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Posts Tagged ‘ECONOMICS’

REAGAN GETS LENIN’S FUNERAL

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

On February 6, 2011, Ronald Reagan, if he had been alive, would have been 100 years old.

Publishers rushed to put out worshipful tributes to his eight years as President. Network political programs such as “This Week” and “Meet the Press” assembled surviving members of his administration to re-live the “glory days” of Reagan’s—and their—time in power.

This is where it all started going wrong for America—a Right-wing legacy of huge Federal deficits, tax-cuts for the rich, bloated military budgets and cutbacks in government programs to aid the poor and middle-class.

Ronald Reagan

The Republican party, of course, has done the most to create and promote this “cult of Reagan.” And it has done so for the same reason the Communist party of the Soviet Union created and fostered the “cult of Lenin.”

No two men could have been more different than Vladimir Lenin and Ronald Reagan. Lenin created the Soviet Union in 1917 and became its first in a series of absolute dictators. Reagan spent his life fighting Communism, most notably as President.

Vladimir Lenin

So it’s ironic that both men, in death, got essentially the same funeral—and for the same reason: To sanctify and legitimize their respective organizations—and the authority of their potential successors.

Lenin died in 1924 and was immediately succeeded by Joseph Stalin. Stalin knew that, despite Communism’s official atheistic stance, most Russians remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church.

So in giving Lenin’s funeral oration, Stalin used the language of religion to confer sainthood upon a militant atheist–and upon his successor, Stalin himself.

Related image

Funeral for Vladimir Lenin

Stalin and his fellow Communists immediately launched the “cult of Lenin,” depicting him as a fatherly, all-wise leader whose genius could only be bestowed upon his closest disciples.

Lenin’s extensive political writings were treated as divine writ, and were used to justify everything Stalin and his own successors wanted to do.

A classic example: Although Lenin died 20 years before the American creation of the atomic bomb, Lenin was hailed by the Soviets as the “father” of “Soviet nuclear physics.”

Similarly, the Republican party wasted no time turning its own former leader, Ronald Reagan, into a modern-day saint of mythical proportions.

They have done so for the same reason that Stalin deliberately forged a cult around the dead Lenin—to create a “holy” figure of whom other Republicans can claim to be true disciples.

Related image

Funeral for Ronald Reagan

These deliberate fictions conveniently ignore a series of ugly truths:

  • Reagan was only one of a series of Presidents who held the line against the Soviet Union.
  • His budgets were just as stained with red ink as those of all previous Presidents.
  • Far from standing up to Iranian terrorists, Reagan sold them our most sophisticated missiles in a weak-kneed exchange for American hostages. Then he went on television and brazenly lied that any such “arms for hostages” deal had ever happened.
  • By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been investigated, indicted or convicted for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. 
  • His “trickle-down” Reganomics brought prosperity to only the wealthiest 1% of Americans, proving that “a rising tide lifted some yachts.”
  • By drastically shrinking the tax-base, bloating the defense budget and destroying programs to benefit the poor and middle-class, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished. Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • John F. Kennedy had praised government service as an honor. Reagan repeatedly said that “the best and the brightest” could be found only in business.
  • This denigration of government service continues among Republicans to this day–defaming the very institutions they lust to control.
  • Although he often berated the poor for their “laziness,” Reagan adhered to a “banker’s hours” schedule: During his working hours in the Oval Office, he often had blocks of free time–two to three hours. He would call for his fan mail and answer it.
  • Reagan saw no need to protect America’s fragile environment against corporate polluters, eager to enrich themselves at its expense: “Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

Reagan famously attacked “welfare queens” and sought to deny government benefits for the poor.  But he didn’t hesitate to enrich himself at public expense.

  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas. This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan—a millionaire who could afford private security—continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

The “cult of Lenin” died when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The “cult of Reagan” continues to flourish, and will do so for as long as the Republican party finds voters willing to believe in it.

THE QUEEN OF GREED

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on November 27, 2015 at 11:55 am

“Thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s ideas have never been more important.

“Unfettered capitalism, unregulated business, bare-bones government providing no social services, glorification of selfishness, disdain for Judeo-Christian morality—these are the tenets of Rand’s harsh philosophy.”

So reads the jacket blurb for Ayn Rand Nation: The Struggle for America’s Soul, by Gary Weiss.

“The timing of this book couldn’t be better for Americans who are trying to understand where in the hell the far-out right’s anti-worker, anti-egalitarian extremism is coming from,” asserts Jim Hightower, New York Times bestselling author of Thieves in High Places.

Ayn Rand Nation introduces us to the godmother of such Tea Party craziness as destroying Social Security and eliminating Wall Street regulation. Weiss writes with perception and wit.”

For those who believe that Rand’s philosophy is the remedy for America’s economic and social ills, a 2013 60 Minutes news story sounds a warning.

New England Compounding Center (NECC) pharmacy, based in Framington, Massachusetts, is under criminal investigation.  The reason: Shipping, in the fall of 2012, 17,000 vials of a steroid to be injected into the joints or spines of patients suffering chronic pain.

But instead of relieving pain, this steroid–contaminated with fungal meningitis–brought only agony and death.

The vials went out to thousands of pharmacies scattered across 23 states.

Forty-eight people have died, and 720 are still fighting horrific infections caused by the drug.

Just as Ayn Rand would have wanted, the pharmacy managed to avoid supervision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

NECC was one of thousands of pharmacies that Congress exempted from FDA oversight. The reason: By law, they are allowed to make custom drugs for just one patient at a time.

But within a few years, NECC went national–and vastly expanded the quantities of drugs produced.

“The underlying factor is that the company got greedy and overextended and we got sloppy, and something happened,” John Connolly, a lab technician for the company, told 60 Minutes, the CBS news magazine.

And, also as Rand would have wanted, the four family members who founded the pharmacy were enriched by it–receiving over $16 million in wages and profits, from December 2011 through November 2012.

Bankruptcy records show the family members racked up $90,000 on corporate American Express credit cards, including charges made after the company shut down in early October.

A month before the first steroid death, Connolly says he warned his supervisor: “Something’s gonna happen, something’s gonna get missed and we’re gonna get shut down.”

His supervisor just shrugged.

NECC was shut down by the authorities.  Barry Cadden, the president and lead pharmacist of the company, was subpoenaed by Congress to testify.  In true gangster fashion, he pleaded the Fifth.

He claimed he didn’t know how the contamination started.

In May, 2015, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the establishment of a $200 million compensation fund for victims of the meningitis outbreak.

This would have outraged Ayn Rand, who believed that greed was sacred–and should not be punished, whatever its consequences.

Which brings us back to Ayn Rand Nation.

Among the themes explored in Weiss’ book:

  • Atlas Shrugged–Rand’s 1957 novel–depicts a United States where many of society’s most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and go on strike. The refusal evokes the imagery of what would happen if the mythological Atlas refused to continue to hold up the world.  The novel continues to influence those who aren’t hard-core Rand followers, who are known as Objectivists.
  • Ayn Rand’s novels dramatically affirm such bedrock American values as independence, creativity, self-reliance, and above all, a permanent distrust of government.
  • In Rand’s 1936 novel, We the Living–set in Soviet Russia–her heroine, Kira Argounova, tells a Communist: “I loathe your ideals; I admire your methods.” Objectivists believe in defending capitalism with the same ruthless methods of Communists.
  • In Rand’s ideal world, government would control only police, armies and law courts.  To her, a   government which performs more than these three functions is not simply impractical or expensive: it is evil.

Many of those who embrace Rand substitute rage for logic: Tea Partiers are furious about the 2008 Wall Street crash, yet they blame the government for it.

(Ironically, in a way, they are right: The government can be blamed–but not for too much regulation of greed-fueled capitalists but too little.)

Weiss asserts that Tea Party members resent the social and economic realities facing the nation, but lack a coherent intellectual framework to help them focus and justify their rage.  But Objectivists have–and offer–such a framework.

Thus, Tea Partiers form the ideological part of the right wing, and the clarity–and fanaticism–of their views gives them a power far out of proportion to their numbers.

Weiss believes that Rand is presenting a moral argument for laissez-faire capitalism, which means eliminating  Social Security, Medicare, public road system, fire departments, parks, building codes–and, above all, any type of financial regulation.

Weiss maintains that Rand’s moral argument must be directly confronted–and defeated–with moral arguments calling for charity and rationality.

Given the fanaticism of Tea Partiers and the right-wing Republicans they support, success in countering Rand’s “I’ve-got-mine-and-the-hell-with-everybody-else” morality is by no means assured.

HOW TO BE A SMARTER EXECUTIVE: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Self-Help on May 14, 2013 at 12:00 am

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

–Ecclesiastes 9:11

It is one thing to gain executive power, and another to hold onto it.  It is altogether different to use it wisely and justly.

Many are the dictators who have ruled long, but not justly–such as Porfiro Diaz, whose 30-year regime was ended by the Mexican Revolution in 1911.

And many are those who wanted to rule justly but could not face up to the harsh realities of power.  One of these was Francisco Madero, who democratically succeeded Diaz–but was soon betrayed and executed by Victoriana Huerta, one of his own generals.

In Part One, I outlined a number of timeless suggestions by Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine statesman and patriot (1469-1527) for attaining and wisely employing executive power.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Many of this nation’s corporate executives and officials manning local, state and Federal agencies (including the Presidency) would do well to pay close attention to his advisories.  Among these:

  • EVALUATING A SUBORDINATE: For a prince to be able to know a minister there is this method which never fails.  When you see the minister think more of himself than of you, and in all his actions seek his own profit, such a man will never be a good minister, and you can never rely on him.  For whoever has in hand the state of another man must never think of himself but of the prince, and not mind anything but what relates to him.
  • TREATMENT OF SUBORDINATES: And on the other hand, the prince, in order to retain his fidelity, ought to think of his minister, honoring and enriching him, doing him kindnesses and conferring on him favors and responsible tasks, so that the great favors and riches bestowed on him cause him not to desire other honors and riches, and the offices he holds make him fearful of changes.  When princes and their ministers stand in this relation to each other, they can rely the one upon the other; when it is otherwise, the result is always injurious either for one or the other of them.
  • TAKING COUNSEL: There is no way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth.  But when every one can tell you the truth, you lose their respect.
  • A prudent prince must therefore take a third course, by choosing for his counsel wise men, and giving them alone full liberty to speak the truth to him, but only of those things that he asks and of nothing else.
  • MAKING DECISIONS: But he must be a great asker about everything and hear their opinions, and afterwards deliberate by himself in his own way, and in these counsels and with each of these men comport himself so that every one may see that the more freely he speaks, the more he will be acceptable.  Beyond these he should listen to no one, go about the matter deliberately, and be determined in his decisions.
  • SEEK THE TRUTH:  A prince, therefore, ought always to take counsel, but only when he wishes, not when others wish.  On the contrary, he ought to discourage absolutely attempts to advise him unless he asks it.  But he ought to be a great asker, and a patient hearer of the truth about those things of which he has inquired.  Indeed, if he finds that anyone has scruples in telling him the truth he should be angry.
  • UNWISE PRINCES CANNOT BE WISELY ADVISED: And since some think that a prince who gains the reputation of being prudent is so considered, not by his nature but by the good counselors he has about him, they are undoubtedly deceived.  It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.
  • FORTUNE: I think it may be true that fortune is the ruler of half our actions, but that she allows the other half or thereabouts to be governed by us.
  • I would compare her to an impetuous river that, when turbulent, inundates the plains, casts down trees and buildings, removes earth from this side and places it on the other; every one flees before it, and everything yields to its fury without being able to oppose it.
  • Still, when it is quiet, men can make provisions against it by dykes and banks, so that when it follows it will either go into a canal or its rush will not be so wild and dangerous.

GREED? THY NAME IS AYN

In Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

“Thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s ideas have never been more important.

“Unfettered capitalism, unregulated business, bare-bones government providing no social services, glorification of selfishness, disdain for Judeo-Christian morality—these are the tenets of Rand’s harsh philosophy.”

So reads the jacket blurb for Ayn Rand Nation: The Struggle for America’s Soul, by Gary Weiss.

Related image

“The timing of this book couldn’t be better for Americans who are trying to understand where in the hell the far-out right’s anti-worker, anti-egalitarian extremism is coming from,” asserts Jim Hightower, New York Times bestselling author of Thieves in High Places.

Ayn Rand Nation introduces us to the godmother of such Tea Party craziness as destroying Social Security and eliminating Wall Street regulation. Weiss writes with perception and wit.”

For those who believe that Rand’s philosophy is the remedy for America’s economic and social ills, a 60 Minutes news story sounds a warning.

New England Compounding Center (NECC) pharmacy, based in Framington, Massachusetts, is under criminal investigation.  The reason: Shipping, in the fall of 2012, 17,000 vials of a steroid to be injected into the joints or spines of patients suffering chronic pain.

But instead of relieving pain, this steroid–contaminated with fungal meningitis–brought only agony and death.

The vials went out to thousands of pharmacies scattered across 23 states.

Forty-eight people have died, and 720 are still fighting horrific infections caused by the drug.

Just as Ayn Rand would have wanted, the pharmacy managed to avoid supervision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

NECC was one of thousands of pharmacies that Congress exempted from FDA oversight. The reason: By law, they are allowed to make custom drugs for just one patient at a time.

But within a few years, NECC went national–and vastly expanded the quantities of drugs produced.

“The underlying factor is that the company got greedy and overextended and we got sloppy, and something happened,” John Connolly, a lab technician for the company, told 60 Minutes, the CBS news magazine.

And, also as Rand would have wanted, the four family members who founded the pharmacy were enriched by it–receiving over $16 million in wages and profits, from December 2011 through November 2012.

Related image

Bankruptcy records show the family members racked up $90,000 on corporate American Express credit cards, including charges made after the company shut down in early October.

A month before the first steroid death, Connolly says he warned his supervisor: “Something’s gonna happen, something’s gonna get missed and we’re gonna get shut down.”

His supervisor just shrugged.

NECC was shut down by the authorities.  Barry Cadden, the president and lead pharmacist of the company, was subpoenaed by Congress to testify.  In true gangster fashion, he pleaded the Fifth.

He claims he doesn’t know how the contamination started.

Which brings us back to Ayn Rand–and, more specifically, Ayn Rand Nation.

Among the themes explored in Weiss’ book:

  • Atlas Shrugged–Rand’s 1957 novel–depicts a United States where many of society’s most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and go on strike. The refusal evokes the imagery of what would happen if the mythological Atlas refused to continue to hold up the world.  The novel continues to influence those who aren’t hard-core Rand followers, who are known as Objectivists.
  • Ayn Rand’s novels dramatically affirm such bedrock American values as independence, creativity, self-reliance, and above all, a permanent distrust of government.
  • In Rand’s 1936 novel, We the Living–set in Soviet Russia–her heroine, Kira Argounova, tells a Communist: “I loathe your ideals; I admire your methods.” Objectivists believe in defending capitalism with the same ruthless methods of Communists.
  • In Rand’s ideal world, government would control only police, armies and law courts.  To her, a   government which performs more than these three functions is not simply impractical or expensive: it is evil.

Many of those who embrace Rand substitute rage for logic: Tea Partiers are furious about the 2008 Wall Street crash, yet they blame the government for it.

(Ironically, in a way, they are right: The government can be blamed–but not for too much regulation of greed-fueled capitalists but too little.)

Weiss asserts that Tea Party members resent the social and economic realities facing the nation, but lack a coherent intellectual framework to help them focus and justify their rage.  But Objectivists have–and offer–such a framework.

Thus, Tea Partiers form the ideological part of the right wing, and the clarity–and fanaticism–of their views gives them a power far out of proportion to their numbers.

Weiss believes that Rand is presenting a moral argument for laissez-faire capitalism, which means eliminating  Social Security, Medicare, public road system, fire departments, parks, building codes–and, above all, any type of financial regulation.

Weiss maintains that Rand’s moral argument must be directly confronted–and defeated–with moral arguments calling for charity and rationality.

Given the fanaticism of Tea Partiers and the right-wing Republicans they support, success in countering Rand’s “I’ve-got-mine-and-the-hell-with-everybody-else” morality is by no means assured.

REAGAN GETS LENIN’S FUNERAL

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on February 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

On February 6, 2011, Ronald Reagan, if he had been alive, would have been 100 years old.

Publishers have rushed to put out worshipful tributes to his eight years as President. Network political programs such as “This Week” and “Meet the Press” have assembled surviving members of his administration to re-live the “glory days” of Reagan’s–and their–time in power.

Ronald Reagan

The Republican party, of course, has done the most to create and promote this “cult of Reagan.” And it has done so for the same reason the Communist party of the Soviet Union created and fostered the “cult of Lenin.”

No two men could have been more different than Vladimir Lenin and Ronald Reagan. Lenin created the Soviet Union in 1917 and became its first in a series of absolute dictators. Reagan spent his life fighting Communism, most notably as President.

Vladimir Lenin

So it’s ironic that both men, in death, got essentially the same funeral–and for the same reason: To sanctify and legitimize their respective organizations–and the authority of their potential successors.

Lenin died in 1924 and was immediately succeeded by Joseph Stalin. Stalin knew that, despite Communism’s official athiestic stance, most Russians remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church.

So in giving Lenin’s funeral oration, Stalin used the language of religion to confer sainthood upon a militant athiest–and upon his successor, Stalin himself.

Stalin and his fellow Communists immediately launched the “cult of Lenin,” depicting him as a fatherly, all-wise leader whose genius could only be bestowed upon his closest disciples. Lenin’s extensive political writings were treated as divine writ, and were used to justify everything Stalin and his own successors wanted to do.

A classic example: Although Lenin died 20 years before the American creation of the atomic bomb, Lenin was hailed by the Soviets as the “father” of “Soviet nuclear physics.”

Similarly, the Republican party wasted no time turning its own former leader, Ronald Reagan, into a modern-day saint of mythical proportions. They have done so for the same reason that Stalin deliberately forged a cult around the dead Lenin—to create a “holy” figure of whom other Republicans can claim to be true disciples.

These deliberate fictions conveniently ignore a series of ugly truths:

  • Reagan was only one of a series of Presidents who held the line against the Soviet Union.
  • His budgets were just as stained with red ink as those of all previous Presidents.
  • Far from standing up to Iranian terrorists, Reagan sold them our most sophisticated missiles in a weak-kneed exchange for American hostages.  Then he went on television and brazenly lied that any such “arms for hostages” deal had ever happened.
  • By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been investigated, indicted or convicted for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. 
  • His “trickle-down” Reganomics brought prosperity to only the wealthiest 1% of Americans, proving that “a rising tide lifted some yachts.”
  • By drastically shrinking the tax-base, bloating the defense budget and destroying programs to benefit the poor and middle-class, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished.  Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • John F. Kennedy had praised government service as an honor.  Reagan repeatedly said that “the best and the brightest” could be found only in business.
  • This denigration of government service continues among Republicans to this day–defaming the very institutions they lust to control.
  • Although he often berated the poor for their “laziness,” Reagan adhered to a “banker’s hours” schedule: During his working hours in the Oval Office, he often had blocks of free time–two to three hours.  He would call for his fan mail and answer it.
  • Reagan saw no need to protect America’s fragile environment against corporate polluters eager to enrich themselves at its expense: “Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

Reagan famously attacked “welfare queens” and sought to deny government benefits for the poor.  But he didn’t hesitate to enrich himself at public expense.

  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas.  This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

The “cult of Lenin” died when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The “cult of Reagan” continues to flourish, and will do so for as long as the Republican party finds voters willing to believe in it.

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