Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Seems some city council in Arkansas has outlawed discussing city
matters outside of city council without prior permits from the city,
even in private conversation. Click link to read more and see a video.
matters outside of city council without prior permits from the city,
even in private conversation. Click link to read more and see a video.
Monday, July 11, 2011
The following was emailed to me, so I am posting it so I can point Twitter to it.
Dear reader, dear friends,
Dear reader, dear friends,
Sorry we have just been informed that the links in our E-mail from July 6 concerning the Kalachakra Tantra Ritual in
are not working. Because the ritual is not yet finished until the July 16 we take the liberty to send you the text again. If there is further a problem, use the word file of the same text in the attachment. Washington DC
The Kalachakra Initiation in
is the biggest most spectacular event Tibetan Buddhism ever has performed in the West. Nearly all high ranked Lamas are present including the young Karmapa, who is built up by the D. L. as his spiritual successor. 100.000 participants are attended. Beside there are meetings with US top politicians. It is a non recurring possibility to bring the whole issue into a broad, open, critical and controversial debate. Catch hold of this chance in face-book, twitter and in readers comment to the press-articles which report about the ritual. Washington DC
Press release of the Critical Forum Kalachakra
A Ritual of Peace or a Totalitarian Temptation with highly explosive potentials
From July 6 through 16, 2011 the XIV Dalai Lama will offer a Kalachakra-Tantra-Ritual in the heart of the
U.S. capital, . In Sanskrit, Kalachakra means “The Wheel of Time.” The Kalachakra Tantra, as well the sacred text used in its ritualistic performance, is considered to be “the pinnacle of all Buddhist systems.” Included in the Kalchakra Tantra are: the construction of a so-called Sand Mandala, which symbolizes the cosmos, an apocalyptic prophecy known as the Shambhala Myth, and several top-secret initiations. Washington, DC
This complicated mystical ritual is presented by the Dalai Lama and the organizers of the event as a dignified and uplifting contribution to world peace, which fosters compassion with all living beings, inter-religious dialog, interracial tolerance, ecological awareness, sexual equality, inner peace, spiritual development, and bliss for the third millennium (Kalachakra for World Peace). One of the Dalai Lama’s mottos for the whole performance is: “Because we all share this small planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature.”
But are the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala Myth truly pacifist? Do they really encourage harmony and cooperation among people? Do they make any real contribution to freedom and justice, equality of gender, religious tolerance or ethnic reconciliation? Are they a comprehensive, politically humanist, democratic and non-violent contribution to world peace?
Andrei Znamenski, Associate Professor of History at Alabama State University and author of an exciting book about the Shambhala Myth in Bolshevist Russia (Red_Shambhala – Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia) came to another conclusion: “It might be shocking for many readers, but let me start by saying that the Kalachakra Tantra has nothing to do with peace, compassions, and freedom. In Tantric Buddhism it was a misogynistic quest performed by male initiates to accumulate sacred power of particular Buddhist deities (the lower seven initiations are open for all) and, through blending male and female fluids (top secret initiations that involved sexuality), to eventually turn themselves into superhuman androgynous beings. Moreover, part of the Kalachakra teaching was a militant Shambhala prophecy, a call for a Buddhist holy war against enemies of Buddhism.”
Andrei Znamenski is not alone in this assessment. The Kalachakra Tantra and Tibetan Buddhism are coming more and more into focus by critics. (See: Critical Links to Lamaism) In their groundbreaking work The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism German cultural philosophers, Victor and Victoria Trimondi, not only provide surprising, previously ignored research but also undertake a well-founded interpretation of Lamaism, rendering the Tibetan-Buddhist worldview understandable for Western readers through a comparison with European religious traditions. The text pays particular attention to an extensive analysis of the Kalachakra Tantra and its political, ideological, and spiritual implications. (The book appeared in 1999 through the reputable German publishing house Patmos Verlag. The English version is online. It became the standard work on the critical examination of Lamaism and the metapolitics of the Dalai Lama. In the eighties Victor Trimondi did support the Tibetan religious leader, organized several international congresses and other events with him and featured books about him in his own publishing house, the Dianus-Trikont-Verlag.)
In their book the two authors describe en detail the secret rituals of sexual magic in the higher initiations of the Kalachakra Tantra (The Public and the Secret Initiations); they have shown the religious-political intention of the Tantra to establish a world-wide Buddhocracy with a sacred world-ruler (The ADI Buddha); they discuss the intolerance of the Tantra vis-à-vis the monotheist religions, its militant and aggressive warrior-ideology, and its vision of a religious end-time battle against Islam (The Aggressive Myth of Shambhala); and they show how the Tantra is interpreted by the Dalai Lama spokesman Robert Thurman as a symbolic and meta-political instrument to conquer western culture by Lamaism (The Buddhocratic Conquest of the West ).
The Trimondis came to very similar conclusions as their American colleague Andrei Znamenski and other critical authors on the topic: “The teachings of the Buddha have so many treasures and wonderful insights, but the philosophy, the vision and the practices of the Kalachakra Tantra are neither compatible with fundamentals of Buddha’s teachings nor with basic principles of Western Enlightenment. Therein are included an apocalyptic war of religion, the aggressive application of super-weapons, radical transgressions of a humanistic moral code, the dissolution of the ego and the soul of the participants of the ritual, the totalitarian subjugation under the will of the guru, the idea of an imperial and global lama-state (Buddhocracy), and the concept of an absolutist world ruler, the Chakravartin. The sexual rites in the higher initiations of this occult ritual have to be designated as a manipulation of erotic love and a misuse of female energy to produce spiritual and worldly power of men and monks. So the equality of the sexes, democratic decision making, and ecumenical movements are in themselves foreign to the nature of the Kalachakra Tantra.” The two German cultural philosophers created the Critical Forum Kalachakra to open a wide-ranging debate over the hidden “dark sides” of the Tantra, and they published many other articles, including a pamphlet, Eight Questions to the 14th Dalai Lama on the Topic of the Kalachakra.
During the public Kalachakra Initiation in Graz/Austria directed by the Dalai Lama (2002), the German-speaking media picked up these critiques from the Trimondis and other authors to discuss the controversial ritual. The Austrian state TV & Radio ORF broadcasted a feature called, “Critique of the ‘Peace Ritual’ of the Dalai Lama in
.” ‘Peace Ritual’ has been written in quotations marks to emphasize the ambivalence of the term in this context. Der Standard (The “New York Times” of Graz ) published a cover article with the title, “A Warrior Ritual of the Dalai Lama: The Kalachakra,” and the conservative German Weekly Der Rheinische Merkur wrote: “Extremely wild warriors: what is hidden behind the Kalachakra – Thousands have attended the peace ritual of the Dalai Lama. But the ‘Religion of Happiness’ has also its dark sides.” Georg Schmid, Prof. for Religious Studies at the University Zürich ( Vienna Switzerland) called attention to the fact that the Kalachakra Tantra was the product of the religious war between Buddhists and militant Moslems in around the turn of the first millennium. It was under this influence that the Tantra changed fundamental Buddhist principles. “In this time,” said Professor Schmid, “Buddhism had adopted the law of its enemies and had developed a Buddhist concept of a holy war, a forthcoming apocalyptic conflict between friend and foe of the Buddha-way and a future Buddhist world dominium.” Alexander Berzin, a designated Kalachakra expert of the Dalai Lama, also confirms that the Tantra proclaims a holy war: “A careful examination of the Buddhist texts, particularly The Kalachakra Tantra literature, reveals both external and internal levels of battle that could easily be called ‘holy wars.’ An unbiased study of Islam reveals the same. In both religions, leaders may exploit the external dimensions of holy war for political, economic, or personal gain by using it to rouse their troops to battle. Historical examples regarding Islam are well known; but one must not be rosy-eyed about Buddhism.” India
In the meantime, dozens of books, articles, and discussion groups in German and French have carried forward these criticisms and have expanded them--without sparing the person of the Dalai Lama. A lot of the critical voices came also from the Buddhist camp. See, for example, comments to an article about the Kalachakra Initiation 2011 in the Huffington Post. The latest high point of this critical wave in
Germany was a cover story in 's biggest magazine “Stern” (2009): The two faces of the Dalai Lama – The soft Tibetan and his undemocratic Regime (trans. in English). This article was written by Tilman Müller, the same journalist who uncovered ten years before--with his Austrian colleague Gerald Lehner--the Nazi past of the Dalai Lama's teacher, Heinrich Harrer: Dalai Lama’s friend: Hitlers Champion (trans. in English). Their sensational discovery caused a protest movement in the Jewish community against the film adaptation of Harrer’s autobiographical book Seven Years in Tibet, with Brad Pitt as Harrer. Germany
Very accurately the historian Andrei Znamenskis calls the Kalachakra Tantra “a totalitarian temptation.” In his book Red_Shambhala he recounts the story of political and spiritual seekers from West and East who used the Tibetan Buddhist prophecies of the Kalachakra Tantra (the Shambhala Myth) to promote their spiritual, social, and geopolitical agendas and schemes. Red_Shambhala proves that people in the Left were no strangers to the occult, and they were equally mesmerized by the Tantra. But even more mesmerized have been people of the far Right. In their second book, Hitler-Buddha-Krishna – An unholy alliance from the Third Reich to the present day (2002) which received international attention, Victor and Victoria Trimondi show how influential Fascists and Nazis used the philosophies, mythologies, visions, and dogmas as well as the religious practices and texts of the spiritual traditions of Asia for glorifying war, and for the deification of the “Führer” and the white race. Some of them have been electrified by the Kalachakra Tantra and the Shambhala-Myth. The Trimondis uncover how the Nazi-Orientalists who prepared the SS Tibet Expedition of Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler have been interested in the ritual, and how members of the SS Ahnenerbe (the brain trust of the SS) wanted to spare the
Kalachakra Temple in Leningrad ( ) during the siege and barrage of the city by the Deutsche Wehrmacht (1941 – 1944). The Shambhala Myth of the Kalachakra Tantra and its militant ideologies are a topic in the occult literature of the international Neo-Fascist and Neo-Nazi scene. One example is Miguel Serrano, the recently deceased leader of the Chilean National Socialists. Another is Ernesto Mila, former chief of the Spanish National-Socialists, who writes about the Kalachakra-Ritual in his article, The envoys of Hitler in Tibet “The Kalachakra Tantra and its initiation is not a normal ritual. . . . It is the ‘supreme initiation,’ that ‘assured the renaissance in Shambhala’ at the moment of the last battle against the powers of evil. . . . It is the initiation which is appropriate for the warrior caste.” St. Petersburg
Another example is the accredited expert on the Orient (and Hitler admirer) Jean Marquès-Rivière who after WW II was convicted in absentia and given the death sentence for turning Jews and Free Masons over to the Gestapo and SS in France. He was the author of a Kalachakra interpretation once popular with some fascist elements. He wrote in his book that the Dalai Lama personally gave a ring to him with the Kalachakra Emblem to demonstrate that he is part of the inner circle of Shambhala adepts. (Kalachakra: Initiation Tantrique du Dalai Lama)
Last but not least, the Japanese Doomsday Guru, Shoko Asahara must be mentioned. He intended a Shambalization of our planet by means of nuclear terror. Asahara was responsible for poisonous gas attacks on
's metro in 1995, killing 12 and leaving hundreds injured. The terrorist sect's leader met the Dalai Lama on several occasions. Even weeks after the first assault, the Dalai Lama called him a “friend, yet not a perfect one.” Only later did the Dalai Lama distance himself from the sect leader. (The Doomsday Guru Shoko Asahara and XIV Dalai Lama) Tokyo
So the “totalitarian temptation” which streams out from the Kalachakra Tantra for all sorts of political and religious fanatics makes it absolutely necessary that the text, commentaries, and the ritual itself are discussed and disputed openly and honestly, especially at this time when the ritual is performed in a place where the power of the world is concentrated:
. The organizers are very conscious of this political acupuncture point when they write, “The Kalachakra for World Peace 2011 will unfold in a world capital where local actions deeply and globally affect the lives of so many.” A statement from the Capital Area Tibetan Association, which is putting on the event, also stressed the significance of having it in Washington DC : “If there is a seed of spirituality in this very city, that seed when it grows is bound to have an effect.” The ritual is to be carried out in the Washington approximately mid-way between the White House and the US Capitol Buildings, just a short stroll from the National Mall. Verizon Center
A Washington Post article states, “Many still see huge significance in his [the Dalai Lama's] picking the capital of the world’s superpower as the place for a ritual about how to reconcile disunity. Some believe the Kalachakra’s hopeful explanation about how to deal with differences literally will spread through meditators to area bigwigs coping with national debt, wars, environmental disasters and terrorism.” The article cites Clark Strand, former editor of Tricycle, a Buddhist magazine: “The most significant thing about this is the time and place, 10 years after 9/11, and in a place where big decisions are being made about the planet.”
Yes,10 years after 9/11! But what did happen exactly ten years before 9/11? In 1991 in
New York City a so-called Kalachakra Sand Mandala was constructed, then destroyed by the Dalai Lama, and the sand was poured into the water near the . Two years later in 1993 another Wheel of Time (Kalachakra) Sand Mandala was built by Tibetan Monks in the lobby of Tower One. For over thirty days, many of the World Trade Center workers and visitors were invited to participate during the construction of this Mandala. Although these coincidences may be accidental, they prove that these two Kalachakra events were not a remedy for “national debt, wars, environmental disasters and terrorism.” If they did have any magical effect at all, it was to produce exactly the opposite. World Trade Center
You will find a résumé of the most problematic contents of the Kalachakra Tantra with original citations under: Critical Forum Kalachakra. The English site of the “Trimondi Online Magazine” under: www.trimondi.de/EN/front.html and the book “The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism” under: www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Index.htm
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Dinosaur rock layers contain all kinds of creatures from all kinds of habitats, including those of both land and sea.4 Evolution can provide no explanation for this circumstance. It is completely to be expected, however, if these creatures were created all together and then deposited in catastrophic mudflows powered by the year-long, world-destroying Flood and its residual effects. read rest of the article here http://www.icr.org/article/6189/
Friday, July 1, 2011
If Ayn Rand and the Free Market Fetishists Were Right, We'd be Living in a Golden Age -- Does This Look Like a Golden Age to You?
If Ayn Rand and the Free Market Fetishists Were Right, We'd be Living in a Golden Age -- Does This Look Like a Golden Age to You?
June 28, 2011 |
After all, it has been faith in “free-market economics” as a kind of secular religion that has driven U.S. government policies – from the emergence of Ronald Reagan through the neo-liberalism of Bill Clinton into the brave new world of House Republican budget chairman Paul Ryan.
By slashing income tax rates to historically low levels – and only slightly boosting them under President Clinton before dropping them again under George W. Bush – the U.S. government essentially incentivized greed or what Ayn Rand liked to call “the virtue of selfishness.”
Further, by encouraging global “free trade” and removing regulations like the New Deal’s Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banks, the government also got out of the way of “progress,” even if that “progress” has had crushing results for many middle-class Americans.
True, not all the extreme concepts of author/philosopher Ayn Rand and economist Milton Friedman have been implemented – there are still programs like Social Security and Medicare to get rid of – but their “magic of the market” should be glowing by now.
We should be able to assess whether laissez-faire capitalism is superior to the mixed public-private economy that dominated much of the 20th Century.
The old notion was that a relatively affluent middle class would contribute to the creation of profitable businesses because average people could afford to buy consumer goods, own their own homes and take an annual vacation with the kids. That “middle-class system,” however, required intervention by the government as the representative of the everyman.
Beyond building a strong infrastructure for growth – highways, airports, schools, research programs, a safe banking system, a common defense, etc. – the government imposed a progressive tax structure that helped pay for these priorities and also discouraged the accumulation of massive wealth.
After all, the threat to a healthy democracy from concentrated wealth had been known to American leaders for generations.
A century ago, it was Republican President Theodore Roosevelt who advocated for a progressive income tax and an estate tax. In the 1930s, it was Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, who dealt with the economic and societal carnage that under-regulated financial markets inflicted on the nation during the Great Depression.
With those hard lessons learned, the federal government acted on behalf of the common citizen to limit Wall Street’s freewheeling ways and to impose high tax rates on excessive wealth.
So, during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency of the 1950s, the marginal tax rate on the top tranche of earnings for the richest Americans was about 90 percent. When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the top rate was still around 70 percent.
Greed was not simply frowned upon; it was discouraged.
Put differently, government policy was to maintain some degree of egalitarianism within the U.S. political-economic system. And to a remarkable degree, the strategy worked.
The American middle class became the envy of the world, with otherwise average folk earning enough money to support their families comfortably and enjoy some pleasures of life that historically had been reserved only for the rich.
Without doubt, there were serious flaws in the U.S. system, especially due to the legacies of racism and sexism. And it was when the federal government responded to powerful social movements that demanded those injustices be addressed in the 1960s and 1970s, that an opening was created for right-wing politicians to exploit resentments among white men, particularly in the South.
By posing as populists hostile to “government social engineering,” the Right succeeded in duping large numbers of middle-class Americans into seeing their own interests – and their “freedom” – as in line with corporate titans who also decried federal regulations, including those meant to protect average citizens, like requiring seat belts in cars and discouraging cigarette smoking.
Amid the sluggish economy of the 1970s, the door swung open wider for the transformation of American society that had been favored by the likes of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, putting the supermen of industry over the everyman of democracy.
Friedman tested out his “free-market” theories in the socio-economic laboratories of brutal military dictatorships in Latin America, most famously collaborating with Chile’s Gen. Augusto Pinochet who crushed political opponents with torture and assassinations.
Ayn Rand became the darling of the American Right with her books, such as Atlas Shrugged, promoting the elitist notion that brilliant individuals represented the engine of society and that government efforts to lessen social inequality or help the average citizen were unjust and unwise.
The Pied Piper
Yet, while Rand and Friedman gave some intellectual heft to “free-market” theories, Ronald Reagan proved to be the perfect pied piper for guiding millions of working Americans in a happy dance toward their own serfdom.
In his first inaugural address, Reagan declared that “government is the problem” – and many middle-class whites cheered.
However, what Reagan’s policies meant in practice was a sustained assault on the middle class: the busting of unions, the export of millions of decent-paying jobs, and the transfer of enormous wealth to the already rich. The tax rates for the wealthiest were slashed about in half. Greed was incentivized.
Ironically, the Reagan era came just as technology – much of it created by government-funded research – was on the cusp of creating extraordinary wealth that could have been shared with average Americans. Those benefits instead accrued to the top one or two percent.
The rich also benefited from the off-shoring of jobs, exploiting cheap foreign labor and maximizing profits. The only viable way for the super-profits of “free trade” to be shared with the broader U.S. population was through taxes on the rich. However, Reagan and his anti-government true-believers made sure that those taxes were kept at historically low levels.
The Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman theories may have purported to believe that the “free market” would somehow generate benefits for the society as a whole, but their ideas really represented a moralistic frame which held that it was somehow right that the wealth of the society should go to its “most productive” members and that the rest of us were essentially “parasites.”
Apparently, special people like Rand also didn’t need to be encumbered by philosophical consistency. Though a fierce opponent of the welfare state, Rand secretly accepted the benefits of Medicare after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, according to one of her assistants.
She connived to have Evva Pryor, an employee of Rand’s law firm, arrange Social Security and Medicare benefits for Ann O’Connor, Ayn Rand using an altered spelling of her first name and her husband’s last name.
In 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand, Scott McConnell, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute’s media department, quoted Pryor as justifying Rand’s move by saying: “Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out.” Yet, it didn’t seem to matter much if “average” Americans were wiped out.
Essentially, the Right was promoting the Social Darwinism of the 19th Century, albeit in chic new clothes. The Gilded Age from a century ago was being recreated behind Reagan’s crooked smile, Clinton’s good-ole-boy charm and George W. Bush’s Texas twang.
Whenever the political descendants of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt tried to steer the nation back toward programs that would benefit the middle class and demand greater sacrifice from the super-rich, the wheel was grabbed again by politicians and pundits shouting the epithet, “tax-and-spend.”
Many average Americans were pacified by reminders of how Reagan made them feel good with his rhetoric about “the shining city on the hill.”
The Rand/Friedman elitism also remains alive with today’s arguments from Republicans who protest the idea of raising taxes on businessmen and entrepreneurs because they are the ones who “create the jobs,” even if there is little evidence that they are actually creating American jobs.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who is leading the fight to replace Medicare with a voucher system that envisions senior citizens buying health insurance from profit-making companies, cites Ayn Rand as his political inspiration.
A Land for Billionaires
The consequences of several decades of Reaganism and its related ideas are now apparent. Wealth has been concentrated at the top with billionaires living extravagant lives that not even monarchs could have envisioned, while the middle class shrinks and struggles, with one everyman after another being shoved down into the lower classes and into poverty.
Millions of Americans forego needed medical care because they can’t afford health insurance; millions of young people, burdened by college loans, crowd back in with their parents; millions of trained workers settle for low-paying jobs; millions of families skip vacations and other simple pleasures of life.
Beyond the unfairness, there is the macro-economic problem which comes from massive income disparity. A healthy economy is one where the vast majority people can buy products, which can then be manufactured more cheaply, creating a positive cycle of profits and prosperity.
With Americans unable to afford the new car or the new refrigerator, American corporations see their domestic profit margins squeezed. So they are compensating for the struggling U.S. economy by expanding their businesses abroad in developing markets, but they also keep their profits there.
There are now economic studies that confirm what Americans have been sensing in their own lives, though the mainstream U.S. news media tends to attribute these trends to cultural changes, rather than political choices.
For instance, the Washington Post published a lengthy front-page article on June 19, describing the findings of researchers who gained access to economic data from the Internal Revenue Service which revealed which categories of taxpayers were making the high incomes.
To the surprise of some observers, the big bucks were not flowing primarily to athletes or actors or even stock market speculators. America’s new super-rich were mostly corporate chieftains.
As the Post’s Peter Whoriskey framed the story, U.S. business underwent a cultural transformation from the 1970s when chief executives believed more in sharing the wealth than they do today.
The article cites a U.S. dairy company CEO from the 1970s, Kenneth J. Douglas, who earned the equivalent of about $1 million a year. He lived comfortably but not ostentatiously. Douglas had an office on the second floor of a milk distribution center, and he turned down raises because he felt it would hurt morale at the plant, Whoriskey reported.
However, just a few decades later, Gregg L. Engles, the current CEO of the same company, Dean Foods, averages about 10 times what Douglas made. Engles works in a glittering high-rise office building in Dallas; owns a vacation estate in Vail, Colorado; belongs to four golf clubs; and travels in a $10 million corporate jet. He apparently has little concern about what his workers think.
“The evolution of executive grandeur – from very comfortable to jet-setting – reflects one of the primary reasons that the gap between those with the highest incomes and everyone else is widening,” Whoriskey reported.
“For years, statistics have depicted growing income disparity in the United States, and it has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. In 2008, the last year for which data are available, for example, the top 0.1 percent of earners took in more than 10 percent of the personal income in the United States, including capital gains, and the top 1 percent took in more than 20 percent.
“But economists had little idea who these people were. How many were Wall Street financiers? Sports stars? Entrepreneurs? Economists could only speculate, and debates over what is fair stalled. Now a mounting body of economic research indicates that the rise in pay for company executives is a critical feature in the widening income gap.”
The Post article continued: “The largest single chunk of the highest-income earners, it turns out, are executives and other managers in firms, according to a landmark analysis of tax returns by economists Jon Bakija, Adam Cole and Bradley T. Heim. These are not just executives from Wall Street, either, but from companies in even relatively mundane fields such as the milk business.
“The top 0.1 percent of earners make about $1.7 million or more, including capital gains. Of those, 41 percent were executives, managers and supervisors at non-financial companies, according to the analysis, with nearly half of them deriving most of their income from their ownership in privately-held firms.
“An additional 18 percent were managers at financial firms or financial professionals at any sort of firm. In all, nearly 60 percent fell into one of those two categories. Other recent research, moreover, indicates that executive compensation at the nation’s largest firms has roughly quadrupled in real terms since the 1970s, even as pay for 90 percent of America has stalled.”
While these new statistics are striking – suggesting a broader problem with high-level greed than might have been believed – the Post ducked any political analysis that would have laid blame on Ronald Reagan and various right-wing economic theories.
In a follow-up editorial on June 26, the Post lamented the nation’s growing income inequality but shied away from proposing higher marginal tax rates on the rich or faulting the past several decades of low tax rates. Instead, the Post suggested perhaps going after deductions on employer-provided health insurance and mortgage interest, tax breaks that also help middle-class families.
It appears that in Official Washington and inside the major U.S. news media the idea of learning from past presidents, including the Roosevelts and Dwight Eisenhower, is a non-starter. Instead there’s an unapologetic embrace of the theories of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman, an affection that can pop out at unusual moments.
Addressing a CNBC “Fast Money” panel last year, movie director Oliver Stone was taken aback when one CNBC talking head gushed how Stone’s “Wall Street” character Gordon Gecko had been an inspiration, known for his famous comment, “Greed is good.” A perplexed Stone responded that Gecko, who made money by breaking up companies and eliminating jobs, was meant to be a villain.
However, the smug attitude of the CNBC stock picker represented a typical tribute to Ronald Reagan’s legacy. After all, greed did not simply evolve from some vague shift in societal attitudes, as the Post suggests. Rather, it was stimulated – and rewarded – by Reagan’s tax policies.
Reagan’s continued popularity also makes it easier for today’s “no-tax-increase” crowd to demand only spending cuts as a route to reducing the federal debt, an ocean of red ink largely created by the tax cuts of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Tea Partiers, in demanding even more cuts in government help for average citizens and even more tax cuts for the rich, represent only the most deluded part of middle-class America. A recent poll of Americans rated Reagan the greatest U.S. president ever, further enshrining his anti-government message in the minds of many Americans, even those in the battered middle class.
When a majority of Americans voted for Republicans in Election 2010 – and with early polls pointing toward a likely GOP victory in the presidential race of 2012 – it’s obvious that large swaths of the population have no sense of what’s in store for them as they position their own necks under the boots of corporate masters.
The only answer to this American crisis would seem to be a reenergized and democratized federal government fighting for average citizens and against the greedy elites. But – after several decades of Reaganism, with the “free market” religion the new gospel of the political/media classes – that seems a difficult outcome to achieve.