Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just say NO! to the War on Drugs...

Many of the main Latin American governments have made it clear they are tired of waging a losing war against the illegal drug cartels. This war sponsored primarily by the USA for the last 25+ years has been one of the costliest losing battles the USA and its "allies" have ever experienced...yet it drones on and on without any perceivable end in sight. This war kills thousands every year in the Western hemisphere and burns up billions of dollars in funding that could be used elsewhere for better purposes.

Yes, I have written more than my share on this theme...but I keep pounding relentlessly on this subject because of the insanity of how a majority of Americans continue to support this aggression and devastation...both within their own inner-cities and more significantly, in foreign countries where so much of our money and manpower is being wasted in this losing battle. It is taking some more intelligent leadership outside of the USA to call the question and point to the obvious while Washington DC and Hollywood continue their fantasy power trips of false representation of this war to the general public. This war has not started in the jungles of Colombia or ports of Mexico, but rather in every home and bedroom where a hopeless individual is escaping their own reality.

As this article above so aptly explains based on the report by the Organization of American States,
“Prohibitionist policies and the war on drugs have intensified violent conflict in the region,” and human rights have suffered. The ‘drug war’ has taken a huge toll in the Americas, from the carnage of brutal drug-trafficking organizations to the egregious abuses by security forces fighting them... Governments should find new policies to address the harm drug use causes while curbing the violence and abuse that have plagued the current approach. Human Rights Watch recommends decriminalization of personal drug use."
As we have previously pointed out on this subject, it seems quite obvious to those who want to be informed that this war has in no way stopped the flow of drugs from the "third" world to the "first world" countries that consume the majority of them. It is amazing to me how long the USA government has been successful in jamming it's dictatorial views down the throat of so many worldwide governments, yet it also seems obvious to me that "the world" has prostituted its hypocritical positions on the subject based on billions of dollars in USA support for the "war".  Why don't more American citizens realize how much this war is costing them in manpower and tax dollars that could be better spent for myriad domestic problems that plague our country? Why do we always buy into militaristic, empirical methods of getting our way on a subject such as this when legalization, standardization of products and humane treatment of the sick addicts would be much more effective?  Just like we do with highly addictive but legal barbiturates or psychoactive substances prescribed by medical practitioners, yet abused by millions every year and the cause of thousands of deaths annually...all substances should be the right of any person to take as long as they do not affect another person's life...and perhaps under medical supervision though that can be a "racket" of its own.

As I have often said, drugs are just a symptom of the problem. The root of the problem is the sense of hopelessness and lack of education or instruction of the masses. Addictions such as alcoholism, compulsive eating, gambling, smoking etc are activities and problems that have existed for thousands of years within mankind. Now that we have a few billion extra people on planet earth, the problem is more obvious and growing. Yet, with this warlike approach to it, instead of helping or treating the victims...we are killing them off by the tens of thousands both in brutal turf wars and the loss of life based on abuse and overdoses. And I include all legal and "illegal" drugs as the cause and effect of this phenomenon.

I find it ironic that these institutions are behind a war that it could be argued they are the fundamental cause of.  I think people resort to drugs and escape primarily based on their lack of hope and support from the institutions that control their everyday lives.  Most drug use I am convinced is in reaction to being controlled and told what to do every day of their lives and a lack of personal freedom or control. During times of extreme battle between free societies and the governments that seek to control them, you see increased use of these "illegal" substances. Just in the last century we saw increased use of drugs and alcohol during some of the most restrictive times such as in the Prohibition era of the 1920s and 30s as well as during the unpopular Viet Nam War of the 60s and early 70s.  During these most repressive times of government intrusion on personal freedoms, you see increased use and escape to these substances. The "gay 20s" and "hippy 60s-70s" were proportional reactions socially to the prohibitions and authoritarianism of governments and other institutions they did not agree with. So basically...the drug war is actually having the opposite effect from the intention they promote, is fueled primarily by a combination of our tax dollars, and the illegal "spoils of war" from monies and possessions of the sellers and users of illicit drugs alike. Now we have clean  AND dirty money in our system, based on what our institutions define as legitimate or "clean" business. This whole mad cycle needs to be changed because it is out of control and will only lead to increased incarceration of the masses and restrictions in personal freedoms...determined by a few powerful people or governments. This is a global war unlike any other we have experienced.  It is the masses against the governments over them.

Again, I must state that I am in no way advocating the use or abuse of drugs...or any other substance such as alcohol, food or natural herbs.  We must face the fact that many GOOD substances and activities are abused and not good for you if done in access.  Drinking, eating, sex, gaming...all things in moderation can be useful or enjoyable...but all these things in excess or used with guilt can be destructive and cause significant  mental/emotional problems.

An advanced society will allow individual liberty even when an individual is contrary to the majority. True freedom/liberty is experienced when an individual can live differently than the rest without being persecuted or limited in their comings and goings. Unfortunately, the masses still evolve controlled by their institutional programming and strive to become just like each other or force conformity on those who are of different creed, race or even consumption habits. It becomes a deadly game, almost to holocaust levels, when the global institutions want to control the minorities...whether that is gay people, women, poor people...or those who want to smoke "weed" or consume coca.  We have turned a blind eye to this global holocaust and devastation of whole countries for a war nobody wants.  It is time to take a different approach and not allow ourselves to be duped by this false and unjust "war on drugs".  No one can win accept the suppliers and the self righteous institutions trying to control them.  We need legal, safe supplies of all substances and stop blaming those substances and suppliers for all our problems.  They are the symptom, not the cause, of our society's ills. What we really need is renewed commitment to individual freedom and RESPONSIBLE living which leads to massive social and psychological reconditioning of the human spirit.  Governments cannot do that. Only families and localities can.

Here's to freedom and responsible just saying NO! to the war on drugs...

Addendum 7/2/13

Here is an article from today underscoring how ludicrous the war against illegal drugs is compared to the growing problem of deaths from "legal" drugs...
Overall, more men still die from overdoses of painkillers and other drugs; there were about 23,000 such deaths in 2010, compared with about 15,300 for women.One striking finding involved the age of women: The greatest increases in drug overdose deaths were in women ages 45 through 64.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Return to Competition

After 5 years of manipulation by governments and the global banking system of our money flows, interest rates and whole industries such as automotive, banking and is time to return to free markets and fundamentals of capitalism.  The longer we stay connected to the "life support" of manipulated economies ("they" call it "quantitative easing")...the more difficult it will be for market economies to survive on their own "steam" based on real math.

As this article on the BIS banking group suggests, our combined world governments have been surviving on creative math, false interest rates, and false currency valuations for too long.  As we saw this past week, the minute the "markets" start hearing that the "patient" (global economies) is about to come off the respirator of oxygen (cash infusion) and blood transfusions (free credit or credit swaps)...the fundamental investors start betting AGAINST survival of the patient.

A large part of the problem is the insane regulatory systems of governments, tied to unrealistic taxation levels, the combination of which are snuffing out any chance for capitalism to work.  The globe has traded in competition where there are "winners and losers" for a model of "too big to fail" or "gain without pain".  We global patriots are waiting for the restart we believe is coming soon...where institutional controls and protectionism are traded in for real change in currency valuations (some form of global currency) and consistent, fair global trading agreements for ALL countries...not just a few superpowers. Meanwhile, it is obvious that large governments and banking institutions are putting off that day of reckoning for as long as they can with their voodoo numbers (1+1 doesn't equal 11), false economic bravado and the belief that THEY can sustain global equilibrium by tax and spend redistribution of world productivity. You just cannot have tax rates of 40-80% in some countries and expect there to be an equal playing field in international trade and profit sharing. It is time to get back to the fundamentals of business and rational finance.

I continue to believe that for the trillions that have been given or lent to big businesses world wide this past 5 years of global recession by governments and central banks (from the tax incomes of "the people") economies could have rebounded much faster and efficiently if those trillions had been put in the hands of entrepreneurs, small business people and farming coops around the globe.  If those funds had been released to more micro enterprises via local MFIs, Cooperatives and localized savings and loans, we would have seen faster recovery in real jobs, innovative businesses and quality consumerism from a stand point of cash savings versus "credit" that continues to fuel consumer's appetites.  Economies prosper and grow from the grass roots of small business and savings of average individuals for their futures...not by filling the tax coffers and supporting all the special interests of government institutions and mega corporations whose CEOs make millions per year while minimum wages are a pittance and the masses are kept in the box of irreversible debt and dependency on this state-corporate complex of which the "developed nations" have become.

The power pyramid is upside down. The world is under the control of too few who are determining everything for the masses. Meanwhile, the masses are starting to take to the streets worldwide to demand freedom from these machinations. From Brazil to the Arab world to Indonesia and China, the PEOPLE are starting to wake up to their puppet state of existence. They are starting to rebel against controls of their economies, high taxes for redistribution...and their not getting much in return for those taxes. There is a resurgence of understanding that private enterprise is always a better model for motivation and efficiency than big government "give away" programs or "programming",  Private education has almost always been more effective than public education. Private charities tend to release higher percentages of contributions to the needy than government programs. Consumption or transaction tax will always be a better, fairer model of taxation than INCOME taxes which sucks the air right out of creative, forward moving "sails".

It is time to return to a model of private enterprise and yes, survival of the fittest.  The sacrifice of the fittest to support the weakest is not working.  This is a sure recipe for the downfall of the human race.  When we allow failure to be rewarded while success is punished....we will never see true, sustainable recovery of our weak human condition.  We need to let some institutions die a just and timely death...while letting new, fresh, rational ideas and businesses grow and flourish.  Otherwise...we will all continue down the drain of global mediocrity, endless failure of altruism and total destruction of the human spirit.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Morality of Taxation

While I have touched on this subject in previous blogs, I feel inspired by recent tax increases worldwide to focus on the morality of taxes. With huge increases this past century on overall taxation of the masses compared to other historic times, we need to consider and re evaluate this model in finding solutions for the economic disparities we have as individuals and nations. We must start realizing that this never ending cycle of taxation and oppression is what fuels so much of our disparity and conflicts in the world.

With my recent blog on "Nationalism", I start this writ from a presupposition that taxation and nationalism run hand in hand.

 "According to Black's Law Dictionary, a tax is a "pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government ... a payment exacted by legislative authority." It "is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority" and is "any contribution imposed by government ... whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name."  

Key word here is the "imposition" of a tax. It is not voluntary. It is this imposition that has killed all the great empires of the world...the Roman, British, and now the American empires...all crumbled under over reaching, nationalistic usurping of authority over masses of societies and cultures they could not control or fund.  When the balance between the haves and the have nots got too far out...upheavals, revolutions and world wars took place.

Governments have historically used power and circumstances of the times to tax away success of their economies. There has been the continual cycle of taxing and fleecing the masses for the sake of a few in power and holding the money...until the masses have had enough and bring on revolution. I would be much more comfortable with today's "revolutions" IF they were based on demands of economic equality instead of religious fervor or fundamentalism. If people started counting on reasonable and responsible economics or work ethics instead of "god" to magically fill their empty pockets and purses...we might start seeing real progress on a global scale.

Higher taxes are fundamentally counter productive. Taxes are monies given to entities that didn't earn them, to provide back to the people who did. This begins the obvious cycle of putting decisions and power in the hands of people,.. most of whom have never grown or managed a business in their lives... to spend and waste as they wish. The more we give them, the more they spend. The more they spend, the more power they have in society and the world at large...yet was never their money to spend in the first place. It was especially never intended for things like re elections, limousines, television ads, unlimited international travel expenses, Cadillac insurance plans and unlimited lifelong benefits...just for having the honor to manage the national public purse or determine our laws.

The pyramid is upside down in our world. Financial and economic management should begin "at home".  Individuals need to have more control and responsibility over their personal profits and wages. Families need to be morally responsible in their economic decisions and consumption levels. Towns need to be more responsible for local public works and "saving for disasters and rainy days". "Charity" should begin at home! People need to stop building their homes in flood basins or with designs that cannot withstand natures fury. When we demand that our governments protect us from every failure or natural disaster without our own participation in savings or insuring our risks...we are basically giving over our freedom and sovereignty to those unseen powers we want to "protect us".  Most all of the USA founding fathers knew and wrote of the dangers of this dependence on government, yet the current cycle of dependency and personal irresponsibility is greater during this modern century than at any other time in history.

Morality in my mind requires us all to take a role in changing how our governments are funded and monitored. If we do not participate in the democratic process or exercise our rights of speech and meeting on these important issues...we will deserve whatever our government keepers give us...which won't be much.  Especially after they get done taking care of themselves first. There are now many people like me writing and discussing these issues openly and yes...with lots of conflict and differing views. is this long process of rationalization and reasoning that is needed to come up with a better taxation model and yes, our world as we know it.

Alternatives to taxation deserves a separate chapter or blog, but at a high level lets underline one alternative that should be given immediate consideration.

I believe in the concept of "transaction taxes"This is the most fair approach to taxation worldwide, and if it reduced or eliminated income taxes...our world would see the greatest period of economic growth and security in world history. With $3 Quadrillion (15 zeros) of total transactions in the USA alone in 2011, the US government could abolish all the existing taxes and replace the whole lot with a universal financial transaction tax of only about 0.1% (yes, that is less than 1%). Just image how this would effect the basic worker or senior citizen trying to make ends meet on their heavily taxed incomes or investments? This means that economic PROSPERITY would feed the government's requirements of funding for services. The more disposable income individuals and corporations would have, the more transactions and investments they would essence increasing tax revenues to the government based on success of the economy without bilking or creating hardship for ANYONE. I would much rather reward the government for "successful" economic governance than to continually reward them for their dismal failures at controlling or wasting our resources. At the same time, it is easily arguable that with growing prosperity for ALL, governments would require LESS funding to cover the poor and truly needy. We must STOP this insane approach of "redistribution" that will never work for long...and instead tax everyone evenly and fairly for their consumption and success...without wiping out the fruits of their labors.

Taxation in its current forms does not help or turn around economies. It stifles and reduces growth and productivity. Demand for taxation to me represents failure and moral decline of a civilization.  When the masses are more dependent on government than the government on the people...core morality of money and freedom have gone down the tubes.  When people or companies cannot hold on to their profits or rewards for work and innovation...humans lose their motivation to work and innovate.  Simple as that.  Socialism and redistribution historically have NOT worked as economic models. It takes individual sovereignty and motivation to become fully productive in ones life, at whatever level, rich or poor.  Working for "the state" or "the boss" is hardly ever a persons supreme ambition or measure of success. It is about individual freedom and accomplishment...which can only be attained with a democratic system of governance built on economic freedom versus institutional slavery...that will motivate the masses to work and progress. Without this, our world is doomed to continued conflicts and miserable controls of the masses. This is not moral per my definition of the word.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nationalism...Divide and Conquer

As I continue to evolve as a human, learning what life is about and how it is affected by institutions...I find myself becoming more and more anarchistic.  I know, that word raises alarm in  most people's understanding of the word, but I actually think that anarchism is a necessary reaction to certain  times in history...and is now a driving force in the growing conflict between governments and the masses. More of us are anarchists than we care to recognize.  In addition, we are seeing forced concessions within the world's religions to new discoveries and truths that question most fundamental religious dogma and theology. Yet, such as in today's "Arab Spring" of revolutions in the Middle East, we are seeing one set of sectarian or religious rule replaced by another...and sometimes the replacement is worse than the predecessor. Why do we humans continually allow religion to be the driving force of what we fight for?  Why can't it be pure reason and principles that unite and sustain our species?

The more we read history beyond the basics of schoolbooks we were programmed to read as children...the more we see the true reasons and conspiracies behind most  major events of the past century.  A recent review of Zionist history is one big example of how an underlying global movement to restore the State of Israel has been a major cause of the World Wars in the 20th Century. It's one thing to consider the right of a race or religion to have rights and a place/land to call their own.  Its another thing to displace another race or religion to accommodate the other.  Here in a nutshell are the "Middle East" conflicts that continually threaten world peace. It tears me up to consider how manipulated we all have been by "powers that be" to support such political and religious causes that should not be our obligation.

In trying to dictate terms of "democracy" and "rule of law" throughout the globe, the USA empire is quickly becoming a police state and the constitution has  been unraveling for decades now. While a true "republic" protects the rights of the most extreme minority among them, our USA republic is quickly becoming a house divided by itself between the haves and have nots. The political battle lines are no longer built on traditional platforms or constitutional principles, but rather on extreme positions between capitalism and socialism...or something worse. There is no balance anymore. Extremists continue to rule over the masses of "centrists".  Independents are growing in number, but I would argue are becoming isolated from power.  The power and money is in the hands of the extremists...both right and left.  You see that every election cycle in the drive to raise money behind the puppet leadership of the day.

This is not only happening in the USA.  Much of the world is now in the hands of leaders manipulating through media, armed forces and rewrites of history to appease and/or control the masses. We the masses continue supporting, voting and paying duty to our governments...who then use our own resources to contain and restrain us from exercising our freedoms. They get the guns...we don't.  They redistribute the food and goods WE produce for their own gains. These leaders isolate themselves from "the people" and build real or virtual fences around themselves from the realities of those they supposedly serve. The longer these people are in power, the more extreme and controlling they become. CORRUPT!

Unfortunately one can now argue that there is a huge global conspiracy among many of these leaders to maintain "status quo" or fulfill the desires of an elite few.  It is trying to know who these elite few really are that is the disturbing mission of the discerning citizen. Most of us realize at some level we are being manipulated...but we cannot discover the true source of this. It is much like religion.  We have been brought up paying duty to "God"...and we have never truly seen him...or her.  Yet we believe and go to war to support these hidden powers and influences in our lives. What would  happen if the world's masses got together and just said "ENOUGH!  We are not fighting your wars anymore."?

Unfortunately, most of us continue to accept the "divide and conquer" mentality our institutions have raised us in. Humans need traditions and connectivity.  Most of us have accepted the limits and boundaries our nations and religions have forced upon us for this "connectivity".  We understand very little of difference or complexity of the human condition. Therefore, we readily take up the banner of racism and nationalism. It is in our multi generational DNA.

Yes, I know many readers will be lost, confused or disbelieving of what I am saying.  Many truths are very difficult to face.  But, if you have read and experienced some of the things I have the past 40+ would think more "globally" about these realities also. If individuals of reason and education do not stand up for individual truth and rights soon...we will find ourselves reversing back to a modern day "dark ages" where our wills and core values were programmed out of existence.  If we drink the "Koolaid" of nationalism and religion as the core of human values...we will soon find ourselves as pure pawns of nations to support THEIR agendas. The world truly could become like the fantasy story "Lord of the Rings" where the dark forces battle to snuff out the spirit of men. The only problem is there is no "Gandalf" or "Elves" to come to our rescue.

Let this be a call to "global citizenship". The world is more and more about common trade and mutual acceptance...not borders and barriers or "informational blackouts" on the internet based on what country you are in. Start thinking objectively for yourself and your family...before it is too late. The people must UNITE and conquer, or be conquered.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Work of Love

(This is somewhat a continuation of thought from a recent blog on "How full is your Cup"...)

A common thread of human nature is that we want to love and be loved.  The ideal love is a mutual two way street of emotion, support, admiration, friendship and companionship.  Love is a wonderful thing when everyone is healthy, wealthy, happy and wise...but it becomes very hard work when one or the other or both fall on "hard times".  That is when the "work of love" begins.

I have seen the challenge of this more in the last few years than I did in my youth.  When we are young we tend to be very full of "ourselves".  We are running at full speed pursuing ambitions, chasing dreams and or acting on our primordial drives of mating and reproducing.  Lets start with the fact that it doesn't take "love" to mate and reproduce.  The work of love starts when we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of responsibility to support wives and/or raise children, sacrificing our personal freedom in deference to a new program of give and take that marriage or child rearing demands.

Some recent observations of love's work bear mentioning.  The last number of months at a monthly men's lunch I attend, there is only one woman in attendance. She has been accepted into this "club" if you will because her husband was an honored member until a number of years ago when he had a stroke which robbed him of his ability to talk or hardly walk.  I did not know them back then, but it is my understanding for 8 years this woman has been attending to her husbands every need, including bringing him to events like ours where he knew everyone and they knew him.  He obviously still enjoys being with us and observing what is going on, but she has to do most of the talking for him, drive everywhere for him...and she never seems bitter or unhappy about her plight.  While our friend is unlucky from a health standpoint, he obviously made a good choice in a mate, and she is honoring his love and their previous commitment with devotion and charity.

I have also seen this in my "mothers". I swear to God women are the stronger sex.  In the past decade I have lost both my "fathers", father and stepfather. In the case of my stepfather, while typically a healthy athletic type who lived good and clean, he had to take early retirement at 55 because of a heart condition.  Fortunately he had lived responsibly and frugally to where he could afford that option...and together he and my mom had some wonderful years in retirement together, traveling and being involved in various causes from church to nature conservancy to mentoring elementary students who were struggling academically or with tough circumstances in growing up on the "wrong side of the tracks".  While he valiantly struggled against various health issues for most of his retirement years, we lost him way too early at 68 years of age to an aggressive form of cancer.  During those last months of his life, mom had to do most things for or with him.  Here was a proud, independent man who suddenly was totally dependent on his wife.  I am quite sure it was tougher for him to accept support in some ways than it was for my mom to give. Yet, many things that are said and done in these final stages of life represent the core of the meaning and work of love...and many of those moments are the most memorable and illustrative of true love.

Most recently was the loss of my father to a very rare brain infection.  This condition happened abruptly and quickly, calling for total support and sacrifice on the part of my step-mom who spent much of the last two months of dad's life at his bedside, often sleeping all night at the hospital, changing his bedpan between nurse visits, plus handling hordes of paperwork and financial obligations that these situations demand.  Sure, others of us tried to help as we could...but it seems to always fall on the spouse to take charge and have the most weight to bear.  This is the "work" of love in action.  It's not fun, romantic or happy.  It is tedious, stressful and emotionally devastating.  Yet, it is my observation that these are some of the most meaningful experiences in our "love life".

I have seen so many other examples of this in my life. Parents who sacrifice everything for their kids to get a better education than they had.  Grandparents who have to be surrogate parents for their grand-kids just when they thought their child rearing days were behind them.  Friends of mine who have had children with huge drug problems or imprisoned literally and/or in their own minds.  It is probably impossible to know the love and devotion it takes to handle that, never having had children of my own.

There are many types of love that demand work. To take this to another level, it takes a whole lot of "love" to care about large groups of poor, ill or troubled people and sacrifice your own interests, time and energy to help those less fortunate.  Its easier to care about close family or friends than it is to care about the poor or people of different cultures or races. Yet this melting pot of a world daily challenges us with opportunities and decisions of how we are going to handle the growing needs of this troubled world. Its going to take a lot of love and caring to overcome the hate and selfishness of the majority, especially when those with full cups are dwindling in number compared to those demanding their cups be filled. If we don't find a way to overcome these inequalities with some form of love and charity, the hate and selfishness will overcome and potentially destroy humanity.

I have friends who have devoted their lives to working with troubled teenagers.  I have other friends who work as nurses or in old people's homes dealing with elderly or sick people all the time.  It baffles me sometimes what drives a person to accept such underpaid, under appreciated jobs...but I know in most cases it is about heart and soul with which these esteemed friends or acquaintances are trying to make a difference in peoples lives...even though they are strangers and from all walks of life.  I have tried to do some of these things from time to time in my life...but never on the scale of some of these life heroes I am honored to know. It is sometimes a mystery where this strength and impetus comes from to CHOOSE care-taking as a profession, but its a good thing this goodness and love of humanity exists in this chaotic world.

These obvious works of love are the masterpieces in life. These situations are like a candle in a dark room. Just when you think humanity is totally lost in its depravity and darkness...these miracles of love come along to give us hope.  In the end, I think there is tremendous reward for those who love like this. The reward is that they can look in the mirror and know that the value of their life has not been just about them...but about every life they have touched with hope, and yes in many cases, unconditional love and acceptance. That is something worth living for and aspiring to.