Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Plunge Protection Team - Commentary by Ellen Brown

Ellen Brown is author of "Web of Debt", an expose on the financial system running the United States of American. She has an excellent web site:

But back around election time she posted a couple of commentaries on the President's Working Group on Financial Markets, more commonly known as the Plunge Protection Team. The gist of these commentaries is that the financial markets in the US are all rigged - including stock and commodity markets. She includes comments from a wide range of financial observers, and descriptions of how the manipulations work, always to the enormous financial benefit of the elite banks. Here are the links:

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lawsuits Coming Against Banks - Jim Willie Commentaries

There are some big lawsuits already underway, and more coming, against the big banks, including the Federal Reserve. These may bring out into public scrutiny some of the shennanigans that have been going on in the banking system.

Written Commentary:

Audio Interview

But it all makes you wonder whether Our Masters will really let these lawsuits come to fruition.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Late Great USA by Jerome R. Corsi - Excerpts

The Late Great USA: The Coming Merger with Mexico and Canada. Jerome R. Corsi. 2007. ISBN 978-0-079045-14-1


The argument made in The Late Great USA is that policy makers in the three nations and multinational corporations have placed the United States, Mexico, and Canada on a fast track to merge together economically and politically.

Our national sovereignty is in danger of being compromised in favor of an emerging regional government, designed of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite, who are working to achieve global ambitions in the pursuit of wealth and power for themselves

On December 18, 1951, “the Six” – a group of European nations consisting of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands – signed the Treaty of Paris, formally establishing the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). Then, on March 25, 1957, the Six signed the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EED), commonly referred to in the United Kingdom as the European Common Market. From here, a series of incremental steps can be traced that moved a European common market into a European regional government. Once Europe started taking steps toward economic unity, political unity followed.

The Treaty of the European Union, signed in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on February 7, 1992, formed a full-fledged regional government … On January 1, 2002, the euro was introduced and the traditional national currencies of the participating EU countries were phased out. Today, some 70 to 80 percent of the laws passed in Europe involve nothing more than rubber stamping regulations already written by nameless “working group” bureaucrats in Brussels, Luxembourg. Virtually gone is the ability of the European countries to set their own policy direction and the ultimate arbiter of justice is he European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, not the highest national court in each country.

This book will demonstrate that disturbing parallels exist between the stealth process that resulted in the EU, and the incremental actions being taken by the governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to unite our nations into an emerging regional configuration.

North America has its own version of the ECSC in NAFTA and in the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership), put into place by an informal agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States in 2005. A North American Union is even advocated by America’s own Jean Monnet – Professor Robert Pastor, who has proposed a North American currency call the “amero”, and who has played a significant role in a number of meetings and conferences, closed to the public, between top American, Canadian, and Mexican officials.

In March 2005, the [Council on Foreign Relations] task force issued its first report, a chairmen’s summary entitled “Creating a North American Community.

… the CFR task force suggested that the borders between the United States and Mexico and between the United States and Canada be largely opened in the pursuit of regional economic prosperity. The task force clearly pushed for a North American common market: “We focus our recommendations on the creation of a single economic space that expands the economic opportunities of a security zone that protects the region from external threats while facilitating the legitimate passage of goods, people, and capital.” Open borders with Mexico and Canada would allow “migration” of “North Americans” (the citizens of the United States, Mexico, and Canada) relatively free passage across North American borders, provided the travelers presented the proper “North American” documents. The task force supported their North American focus with the following three specific recommendations:
• To adopt a common North American external tariff by “harmonizing” tariffs to the lowest possible rate between Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
• To develop a North American Border Pass with biometric identifiers to expedite passage through customs, immigration, and airport security throughout North America.
• To establish a North American Investment Fund to stimulate infrastructure development in Mexico.
The goal was to transform NAFTA into a European Union-type customs union.

To implement the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), the three [national] leaders decided that bureaucrats from the three nations would create “working groups” tasked with “integrating” and “harmonizing” the administrative law and regulatory structures of the three nations in a broad range of public policy areas. “Working groups” is a term commonly used in the European Union to describe the bureaucratic entities that run the EU from behind closed doors in Brussels and Luxembourg. Working groups were constituted at the Waco summit [2005] to put in motion the creation of a continental set of administrative rules and regulations the bureaucrats in the three nations would use to set continental public policy within the legal structure of their three countries, a feat to be achieved by “memoranda of understanding”, not laws or treaties.

This Security and Prosperity Partnership of North American (SPP) was never submitted to Congress for debate and decision. There was no law passed by Congress, no law signed by the president, and no treated ratified by the Senate.

The CFR Independent Task force on the Future of North America [2005] repeated the earlier statement of the CFR Chairman’s Statement that 2010 was an important date: “The Task Force’s central recommendation is the establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimenter.

Like [Jean Monnet], [Robert] Pastor rejects traditional notions of American sovereignty. In a 2004 article in CFR’s Foreign Affairs entitle “North America’s Second Decade,” Pastor argued that the United States would gain by ceding U.S. national sovereignty. “Countries are benefited,” he wrote, “when they change these [national sovereignty] policies, and evidence suggests that North Americans are ready for a new relationship that renders this old definition of sovereignty obsolete.”

In his 2001 book Toward a North American Community, Pastor never used the phrase “North American Union,” but he devoted an entire chapter to asking: “Is a North American Community Feasible? Can Sovereignty Be Transcended?” Here Pastor argued that trilateral thinking is “contrary to habit, but essential.” Carefully, Pastor follows the lead of Jean Monnet, who learned to suppress any reference to his desire to create a “European union” … What is needed, he concluded, to establish this community “is the nurturing of a regional identity and small steps that would help the peoples of the three countries understand the need for deeper integration.

Pastor has also argued that we should expand the NAFTA visa program into a North American passport, an idea SPP advanced as biometric “trusted traveler” border passes. He recommended the formation of a single North American Customs and Immigration Force, an idea the CFR task force report in May 2005 advanced as developing a North American security perimeter.

… on October 7, 2004 Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 2491) that authorized the president “to negotiate the creation of a North American Investment Fund that was distinct from the North American Development fund. The move did not escape Pastor’s attention. He called S. 2491 “a far-reaching bill that incorporates lessons from Europe and proposes to channel funds from all three governments toward infrastructure and education in Mexico.” He was pleased to see his pet project introduced to Congress, especially since a conservative Republican Party senator from a state adjoining Mexico introduced the bill. The language of Cornyn’s bill was so close to Pastor’s own writings that many suspected Pastor had worked directly with Senator Cornyn in developing the proposed legislation.

Among Pastor’s key recommendations is that we establish the amero. The amero is a regional currency designed to replace the U.S. dollar, the Canadian dollar, and the Mexican peso, much as the euro has replaced the currencies of the participating European Union nations.

In a 1999 paper entitled, “The Case for the Amero: The Economics and Politics of a North American Monetary Union,” [Herbert] Grubel explained his plans for creating the amero. He took pains to argue that the innovation would not necessarily erode national sovereignty … Grubel proposed, as an example, a plan to convert to the amero in 2010 … Ironically, this coincides with the Council on Foreign Relations task force’s report “building a North American Community,” which suggests that same date as a target for putting in place the basic institutions required for a new regional government. At the same time, Grubel proposed a North American central bank that would replace the national central banks of the three countries and a board of governors that would be chosen the economic importance and the population of the three countries.

Pastor openly acknowledges that the idea of abandoning the dollar will be unpopular in the United States. He also understands that the United States economy dominates the North American market and, as such, the United States has less to gain by abandoning the dollar to a new currency that would incorporate Canada and Mexico in a monetary union. Still, Pastor argues that in the long run the concept is “fair” in that the introduction of the amero “does not alter the relative power equation in North America, but it provides space for our neighbors to participate in decision making. Pastor compares “the essence of the idea” with how Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D Roosevelt envisioned international organizations that allowed decision-making space for all participating nations on an equal basis, regardless of their relative strength or size. For this reason, Pastor urged readers not to dismiss the idea, but to consider that “in the long term, the amero is in the best interests of all three countries.”

The arguments to implement the amero gain strength as the dollar continues to weaken. With our large trade and federal budget deficits, a fiscal crisis is building for the dollar.

The winners in free trade have been multinational corporations, who already operate across countries to such an extent that they view borders as anachronistic, if not an impediment to their business expansion and profit potential.

The introduction of the amero would entail the same loss of sovereignty that the introduction of the euro has caused in Europe. Today, the central banks of the European Union countries using the euro are no longer in control of their own national destinies.

A move to the amero as a unitary North American currency would entail a similar move to a North American Central Bank, which would have similar supremacy over the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

Multinational corporations feel they have the right to set the rules, since their economic activity produces the wealth and employment individual nation-states rely upon for taxation and revenue. Without multinational corporations, the United States, Canada, and Mexico would become economic basket cases. Or so leaders of such companies claim.

The North American Competitiveness Council, a public group consisting of businesspeople and formed under the SPP, has been created to allow multinational corporations to advise the three governments on the future progress and direction of SPP. These big business-influenced working groups are hard at work attempting to integrate North America.

Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement allows a private NAFTA foreign investor to sue the U.S. government if the investor believes a state or federal law damages the investor’s NAFTA business. Under Chapter 11, NAFTA established a tribunal that may conduct a trial to decide the case according to the legal principals established by either the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes or the UN’s Commission for International Trade Law. If the decision is adverse to the United States, the NAFTA tribunal can impose its decision as final, trumping U.S. law, even as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As the SPP advances, will the U.S. Bill of Rights be among the laws that have to be “integrated” and “harmonized” with Mexico’s and Canada’s?

Robert Pastor has repeatedly argued for the creation of a North American Union “Permanent Tribual on Trade and Investment.” He understands that a “permanent court would permit the accumulation of precedent and lay the groundwork for North American business law.

If a NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunal can overturn even Supreme Court decisions, we have already entered the era where a regional judicial structure created under a trade law has power over the highest court in the land. The movement toward a North American Union begins with the economy, moves to the courts, and ends with political union.

Mexico has placed the SPP within the office of the secretaria de economia and created an extensive website for the Alianza Para La Securidad Y La Prosperidad de America del Norte (ASPAN). The Mexican website describes ASPAN as “a permanent trilateral process to create a major integration of North America.”

While the SPP has worked to ease border restrictions by implementing trusted traveler and trusted trader programs, the Bush administration through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has supported plans in the state of Texas to build a huge NAFTA superhighway, four football fields wide, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Texas, to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minnesota. The moment the Texas Legislature suggested imposing a two-year moratorium on the construction of TTC-35 parallel to Interstate 35, the chief counsel for FHWA sent a letter to the executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) threatening a loss of federal highway funds should the legislature move ahead.

Construction began on the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) following the reelection of Governor [Rick] Perry in November 2006. In a four-way race in which a plurality of the vote was sufficient to win, Perry was reelected with less than 40 percent of the vote. All three of his opponents campaigned against the Trans-Texas Corridor. Despite receiving less than a majority vote, Perry has been determined to proceed with the TTC-35 project. Plans to build TTC-35 are fully disclosed on, and official Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) website.

Texas will make use of the recent Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London (545 U.S. 469 [2005]). In this case, the Supreme Court decided that eminent domain could be used to seize private property from U.S. citizens even though the purpose of the land seizure was to benefit a private corporation. The Supreme Court case said nothing that would imply the private corporation involved would have to be a U.S. corporation, which allows the Spanish-owned group backing the TTC to operate.

The Council of Kansas City voted on May 18,2006, to name the Mexican customs facility the “Kansas City Customs Port,” despite the fact that it is actually a Mexican possession, staffed by Mexican government customs officials. The $3 million facility will be paid for by Kansas City taxpayers, not by the Mexican government.

CANAMEX is a proposed NAFTA superhighway that would extend from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada, to Mexico City. The route would connect Salt Lake City and Las Vegas on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. On the eastern slope, a superhighway called “Camino Real” would connect Billings, Montaa; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Denver, Colorado; and El Paso, Texas. Both routes would connect in Canada, extending to Fairbanks, Alaska, and in Mexico where they would terminate at Mexico City. In 1995, CANAMEX Corridor ( was founded as a trade organization. The FHWA identifies CANAMEX and the Camino Real routes as High Priority Corridors under federal highway law.

In order to solidify its economic superiority over North America, Red China is working to restructure the North American transportation infrastructure. To that end, they are investing heavily in developing deep water ports in Mexico in order to bring an unprecedented volume of containers into the United States along the emerging NAFTA super corridor. Hutchison Ports Holdings (HPH), a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s giant Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL), is investing millions to expand the deep water ports on Mexico’s Pacific coast at Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo. Now Hutchison Ports is pledging millions more to develop Punta Colonet, a desolate Mexican Bay in Baja California. Mexico plans over the next seven years to dredge and convert Punta Colonet into a ten- to twenty-berth-deep water port capable of processing some six million standard Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).

The Port Authority of San Antonio has been working actively with the Chinese to open and develop the Mexican coast to more Chinese shipments. In April 2006, officials of the Port Authority of San Antonio traveled to China with representatives of the Free Trade Alliance San Antonio, the Port of Lazaro Cardenas, and Hutchison Port Holdings to develop the Mexican ports … The Free Trade Alliance San Antonio is self-described as a “public-private” organization created in 1994 to lead the development of San Antonio as a competitive “inland port and international trade center.

In a letter included in the 2006 Financial Report of the United States Government, David M. Walker, the Comptroller General of the United States, clarified the $53 trillion negative net worth; “This translates to a current burden of about $170,000 per American or approximately $440,000 per American household.”

The United States currently has totalization agreements with twenty-one countries. The agreements allow workers to combine earnings from foreign countries with earnings in the United States to qualify for Social Security benefits. The agreement with Mexico would allow a Mexican worker to quality for Social Security benefits after only six quarters (eighteen months) of employment in the United States. A U.S. worker typically needs forty calendar quarters (120 months) to receive U.S. Social Security benefits. The agreement reveals the Bush administration’s determination to incorporate illegal workers from Mexico into the U.S. economy. Furthermore, keeping the U.S.-Mexico Totalization Agreement from the public suggests the Bush administration has something to hide.


Robert L. Bartley
Reformist Mexican President Vincente Fox raises eyebrows with his suggestion that over a decade or two NAFTA should evolve into something like the European Union, with open borders for not only goods and investment but also people. He can rest assured that there is one voice north of the Rio Grande that supports his vision. To wit, this newspaper [Wall Street Journal].

Robert N. Gardner
In short the case-by-case approach can produce some remarkable concessions of “sovereignty” that could not be achieved on an across-the-board basis

Herbert G. Grubel
[in 1999] On the day the North American Monetary Union is created – perhaps on January 1, 2010 – Canada, the United States and Mexico will replace their national currencies with the amero.

Jean Monnet
The sovereign nations of the past could no longer solve the problems of the present; they cannot ensure their own progress or control their own future. And the [European] Community is only a stage on the way to the organized world of tomorrow.

Thomas A. Shannon
What we are doing in North America today is consolidating democratic states, integrating them economically but then providing a security overlay and a level of cooperation and dialogue that will strengthen the economic institutions, strengthen our ability to protect and promote our prosperity, and enhance our ability to create the opportunity that people can … take advantage of.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn - Excerpts

[Quinn develops the idea of tribal forms of making a living, as opposed to hierarchical civilizations. Mostly a theoretical discussion rather than a pragmatic how-to on how to pull off a transformation of work environments - except for why and how to be successfully homeless.]

Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure. Daniel Quinn. 1999. ISBN 0609604902


Making food a commodity to be owned was one of the great innovations of our culture. No other culture in history has ever put food under lock and key – and putting it there is the cornerstone of our economy, for if the food wasn’t under lock and key, who would work?

“If the world is saved, it will not be by old minds with new programs but by new minds with no programs at all.”

Programs never stop the things they’re launched to stop. No program has ever stopped poverty, drug abuse, or crime, and no program ever will stop them.

Old minds think: How do we stop these bad things from happening?
New minds think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?

Old minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let’s do MORE of it this year.
New minds think: If it didn’t work last year, let’s do something ELSE this year.

“What works so well that programs are superfluous? What works so well that it never occurs to anyone to create programs to make it work?”

Tribal humans were successful on this planet for three million years before our agricultural revolution, and they’re no less successful today wherever they manage to survive untouched, but many people of our culture don’t want to hear about it. In fact, they’ll vigorously deny it.

Clearly all spreading mechanisms have one thing in common: they confer benefits on those who do the spreading … The benefit conferred shouldn’t, however, be confused with the mechanism itself.

Most programs take this form: Outlaw the thing that’s bothering you, catch people who do it, and put them in jail.
Old minds think: We have to write tougher and more comprehensive laws.
New minds think: No unwanted behavior has ever been eliminated by passing a law against it.
The fact that programs of this sort invariable fail doesn’t trouble most people.

It’s been established beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an exact correlation between how hard you have to work to stay alive and how great your dependence on agriculture is. Those who grow the least also work the least, and those who grow the most also work the most.

One can imagine how desperately the pontiffs, potentates, dynasts, princes, pendragons, princelings, rajahs, hierophants, priests, priestesses, and palace guards of all these tottering civilizations must have desired to implant in the minds of their vacillating subjects this very simple concept: Civilization must continue at ANY cost and must not be abandoned under ANY circumstance.

Our history is full of underclass insurrections, revolts, rebellions, riots, and revolutions, but not a single one has ever ended with people just walking away. This is because our citizens know that civilization must continue at any cost and not be abandoned under any circumstance. So they will go berserk, will destroy everything in sight, will slaughter all the elite they can get their hands on, will burn, rape, and pillage – but they will never just walk away.

This is an example of the Cultural Fallacy, which is: The memes of our culture arise from the very structure of the human mind itself, and if you don’t have them, there must be something wrong with you.

I visit many classrooms, and the students one way or another always bring me around to a point where I ask how many of them are champing at the bit to get out there and start working on the pyramids their parents worked on throughout their lives and their parents before them. The question makes them uneasy, because they they’re supposed to be absolutely thrilled at the prospect of going out there to flip burgers and pump gas and stock shelves in the real world. Everyone’s told them they’re the luckiest kids on earth – parents, teachers, textbooks – and they feel disloyal not waving their hands at me. But they don’t.

No special control is needed to make people into pyramid builders – if they see themselves as having no choice but to build pyramids. They’ll build whatever they’re told to build, whether it’s pyramids, parking garages, or computer programs.. Karl Marx recognized that workers without a choice are workers in chains. But his idea of breaking chains was for us to depose the pharaohs and then build the pyramids for ourselves, as if building pyramids is something we just can’t stop doing, we love it so much.

We can walk away from the pyramid, but we can’t melt away into the jungle. The Mayan solution is utterly gone for us, for the simple reason that the jungle itself is gone and there are six billion of us. Forget about going back. There is no back. Back is gone. But we can still walk away from the pyramid.

… in our meme about civilization there’s another meme that is implicit: Civilization is humanity’s ULTIMATE invention and can never be surpassed. That’s precisely why it must be carried forward at any cost, because there cannot possibly be any invention beyond it. If we were to abandon civilization (gulp!), then we’d be finished! If there’s going to be any future for us, our first invention must be a meme-killer.

Something BETTER than civilization is waiting for us. Something much better – unless you’re one of those rare individuals who just loves dragging stones.

Our cultural vision was shaped by people who were perfectly satisfied with the notion that the universe they saw was in its final form, and had come into being in that form – in a single stroke, so to speak. The Genesis tale of creation didn’t originate this notion; it merely affirmed it: God did his work, saw it was in no need of improvement, and that was that.

People will (ordinarily) put up with being miserable for only so long. It’s not the quitters who are extraordinary and mysterious, it’s we, who have somehow managed to persuade ourselves that we must persist in our misery whatever the cost and not abandon it even in the face of calamity.

Before becoming full-time farmers, the Maya, the Olmec, and all the rest practiced hunting and gathering or some combination of farming and foraging. Doesn’t the fact that they eventually became full-time farmers indicate they were less than perfectly satisfied with these lifestyles? That’s exactly what it indicates … But doesn’t this indicate that their traditional lifestyles were less than perfect? Certainly it does. Natural selection is a process that separates the workable from the unworkable, not the perfect from the imperfect.

The tribal life doesn’t turn people into saints; it enables ordinary people to make a living together with a minimum of stress year after year, generation after generation.

The tribal life isn’t about spears and caves or about hunting and gathering. Hunting and gathering is a lifestyle, an occupation, a way of making a living. A tribe isn’t a particular occupation; it’s a social organization that facilitates making a living.

… there’s a difference between painting in order to make money and making money in order to paint.

Many small businesses start in a very tribal way, with a few partners pouring in all their resources and taking out only what’s needed to survive, but this tribal character quickly disappears if the company becomes a conventional hierarchy.

The rough outlines of this social organization are familiar to everyone through the Egyptian model. You have a highly centralized state organization that consolidates in itself all economic, military, political, and religious power. The ruling caste, headed by a living deity in the shape of a pharaoh, Inca, or other divine monarch, is supported by a priestly bureaucracy that regulates and supervises the labor force conscripted for (among other things) the construction of palace and ceremonial complexes, temples, and pyramids.

The way rulers benefit from the success of the society is vastly different from the way the masses benefit, and the pyramids and the temples testify to the importance of the rulers, not to the masses who build them.

Kids of all ages run off to join the circus. No one runs off to join Disney World.

Wherever civilization emerges, tribalism withers and is replaced by hierarchalism. Hierarchalism works very well for the rulers but much less well for the ruled, who make up the mass of the society. For this reason, the few at the top like it very well and the masses at the bottom like it very much less well.

Every civilization brought forth in the course of human history has been a hierarchical affair. The thing we call civilization goes hand in hand with hierarchy – means hierarchy, requires hierarchy … You can have hierarchy without civilization, but you can’t have civilization without hierarchy … All dedicated pyramid-builders should stick with civilization. The rest of us just want something else, and it’s high time we had it.

Spending more will certainly get you more, but it won’t necessarily get you more of what you want.

To overthrow the hierarchy is pointless; we just want to leave it behind. As everyone knows (especially revolutionaries), hierarchy maintains formidable defenses against attack from the lower orders. It has none, however, against abandonment. This is in part because it can imagine revolution, but it can’t imagine abandonment. But even if it could imagine abandonment, it couldn’t defend against it, because abandonment isn’t an attack, it’s just a discontinuance of support.

I wasn’t surprised to hear from many youngsters … who know the world is full of things they should want to do – and who imagine that there must be something dreadfully wrong for them for failing to want it.

Well-intentioned people often want to feel they’re giving up something, which is only to be expected in a culture where all ethical and religious systems commend self-denial. In hierarchical societies it’s always a good idea to make poverty sound like a blessing (and the rich are always especially vain about their austerities).

Civilization isn’t a geographical territory, it’s a social and economic territory where pharaohs reign and pyramids are built by the masses. Similarly, beyond civilization isn’t a geographical territory, it’s a social and economic territory where people in open tribes pursue goals that may or may not be recognizably “civilized”. You don’t have to “go someplace” to get beyond civilization. You have to make your living a different way.

Above all, nothing must be done that would encourage the homeless to remain homeless. In short, homelessness must be made as unremittingly difficult, degrading, and painful as possible, and you may be sure that our public guardians know well how to accomplish this.

Making and keeping the homeless as miserable as possible is cherished as a sort of tough love, the very best and kindest thing we can do for them. The only trouble is, for some strange reason, it doesn’t work worth a damn.

Every year we pass more laws, hire more police, build more prisons, and sentence more offenders for longer periods – all without moving one inch closer to “ending” crime. It didn’t work last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year we spend more money on our schools, hoping to “fix” whatever’s wrong with them, and every year the schools remain stubbornly unfixed. Spending money didn’t work last year or the year before that, or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either. Every year we try to make the homeless go away, and every year the homeless remain with us. We couldn’t shoehorn them back into “the mainstream” last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that, but you can be sure we’ll try it again this year, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t work this year either.

We deeply believe in taking a military approach to problems. We proclaim a “war” on poverty. When that fails, we proclaim a “war” on drugs. We “fight” crime. We “combat” homelessness. We “battle” hunger. WE vow to “defeat” AIDS.

One element of acceding to homelessness is accepting the fact that the poor will consistently choose the least worst alternative available to them. If you find them living under a bridge instead of in a nice, clean municipal shelter just a block away, you can be absolutely sure they haven’t made a mistake – from their point of view. The shelter’s admittance procedures may be intolerably invasive, arbitrary, or humiliating, or its rules may be Draconian. Whatever, the discomforts of sheltering under the bridge are more endurable.

Acceding to homelessness would look like helping the homeless succeed WHILE being homeless. What an idea! I can almost hear the howls of outrage from both liberals and conservatives that must greet such a concept. Help people succeed at being homeless? We want them to fail at being homeless! (So they’ll return to the mainstream.)

Don’t try to drive the homeless into places we find suitable. Help them survive in places they find suitable.

The important thing to see is that we were not “giving up” something by being tribal. We were getting something by being tribal –something that would have been out of reach otherwise. We weren’t tribal because we were noble and altruistic; we were tribal because we were greedy and selfish.

I think what’s needed at a minimum is a group of people (1) who, among them, have all the competencies needed to start and run a given business, (2) who are content with a modest standard of living, and (3) who are willing to “think tribally” – that is, to take what they need out of the business rather than to expect set wages.

The fact that ethnic tribes can provide their members with cradle-to-grave security is a true measure of their wealth.

In a famous interchange at Columbia University, a faculty member who asserted that the faculty is the university was immediately told by the president of the university (former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower) that the faculty are employees of the university. Mr. Eisenhower isn’t on hand to contradict me when I say that the members of the tribe aren’t employees of the tribe, they are the tribe. Indeed, that’s the whole difference. Because the tribe is its members, the tribe is what its members want it to be – nothing more and nothing less.

The tribe, in fact, is just a wonderfully efficient social organization that renders making a living easy for all – unlike civilization, which renders it easy for a privileged few and hard for the rest.

Communes never begin in this haphazard way. They’re “intentional” communities, originating among people who want to live together in pursuit of common ideals, usually in relative isolation. Communes are about living together and may or may not involve working together. Tribes (and I speak here of “new” tribes, of course) originate among people who want to pool their energies and skills to make a living together. Tribes are about working together and may or may not involve living together.

It’s a fundamental tenet of our cultural mythology that the only thing wrong with us is that humans are not made well enough. We need to be made of finer materials, to some set of better specifications (provided, perhaps, by greened-up versions of our traditional religions). We just need to be made kinder, gentler, sweeter, more loving, less selfish, more far-sighted, and so on, then everything will be fine. Of course, no one succeeded in making us better last year or the year before that or the year before that or the year before that – but maybe this year we’ll get lucky … or next year or the year after that.

If you can only be free living on a mountaintop or a desert island, then clearly you’re something less than free.

Whether by intention or not, suicides often reveal themselves in their choice of means. The guilty hang themselves. Sacrificial victims slash their throats. The discarded throw themselves off buildings or bridges. Tormented minds blow their brains out.

… the “story” we’re enacting in our culture is this: The world was made for Man to conquer and rule, and Man was made to conquer and rule it; and under Man’s rule the world might have become a paradise except for the fact that he’s fundamentally and irremediably flawed.

Old minds think: How do we solve these problems?
New minds think: How do we make happen what we want to happen?

Focus instead on what you want to happen and how to make it happen, rather than on all the things that might keep it from happening.

Most people formulate their own questions. Don’t take on the responsibility of figuring out what their difficulty is. Never try to answer a question you don’t understand. Make the askers explain it; keep on insisting until it’s clear, and nine times out of ten they’ll supply the answer themselves.


Jacques Attali
Machines are the new proletariat. The working class is being given its walking papers.

Jospeh Chassler
Yeah, well, it’s pretty lonely at the bottom, too.

Buckminster Fuller
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Marshall Sahlins
The world’s most primitive people have few possessions, but they are not poor. Poverty is not a certain small amount of goods, nor is it just a relation between means and ends; above all it is a relation between people. Poverty is a social status. As such it is the invention of civilization.

Marshall Sahlins
We are inclined to think of hunters and gatherers as poor because they don’t have anything; perhaps better to think of them for that reason as free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Food Crisis? Jennifer Barry Commentary

On top of all the other problems in the world, how about a food crisis? Here is a quick summary of the food availability and agricultural finances:

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jim Willie Audio Commentaries

Here are a couple of audio commentaries from Jim Willie on the current financial crisis. He is quite entertaining, but pretty dour.

There are other interviews and commentaries at the Contrary Investors Cafe, too, so check it out.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Really Happened in Asian Georgia? - Engdahl

What really happened in the Georgia-Russia conflict a couple of months ago? Here's the lowdown from William Engdahl:

U.S. is involved, again - like Britain of old, playing one side off against another.

Key your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How to Fix the US Financial System - Deepcaster

Here is a long commentary with ideas on how to fix the US financial system, which, as every reasonably intelligent person knows, is now falling over the precipice:

Actually, there is probably no way that Our Masters would ever let go of their controls over all us peons - and unfortunately that means that a serious war is very likely to be their last resort.

Keep your eyes and mind open,
Michael Childress