Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mixer Has Many Things to Say

Email: Elaine has asked me to throw together an article or two for her guest blog, but hasn’t given me any direction on what types of material she wants. Soo.. I’m harvesting some posts from across the web that discuss the general fields she is interested in hearing opinions about. The format is broken down by area and displayed as question/answer:

Note from editor: I am publishing this in parcels, not all at once, an embarrassment of riches.

Deficts

"In rereading the other thread I noticed you talking about the trade deficit. Isn't the trade deficit more a matter of consumerism than national economic policy?"

There is an aspect of consumerism to trading in general, yes. Nobody is interested in buying what they don't want or need. If we want or need something that someone else has, then we trade them something they want or need for it.

Balancing trade internationally goes beyond simple consumerism, though. Since the amount of wealth present or generated by a nation is a finite value, increasing or decreasing wealth becomes a matter of economic policy (especially since we switched to a fiat currency in '64.) Less wealth means lower standards of living, less productivity, less ability to make weapons of defense, etc. So, I suppose the overall answer to your question is no, but in simpler terms (i.e. - the microeconomics of retail trade,) then it'd be sort of/yes.

"For instance, everyone buys smaller, more efficient cars, and oil imports drop along with the trade deficit. If people make those American built cars, the deficit drops even more. If we allow oil to be extracted in Alaska, imported oil decreases and the defecit drops even more"

Well, even the best guess estimates on the reserves in Alaska will only feed autos for a few months. We're not tapping into our reserves to ensure we have enough raw material to produce the plethora of other things that we use oil for: fertilizers, plastics, medicines, etc. The stuff our civilization is founded on. We only open those reserves if we don't anticipate using much, and only for a short time.

But, your question was about modifying our import habits to decrease the deficit. Yes, we could do that. However, we won't. If we decide to lower our imports, then we will only further place ourselves into debt due to that "buyer of last resort" clause we add to most every trade agreement. We would also weaken our position with the global marketplace with a lower import demand; less people would want to buy our stuff if we didn't want to buy theirs. I'm pretty certain the rest of the world would be willing to allow us some import controls to help reign in our out-of-control spending, but we're shifting away from the fair market principle to the free market principle - and the free market does not like controls. No, decreasing imports is not the answer; we have to increase true exports (and that means bringing back the manufacturing base) while reigning in spending (we can no longer afford some of our luxuries;) if we cannot stop the bleeding of our wealth, then we must slow it down enough to make it manageable. Option #1 won't happen; too many businesses would lose profits if we eliminate the "stealth imports," and they'll fight profit loss with everything they have. Option #2 looked to be the most palatable, but we don't seem to care about fiscal responsibility anymore; with the status quo, it's "buyer of last resort" until we choke.

"While I can see that financial policies that affect the strength of the dollar would also have some impact, isn't that impact a smaller percentage of the deficit than the fact that American buy a massive amount of things from overseas? Can any government policy offset the fact that we import billions of dollars of oil each day?"

Yes, we do buy a lot of stuff from overseas. The problem is, we haven't produced the stuff we buy for some time now, and the tax codes combined with the trade unions (as they exist now) make it much more profitable for a business to import products than make them here. And, to spice up the mix, we have politically powerful industries that aren't interested in doing business differently - they want everything to remain the same. Case in point: in Germany, they are producing hybrid cars. Biogas/solar cars. No oil needed. The EU doesn't have the major oil companies that we do, so they can address their oil dependency much more rationally than we can (don't worry folks - they are still making gas-guzzlers to sell to us.) A small side note: that technology platform was a member benefit of the Kyoto Treaty, so we didn't want it; but I'll bet they'll sell it to us for a nice profit if we want it in the future. So, yes, governmental policy can and does affect our trade relations.

One last thing - this isn't a problem that's creeping up on us or a problem that we have room to maneuver in; this has been going on for some time and we're kind of out of options at this point, so don't be surprised if you write your congressman and get no answer. All each of us can do at this point is try and prepare for the future.

EDITOR'S COMMENT: Often times, in the "comments" section of quite a few blogs, I read interesting and rather long replies and I know from my own experience, these are not mere cut and pasties or reguritation of some ideology but people really trying to figure things out.

I hope Culture of Life News gets thoughtful comments. It truly pleases me. Jokes are nice, too, by the way. There is room for both here!

How THIS Old Brit Sees.....

Far-Eastern Feuding ...


The Chinese have been showing Japan exactly what they think of it's 'revisionist' history recently. Hundreds of thousands have regularly been demonstrating in the streets. As it's all gone on, what's not been happening is as noteworthy as what has. Everything's taken place without a single sighting of a solitary, Tianamman-square-type tank to keep 'order'. Hmm?

It's true the Japanese have, in the past, inflicted terrible things on their oriental neighbours [and others] -- but 'revision of history' has long been the norm in China, too. Often, by more subtle yet equally effective, sins of omission.

Witness what Briton, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, the BBC's Beijing, resident correspondent, recently reported -- in an intelligent and fair & balanced way. Incidentally, he's more than well read in Chinese history, and has much first hand experience in life in modern China, where he lives with his family. Interestingly, his wife is Japanese and they have two young children. Hopefully, they'll ensure we soon have at least a couple more enlightened adults amongst us. Half British, half Japanese, growing up in China? Definitely, far Eastern experts of the future, I'd say.

Here's a telling extract from their father's recent BBC piece.

* Young Chinese are taught about the atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II. They are not however taught about the 17 official apologies that Japan has made to China over the last 30 years, including one from the Japanese emperor when he visited Beijing.

Nor are they told of the $30bn in aid that Japan has given to China since ties were re-established in 1972, aid that has helped build Beijing's international airport and the city's new subway system. You'll search in vain for a plaque on either acknowledging where the money came from.

Unlike Japan, in China the government really does control history.
His full article's well worth a read -- at the link down below -- here's another taster:

China's own history has been relentlessly rewritten to erase the episodes the Communist Party would rather forget. Ask any young Chinese about Mao's disastrous "great leap forward" campaign in which more than 20 million people starved to death, and you will get a blank stare.


Ask about China's unprovoked invasion of Vietnam in 1979 in which tens of thousands of Vietnamese were killed. Again, nothing.

Last week China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao declared that:
"Only a country that respects history, and takes responsibility for history, can take greater responsibilities in the international community."

He was talking about Japan, but he could just as well have been talking about China.

BBC News

TO VISIT RICHARD CLICK HERE.

Juliedee's Blog: The Half Kracked Kup

Email message: OK Elaine!
 
Here’s my submission to your “guest page”! It’s basically the same as the one you read on my blog (and will shortly replace it) but is in the format I use for my newsletter (I have about 200 subscribers at this point and gain new ones every day!). If you wish you can chop the sig off just below my name, BUT I would like if you kept the copywrite stuff (sans the bit about “this and the stuff above” of course”).

Your new friend,

Julie

The American Religious Reich
OR
How I learned to Goose Step While Loving The Lord



I’ve been noticing a pattern in the Christian community of late. Not in the mainstream community by any means, but in the small, loud fringe community that has by their very loudness and cohesiveness come to power in recent years. Because their actions are so very reminiscent of the actions and tactics and rhetoric of Hitler and his brown shirts I call them The Religious Reich, A bit of word play on Religious Right, but frighteningly close to the truth as you will see... So, that said, let's take a look at how the Religious Reich stacks up against the Nazism these days:

Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, wrote an article about fascism which appeared in Free Inquiry magazine -- a journal of humanist thought. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). He found the regimes all had 14 things in common, and he calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The article is "Fascism Anyone?," Lawrence Britt, Free Inquiry , Spring 2003, page 20. My comments will be in the {curly brackets} following Dr. Britt's observations.


Here follows Julie's commentary:

The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

{One certainly can't say that Nationalism is not on the rise! Flags fly EVERYWHERE!}

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

{One need look no farther than Guantanamo Bay and the so called "Patriot Act" for evidence of that.}

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

{"Islamic Terrorists"... need I say more?}

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

{While record deficit spending is building up a National Debt that our great great great grand children will still be paying off military spending is still at embarrassingly high levels. Especially when you consider that ALL other governments INCLUDING our traditional enemies have CUT their military spending by 50% or MORE! Source: Peace Action}

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homo-sexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

{The Religious Reich is fighting to overturn the gains both gays and women have made in the areas of equal employment and having their specific health needs met. Also the battle over Roe v. Wade and the fight over Equal Marriage has heated up in the last 2 yeas as well so yes, they are encouraging rampant sexism!}

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

{I have many friends in the media who are sometimes afraid to report on stories that might anger the Religious Reich. I would call that indirect control.}

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

{I don't recall a single "Green" or "Yellow" alert day in the last 2 years, do you? I DO recall a good many news stories straight from the Office of Homeland Security about this potential terrorist threat or that potential terrorist threat that never materialized though.}

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

{Just this weekend we had a GLARING example of just how the Repugnican Party has become entangled with the Religious Reich in the form of that broadcast that DeLay and Frist and other Repugnican leaders made through Dobson's Family Research Council's network that was broadcast to thousands of churches nationwide! It's nigh on impossible to tell the difference between a Republican Party Plank and a Fundamentalist Christian Minister's religious edict these days!)

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

{How many times have we seen this? From Enron to Bechtel industrial and business aristocracy are untouchable!}

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

{Just look at how the power of the unions have been gutted in the past few years. No longer does the worker have the power of a strong union to organize against the huge corporations in order to get wages that keep up with inflation and the standard of living. Worse yet the government has demonized the unions much like it did at the turn of the 20th century.}

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

{I see this every day. These "hit or missives" get forwarded to a wide variety of people. Often I get back comments calling me an "anti-Christian intellectual bigot" and an "over educated idiot" to name but a few. The disdain these people have for the educated is quite honestly frightening!}

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

{OH YEA! Even though the FBI reports that crimes have been DOWN for the last 4 years all you hear from them is "get tough on crime" talk and how "the criminal has more rights than the victim". Part of that rhetoric is the whole "get tough on drugs" nonsense that expresses itself in making it harder for those with a legitimate need for the pain killers to get the medications they so desperately need! every year hundreds of chronic pain patients take their own lives because they can no longer stand having to wait to receive the drugs that will ease their pain.  Why? So some politician can say he's "tough on drugs".}

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

{Just look at all of Bush's buddies that have followed him to the White House. Look at Frist, he's got his whole family on the payroll! DeLay as well! Ditto McCain, Feinstein, and everyone else in Washington! You'd think it was some kind of public trough for politicians for God's sake!!}

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

{The last election was just about as close to fraudulent as you can get without being able to make a case! Too few voting machines in the heavily Democratic precincts while in the mostly Republican strongholds they had machines that never got used! And just who decided where the machines were sent? A Republican. Then there were the smears... GEEBUS! NO ONE knows how to run a smear campaign like a Repugnican! They practically invented it! And let's not even talk about the monkey fuck of an election before that!}

So all in all the Religious Reich and the Repugnican Party get 14 out of 14... a perfect score! If it smells like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck I don't have to see it swim to be sure it's a duck.

That's my opinion and you are welcome to it.

©2002-2005 by Julie Johnson for PlanetOutCast.Network. All rights reserved. This document may be reprinted and forwarded freely in it's entirety, BUT must include this AND the preceding notice. Please inform the author of where you have posted it. Thank you for your support!

Julie Johnson aka “The Great Spoon“

FROM THE EDITOR: We should visit all other's blogs.

Kracked Kup forum

1/2 Kracked Kup Blog

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Welcome to Culture of Life News Guest Blog!

mountain
The view from my front deck.

This is where guests to our blog can run extended articles or conversations. Some of the postings under various stories are long and detailed and it would be a shame to not give them proper airing. To post an article here is very simple:

Contact me at emeinel@taconic.net or post it at the comments section in the opening page of this news site and I can transfer it over to the guest blog. If a poster has trouble with HTML coding, don't let that faze you, it is a pain to do. I do it so much it is second nature so all you have to do is give me the URL and I can do all the coding. This includes pictures. If you want a picture set up, pull it into the email and it will appear usually as code ending in jpg. I can code it so it appears. If it is too big, I can shrink it, etc.

So don't be shy! Everyone is very interesting.

I really like stories from at work or school or something in the news that reminds you about something important at home. Breaking news or interesting news about energy or technology or finances is greatly appreciated! I don't watch TV so interesting stuff from there is also an addition to this news blog.

Each time I get a posting, I will put it on the main page with one paragraph describing it and a link that can be clicked. If there are any bugs in this set up, please tell me.

Thanks in advance,

Elaine Supkis, editor of Culture of Life News.