Youtopia is dedicated to the proposition that our…
A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny–Thomas Jefferson
So true, yet in the age of instant information somehow the citizenry is more confused than ever, and indeed, we do seem to be sliding into some degree of totalitarianism—political, military, corporate fascism, all acting at the behest of the money creators, which in virtually all countries with central banks, supersede their host countries’ political process and therefore dictate policy, domestic and foreign. I’m not suggesting Donald Trump, POTUS number 45, is tyrannical, many see him leaning that way, or is a savior as others see him. It’s too early to tell what philosophy is driving the new Trump administration, it will take a little more time to separate Trump’s rhetoric from his actions so we will leave that for now with an admission that our Presidential election, once again, came down to two very undesirable candidates that should have been repugnant to a “well informed citizen.”
There’s no way Jefferson could have foreseen the impact of television’s slick presentation of daily news, where naïve citizens accept (often without question) not only the narrative of the daily news, but the narrative of American values and what America stands for. Think of the cowboy and Indian movies: cowboys good, Indians bad—binary thinking. Combining the influence of television news (infotainment) and Hollywood movies, the image most Americans have of America and American “values” came from oligarchy, or aristocracy if you prefer. Should the Native Americans have been the producers of said Hollywood movies, we would have seen the Natives as mostly peaceful, living sustainably off the land, and the European invaders would be labeled heathens who lust for material wealth and will lie, cheat and kill innocent people to gain their insatiable portion of material wealth—history is written by the victors.
However, since the internet came of age and people began to create their own news and blog sites to fill the void of truth they perceived exists in mainstream news, more people are being introduced to new facts and old facts that belie the honesty and integrity the MSM claims for themselves. So today we have the pot calling the kettle black, the fake news MSM is claiming fake internet news is corrupting the minds of the people. Yet people who can hold two conflicting thoughts in their mind at the same time (rarer than we might think) know that both MSM and many internet sites speak truth and lies. But why lie to the American citizens? Truth be told, they’re not lying so much to American citizens as to American consumers . . . say what?
I named my e-book Youtopia because I feel the only thing between the devolving dystopian culture of today and a more utopian world of tomorrow is the lack of involvement by average Joe and Jane American. How many people do you know write their Congress critters? How many people do you know contact the media? People matter, yet few believe they really do. Apathy rules the day.
The founders set up our country with three equal branches, Executive, Legislative and Judicial in order to check each branches’ powers. The Fourth Estate was another area where people thought they could keep their politicians honest, but when the Mockingbird media is run by and for the financial, military and oil aristocracy then we are left with only the people to provide the checks on our runaway corporate-government. And therein lies the quandary.
It’s not that people won’t get involved if pushed hard enough, the Women’s March on the day after Trump’s inauguration was massive, then just days later people hit the streets again following Trump’s Muslim ban on people from selected countries, however no such ban on Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 alleged hijacker patsies originated. It’s not that people can’t fight back against fascism, it’s more like most people are not equipped or trained in the art of protecting and preserving democracy.
We the People are the ones responsible for our own downward spiral because far too many people have accepted their role as “consumers” living in an economy instead of believing we are citizens living in a society. Again, two conflicting thoughts can live simultaneously in the mind, both are true, the latter, however, should take precedence and gain in importance as the sheer numbers of “consumers” on the planet push the ecological boundaries toward the sixth mass extinction event, while at the same time, turning people into consumer zombies in an increasingly harsher winner-take-all capitalism. For instance a study by Oxfam released during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January claims only eight people have more wealth than the entire bottom half of the global population.
This staggering wealth inequality gets worse every day and somehow many disgruntled American workers think their savior is billionaire Donald Trump, whose cabinet selections are also exceedingly rich, the wealthiest cabinet in history, including not one, not two, but an unprecedented six Goldman Sachs executives, including Steve Mnuchin to head the Department of Treasury. During the crash of 2008 it was Goldman Sachs’ Hank Paulson running the Department of Foreclosure, or otherwise known as the Department of Treasury. Trump campaigned on exposing Hillary Clinton’s ties to Goldman Sachs, so in either case banksters run our country as always, at least since 1913 when the Federal Reserve Act was signed during a Christmas recess!
There remains no clear definitive winner among the past philosophers, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), John Locke 1632-1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) as to the inherent good or bad nature of man, and how each of their philosophies influenced past and present economic theory, but be assured, these people gave such matters a lot of thought, as all citizens should. Perhaps more germane to todays unbalanced economics is the debate between competition and cooperation which manifests today as tension between socialism and capitalism. The nuanced view holds both are valid systems and compliment each other, in theory.
The problem is binary thinking and the consumer culture. A general rule might state that most all economic activity be left to the fair market (free market is a misnomer), and things people have in common should be socialized for the equal benefit of all. As we see above, there apparently is no upper limit on how rich a person can be and we have not yet, as a civilization, attempted to set any limits on the influence the ultra-rich can have on our laws and policy, in fact it only grows worse, and I present the Supreme Courts’ Citizens United and the Goldman Sachs juggernaut in all administrations as evidence we are not moving closer to an egalitarian society.
Far too many hard core capitalists forget, conveniently, their financial success is impossible without the socialized infrastructure: roads, schools, courts, police, fire fighters, military, political infrastructure, well, I guess they do know about the last one.
From Thom Hartmann and AlterNet, April 5, 2016
The most ancient form of democracy is found among virtually all indigenous peoples of the world. It’s the way humans have lived for more than 150,000 years. There are no rich and no poor among most tribal people: everybody is “middle class.” There is also little hierarchy. The concept of chief is one that Europeans brought with them to America, which in large part is what produced so much confusion in the 1600s and 1700s as most Native American tribes would never delegate absolute authority to any one person to sign a treaty. Instead decisions were made by consensus in these most ancient cauldrons of democracy.
The Founders of this nation, and the framers of our Constitution were heavily influenced and inspired by the democracy they saw all around them. Much of the U.S. Constitution is based on the Iroquois Confederacy: the five (later six) tribes who occupied territories from New England to the edge of the Midwest. It was a democracy with elected representatives, an upper and lower house, and a supreme court (made up entirely of women, who held final say in five of the six tribes).
As Benjamin Franklin noted to his contemporaries at the Constitutional Convention: “It would be a very strange thing if Six Nations of Ignorant Savages should be capable of forming a Scheme for such an Union and be able to execute it in such a manner, as that it has subsisted Ages, and appears indissoluble, and yet a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies.”
The framers modeled the oldest democracies, and the oldest forms of the middle class, and thus helped create the truly widespread and strong first middle class in the history of modern civilization. That first American middle class was a far cry from the 1950s stereotype that is often referenced in discussions of the ideal middle-income lifestyle.
Jefferson, Locke, Hobbes, Adam Smith, John Adams, Rousseau, Voltaire, et al, are not all Americans, but are all historical figures who helped shaped western civilizations, and yet their contributions are largely lost to today’s consumers, which is why Richard Dreyfuss started the The Dreyfuss Civics Initiative in 2008. It’s imperative for citizens living in a democracy to understand the constitution and to understand each person has an obligation to participate in perfecting our government.
This man needs to have a close encounter with the White House
I had the privilege to learn my skilled trade as a land surveyor by working with a very bright person, Mark Schmale, who taught me fundamentals and advanced skills in land surveying, civil engineering, and we often had long discussions on physics and politics. We enjoyed pushing each others intellectual boundaries on subjects. He acknowledged to being a visual thinker, and told me he learns by repetition, by hearing or learning the same thing multiple times until it sinks in. That admission struck a chord with me, and I realized that’s how most people learn, as Pavlov and his dog experiments show.
An inherent flaw in a conspicuous consumer culture is financial profit depends on growth and growth cannot be unlimited in a finite world. The raison d’etre for a cancer cell, as well as the parasitical bark beetles which are destroying millions of acres of otherwise healthy and productive forests, is to consume and expand, and will continue to do so until an intervention ceases their suicidal activity or the host upon which they feed dies. A consumer culture, then, is not to be confused with a noble life, where mankind learns, teaches, strives to find higher meaning, in other words, striving to find quality in life for themselves and others. Consumer culture strives to increase quantity, as people identify with material things, which will all turn to dust in time.
The experts who attempt to quantify the public’s exposure to advertising estimate the average person sees 5,000 ads per day. Consider each and every advertisement is the end product of a more inclusive marketing strategy and the strategies are formed by psychologists. Corporations don’t sell superior products at a more favorable price anymore, they sell you a product that is supposed to enhance your feelings about yourself. Things go better with Coke, i.e., diabetes. What once was a casual stroll around the internet, is now a minefield of pop up ads, each more animated and louder than the last. The constant repetition of adds has turned people into pharmaceutical junkies, has forced people to spend way beyond their limit, has people living on the edge of financial solvency, as this Reuters study proclaims more than two-thirds of people in the US live from paycheck to paycheck.
The videos below provide some glimpses as to just how uninformed the American Consumer really is.
Our founders would turn in their grave at the idiocy of the American people.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation A lady asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”
Consumers will not be able to keep it, we’re seeing that now. Only informed citizens who believe they matter and have the courage to act peacefully but willfully, can have any hope at preserving our Republic.
Today’s further reading by Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 9, 2017
Here’s How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration
During his political campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Wall Street with a specific focus on Goldman Sachs. In the final days of his campaign, Trump released an advertisement (see video below) that featured his opponent, Hillary Clinton, shaking hands with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. As the image flickers on the screen, Trump does a voice over, stating: “”It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth, and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” As the ad ends, Trump bares his soul: “I’m doing this for the people and for the movement and we will take back this country for you and we will make America great again.”
How did a candidate who repeatedly demonized Goldman Sachs as the poster child for a corrupt establishment that owned Washington end up with Goldman Sachs’ progeny filling every post that even tangentially has the odor of money or global finance? One answer is family ties; another may be something darker.
Trump’s non-stop nominations and appointments of Goldman Sachs alumni have left his supporters stunned. Trump nominated Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs to be his Treasury Secretary. Stephen Bannon, another former Goldman Sachs banker, was named by Trump as his Chief Strategist in the White House. The sitting President of Goldman Sachs, Gary Cohn, has been named by Trump as Director of the National Economic Council, which, according to its website, coordinates “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.” Last week, in a move that stunned even Wall Street, Trump nominated a Goldman Sachs outside lawyer, Jay Clayton of Sullivan & Cromwell, to serve as Wall Street’s top cop as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Adding to the slap in the face to Trump’s working class supporters, Clayton’s wife currently works as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.
But the Goldman Sachs’ ties don’t stop there.
When Alexander Blankfein, the oldest son of Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein was married in 2013, Joshua Kushner attended the wedding. Joshua had been Alexander’s roommate at Harvard according to the New York Times. Joshua is the brother-in-law to a woman who will play a major role in the Trump administration – Ivanka Trump, daughter of the President-elect and wife of Joshua’s brother, Jared.
According to Politico, Goldman Sachs partner, Dina Powell, President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, is Ivanka’s “top adviser on policy and staffing.”
Then there is Erin Walsh who had worked at Goldman Sachs since 2010 as an Executive Director and head of its Office of Corporate Engagement for Asia Pacific. Walsh also previously worked in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Walsh is now part of Trump’s transition landing team for the State Department and is engaged in prepping the just retired CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, for his Senate confirmation hearing this week to become the Secretary of the Department of State, according to Politico.
A recent Executive Director of Goldman Sachs preparing the recent titular head of Big Oil to pass muster to run the State Department is the Orwellian version of draining the swamp — and Trump’s pre-election campaign language is proving to have been very Orwellian, as in reverse-speak.