt held by German investors. This is free market economics? Only when capital is involved – no similar response by government can be discerned which prop up labor markets (minimum wages, health care, reduction of substantial tax rates paid by labor vis-à-vis the ridiculously low rates charged to capital – though Germany and the EU do far better at this than our Social Darwinists here). When, as so hilariously pointed out by Michael Moore in one of his documentaries, a Third World country like Cuba can afford to have single payer universal health care coverage for all of its people and can train and export medical doctors who are first class and can pass American or any other medical exams to practice anywhere, and we, the richest country in known history , cannot, there is something badly wrong. What’s wrong? Political malpractice.
We apparently have decided that the chief purpose in having a managed economy is to make rich people and entities richer while treating the general populace as necessary evils (as in feudal times) who man the economic machine which accumulates such wealth for the few, fight their wars, teaches their children etc., all, of course, facilitated by incessant propaganda daily spewing from the superrich’s machine that honors the Protestant work ethic (work hard so you can make us more money), gloriously die for your country (and our Middle East oil), play by the rules (like we bribing big banks do) etc. etc. etc. When stripped of pretense (as in the foregoing), it is clear that we are well on the road to a 1984 status fashioned by a lust not only for acquisition but for power over people and that our destination may be in view, obscured only by our inattention and daily brainwashing paid for by the oligarchy.
The biggest loser in this developing economic and social disaster is not wage inequality or health care; these are merely symptomatic of the deeper problems in our economy and government. The biggest loser (if not already a fait accompli) is that of our democracy, whose tattered remains are daily attacked by oligarchic interests bent on squeezing the last penny out of the existing system before it either collapses or we alter and otherwise amend its underpinnings to fit its “demos” structure of sovereignty in the people, not Wall Street and a Piketty r > g run amok in a brainwashed society. To date, “we the people,” our attention diverted by propaganda and congressional blowhards, are losing – and so is our democracy, or what is left of it after the oligarchs and their enablers have picked its bones nearly clean.
That does not mean that we are to abandon our efforts to end wage and many other inequalities in this country while awaiting either democracy or 1984 (which cannot coexist) to finally and entirely take over America’s political and economic structures. On the contrary, battles fought and battles won in these areas now are victories for democracy and are battles we must win not only in the interests of justice and fairness in doing what is right, but also for perpetuation of democratic idealism, and perhaps also to avoid the horrors of Marxian prophecy. Marx was wrong in how to handle the problem of unrestrained accumulation of capital but right in diagnosing the problems that gave rise to such gross accumulations from the Industrial Revolution.
We can accept his diagnosis without agreeing with the revolutionary medicine he proposed. There is, I hope, still time to “alter and amend” current practices short of violence that deal with wage inequality, undertaxation of the superrich, criminal activities of big banks and corporations both domestically and internationally, regulatory fixes from a bought Congress for their campaign contributors etc. etc. etc., but time is fleeting – and our resolve to “alter and amend” seems to be diminishing.
One can only speculate on how this boatload of inequalities and destruction of the middle class in America can be resolved in democratic fashion. Perhaps, given the control of both economic and political structures by the superrich, such inequalities will not be resolved. Perhaps a dose of countervailing democracy will reassert itself after a bit of exposure to the Orwellian horrors of 1984 as we finally if belatedly begin to appreciate the democracy we once had. Perhaps reason will overcome propaganda. Perhaps. History will inform us later; today we have work to do. GERALD E


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