Friday, April 14, 2017

Capitalism Must Die. The Only Question Is How and When.

With all of the latest articles about how climate change is likely worse than we thought, and how our fragile biosphere that we all depend on is in increasingly grave danger, it is becoming increasingly clear just how unsustainable our current system really is.  We are bumping up against the limits to growth, and only a fool or an economist (same difference) could believe that infinite growth on a finite world is possible.  And make no mistake, capitalism cannot exist without growth, so capitalism must die--or the whole planet dies including us.   Either the virus kills the host or the host kills the virus, but either way, the virus dies.  That's right--there can logically be no such thing as "green capitalism", for the same reason that rain is not dry.

So which choice will we make?  The TSAP has already outlined several means of solving the world's vast and interconnected problems in our party platform as well as in our annual State of the Planet Address.  Most notably, we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible before we irreversibly burn up our precious planet, and we need to end our addiction to growth for the sake of growth, the ideology of the cancer cell which eventually kills its host.  But the prospects are looking increasingly bleak that our recommendations will actually be put into practice given the current leadership in Washington who continue to blithely fiddle while the Earth burns.  In fact, with climate-denier Donald Trump as POTUS, and thus the Trump-Putin-Exxon Axis of Evil effectively ruling the world now, it is even worse than we initially thought.

We know that any serious attempt at sufficiently rapid degrowth measures (read: ecological austerity) is 1) political suicide for anyone who proposes it, and 2) even if implemented is likely to backfire since such measures simply cannot kill the hungry beast of capitalism, which will only rebound after being weakened a bit and the costs will inevitably fall on those least able to bear them.  And if the root of the crisis (capitalism) cannot be struck in like fashion, hacking away at the branches in a piecemeal fashion would be inherently fruitless.  So what can be done instead?

Enter this seemingly crazy idea.  While it may seem like a sop to the fossil fool industry at first glance, it will actually be giving them the rope for them to hang themselves with.  And not only will it kill Big Oil and Dirty Coal, but it will also humanely euthanize capitalism in general via the one thing that capitalism simply cannot survive--ABUNDANCE.  That's right, capitalism needs scarcity to function, and it has done a marvelous job of creating artificial scarcity for the past 500 years or so.  But uncontrolled abundance, whether of resources, energy, or capital, is basically a fatal overdose for the system of capitalism.  And thanks to the current exponential growth of renewable energy and related technologies, such abundance is very possible in the near future.  And it will be decentralized, so the system can't readily control or stop it once it gets going.  All of this dovetails rather nicely with Buckminster Fuller's vision of a pragmatic utopian future.

If we go that route, it actually would be possible to simultaneously implement the carbon tax-and-dividend idea in Steve Stoft's Carbonomics, provided that 100% of the revenue is refunded to We the People, and that the tax rate starts out low so as not to front-load it too quickly.  The timing is very important.  But any other type of carbon tax scheme would be out of the question, as would most other future restrictions on fossil fuels (especially oil) until the cost of solar and wind energy drops below that of such fossil fuels.  Not like the Trump-Putin-Exxon Axis of Evil would allow that anyway.

Another idea that the TSAP had once laughed at can also be given a chance as well:  the Capital Homestead Act.  While it may seem like a pro-capitalist sop to Big Business on the surface, it will actually kill capitalism in the long run as well due to an overabundance of capital and the fact that the workers and owners would essentially become one and the same.  Combine it with the Universal Exchange Tax and a Universal Basic Income Guarantee, and the overall impact will be maximized and accelerated.

Additionally, in our transition towards a steady-state economy, we would also need to abolish usury and debt-based currency (without growth there can be no interest payments) and have debt jubilees every so often as well.  And once capitalism is relegated to the dustbin of history, it will in fact be a piece of cake to do so.  Though there is no reason not to pass the NEED Act in the meantime to get the ball rolling.

Of course, capitalism is not the only problem.  The 7000 year old War on Women, often known by its euphemistic name "patriarchy", is every bit as much a cause of our world's problems, and the two are basically joined at the hip.  While patriarchy can exist without capitalism, capitalism cannot exist without patriarchy.  And both evil systems are killing this planet and need to end, yesterday.  Let's face it, it ain't gonna be us fellas who will save the world, that's for sure. Fortunately, women have been making huge strides (while men are becoming increasingly redundant), and if current trends continue it seems likely that women will become the new leaders of the free world in the not-too-distant future, as Buckminster Fuller himself once predicted. In fact, that is one of the few things about which the futurists are virtually unanimous.

At least we hope that will be the case.  But timing is everything, and we have a very narrow window of opportunity to act.  So what are we waiting for?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump Just Bombed Syria, Because Syria Bombed Syria. Or Something.

Well, it finally happened.  Trump ordered an airstrike of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian Air Force base on the night of April 6, 2017.  Ostensibly in retaliation for the horrific sarin gas attack by the Assad regime against their own civilians, this marks the first time the United States directly attacked any targets of the Assad regime, as prior to this, we were solely attacking ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates' targets, effectively as grudging and uneasy "co-belligerents" with the regime as well as Russia.  So unless this is just a one-off for show, this marks a major shift in foreign policy and military strategy in the region.

Of course, this may very well just be a way of "wagging the dog", distracting us from the ever-growing Russiagate scandal.  And while the Putin regime predictably condemned the airstrike, it is very telling that Trump told Russia about his plan before he even told Congress.  And it's not like the attack was particularly effective:  it didn't really do much damage to Syria's Air Force, and in fact the very next morning they launched another poison gas attack (this time with chlorine gas) against civilians in another town.   And even the initial sarin attack came just days after the Trump administration gave what can be interpreted as a not-so-subtle green light of sorts for the Assad regime to do as they please with impunity--kinda like Trump appeared to do with Putin just before the final Aleppo massacre in November.

Oh, and did you know that those same Tomahawk missiles used in the airstrike were manufactured by Raytheon, whose stock price jumped dramatically the day after the attack?  And which plutocratic potentate owns stock in that exact same company?  You guessed it.  As Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler once famously said, "War is a Racket".  And his 1935 book of the same name should be required reading for everyone.

It is funny how Trump supporters who voted for him because they feared Hillary would attack Syria, now have face the fact that Trump just did exactly that.  And yes, Hillary most likely would have done so.  Not to condone Hillary's plan for Syria, but at least Putin was afraid of her, and she could have used such leverage to keep Russia and Syria from getting too out of control.  And we all would have seen big, tough, macho Putin begging a powerful Woman for mercy.  And that would have been priceless in itself.  Of course, Bernie would have been better, but alas that was not to be.

While the TSAP unequivocally condemns the brutal chemical (and conventional) attacks on civilians by the evil and genocidal Assad regime, we do not belive that Trump is taking the right path in his reckless and impulsive unilateral attack on Syria.  If we do intervene, we must do so along with the international community, and pursue diplomatic measures to bring the Syrian civil war to as quick an end as possible.  History has shown that, military action, should we even pursue it at all, should be a very last resort and should be well-planned and coordinated with our allies, with a clear exit strategy and a plan to actually win the peace.  Otherwise, we risk WWIII, or at the very least another Middle Eastern quagmire akin to the worst of Libya and Iraq combined, on steroids.

We ignore history at our own peril.  The song "2 Minutes to Midnight" by Iron Maiden comes to mind.  Which is basically where the Doomsday Clock is set now, thanks primarily to the drunken Darth Vader wannabe and his orange ventriloquist dummy in the White House.

Seattle's $15 Minimum Wage: The Results Are In

Well, it's official.  Seattle's most recent unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% or even as low as 2.9%, depending on whose data you are looking at.  Either way, that is about as full employment as one can practically get, essentially at or close to the level of the 1980s "Massachusetts Miracle" during which the labor market was extremely tight and workers had a lot of bargaining power as a result.

And this drop occurred during the phase-in of the $15/hour minimum wage in the Rainy City, which is currently at $13.00-13.50 (and $15 already for large employers that don't pay health benefits) as of January 1, 2017 and has been at least $11 since April 1, 2015.  Not only is unemployment now lower than the national average of 4.7%, but it generally dropped faster than the national average as well. While correlation is not causation, of course, it certainly does put the lie to the naysayers' claim that it would be a job-killing disaster.  Thus, any putative negative effects on employment were clearly either small, short-lived, or (most likely) nonexistent.

As for automation of fast-food restaurants, guess what?  That is going to happen regardless of the minimum wage, just like it already has in so many factories, gas stations, etc. in the past few decades.  It's inevitable.  And outsourcing/offshoring is practically impossible for most remaining minimum wage jobs.  So we certainly shouldn't let that deter us from Fighting for $15.  Call their bluff!

The True Spirit of America Party currently advocates a national minimum wage of $15/hour, indexed to inflation, phased in within a year or two for businesses with 500+ employees, and within two to three years for smaller businesses.  And with no tip credit. After that, the only exceptions should be 1) small, non-chain businesses with 10 employees or less, 2) workers under 18, for whom it would be on an age-based sliding scale from 60%-90% of the normal rate, and 3) circus performers.  That latter one is so we can (with tongue firmly in cheek) say that any hypothetical people who are priced out of the job market for an extended period can go join the circus, the employer of last resort.  Of course, we also advocate implementing a Job Guarantee program (similar to the one that already exists for senior citizens) as well as a Universal Basic Income Guarantee as well, so regardless of anything the labor market would be fairly tight regardless, and workers would have far more bargaining power going forward, much to the chagrin of the rentier class.

What better time than now?