Our Current State Of Affairs

(C) 2015, Eric C. S. Dynamic
First Draft, 17 October 2015

This outline tries to address all major points but is necessarily incomplete. Much more discussion could be provided, but this tries to stress the main points quickly, in order to provide a good working mental image of the situation. What is said below is suggestive of the reality we currently live in. This was written specifically with America in mind, but what is said operates over most of the planet.

(1) Everyone is psychologically depressed.

  • Because they have no control over the things that impact them.
  • Because they are panicked that they will lose everything and end up in the gutter.
  • Because they are helpless victims of other people’s preying upon them.


  • Nobody has the attention span to focus on anything anymore.
  • Everyone is angry about everything and at everyone else all the time.
  • Any attempt from outside the person to get their attention to anything is regarded as an affront and a personal attack and treated as such.
  • The person tries to annihilate their consciousness as much as they can with distractions and entertainment.
  • Any awareness of their own circumstances must be combated and denied. The key is locked inside the box that it opens.

(2) Everyone has been miseducated and is misinformed.

We live in a Propaganda State, whose interest it is to conceal this nature of the State from us. Our educational systems are controlled by the people who wish to control us, and they always have been.

(the past)

  • Nobody knows or understands History:
  • Nobody knows how the world came to be the way it is. We are born, and then given to believe that the world has always been the way it is now.
  • We are encouraged to think that the current state of affairs was arrived at intelligently and is the best possible state of affairs and should never change.
  • Nobody is taught the political, economic, or social flows of history.
  • We are given to believe that Capitalism has always existed as it does now and that it has always been the free choice of an educated people.
  • We are not taught that people wanted Socialism even before Capitalism was invented. We are not taught that the struggle for Socialism has been a major and continuous theme of history for several hundreds of years, up to the present day. We are taught, however, that Socialism is evil.
  • For most of history, many peoples have been taught that they are morally, intellectually and spiritually superior to all other people.
  • We are not taught that throughout history, people have objected to being exploited and controlled by other people. We are not taught that people fought against this exploitation and control, and we are not taught that in many cases those fighting won the freedom they sought.
  • We are not taught what consequences there are for all other people stemming from choices our leaders make. We are not taught what long-term consequences there will be for ourselves due to the choices we make now. We are taught to live only for the moment, with little regard to the future.
  • We are not taught that cooperation between individuals is part of our genetic programming, even more so than competition.

(the present)

  • We are not allowed to understand the true goals of those who hold power in our name.
  • We are not allowed to know how the money collected from us is spent.
  • We are not allowed to know what the consequences are for those subject to the policies of our leaders, either within our country or for those outside it.
  • We are not allowed to know, in fact, who exercises actual power in our country.
  • We are not allowed to know that our people have stood up against the leaders in the past. We are not allowed to know that in many cases the people won the freedom that they sought.


  • We don’t know that people just like ourselves fought the system and won. Thus we don’t realize that we have any reason to try again on our own.
  • We don’t know what mistakes those people made when they lost their struggles, so we have to start from scratch each time.
  • We don’t know for how long we have been suffering the very same things at the hands of our leaders.
  • We don’t remember that the lies they use today are the same lies they have used forever. Thus we believe the same lies repeatedly.

(3) We live in a Propaganda State, whose interest it is to conceal our people’s thoughts from each other.

Our media systems are controlled by the people who wish to control us, and they always have been.

  • We are not allowed to challenge the authority of those in power.
  • We are discouraged from learning anything about the past.
  • We are not allowed to hear from each other.
  • We are told what “everyone else believes” and have no way to verify it. If we dislike something about the system, we are told that we are the only ones who do.
  • We are told what to believe and are never allowed to question the information we are given.
  • We are not allowed, under any circumstances, to know that we have the collective power to overthrow the system.
  • We are told that each of us should only look out for ourself. We are discouraged from forming groups, unless it is for a purpose the State desires.
  • We are encouraged to be selfish and to believe that we are in competition with everyone else in our society and in the world.
  • We are discouraged from sharing with others or helping others.
  • We are encouraged to dislike or hate anyone different from ourselves and anyone whose beliefs differ from our own.
  • Each of us is encouraged to think that we and we alone understand the world, that we and we alone are right, and that anyone who disagrees with us is an enemy.


  • Each of us is isolated from everyone else and believes that he or she is powerless and without friends, or understanding, from anyone else.
  • People around us are injured or die and we do not care.
  • Our State injures or kills people and we do not care.
  • If we should be injured, we believe that no-one will care or render assistance.
  • We believe that we cannot and must not expect anything from others or rely upon others. Nor they from us.

(4) We live in a Police State.

  • We are not allowed possession of and control over our own bodies if the system so decides. [abortion, reproduction]
  • We are not allowed to modify our own consciousness for learning, exploration or pleasure. [drugs]
  • We are not allowed to confront those in authority in any ways that authority does not approve.
  • We are not allowed to demand any accountability from those who rule over us.
  • We are not allowed to interfere with the State in anything that it does, no matter how wrong we know those things to be.
  • We are not allowed to modify the State itself. Those in power are beyond our ability to control. We are not allowed to choose who rules us.
  • We are not allowed to question the operation of the State, nor should we expect that it would answer any questions put to it.
  • People who attempt to interfere will have their economic lives destroyed; or be imprisoned; or be killed; or any two or all three in sequence.


  • People behave themselves as ordered by the State; or else are ruined, ostracized, imprisoned, tortured, or murdered.
  • Dissent does not exist.
  • There is no organized resistance to the State.

(5) We live in a Military / Corporate Dictatorship.

  • We exist to serve the State. Anyone who does not, (is ruined, ostracized, imprisoned, tortured, and) is allowed to die or is made to die.
  • Corporations decide how we shall live, what and who we should like, what we will eat, what we will consume, what we should do, how we will think, what we can know.
  • We exist in order to work so as to hand our money to the Military and to the Corporations for their purposes. We are not allowed purposes of our own:
  • Any functions that do not serve the Corporations are discouraged or prohibited.
  • We are not allowed to dissent from this system.


  • American and other societies as we see them today: malevolent and uncaring, aggressive and destructive.
  • Malaise: There is no reason to live, to act, to think, to dream, to hope, to love, to work, to have friends, or even to have children.
  • Homo Sapiens is a failed species.

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Response to Leos Tovarek, Chapter Two

Chapter TWO: Video

I’ll return to TV but I really do mean that any sequence of moving visual images – video in any medium – is toxic, by virtue of the ease with which it captures our attention. We do actively mentally react against things we object to in a video stream, but our brains are attuned to follow the movement of the video and so our objections can only be “filed away on the fly” and easily get lost as the video stream continues.

We can’t interact (in real time) with (the creators of) the video we’re watching, so videos are always a passive medium for the spectator. People rarely run and rerun a video to take it apart to criticize it; the video ends up being a statement taken as a whole and one either “accepts” it or rejects it as a whole. And unless we do rake the video over coals, like it or not the video gets to assert many things that we rarely criticize point by point. So videos get to abuse our subconscious minds with little conscious defense.

Others have remarked what I observed which most people do not consciously address, which is that the commercial format is so taken for granted that the regimented parceling-up of our stories is not seen as damage to those stories. The typical TV show airs 8 minutes of program alternated with 4 minutes of advertising, or 6 minutes of program alternated with 3 minutes of advertising. What never fails is the implicit presumption, funny as it is, that the viewer has to be incented each and every time before a commercial break, to return to the program being watched. What this does is falsify the framing of the stories we see, such that in an action program, for example, the writers have to pace the plot so that the music reaches a dramatic crescendo and the protagonist or plot-goal is put in dire peril exactly every 6 or 8 minutes so that the viewer is bade to return to “find out what happens” – the bad guy throws a knife at the good guy, {crescendo}, cut to commercial – and the viewer has to return to the program to verify that the knife does not actually hurt the good guy, in fact.

Real stories are not like that, but (according to the interests of money) the commercial content is so much more important than the sensibility of the viewers that we’re not allowed genuine story flows, but are instead psychologically manipulated to wish to follow the story despite 33.3% of all air time being devoted to things of no interest to the viewer.

Once upon a time I accidentally believed that a cable TV connection meant I would get better content, but I never did have cable and one day I stopped by a friend’s house with someone watching the Sci Fi channel. When the program cut to commercial I was surprised and said, “they have commercials on cable too?” and my friend said “of course, what did you expect?” — it took a moment to realize he was right – what did I expect? That there would be any place I could get away from commercials? Of course not – in our supposedly free country. Even a channel like HBO that would show full-length movies, spent enormous amounts of time on commercials between movies – advertising HBO. They charged extra money for the privilege of not interrupting a story to present commercials, but try in vain to find a channel that presents no commercials at all, and wonder, if you could find one, what they would wish to charge you. But, it’s just not an option. Even Public TV has these “content wrappers”, and Public TV so offended moneyed interests that Public TV now runs commercials as well, a’ la HBO, when those of us old enough can remember that the most we had to deal with many decades ago was a simple text list of sponsors before or after the content.

So that’s “choice” in America: you’re going to watch commercials anywhere you go, end of story.

Knowing the value of video to seize people’s “monkey brains”, commercial interests are introducing videos everywhere possible – on gas station pumps; in convenience stores; in fast-food restaurants.

And due to ignoring the toxicity of video and due to people’s addiction to video, businesses introduce videos everywhere people assemble – in restaurants and cafes.

So we get a kind of “Fahrenheit 451” effect, where everywhere you go there is a television to “watch”, or more specifically to “zone out on” – pending that television watching you back sometime down the line. They want you in your monkey brain thinking about nothing at all times.

At movie theaters it used to be that between films the theater was quiet – soundless – with muted lights, and only some minutes before the film would the previews cut in with perhaps an exhortation to buy popcorn and soda. But skip forward a decade and now the screen and speakers are continuously busy trying to sell you things – one reason I no longer wish to attend theaters, besides which the commercial content is loud, obnoxious, and obviously targeted to the crowd aged 16-22.

It is now taken for granted of us that we blindly accept continuous commercial advertising and have no complaints; but of course you cannot tell me how you could complain of this if you wished to, there is no place to complain and — your fellow citizens do in fact so blindly accept this advertising that few people would have patience to hear a complaint about it. So the engineering of “average Joe” to be a mindless monkey-brain has in fact succeeded.

The actual content of the programs we watch is also toxic. This is a topic on its own to be pursued in another chapter, but suffice it quickly to say that TV on average presents people as being vicious, unreasoning, and violent to such a monolithic extent that it is impossible that this does not jaundice the average person’s point of view about what people are, on average, really like. Real people in our civil society are so unlike the people we see on TV and yet I suspect a sociological-psychological poll would reveal that thanks to TV, a majority of us (real people) actually do fear other people on the basis that others will in fact be vicious, unreasoning and violent.

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Response to Leos Tovarek, Chapter One

Chapter ONE: Socialism and its risks:

I’m probably a “social libertarian”, but everything has its limits, and anyone exposed to the history of movements can compile a list of shortcomings to be avoided. So for example “socialism”: my definition of Socialism precludes it being genuine if it’s coercive, besides which that (coercion, control, etc.) is not so much a matter of the economic system but rather one of dealing with human nature, i.e. politics. The basic criticism of Capitalism is that the social basis is one of competition without regard to social consequences, greed is extolled, wealth is the indicator of prowess, it’s fine to have a permanent underclass and exploit them, etc. whereas Socialism presumes cooperation and a concern for the health of the society itself, and at least in my (preferred) world, more value would be assigned to intelligence and the contribution one makes to the general good. And one does not permit the exploitation of one group by another, since that is after all morally objectionable – and the answer to the capitalist Darwinists is made by Malcolm X, go ahead and keep exploiting me and you’ll be facing my kind armed to defend ourselves, namely exploit us at your peril – if your conscience won’t constrain you, maybe violence is necessary to teach you correct behavior – and here the image is of the soft fat capitalist defended by the police and a society that permits exploitation and yet condemns violence in response – the “hated bourgeoisie”.

So seizing children would be wrong, having nothing to do with the economic system; and denying anyone the right to speak their mind or punishing them for what they say, is wrong. As a species we’ve come quite far – we understand Genetics, Nuclear Physics, Electronics, etc., but what the species has not yet done is face its own corruption as a social species. Greed is an instinct at one level, but so is violence and we’ve proven we can overcome violence for the most part, other people make us angry every day and we don’t attack them physically, within large bounds. So greed is equally conquerable. Here, the economic system does matter and does influence our social values and capitalism does NOT confront negative behaviors but does combat discussion of confronting such behavior – we endorse exploitation and excuse it by pretending that great men and great ideas require it in order to produce strides for “humanity” – while ignoring and excusing that who benefits from these strides is also very selective. In a Socialist society, nobody will gain points for espousing such philosophies – namely, arguing to exploit others would be an article of shame, as antisocial, namely, people will be expected to answer first to an empathetic human conscience. People are not created equal and some people are more deserving than others and this will always be so, but the difference between capitalism and socialism is that capitalism does not want any limits to How Much More one person can get than another, while socialism acknowledges that limits are necessary for society to function properly.

John Locke’s example of the apples (as my recollection has it) – is it okay for one man to have all the apples while others have none, and who you are is determined by your answer to that question. At age 4 I had an experience whose significance has followed me all my life. My mother had baked an entire lunchboxful of cookies for my birthday. When I got to kindergarten a teacher seized them (without asking) and passed them around so that each other child got one. When the lunchbox returned to me only 5 were left and I felt cheated – both materially, but particularly in not even having been asked – and in fact this event was never repeated against any other child so that I and others got one cookie from someone else, so I was forced to take it very personally. But I could not dismiss that there was indeed justice in what was done – except that my forced sharing was never reciprocated, which is what should have happened (in my experience.) Had each child been required to share around, there couldn’t be an objection to the sharing, in principle. So on the one hand I understand the “rage” of the property-rights supremacists, but I also profoundly comprehend the principle of sharing.

The socialist answer to Locke is that it is not permissible to try to enforce one’s rights against all others in order to keep more than one really needs. The (laissez-faire) capitalist would argue that one man could own all the apples even if others had none and even if the apples the owner couldn’t eat would rot and go wasted. The organization “Global Exchange” produced a bumper sticker that read “GLOBAL MINIMUM WAGE / GLOBAL MAXIMUM WAGE” and I firmly agree with that: by the time you’re making so much money that you have to figure out what to do with the money you don’t really need, you’re making too much money to let you keep it. The counterargument (Ayn Rand probably the fiercest proponent of it) is that “as I am a great man who can do great things, I deserve to keep all excess money that I can make so that I can express my power against the world to get my way.” What Rand presumes, which is false, is that anyone who can figure out how to amass a fortune is per se a “great man who can do great things”. Only Carnegie of his generation of robber barons bothered to build libraries and leave money to charity, so much for Ms. Rand. In our day (IMO:) the only reason the Gates Foundation does anything for people is due to Belinda Gates (caring female) – not Bill (megalomaniac sociopath) who derided open-source as ‘communist’. But in so saying, he unintentionally illustrated the positive value of ‘communism’ and thus gave it good PR. {laughs}

Theoretically, Capitalism can work out just as well for society as Socialism, but only under specific constraints, and making certain assumptions about how people in this perfect Capitalist society will in fact behave. So far, so good. But Capitalism (at least as we have ever seen it practiced) incents its practitioners to game the system – to use profits / excess profits not only to destroy competition (which “perfect” Capitalism says is not permissible) but to suborn the laws that regulate it and to buy the voters and politicians needed to do so. That is, we face venal human behavior that any realistic person would admit requires regulation and enforcement to contain, and everyone knows that “capitalists” – at least the Randian looney-tunes laissez-faire variety – hate regulation, enforcement, accountability. I suggest the more excess wealth you accumulate, the more your philosophy will become that Laissez-Faire mindset.

But ya know, the age of kings is over – whether they wear robes or business suits. The common folk (i.e. the “99%”) need to assimilate that into their BONES, and ENFORCE it.

Since we just don’t seem to be able to get the needed accountability, that is why “average Joe” should prefer Socialism – if the Capitalists refuse to play fair – and by their own stated rules, by the way – then Capitalism has to go. Just exactly like if you are my child and you will not respect the rules for dealing with fire, as your parent I cannot allow you to play with fire – for the protection of everyone, including you.

Now back to abuses.

Even Stalin is not a black and white case – millions of people saw him as the “great hope for a socialist future”. However, my first reaction remains to consider him perhaps the most evil person ever to have lived, that millions would be in thrall to the will of one man, and he discredited the word “communism” for all time, whereas if one understands what communism was SUPPOSED to be, one would agree that it’s a desirable ideal. (!) History cannot be rerun as a controlled experiment, and so having “the first (so-called) worker’s state” confused with Bolshevik intentions to remain in power at all costs as its defender, muddies the USSR fatally as an example of anything desirable to anyone. In other words, for Stalin to claim to represent Communism discredited the concept because Stalin was such a thoughtless selfish a**hole.

History would have been far better served, I think, had Lenin accepted the distribution of votes in the Constituent Assembly, January 1918, where the Bolsheviks would not have gotten a majority and would have had to cooperate with the Mensheviks and SRs. The moment the Bolsheviks dissolved the Assembly was the moment the Bolsheviks killed the Russian revolution – which had started out so very marvelously in February 1917 (gregorian calendar.) To read various things the Left SRs and Mensheviks proposed, one would not anticipate the dissolution of a genuine worker’s state just because the Bolsheviks didn’t dominate. So the Russian revolution was killed by the personal desire for absolute power, thank Lenin for that. I also conjecture, but with more margin for error, that the world and history would have been far better off had Trotsky, and not Stalin, assumed power following Lenin’s death. The ‘error’ would be that Trotsky also believed the Bolsheviks should be preeminent, and once in power may well have done as Stalin did – but I suspect as well that he might not have; I think he would have opposed Hitler and maybe even prevented the Third Reich by supporting the KPD; I would hope he’d have defended Spain; and I’d hope he would not have sold out the Chinese communists – all opposite to what Stalin did. I think Trotsky had a conscience and Stalin did not. One cannot forgive the Bolsheviks eliminating the Anarchists, who had the real (February) pulse of the country; and I do not forgive Kronstadt. Viva Makhno.

end part ONE

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Commodification Complete

Your World Now
This is what the world now is … you are now a member of one or more Social Media outlets, or you have no place in the world. All of these are run by very small groups of private individuals – the new media superelites – and your choice in dealing with them is to opt out (and be left out), or participate on the basis of being one person among millions who might ask for site policy changes (i.e., nobody will hear you.)

Take it or be Left Out.

Notice that of five sites listed by image, only three are listed by name. All we get is a funneling of all online users into the pools of the few or couple top sites. 6.6 billion people will belong to one of the top two/three or they will vanish. Participation with these sites establishes them as monopolies and our choices are: help the monopolization, or don’t. Fighting it is not an option.

Just pointing out the world your fellow citizens have opted en-masse to create as the only reality you’ll be allowed to engage in. Boycott it and be ignored …

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How to take over the World

Somebody has already taken over the world (hint: it’s not you.) It might be useful to see how they did it.

Quite simple, actually: you buy congress to pass some asshole law. Then, in order to overturn this law through normal political channels, the public has to get involved at expense of their time and attention span; they have to remember what they’re doing for long enough to see it through to the end; and if at first they don’t succeed, they have to try again – and again.

You got it. The public has no energy to do this, nor does it have enough attention span remaining even to remember that there is a problem. So the people who passed the asshole law win – forever.

Here are a couple examples, “low to high” impact:

1. The CAN-SPAM act of 2004 is a license for spammers to SPAM you. Congress was supposed to put teeth into the law by stating how an Unsolicited Commercial Email must be marked so that the recipient could easily block it if they didn’t want to receive the spam. Congress never bothered to finish their homework, so Professional For-Profit Spammers can spam you all day long and laugh at you when you say it’s illegal.

What failed? The public was lied to by omission. When Bush signed the act, nobody reminded anyone that it was a work in progress requiring another step to complete; so nobody noticed that this final step was not completed. Nobody lost an election for lying to the public about this law. And it would seem that nobody complained about it, either, such that the public was made aware. So we have to live with “legal spam” despite having the power, as citizens, to put a stop to it.

2. Single-Payer Health Care, a.k.a. Socialized Medicine. I don’t know why anyone is or was impressed with Hillary Clinton, as she is the one who insured that discussions (1993) having to do with National Health Care were only attended by Capitalists interested in MAKING MONEY off the system – no advocates of “Single Payer” were invited. Did this vast ripoff of American Citizen Representation get punished? No; Clinton was a viable candidate and nearly became the nominee to run for President in 2008. The public was overtly fucked by this person and the public did nothing to politically punish her for having done so. To this very day, the “system” does what it can to insure that the public will never get closer than a light-year, to getting Single Payer Health Care as enjoyed in all the better Democracies on the planet. Here again, the public could get what they wanted if only they would organize and work for it. But it seems too much to ask citizens in this country to care about the content of their own lives; it’s considered an impolite imposition to remind people that they suffer only from their own political sloth. The bad guys cannot prevail if ever the public would confront them. The public, though, is busy worrying about getting fired, losing their house, programming their phone and watching Television; namely, they’re too busy with Bullshit to save themselves. The notion that they could be working for a system to put an END to their economic fears escapes them entirely.


I think, if American Colonists circa 1760-1787 had any idea what they were “working for” in a revolution, in terms of “giving what to whom” in times to come, once they saw they were busting their chops to get rid of the British, only to turn the country over 200 years later to 300,000,000 people not one effective one of whom gives enough of a shit to defend their Democracy, they would perhaps have said “forget it, then”, and abandoned the colonies to the King. Why risk life and limb for a bunch of lazy dummies who will ask you point blank with a straight face what they get out of defending themselves, as it they were expecting coupons from some corporation for having lifted a finger in self-defense?

It’s so easy to blame the Corporate Media. The fact however is that (a) everyone knows that corporate media only lies to them; if they pretend otherwise it is because they were given the EXCUSE (of ignorance) to use, and they GLADLY use it; (b) despite knowing that corporate media serve only to lie to the public, the public still consumes those media. Namely, despite its having turned to unpalatable shit, people still tune in because it’s the only shit there is to tune into so that you can tune reality out. What the public does not want to see, what it does not want to face, is how cheaply and easily it’s been bought off with substandard, noxious, intelligence-attacking crap that it insists upon remaining addicted to.

That is: we know better; we just don’t do a damned thing about it, not even face the facts.

The sorry message to the Public in this country is:

You NOW LIVE WITH what you have been willing to FIGHT FOR.

You HAVE NOTHING because you are not willing to FIGHT FOR ANYTHING.

If you want to see the person responsible for your plight –

just look in the mirror.


There are plenty of people who DO care and DO fight. They just get no interest and no support from all the other people around them whose rights they are fighting FOR.



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Information Asymmetry – What You Don’t Know Costs You

Location, location. For all I know, Walgreen’s deliveries cost more or their union is better paid – but a 40-count box of Vivarin goes for $1.00 more than it does at Rite-Aid, just across the intersection. No concern for the price disparity. The gas station nearest me must be the most expensive one in the Bay Area; he was at $4.699 when I could find gas at $4.059 and even the usual gougers were only charging $4.329. And yet he survives. Why?

It didn’t occur to me to compare prices until one day I wanted to get some Vivarin (caffeine, 200mg/pill) and Rite-Aid was out. So I went to Walgreen’s, and the price was a dollar higher, $8.99 -> $9.99. I think I bought it anyway – expediency, of course. But that reminded me to pay attention, to some extent. CVS’s price is in-between. So it matters where you shop, on that item. MediCal Part D is a shell-game, as I recall, where no matter what you pick you have to pay hits on stuff you ‘missed’ – this is the government’s idea of generosity in favor of the public. So it seems natural to wonder: is Walgreen’s uniformly higher on price than Rite-Aid? If so, you’d figure out that more and more people would catch on over time, and Walgreen’s would lose customers. Since they don’t seem to be losing customers, either some things are cheaper at Walgreen’s and some things are cheaper at Rite-Aid, or people don’t pay attention (which is the likely answer.) Thus shopping exclusively at one of these places means always paying more money than necessary – you’re being gouged. Economics presumes you would compare prices on an item-by-item basis and buy only those items at Walgreen’s which are cheaper than at Rite-Aid, and vice-versa; but economics also has to account for the cost of the effort and inconvenience involved in this.

They pretend to be your friend, so you would expect them to extend the same pricing courtesy all around and you would not have to worry what specifically you were buying. It is quite possible that the vendors have differential costs, but then those would be levied on the freight as a whole; it’s highly unlikely that the differential price of delivery could justify the $1.00 difference for that one item, unless they charge themselves a high fee for handling products in small quantities. Ultimately, the conclusion is that the prices are arbitrary, and the vendors don’t seem anxious to compete with a low-price guarantee, that for example said Rite-Aid would keep the lower price where they beat Walgreen’s and match Walgreen’s price otherwise. I.e. really compete, instead of sitting there like twin alligators swallowing excess profits from the public. Two ‘competing’ outlets of the drugstore oligopoly face each other across an intersection, what do you expect?

I’m sure the idea is not original with me: make all company records public. The complaint about ‘loss of competitive advantage’ is of no use for members of an oligopoly like the drugstore one. They don’t compete. The moment one of them is worth a nickel more than the other, it buys the other out, acquiring its stores, its markets, and increasing its power to consume even more competitors. So let us see the details: let us see your costs for the items we buy from you and let us see your overheads, and your ledgers. Then let us judge whether we like your operation or not based on your aggregate profit margin.

People should, as a growingly aware community, address the issue of whether smaller businesses remain viable, or whether we should capitulate to a ‘capitalist centralization of production and distribution.’ If we agree that centralization will ultimately prevail, then we should work to Socialize the economy as quickly as possible. The days of the little men in their boardrooms doing their big things must end. Humanity belongs to itself; it must feed itself first, before caring for the profits of disinterested parties. Let there be monopolies as government stores. We the public agree that each of these places can be dolled up by the locals to make the same-old places nicer to shop at; but the prices are, and all other information is, publicly available.

If there is any hope to restore smaller businesses, we should pursue it. We need to regrow our economic body, and the industry that grows to support local commerce is that growth. A movement for regional self-reliance can spur the development of a lot of native plants for industries now foreign. The movement can’t be binding where the costs are too high. The government should target for subsidy those industries where the balance of trade is most severe. If South Korea could catch up to Japan so much and so quickly as it has, I’d suggest the population was involved. If they can do it, we can do it too. We used to have a textile industry. Can we bring it back? And on and on.

I think we as consumers have the right to know: I don’t see any reason why people can’t shop on profit margin as well as price. Throw in the treatment and compensation of employees – the salaries of management – the costs of physical plant, for example is X Corp. dumping $2.5 million on some chimpy façade the public can do without?

What we lack in this country is accountability. Publish the accounts and figures – and listen to the questions, and be gracious with changes that come from this feedback: you’re fulfilling the public will. If your business can’t then compete, it can’t compete. Demand to see the prices and the costs, and the pay grades and pay at the top, the pay to foreign workers, and the overhead.

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Will We Please Read ANYTHING to see that the desire to get rid of Capitalism is NOT NEW?

New book by Richard Wolff, “Democracy at Work – A Cure For Capitalism”. On the back it says “It speaks to those who realize that capitalist economics and politics as usual have become intolerable and who seek a concrete action program.”

I find this really, really, really irritating. We live now in a society whose people cannot remember what they read or heard ten minutes ago. But the situation has the analogy that A has stuck a knife into the side of B, and what we see B do is every few minutes or so say “I have this sharp pain! I see A is sticking me with a knife! I should do something about it – after I reprogram my cellphone.” B reprograms his cellphone (because we understand how crucially important this is, right), and promptly forgets the business with the knife – until the pain again reminds B.

Well, then, B is a moron. It doesn’t matter that B has been made into a moron by the puerile culture of obsessing over handheld devices; B still has the choice of observing that B’s attention span has been shaved to the thickness of paper, and changing his or her lifestyle to free themself of the cause of their attention deficit. But the commercial propaganda has converted attention-distracting inputs into “hits” to satisfy some indefinitely-induced addiction, and the public is more interested in checking their text messages than they are in fixing their fucking Democracy, because they have been reduced to this by the total paralysis of our political system. “There’s nothing in it for you to try to change things, because you’ll try and you’ll try and you’ll jump so high, but you’ll never make it over the wall.” And the cowed and beaten public just takes it, and takes it. Mussolini would find this an easy place to manipulate, because our people are every bit as submissive as the Italians were back then. Go ahead and abuse us – have wars, kill our children, kill other people and their children, make us pay for it, and tell us we can’t have a fucking thing to benefit people or society because all the money had to go to pay for the war. And the vast majority of us sit back, watch TV, and do Jack Shit Nothing about itwar after war!

What’s irritating about that quote from the back of the book? Between the lines one reads that awareness that Capitalism Sucks is somehow “new” – as if only now, by about 2010, are people finally discovering that maybe Capitalism is not working properly. Like DUH! And Not Hardly. Andre Gorz in “Strategy For Labor” gives the same analysis in 1964. Sidney and Beatrice Webb in “The Decay of Capitalist Civilization” give the same analysis in 1923. Walter Weyl in “The New Democracy” gives the same analysis in 1912. Laborers in the 1880‘s wanted the Railroads nationalized due to these same abuses. Karl Marx is famous for the same analysis in 1850. And other ‘Socialists’ had been complaining of the same things by 1823 and earlier.

People have been complaining about the Classical Economic endorsement of Laissez-Faire Capitalism ever since it was first advanced by David Ricardo! Try 1820!

So wake the fuck up, people – A has been sticking the knife into the side of B for 200 years and you have the gall to think you’re discovering this only now?

Moreover, does it immediately become blindingly clear that “let’s just try to fix the rough edges” of Capitalism is no answer? The only reason we have a Welfare State now is that the rich realized that keeping us working 14 hour days, 7 days a week at below-subsistence wages would guarantee a revolution in short order. So they threw us some crumbs, and beefed up the Middle Class just enough to buffer them from the mass of poor, shat-upon people.

Wolff is going to address some form of anarcho-syndicalism. The back cover says “Wolff’s compelling new manifesto advocates an alternative based on workers themselves directing their workplaces.” Okay, fine, let’s hear about it. But please, please, O pretty please, do not think this is anything new. Anarcho-Syndicalism was the answer of revolutionary Anarchists more than 100 years ago. All we have to do is wake up to the fact that people have very well known about all this agony AND they have known what the solution was, for 200 years!

And see that all we have to do – is finish what they started!

Get the Rich out of Power.

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Is the Medical Profession sitting on its ass?

In 1974 in college I had a roommate for a short while who had horrible Eczema. Wikipedia says its cause is not known but lists two theories as to “its” cause (there are several kinds of Eczema.)

It bothers me that between 1974 and 2012 there seems to have been no progress in dealing with this disease – or Psoriasis, or a host of other problems. I don’t know who does Medical Research; if I refer to “the Profession” I am really only referring to the ‘practice’ of Medicine and the practitioners are not the ones engaged in research, so the title of the piece is a bit off. The point remains: how many people are engaged in studying these problems and why are they (apparently) not making headway?

Monsanto pretends that it “knows all” concerning Genetic Engineering. Or rather, it claims it knows enough to claim its GM practices are harmless. We can easily see through this; they didn’t know their GM corn would kill Cornsilk Moths, for example – and if they were so prescient, they would have known. I think it’s easily claimed that they’re actually quite ignorant about what they’re doing and easily shown that they don’t care what the results of their mistakes might be. I only mention all this to set up the following challenge: if Monsanto is so smart about Genetic Engineering, perhaps their excuse would be they only deal with plants, and not humans. But we can ask them to solve the mysteries of these possibly-genetically-related diseases, in order that they can prove they really do know what they’re doing; and if they cannot, then their “license to screw with Earth’s Genomes” should be revoked.

I would think that if we start producing ten times as many Medical Researchers, we should accelerate the finding of the causes and cures for the various diseases that still plague humankind. I would hope that someone in authority would recognize the usefulness of solving these problems now, immediately, as soon as possible. I would ask the Public to demand an increased focus of attention on these problems until they can be solved.

As to Medical Practitioners – the HMO system, I claim, has totally dulled all sense of responsibility these people might have as to the usefulness of their paying attention to facts they learn in the field. I suspect there is no “feedback loop” to funnel observations in the field back to the Medical Schools. I suffered a skin problem where I would get these small pustules along the sides of my fingers (from Wikipedia I would identify the condition as ‘Dishydrosis’.) The condition “arrived out of nowhere” and “for no apparent reason”, until I observed that I could produce the condition at will by eating a large bag of Nacho-flavored Doritos; and that if I abstained from eating the chips, the condition went away by itself within two days. Armed with this knowledge, I tested my HMO doctor. I asked him “could my diet have anything to do with the condition?” and he said “no, I don’t think so.” I then told him about the Doritos, and he said, “well, don’t eat them.” But it did not seem to occur to him that he had contradicted himself within two sentences, and that now he was admitting that diet could be a factor. I would have hoped that dissonance would have alerted him to the fact that he had observed a potential cause for a condition the field says is not understood and has no known cure. I would have hoped he would have called UCSF Medical and reported his observation, in case it might help put them on a track to find at least one reliable cause for such a condition and thus possibly arrive at at least a partial theory as to how to combat the condition. But he ignored the event and it was clear that he was satisfied to simply tell me that nobody knew why the condition occurred and that there was nothing to be done about it but live through it. He was content, as I say, to cash his check and go home. So I see no solidarity between the HMO practitioners and their patients; their patients are just items on an assembly line, to be fed pills and sent away, while they cash their checks and go home. This, as far as I am concerned, is what you get for letting for-profit vampires into a system that ought to be devoted to care for humans; this is another example of our National Psychological Depression – we no longer care, about things we are not allowed to fix.

To be fair, other countries have not yet solved these problems either, and they are not all bastions of neoliberalism. So perhaps the problems are “really as hard as they seem.” Or, perhaps humanity as a whole has not figured out that these issues should be put at a higher priority than they are at present. The principal point of objection to current reality is that far more money is spent by humanity on the design, development and production of weapons, than is spent on Medical Research; and the Drug companies are more interested in making money, with the 5th and 8th erectile-dysfunction pill, or the 15th or 30th totally needless Statin drug to preserve Corporate profits, than they are interested in solving the problems that affect humanity as a whole. The solution for the waste on the Military is obvious. Stop wasting that money. As for the Drug companies – at the very least I would tell them that the price they must pay to introduce yet another “vanity” drug to the market, is they must also produce a useful drug that usefully solves real problems. Make them do that on a one-for-one basis and we might see more useful drugs arriving on the market – and fewer useless ones.

I read the ingredient list on the Doritos bag. GMO corn, for sure (and I only just now realized that); but the only ingredients I could find listed that I would have suspected were Disodium Guanylate and Disodium Inosinate, and I had eaten plenty of food containing those ingredients without a problem. Maybe my body’s chemistry is changing with age; after this event I abstained from Doritos for a long time, but have eaten more again later and both seen the same effect recur – and not seen the effect recur. Quite vexing to not see any clear correlation. I only wish that Medicine would get smarter about our pharmacology, and do so “real soon now”, so that such weirdness can be explained – and prevented.

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I got Jetro to stock California Garlic

I was a friend of the people who ran Fred’s Market on University Avenue (Berkeley.) They were ultimately destroyed when the feckless Berkeley City Council allowed a Trader Joe’s to move in a half block away. In the interim, I was looking for angles to help them stay in business.

One day I wandered around behind the counter and saw a full bag of peeled garlic – and noticed that it was a Product of China. What, are you kidding? Gilroy, California might be the garlic capital of the world and is just 90 miles down the road from Berkeley. What the hell is anyone doing importing garlic from China?

So I asked Maher (one of Fred’s sons) about it – why are you buying Chinese garlic? He said, because Jetro, his main food distributor in Jack London Square, didn’t carry California garlic. I sent Jetro an email asking why they didn’t carry California garlic, and they responded, claiming it was too expensive compared to the Chinese garlic and that their clients wouldn’t buy it. Maher referred to Christopher Ranch, a Gilroy producer, and said their garlic was much better. He opened the package of Chinese garlic and opened a pack of Christopher Ranch garlic for me to compare. “Smell this,” he said, referring to the bag of Chinese garlic. It smelled strongly of garlic. “Seems strong, doesn’t it?” he said. “But that’s all the flavor – in the smell – and when you use it, it’s washed out. Now smell this,” referring to the bag of Christopher Ranch garlic. No smell at all! A little weird! Maher said, “that’s because all the flavor is still in the cloves, so when you use it, you get all the flavor.”

I asked him: okay, how much more would you be willing to pay for one bag of Christoper Ranch garlic? The Chinese garlic cost $6 per bag. He said he would be willing to pay up to $9 per bag for the California garlic. That’s quite astounding, actually – he would be willing to pay 50% more for the difference. By then I think the people at Jetro were getting the point on their own, but I sent them another email reporting what Maher said: had Jetro actually asked any of its clients what they might pay? Here’s my grocer and he’s willing to pay – and come on, California pride, California local!

Jetro got the point and started to stock Christopher Ranch garlic – along with making some face-saving remarks about how the Chinese garlic was coming in moldy anyway. Now Fred’s food is that much better for using California garlic, and here we have a small, but tangible (edible and tasty) victory for California Local. I wonder how many other grocers and food vendors started to buy Christopher Ranch after Jetro made it available. Not just a few, I suspect.

Just a story to encourage you to be on the lookout for ways you too can help your vendors push back against “price is the only thing that matters.” Perhaps Quality matters more.

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Of Course civilization is decaying — we’re all depressed. That’s why we’re Fat, too.

I deal with a number of really small operators – little convenience stores. Consistently now for years, I have noticed that these people are “on automatic” and are not really paying attention to their businesses in the way one might think businesspeople should.

One recurring theme runs as follows: I go to some place to buy some specific thing. I end up buying the place out of that specific thing. The place should have replacement stock on hand, but they don’t. But then, they don’t reorder the sold-out product, either. I end up having to remind them that they have run out of whatever it is, and overtly get them to reorder the thing. But — that was their job to do! Worse, they don’t seem to understand the concept of an inventory system — which can tell them not only what they have run out of, but with a minor effort can also tell them how frequently they should reorder the product to insure it stays in stock. After all, when they run out of the thing, of course they can no longer sell more of the thing until they restock it; it’s of importance to them to insure no shortfalls so as to capture all the sales they should — but they don’t pay attention. So they’re losing money — but they still don’t care.

I look for some thread to unify my experiences of the behavior of these places, and what I come up with is that people are exhausted at having to deal with details. Their behavior, though, is that of a depressed person: I know I should do something, but I am just too tired (of the same-old same-old.) “My interest in working through a mass of (repetitive) details has vanished,” they might say — if they paid attention to where they were at — but they don’t pay attention to that either. The “daily grind” is allowed to occupy all of their attention to the exclusion of improving their performance, correcting the deficiencies in their responses, and paying attention in general to the operation of their business overall.

From Psychology comes the concept of “failure to thrive.” We cannot blame these people for having subsided into minimal repetitive efforts if they are depressed due to being locked in their circumstances, but now I am referring to all workers in the United States. I claim that the “outer” situation, of living in a country that pretends to its people that they do in fact have political control of their country, while instead what happens is always the choice of people outside and above that system (i.e. The Rich), coupled with the Rich extracting from all workers to the extent that they can every last discretionary dollar,  has produced in the population a National (Psychological) Depression. When you are trapped like a rat in a system that feels like slavery and see no way out no matter what, short of suicide, you will become depressed. You might first become angry, but you see no avenues out, and when every effort you make to change the circumstances you face fails, and every effort to get others to join with you in combating the circumstances fails, the anger has nowhere to go. Either you explode and “go postal”, and some people do; or you acquiesce to the circumstances hoping there will be an out “later”, and become depressed — which most of us do.

Why spend effort when there is nothing to live for? The image of Lions at the Zoo comes to mind. Nowhere to go; nowhere to Run; nothing to do. You can pace and pace and pace and pace; or you can lie down and go to sleep for as much of the rest of your life as you can, to shut out the fact that the only other thing to do is to pace and pace and pace. This is to live as a Dead person.

One human equivalent to pacing is to incessantly eat something while watching TV. Let me numb myself to my pain by deriving as much comfort as I can from continuous oral gratification. Perhaps in the back of my mind, something screams that I should act, that I should get up and change my circumstances, that I should quit being trapped in my tiny circle of behavior. And when that noise becomes too loud, just turn up the volume of the TV, and try to “pay closer attention” to what is on the TV. Make that screaming stop. I am trapped and simply no longer wish to be reminded of the fact. (And thus they have stolen all the rest of your life from you.)

I figured for myself the best way to eliminate the depression was to eliminate all the props I used to support it; thus the TV had to go. There was nothing on it anyway; all I had to do was admit this and that I could not be losing anything by getting rid of the TV – except its function as a mental pacifier. “Face the Void”; face the emptiness of a deprived and meaningless life; remain trapped in and facing the pain of the confinement; this is horrible; but it appears to be the only way to force the psyche to make imperative demands upon the conscious to act to change one’s circumstances. The longer you feel trapped on “the razor’s edge”, the more likely you will definitively act to change your circumstances. Necessity being the Mother of Invention, keeping yourself in sharp consciousness of your trapped circumstance should start producing a stream of ideas as to how to remedy the situation. Many or most of these ideas will fail and produce additional pain that will increase the desire to go drown it out again in any pursuit which annihilates your consciousness, watching TV being the prime example. So, eliminating the props keeps you in pain until the situation is solved; keeps you in the place of trying. It hurts a lot, but at least from that point there may be a way forward. There is no way forward while you sit on the couch watching TV, eating potato chips and getting fat.

One mechanism to support keeping you trapped is to make you believe that you are the only person facing such circumstances. How different things would be if “we all realized” that we are all in this circumstance. Immediately you should be able to find many others around you who acknowledge the same trapped feeling, and with whom you can join to explore collectively-powered alternatives. Band together, as Franklin might suggest. Rediscovering “society” in the vacuum produced by the missing Television should be a gratifying thing. Even if it’s not much better, four trapped rats playing cards will have more fun and more ideas for changing things, than four trapped rats sitting in four separate living rooms watching four separate TVs.

The neoliberal practice of Capitalism has done what it can to destroy social cohesion. It would prefer that every individual was in their own room watching TV and talking to no-one else about how depressed they are. Turn off the TV and Radio and go meet pissed-off people who want to see our society change so as to eliminate this system of enforced depression and passivity. Only vote for people who admit to you the truth of your actual circumstances and give you meaningful solutions to the problems you face. If the goal of life is to be happy, the current situation doesn’t support it. You are The People. You deserve the changes in society that will eliminate the current inexorable march to personal powerlessness; but you will have to work to get those changes, and that means working with others to obtain these changes. All you need to remember is that the purpose of life is to live it happily and not to continuously ‘strive to produce wealth’ as they have us believing now.

Let us set one Social goal and try to meet it. Let us demand a four day week – a 32-hour week. Let us insure that work is spread around so that everyone who needs income can get it. But primarily, let us observe that we only get what we fight for, so that we begin to be always fighting — for something. That will go a long way toward curing our National (Psychological) Depression.

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