Donald Trump’s “Fascist” Memo Leaked

Trump Campaign “Fascist” Memo Leaked

UDI  New York City.  3/26/16.

A memo was released by an anonymous source within Donald Trump’s campaign today that reveals the candidate’s strategy to bring the press into compliance after he is elected.  According to some legal experts, the memo implies a danger to first amendment liberties such as freedom of the press and freedom of speech, if Donald Trump becomes president,

The memo says that Mr. Trump has been “frustrated” by reporters and critics who fail to understand his message.  “How many times have I told them how great I am?,” Mr. Trump lamented.   “And how often have I told them how over-rated and horrible everybody else is?  But they still don’t get it, and many in the media are unfair to me.  And those horrible reporters who are mean to me will have to pay a price.  Believe me.”

Mr. Trump has a solution to the problem of “unfair” reporters, i.e. those who don’t sing his praises.  As president, according to the memo, he plans to change the law.  He has previously said that when he becomes president, he’ll change the libel laws so that he can sue people who say bad things about him and get money from them.  But this memo reveals an even more extreme form of retribution against people in the media who dare to criticize Donald Trump.  The memo is entitled, “How the Media Will Be Patriotic and Help Me Make America Great Again,” although some Trump opponents have dubbed it “The Fascist Memo.”

The memo discloses that after taking office as president, Mr. Trump intends to issue an executive order, or decree, mandating that all members of the media say only positive, supportive, patriotic words about President Trump and his policies.  The Trump decree will apply to all media, including  t.v., radio, print, and the internet.  Mr. Trump says in the memo that “the American people are tired of anti-Americanism, negativity, and partisan bickering in the media, and I’m going to put a stop to it.  This will be how we make America Great Again.”

Specifically the memo says that President Trump will modify the federal criminal code to provide for the prosecution of unpatriotic and seditious content in the media.  Such content, critical of the President, or anyone in his administration who is performing his  duties, will be subject to the new law.  Those in the media who create “negative” content, criticizing President Trump and others in his administration, or their policies, “will be guilty of the crime of treason, punishable by up to ten years in prison.”  Those convicted may also be sent to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  To assure a fair trial, defendants will not be entitled to a jury, and the trials will be held in special “patriotic courts,” tried by judges appointed by President Trump for this purpose.  The memo also says that family members of the traitors who are prosecuted under the new law, will be targeted.  In some cases family members of the accused will be tortured in front of their families, a technique developed and perfected by the former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. The denial of a jury trial appears to fly in the face of the 6th amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees a right to a jury in all criminal cases.

At a hastily called news conference on the campaign trail today, Mr. Trump appeared along with Michael Mcshyster, an attorney for the Trump campaign, to defend and explain the memo.   Asked what it meant to “target” family members of those prosecuted under the new law, Mr. Trump replied to the reporter, with visible irritation:  “That’s a stupid question.  You’re over-rated.  Everyone knows what targeting means.  It means they’ll get what’s coming to them.  It’ll be great.”

Mr. Trump has previously called for “targeting” the family members of terrorists.  In clarifying what he meant by “targeting,” in an interview with Fox News Host Bill O’Reilly in February, Mr. Trump defended the policy of murdering the wives and children of terrorists. This despite the fact that it has never been the policy of the United States to murder women and children, even those who are family members of our enemies, even in war time.  In fact, murdering non-combatants  is a violation of international law, and of American treaty obligations.  Members of the armed forces are forbidden from following orders to murder innocents in war time, even if ordered to do so by the President.  When questioned during a Republican debate about the duty of the military to disobey illegal orders, Mr. Trump said, “If I issue the orders, they’ll obey.”

Mr. Trump turned over to his attorney questions challenging the constitutionality of his proposed executive order to silence his critics in the press.  Mr. Mcshyster, a graduate of the Frederick Law School, and partner in the New York firm of Mcshyster, Dewey, Cheetham, & Howe, was asked by a reporter whether the proposed executive order wouldn’t be a flagrant violation of the first amendment.  The Trump campaign attorney replied, “Actually, it’s not a violation of the first amendment at all because the law will only apply to traitors and subversives who seek to undermine Mr. Trump’s efforts to restore America to greatness.   Any member of the press who doesn’t want America to be great is clearly a traitor and therefore not entitled to first amendment protections.  There is a legal precedent for this.  During the Administration of President John Adams, as I’m sure you’re all aware, we had similar laws against Sedition, and they worked quite effectively, in helping to launch this great democracy.”

One critic of Donald Trump, however, was not persuaded.  Sam Samson, a spokesman for “Donald Trump Is A Douchebag,” a conservative political action committee with headquarters in Washington D.C., issued the following statement:

“I call on my fellow Republicans to wake up and reject totalitarianism.  We’ve all seen this movie before.  We know how it ends.  We’ve seen it in Cuba.  We’ve seen it in North Korea.  We’ve seen it in Iraq, and in Syria.  Our parents’ generation saw it in the 1930’s in Italy, in Germany, and in the Soviet Union under Stalin.  It ends when the charismatic Great Leader, loved by millions of followers who are blind, deaf, and dumb, leads the great national parade, the troops marching, the band playing, the masses cheering.  And they all follow the Great Leader – over the cliff.  It ends with millions loaded into freight train cattle cars.  It ends with those who speak out for freedom thrown in dungeons, in gulags, or in concentration camps.  It ends with social degradation, mass oppression,  bombs exploding, cities burning, and millions of lives destroyed.  It ends in wretchedness, weeping, and the gnashing of teeth.”

In reply to Mr. Samson’s comment, Donald Trump tweeted, “This guy’s a loser.  He has blood coming out of his wherever.  He’ll be the first one we go after when I become President.”

Nancy Reagan’s Last Words: Anyone But Trump

NANCY REAGAN’S LAST WORDS: “ANYONE BUT TRUMP!”

UDI – Los Angeles, CA March 6, 2016

Nancy Reagan’s last words before her death were “Anyone but Trump.” This according to top aids of the former First Lady, as she lay on her death bed in Bel-Air, California today. According to Joanne Drake, a spokeswoman with the Reagan Library, Mrs. Reagan was following politics on t.v. up until the end and was upset by the prospect that Donald Trump might become the Republican nominee for President. In the moments before her death, according to Ms. Drake, Mrs. Reagan struggled to speak, but it was apparent she had something important to say. Mrs. Reagan had previously told close friends and family, according to reports, that it would be a betrayal of Ronald Reagan’s legacy for a man of Donald Trump’s character to represent the Republican Party in the November election. Reagan Administrative Aid, Frank Lee, also present at Mrs. Reagan’s death, confirmed that her final words were, “Anyone but Trump!”

On hearing the report, Donald Trump tweeted the following response:

“Nancy Reagan is a very old woman. You can tell by how horrible she looks. She looks like death. She should butt out. She never did anything. She better watch out. She’ll pay the price for this. Believe me.”

Conservative commentator William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, responded to the Trump tweet with disgust, releasing the following statement: “Donald Trump is a douchebag. He has no respect for the dead, or for anyone else for that matter. He apparently believes he can retaliate against his critics even after they’re dead. How stupid is that?” Kristol worked in the Reagan administration in the 1980’s.

Trump responded to Kristol’s critique with the following: “Who the hell is Bill Kristol? I’m much richer than he is. He looks like a dork. He’s the stupid one, not me.” Mr. Kristol graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1973.

President Donald Trump will destroy first amendment

The Editor, Wall St. Journal:

In your editorial “Trump Agonistes” (Feb. 27), you implicitly recognize the greatest danger of a Trump presidency.  “Mr. Trump,” you wrote, “took his attacks on the press corps to a new level by promising to change the libel laws”  to make it easier for him to sue his critics.  You also said Trump threatened to retaliate against the Ricketts family for donating to a Super Pac that criticized him.

Donald Trump is a charismatic leader with a mass following whose devotion to him is blind, deaf, and dumb.  Trump’s impulse is to attack and destroy anyone who criticizes him.  This creates a dangerous mix if this “Great Leader” becomes president.  No one in Congress will stand up to Trump, who will roll over his opponents.  As Donald Trump, “clothed,” with what Abraham Lincoln referred to as “the awesome power of the presidency,” uses the organs of government to go after his critics in the press, the first casualty will be the first amendment.  Watch out, Rich Lowry, Glenn Beck, and the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.   We know from history how it turns out when a nation is ruled by a strongman based on a cult of personality.

The good news is that since the last debate, Trump’s opponents have finally figured out that they need to attack him hard and ad hominem.  His followers don’t care about issues so personal attacks are the only way to take him down.  Hopefully it isn’t too little too late.

Jim Greenfield

 

Pothead Nation USA

From the Nothing Can Stop A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Come Dept.

 

POTHEAD NATION

by Jim Greenfield © August 25, 2014

Isn’t it ironic that the movement to legalize marijuana across the nation appears to have gained irresistible momentum just as new studies come out showing that marijuana causes chronic brain damage and long term reduction in iq among young people whose brains are still developing?  A recent Duke University study  shows a long term eight percent drop in i.q. among teenagers who use pot regularly.  Apparently this reduction in intelligence is not reversed even when young users stop abusing the drug.  A Northwestern University School of Medicine study published in the “Journal Of Neuroscience” found that marijuana use causes structural brain damage, corroborating an earlier study at Harvard Medical School.

Colorado and Washington states have already legalized marijuana and it is defacto legal in many other states where law enforcement against possession is virtually non-existent.  There is growing pressure to decriminalize pot at the federal level as well from advocates who apparently don’t believe the scientific evidence and claim  pot is harmless.  As a fallback position  they sometimes argue unconvincingly that  at least it’s not as bad as alcohol, a claim not supported by any evidence.  Evidence of the linkage between marijuana use and mental health problems such as depression, low self-esteem, loss of motivation, poor memory, and schizophrenia are ignored by the pro-pot crowd.  The rising popularity of legalization among the uninformed public has cowed politicians into either silence, or open support of legalization.

Proponents of pot legalization compare the so called “war on drugs” with prohibition in the 1920’s.  To which I say, “What war on drugs?”  Pot legalization heads claim prohibition doesn’t work.  Actually, prohibition does work.  When there were stiff prison terms for possession of all classes of drugs, such as in the 1950’s, drug abuse was almost non-existent, except limited use in a few big city slums .  It is illogical and naïve to believe that legalizing a dangerous substance will not result in a substantial increase in its use.

The clearest example of the effect of legalizing a behavior that was previously illegal is pornography.  Back in the days when pornography was illegal it was extremely rare and hard to come by – found only in secret sleazy back alley stores in sleazy back alley neighborhoods.  After the Supreme Court struck down anti-pornography laws in the 1970’s in the name of free speech, pornography proliferated at an exponential rate.  Today pornography is found everywhere, in stores that advertise openly throughout the country in otherwise respectable neighborhoods, on the internet, and on cable tv.  Could anyone argue that this proliferation would have occurred if pornography hadn’t been legalized?

This is not to take a position about whether pornography should be legal.  Clearly that genie ain’t going back in the bottle.  The point is rather that demand for any product that is illegal and illicit is depressed.  Legalizing any previously illegal product not only de-stigmatizes its use, but makes it commonplace and easy to obtain.  It also results in widespread marketing and advertising, and a huge expansion of the market for that product.    Pot stores are coming soon to a neighborhood near you.  And if you think legalizing pot won’t make it easier for your kids to get it and get addicted, dream on.

So what will be the impact on our nation of multiplying the use of a drug that has now been scientifically proven to make people stupid?  Duh.  There will be more stupid people.  In my opinion we already have an ample supply of stupid people and don’t need more.

And for my libertarian friends, think about this.  The unfortunate thing about potheads is that, like other stupid people, some of them vote.   And who do you think they vote for?  Libertarians?  I don’t think so.  They vote for Democrats.  They vote for demagogue politicians who promise to give them free handouts to support their addictions, debilitated life style of dysfunction, degradation, inability to hold a job, and chronic dependence on the welfare state, common bi-products of chronic drub abuse.  So, libertarians, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

The libertarian argument for legalization goes something like this.  We believe in freedom.  (So do I).  Every adult should be free to engage in any conduct he chooses so long as it causes no harm to anyone else (the libertarian prime directive).  Ingesting marijuana, or any other drug, may harm you, but it causes no harm to anyone else.  Therefore, according to libertarian dogma, you should be free to use it.

The problem with the libertarian argument is that it’s simplistic, just as the libertarian formula which purports to provide the solution to all public policy questions is simplistic.  The problem, which is ignored by the libertarian creed, is figuring out where to draw the line between where self-destructive conduct harms only yourself and where it harms those around you.  Would anyone argue, for example, that the children of a drug addict aren’t harmed by their parent’s drug abuse?

The truth is that, like libertarians, I have no desire to interfere with people who want to harm themselves unless, and here’s the problem, their self-destructive behavior harms me as well, which in fact, it does.  If you want to go out in the Mohave dessert and shoot up on meth or heroin, go ahead.  Have at it.  But if you’re living next door to me, or working in my company, or your kids play with my kids, sorry pal, don’t tell me your drug abuse does me no harm.

And another thing.  Libertarians believe in freedom, right?  So do I.  But would you argue that widespread drug abuse increases freedom?  What a superficial conception of freedom!  Do you define freedom mechanistically to mean soley the physical ability to move your body around and do what you like with it, like for example the “right” to put brain destroying chemicals in your body?  How about a subtler and more profound notion of freedom?  In vedic philosophy the Sanskrit word “moksha” means liberation, not physical freedom to do what you choose with your body, or even political liberation, but liberation of the mind from ignorance and suffering, i.e. “enlightenment.”  As the Beatles said, “You better free your mind instead.”  Does allowing drug abusers the “freedom” to become enslaved to their addiction truly promote the cause of liberty in any meaningful sense?  Maybe there are some things we don’t need to be free to do because we know how it ends.

It makes perfect sense for Democrats to support marijuana legalization because most stupid people vote Democrat.  But for Republicans it is stupid to be pro-pot, and would make more sense to advocate re-criminalization rather than de-criminalization.  Let’s not throw in the towel, but get our young people off the drugs, and into the work place where they can start paying taxes, and hopefully figure out that the government is not their friend, so they wake up and start voting Republican or Libertarian.

The more philosophical point is this.  Freedom is rather a rare and delicate commodity.  Most men throughout history have lived under one form or another of despotism.  To remain free, a people must be capable of clear, intelligent thought.  If we permit our population to be further dumbed down and degraded, dysfunctional, dependent, and addicted to brain-addling substances, the demands to expand the welfare state even more will be irresistible.  If you want to understand the connection between a compliant, brain dead population and mass subservience to centralized authority, go back and re-read Aldous Huxley’s classic, “Brave New World.”   If  the trend of expanding drug abuse accelerates,  the citizens of this pothead nation, even those of us who don’t use drugs, will lose what’s left of our freedom.

Serving all humanity, but mainly serving myself, this is Jim Greenfield.

 

2012 study from Duke University. Researchers studied nearly every child born in a small town in New Zealand since the 1970s. They gave them I.Q. tests as teenagers then another later in life. They asked about their marijuana, alcohol and other drug use. The study concluded that those who regularly smoked marijuana did lose, on average, eight I.Q. points.

WEALTH INEQUALITY: THE HOBGOBLIN OF THE LIBERAL MIND

Wealth Inequality: The Hobgoblin Of The Liberal Mind

by Jim Greenfield

 “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

 President Obama has sought to distract attention from the Obamacare train wreck, and the consequent election disaster looming for Democrats, by harking back to the favorite perennial shibboleth of governmentalists everywhere: wealth inequality.  (The term “governmentalist”  includes all statist ideologies: liberal, progressive, social democrat, socialist, or communist because frankly I can’t tell much difference between ‘em.)  The specter of “wealth inequality” is ever lurking in the background whenever governmentalists of every ilk discuss domestic policy.  Wealth inequality is what all liberal/progressive policies are about.  They always want to raise taxes on the rich, i.e. anybody who makes more money than whoever happens to be speaking, and always want to give more government handouts to the “needy.”  The wealth levelers’ solution to the inequality problem is always the same: expand the power of politicians and government bureaucrats by redistributing wealth. 

 The irony is that the most prominent governmentalist in the world, Barrack Obama, has done more to increase wealth inequality than anyone in history.  Under the policies of the Obama administration, median household income, i.e. the wages of middle and working class families, have significantly declined.  Median wages are down 4.4% or $2400 per year per family since Obama took office.  (see Robert Pear, New York Times online 8/21/13). 

 As working class wages have gone down, the stock market has soared.  The Dow closed on 2/28/14 at 16,321, two and a half times higher than its bottom of 6,547 in March of 2009, shortly after Obama took office.  During the same period, the S &P 500 has risen 2.75 fold.  In other words, the investor class has seen their portfolios go up by more than 250% during the same period that middle class working folks have seen a substantial decline in their wages.  Paradoxically, this huge increase in wealth inequality has taken place under a President who loudly proclaims that wealth inequality is the most important problem of our time.

Why has wealth become so unequal under Obama?  Because  the Obama Administration has an array of  anti-business policies including higher taxes, an exploding national debt, expanding government regulation, higher welfare state spending, and, of course Obamacare.  These anti-business policies have not hurt crony capitalists and the super-rich, but they’ve hit the middle class hard, damaged small main street businesses, discouraged hiring, and depressed wages.  At the same time the Federal Reserve has pumped literally trillions of dollars of digitally created currency (not to be confused with bitcoin) into large banks and wall street firms, driving up stock and bond prices.  The Fed stimulus of these asset classes have made the rich richer, insulating them from Obama’s depressive policies that have so afflicted middle class working folks.   

But my purpose isn’t to criticize Obama policies that exacerbate wealth inequality, or to highlight the ironic hypocrisy of Obama’s de facto war on the middle class.  Because the truth is that “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” about wealth inequality.  See I don’t share the governmentalist view that wealth inequality is a huge problem.  For governmentalists wealth inequality is just another excuse to expand government power even further, in the name of leveling the playing field, fairness, equality, or some other lovely sounding egalitarian principle. 

 But the inconvenient truth is that egalitarian governmentalist policies don’t actually reduce inequality.  All they do, in the name of equality, is change the rules about who gets to decide who gets rich and who stays poor.  Those at the top of the most egalitarian systems, communist paradises like North Korea, Cuba, or the former Soviet Union, are fabulously wealthy compared to the rest of the population, just like the titans of industry in capitalist countries.  The difference is that in socialist and communist countries the super rich acquire their wealth through the exercise of political power, whereas in America guys like, say, George Soros, Warren Buffett, Al Gore, the Clintons, the Bushes, or the guys who started Solyndra, acquire great wealth without political influence.  Just kidding.

 Actually, the unfortunate truth that political influence is a path to great wealth even in a capitalist country like America is an outgrowth of two factors.  First, America isn’t really a capitalist country.  Not any more.  Forty percent of our gdp is now appropriated by the public sector and is therefore essentially socialistic.  And the other sixty percent is heavily regulated and otherwise intertwined with government.   What we have isn’t capitalism; it’s a mixture of socialism and crony capitalism, with a few vestiges of real capitalism.  Crony capitalism is easily confused with true capitalism, thereby giving capitalism a bad name.  Second, the truism that political influence begets wealth is just the way it is, and always has been.  This kind of corruption can’t be entirely eliminated but the best way to keep it in check is to limit the power of government and the politicians who control it.  Unfortunately the concept of limited Constitutional government is now regarded by the ruling classes as an antiquated and out of vogue notion, which also happens to be an assault on their power.  Those of us who advocate Constitutional limits on government power are called extremists and told we lack “compassion.” 

 The argument against wealth inequality, and by implication in favor of using government power to redistribute wealth, exploits intrinsic human sensibilities about fairness.  Most of us intuitively feel that it’s unfair for Bill Gates to have $69 billion, while children starve in the streets.   Liberal radio talk host Mark Levine recently confronted me with a stark example.  Is it fair, he asked, that the old miser Scrooge from Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” should have millions, while the poor crippled boy, Tiny Tim, can’t afford surgery to correct his congenital condition?  As the “right wing” guest on Mark’s show, it was my unpleasant job to take Scrooge’s side of the argument.   

 It’s hard to make Scrooge’s unsympathetic case in a 30 second soundbyte.   I concede that it isn’t “fair” that Scrooge hoards his fortune while poor Tiny Tim is left to die.  But here’s the problem.  Who decides what is fair?  Is it fair to have the government take Scrooge’s money and use it to create Medicaid, or, for that matter Obamacare?  Before you answer keep in mind that if the government takes Scrooge’s money, it won’t be long before they’re taking your money also.  And they won’t just give it to Tiny Tim; they’ll give it to all kinds of unsavory people for all kinds of unsavory reasons.   

 If you compare the fairness of laissez faire capitalism, where the Scrooges, Rockefellers, and Gates’s accumulate vast fortunes, while the Tiny Tims die from lack of care, with some Platonically ideal and idyllic world where everyone cares for his brother, and all men are really equal, capitalism comes up morally short.  But in the real world those aren’t the real choices.  In a free market system wealth is allocated according to a combination of the vicissitudes of market place skills and good luck.  You may well feel that such an economic system is unfair, but what do you replace it with?   In the real world the only alternative to free markets is a political economic system where government bureaucracy re-distributes wealth in accord with the dictates of self-interested politicians.  Do you think the results are any fairer? 

 In the real world government is the worst possible institution to place in charge of administering charity to Tiny Tim and other misfortunates.  I’d rather work on old Scrooge and persuade him to part with some of his money voluntarily, which, by the way, is exactly how the “Christmas Carol” story turns out.  And in the real world, the fabulously wealthy from Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Rockefeller to Bill Gates and Warren Bufftett have been generous philanthropists.  So my question for redistributionists and wealth levelers is this: Do you think the government does a better job of administering charity than philanthropists, private churches, and charities?

 The welfare state began in America in the 1930’s and has been steadily expanding ever since.  We have 80 years of data, and the results are in.  Massive government hand-outs of benefits and cash has been an unmitigated disaster.  What governmentalist ideologues and welfare state advocates fail to take into account is that the politicians who take upon themselves the unbounded field of power to decide who gets what and who has to pay what, have motives that aren’t entirely altruistic.  Doesn’t this minor detail occur to those who advocate the massive government hand-outs of the welfare state?  Do you think the men to whom you grant this awesome power are angels with pure motives?  Is it not more likely that they will use this expansive power over the allocation of money to reward their friends, punish their enemies, hand out cash to those who give some of it back to them, and buy the votes of the masses with benefits and promises of benefits?  If power corrupts why are we surprised that a government that has accumulated so much power has also become so corrupt?  After decades of observing the failures of the welfare state, how can anyone still believe that such a corrosive system can produce positive social benefits?

 To illustrate the problem consider an example.  Imagine you’re part of a group of 100 people who move to a desert island.  Your group decides to democratically elect a government of three people to be in charge of everything, including the power to decide taxes and who will pay them, and to whom wealth will be allocated.  How do you think those three officials will fare?  Everyone will treat them with great deference, and ply them with gifts and favors.  Their decisions about who pays what and who gets what will be largely determined by what is in the self-interest of the three politicians who have been granted all this power.  The public good will be subordinated to naked self interest.  And the level of corruption will grow steadily worse over time.  The model I am describing is exactly what’s gone wrong with the political system in the United States today. 

 Wealth inequality is a bogus issue, a red herring that takes the public policy discourse out of focus.    If you think inequality is a problem let me ask a question that brings the issue into focus.  Suppose we adopted a pro-growth pro-business public policy that over a period of time, say ten years, grew the economic pie including a doubling of the income of people in the bottom 10 percent.  At the same time, however, the income of people in the top 10 percent quadrupled.   In other words, the policy makes everyone wealthier, but overall inequality  increases because the poorest 10 percent have only doubled their income, while the richest 10 percent have quadrupled theirs.  Would you support such a policy? 

 If you answer yes, you are recognizing that wealth inequality in and of itself is not really the problem.  You would like to see the poor become better off, even if the rich become better off at a faster rate.  If you answer no, it means you are truly obsessed with inequality and would favor a society where everyone is equally poor because you believe that inequality is a worse problem than poverty.  If that’s what you believe, you are a communist.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

 If  you’re now persuaded that wealth inequality is not a problem that government should try to correct, but you are still concerned about poverty, I have a solution.  It’s called free enterprise.  Over the past two hundred years the free enterprise system has liberated billions of people around the world from the grinding poverty bare subsistence struggle for survival that characterized the lives of most people since men first emerged from the trees.  Free enterprise doesn’t create equality; far from it.  But it does create vast amounts of wealth.  And that wealth is distributed  unevenly.  But even those in the bottom tier, and even more so the vast majority of people in the middle class in capitalist societies, have a material standard of living today higher than the kings and emperors of the ancient world.  The vast amount of wealth and material comfort, from indoor plumbing to electric appliances that we all take for granted today, were created by free market capitalism.  Let’s not kill the capitalist goose that laid the golden egg in the futile pursuit of an unattainable goal like equality.

Amazon Review of THE TAXMAN COMETH

 Brotherly Commentary –  Amazon Review of THE TAXMAN COMETH   (This review originally was posted on Amazon.  Author’s replies are in bold type.)

 By bill greenfield

 Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

 

I read Jim Greenfield’s “The Taxman Cometh” along with two other books that provided a most useful contrast. One was Eileen Rockefeller’s “Being a Rockefeller Becoming Myself”, and the other was Chris Matthew’s “Tip and the Gipper”.

 In the interest of disclosure and to explain the contrast: Jim Greenfield is my younger brother. We have politically diverse views and goals, but nothing would please me more than to see my brother succeed both in selling this book, and in having the greater political impact he covets. .. I only hope I can correct him in the error of his thinking in the process.

THE TAXMAN COMETH is really two books. The story itself is well-written, funny, and emotionally complicated. It tells of a used car salesman, Samson (who bears an unmistakable personality similarity to my brother). Samson takes on the IRS bureaucracy and his nemesis, Elliott Mess . The two engage in struggle to the death reminiscent of a Roadrunner cartoon. Having seen earlier versions of this story, and having had countless discussions with my brother about issues of character, human motivation, and the benefits and dangers of government activity, I can say that Jimmy has finally gotten it right. His Samson is politically at odds to my own world view but nevertheless a sympathetic character. Samson provides a perfect foil for Mess and the government mindlessness he represents. If I only read the story, I would probably start thinking I should become a Republican.

Unfortunately, Jim also provides a second book, with appears as “dubious philosophical musings” that are sprinkled among the chapters of the story. Jim’s musings are neither as evolved nor as nuanced as his Samson. Jim creates straw men that he can handily demolish in the style of the Fox News commentators. He equates government trying to improve opportunity to the poor in the form of such things as health care and education, with redistribution of wealth. Frankly, I have not understood why requiring that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pay taxes at the same rate as Jim I do in order to provide a child in North Philadelphia with a decent school will make the child into a millionaire and Gates and Buffett into paupers. Nor do I understand why it sticks in Jim’s craw.

 

Jim’s Reply:  The above comment from my smarter older brother mis-states my view.  I never said I oppose using tax money for education.  As to the assertion that I equate “government trying to improve opportunity to the poor…with redistribution of wealth,” I never equate anything with redistribution of wealth except redistribution of wealth.  When the state uses its taxing power to take money from someone and give it to someone else that is the definition of redistributing wealth.  Whether the money is taken from the rich and given to the poor, or taken from the middle class and given to both the rich and the poor as is more common, either way it’s redistributing wealth.  Actually it’s more complicated than that.  They also take money from some in the middle class and give it to others in the middle class.  Along the way, the people who are doing all the redistributing manage to slip out some of the money and put it in their own pockets.  You can favor redistributing wealth, or oppose it, Bill, but don’t pretend it doesn’t happen.  It constitutes two thirds of the federal budget.  And by the way, my brother, you and I, like most Americans, are both payers and payees in this convoluted system.  We’re both receiving social security and medicare benefits, paid for by taxing younger working people who are less well-off than we are, who are struggling to support their children with what’s left after they pay taxes to pay our retirement benefits.  Is that your idea of “fairness?”  

……………………….

My simultaneous reading of the Rockefeller and Matthews books with my brother’s book was fortuitous in setting a context for my discomfort with Jim’s philosophical leanings. Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan may have had ostensible philosophical differences, based, in part, on O’Neill’s misreading of Reagan. Even though both descended from Irish immigrants, O’Neill, according to Matthews, saw Reagan as a kind of golden boy, not recognizing that the character he saw was what Reagan constructed out of a background more emotionally and financially impoverished than his own. (This political misreading does not come close to the Bobby Kennedy misreading of Lyndon Johnson, as per Caro, that Johnson “did not understand poverty”!!!). My point is that, political ideology aside; these two could work together because they came from a similar place where people understood what it was to compromise in order to get things done, and to make a deal and stick with it.

Eileen Rockefeller’s title is also the outline of her entire story. She was born into a world of privilege at a level that could be considered royalty. It is not just that her family does not want for anything; it is that they live on a different scale than regular people. Instead of buying a second or third home, they buy second and third islands, and then bring in workers to create entire economies that did not exist before. How does a child find meaning and individual purpose in such an environment? First of all, the family understands the importance of cutting through and moving beyond the issue of status and money. There is no tone of entitlement in her or her parent’s behavior, and frequently there are references to relationships that clearly bypass social status. Secondly, once you get past noticing that an experience occurred on uncle Laurence’s 55 foot yacht, or that the home in Maine had 50 rooms, the stories themselves are no different than one would read about any child growing up in a successful family. A child of a successful family may seem to “have it made”, but in fact, the wish to be recognized for one’s own merit and accomplishment is magnified by the accomplishments of parents and grandparents, not made easier. The child of a wealthy and well-known family must fear that she will not only be liked and manipulated in order to gain favor, but that she will not be seen as having any value of her own.

Which brings me to Jimmy and his musings. Jimmy and I may not have been born Rockefellers, but sure were not Reagans or O’Neills either. Our father was a graduate of Harvard Law School and both of his brothers were lawyers as well. His uncle Albert entertained three US presidents and many world class leaders other celebrities on his compound in Philadelphia. Relatives who were reasonably intelligent and had some ambition, such as my brother and I, would attend Ivy League colleges, get professional degrees, graduate without debt, and contribute to the family wealth during our lifetimes. Relatives with even limited intelligence or ambition would never be without cars or health insurance. They would get what education they could without incurring debt, and most likely, would own their own homes. In this context theoretical constructs about capitalism and other esoteric economic models are a quaint luxury that may serve as a kind of cover for some inconvenient truths. Like, for example Uncle Albert championed civil rights and introduced Martin Luther King to a Philadelphia crowd in 1961, and Jim’s and my parents were always great supporters of civil rights, But the Brooklyn Dodgers were denied service at the Ben Franklin Hotel, when Jackie Robinson became a member of the team. Uncle Albert owned the Ben Franklin Hotel.

My debate with my brother over many years has nothing to do with capitalism, which is the system to which we both owe our financial well-being. My issue is with fairness. I don’t understand why a child born to parents without means should have less access to the basic needs of life than we did. This has nothing to do with making all things equal, or with reducing the luxury of the wealthy. It has to do with believing there is a minimal level of support to which we think our fellow humans are entitled. It is hard for me to understand why my brother, and many other people who are equally or even more comfortably situated, seem so focused on getting more for themselves.

 

Jim’s Reply:  I don’t make the argument that capitalism is fair.  It isn’t.  But the only alternative to capitalism is socialism, and socialism isn’t fair either.  My brother has discovered that life is unfair and, being a high-minded guy, he’s troubled by that.  Fine, if you think it’s unfair  join together with other high-minded people who think it’s unfair, and do what you can to help the poor.  Use your own money to do it or raise money from other people who are willing to donate voluntarily to the cause.  But don’t imagine you can solve the “fairness” problem by building huge government bureaucracies, funded by taxes, and run by power-hungry politicians and petty tyrant bureaucrats.  We’ve tried that approach for 80 years, and all it’s done is create a dangerously corrupt concentration of power in Washington.  Life is even more unfair when Washington power-brokers decide who gets what than when wealth is distributed according to the admittedly Darwinian vicissitudes of the market. 

                            ………………………………

 

Capitalists are as divided on this issue as any other group. It is interesting to me, however, that the capitalists who stand with me on the issue seem to be pretty much out front on the matter. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Ted Turner are capitalist titans and public icons as well. On the other side, I cannot think of a single capitalist who actually speaks out himself, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney. They would prefer to quietly spend millions suppressing the vote and getting other people to speak falsehoods, truisms and half-truths. I keep thinking that if Samson, I mean … Jimmy, could understand this, we might get an even funnier sequel that really could be the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of our time.

Bill Greenfield

 

FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA

FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA

The Bogus Shutdown/Debt Crisis

by Jim Greenfield 10/24/13

The crisis isn’t failing to raise the debt ceiling; the crisis is the debt.”   Peter Schiff

The majority is almost always wrong.”    Henrik Ibsen

I’ve been studying public policy and politics for 50 years. Never have I seen such an onslaught of misinformation, disinformation, confusion, and sheer ignorance as the coverage of the recent government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle. If the public is confused, which, according to opinion polls, the public surely is, it is because a cabal of journalists, pundits, and politicians have done everything possible to make them confused. I’m not shocked by demagoguery by politicians, nor by bias in the media. What was unusual was the extraordinary amplification by the media of manipulative messages of particular politicians to create public hysteria, that was so beneficial to one political faction while so damaging to the other.

It’s human nature to panic over imaginary threats, while remaining oblivious to real threats. Remember the existential danger believed to be posed to civilization in 1999 by Y2K? Remember Y2K? Imaginary threat. Or, on the other hand, the real threat posed by Hitler in the 1930’s as he was building the greatest war machine in history and, other than Winston Churchill, nobody noticed.

Myth #1. Who was to “blame” for the government “shutdown?”

Throughout the shutdown fiasco, the media obsessed on the question who was to “blame,” and conveniently provided a simple answer: the Republicans. But the question contains two false premises. First, the assumption that shutting the government is a negative for which someone ought to be blamed. Second, the factually incorrect premise that the government was shut down. The government was not shut down; it continued to function throughout this manufactured crisis. Soldiers continued fighting. The IRS continued collecting taxes. The NSA continued spying and gathering data on us all. The government continued giving out money with abandon to everyone to whom the government routinely gives out money with abandon.

A few functions of government were shut down, functions handpicked by the Obama administration to inflict the maximum pain on the maximum number of people, a slight perversion of the old utilitarian maxim about pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number. Obama’s shut-down targets were optically selected to get the most bang for the shut-down buck – the Washington Monument, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Canyon, to name a few. Shutting down the Grand Canyon required a really big canopy.

“Essential” government personnel continued to work. “Non-essential” personnel were given paid holidays. Astonishingly, some furloughed government workers managed to “double-dip” by wangling unemployment benefits on top of the pay they received retroactively for not working. Not a bad deal.

The Obama administration coldly decided that the people in charge of keeping parks and monuments open were non-essential, but the people in charge of closing them were essential. Threatening the citizenry with arrest to keep the parks closed is rotten work, but somebody has to do it. This strategy was manifestly chosen in order, with the complicity of the mainstream media, to convey the compelling message that Republicans are dirty, rotten, scoundrels. Never mind that the House Republicans had passed several bills to fund not only the parks and monuments, but all other government functions except Obamacare. It was the Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, who blocked this legislation. These inconvenient facts were not permitted to interfere with the Democratic party/media narrative that it was right wing Republican extremists (i.e those who, like the majority of Americans, oppose Obamacare) who had shut down the government.

This false reporting exacerbated ambivalence and confusion in public attitudes toward government. According to a recent Gallup Poll, 64% of Americans say big government is the biggest threat to the country. If the public is worried about big government, why were they also worried by a reduction in peripheral government functions? These conflicting attitudes are self-contradictory. If the public doesn’t like big government, why wasn’t the debate about who gets the credit for shutting down the government instead of who gets the blame? Why did the public see the modest shutdown in non-essential functions as a crisis? Answer: because the media told them it was a crisis. And if it was the Democrats who refused to vote on measures to keep the government open, why did the public think it was Republicans? Answer: because the media told them it was Republicans.

Myth #2. The government shutdown harmed Americans and caused severe damage to the economy.

President Obama said that the shutdown and threat of national default had inflicted “completely unnecessary damage on our economy.” It’s an article of faith among liberal governmentalists that reducing government spending damages the economy. In one sense, they are correct, but only because of the peculiar way gross domestic product (gdp) is measured. In accord with the dictates of Keynesian ideology, the official definition is: GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports −imports). In other words, the definition of gdp includes government spending. Hence, any reduction in government spending, by definition, reduces gdp. This is putting the rabbit in the hat. Any government can create the illusion of economic growth by simply printing money and spending it, and many, including Barack Obama, have done just that. In the short run, such “stimulative” policies appear to increase gdp. In the long run they are disastrous because they conflate growing government bureaucracy with real economic expansion. Real wealth is created by the private sector making stuff, not by government bureaucrats handing out cash to favored constituents. The historical record shows that reduced government activity is a long term economic boon.

Remember also that just last year the Obamanistas made the same scare-tactic argument that the sequester budget cuts would cause untold damage to the economy. But the horrors Obama and his supporters gloomily prophesied would result from the sequester never materialized. The same arguments and scare-tactic forecasts were also made when the government was shut down in 1995, during a similar confrontation between the Republican-controlled House, and the Clinton Administration. In fact, the 1995 shutdown, and budget trimming measures that followed, produced four straight years of balanced budgets and an economic boom that lasted five years.

Myth #3. By refusing to raise the debt ceiling the Republicans would cause the U.S. government to default on its debt and create a world-wide financial crisis.

Let me break this down. The word “default” has been even more misused and abused than the word “literally,” which, in recent years, “educated” people in the media have been using to mean the exact opposite of what the word actually means. Recent example from Fox Business channel: “These policies will cause the economy to literally flush down the toilet!” For those who don’t know what the word “literally” means, let me put your mind at ease. It’s not possible for the economy to literally flush down the toilet because the toilet isn’t big enough for that to happen.

Innumerable Democratic party politicians, reporters, and media commentators repeated over and over and over again that if the Republicans didn’t vote to increase the debt ceiling, the United States government, for the first time in history, would “default” on its debt. This assertion is a prevarication and a lie! It’s the biggest and most frequently repeated lie since many of the same people were telling us in the last decade that George Bush’s tax cuts were only for the rich. Like the lie about the Bush tax cuts, the “default” lie was repeated so often that most Americans came to believe it.

This “crisis” was manufactured to create fear and dread in the populace for the purpose of driving a particular agenda. Even the President of the United States himself did his best to talk down the economy and spook financial markets. I’ve never before seen a President engage in such tactics, laying the foundation to blame Republicans for the ongoing failure of his economic policies.

So what are the facts that refute the “default” lie? The Democrats and the media conflated not raising the debt ceiling with defaulting on the debt. These are two completely different things. If Republicans had followed through on the threat to not raise the debt ceiling, would that have meant that the government would default, i.e. not pay interest on its debt? No. All it would have meant is that the government could not go even deeper into debt.

By way of analogy, suppose you are $200,000 in debt, and you want to get a loan to go even deeper into debt. The bank says your wife has to co-sign, but your wife, wisely, refuses to “raise your debt limit.” Does that mean you default on your existing debt? No. You can continue to make payments on your existing debt out of your income. In fact, by refusing to co-sign, your wife actually reduces the risk that you’ll default by restraining you from going deeper into debt.

Similarly, if the Republicans in Congress had stuck to their guns and refused to raise the debt ceiling, it would not have caused a default on U.S. government debt. To the contrary, it would have produced an instant balanced budget that would have prevented the President from leading the United States even deeper into debt.

But Democratic politicians, including the President, and many in the media, either through ignorance or malfeasance, told the public that if the Republicans didn’t vote to raise the debt ceiling the U.S. government would default on its debt. As shown by opinion polls, the public believed this patent nonsense. Those who made this argument are ignorant of the simple arithmetic. Here are the numbers. The United States government takes in approximately $3 trillion a year in tax revenues. It spends approximately $235 billion a year on interest on the national debt. In other words, only 1/12th of government revenue is spent paying interest on the debt. So even without raising the debt ceiling, there is virtually zero chance that the government would default on its debt.

Now it’s true that the government would have had to cut spending if the Republicans had refused to raise the debt ceiling. They would have had to cut about $700 billion from the $3.7 trillion budget, i.e. a reduction of about 19 percent.

Who would have decided which spending to cut? President Obama. Would President Obama have chosen to cut spending by defaulting on the debt of the United States? Unlikely. If he had made such a choice, it truly would have created a world-wide economic crisis. But not even Barack Obama would have done anything so reckless and destructive. And if he had, Alexander Hamilton would surely have risen from his grave, and demanded that the President pay the debts of the United States.

To extend the above analogy, suppose, after your wife refuses to increase your debt limit, you have to choose how to spend your limited income. If you choose going to fancy restaurants over paying your mortgage, you’ll default. If you choose to pay the mortgage, you have less money for restaurants, but this isn’t a default. Similarly, if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the president has to choose what expenditures to cut. Only if he’s a total douche bag would he choose to default on the nation’s debt.

The real risk that the government might have defaulted can be handicapped by looking at prices on short term government bonds during the crisis. According to a report on NPR, the price of $1,000 treasury bonds that came due just after October 17, the deadline for raising the debt ceiling was discounted by only a few cents. This tiny discount demonstrates that bond investors, the most savvy financial experts, were not spooked by the political turmoil; they knew the government would never default on its debt.

Despite the best efforts of Obama and his loyal followers in the press, bond and stock investors never panicked during this fabricated crisis. Now on to the next crisis. Let’s see how the Democrats and media figure out a way to blame the looming Obamacare catastrophe on the Republicans. As long as it’s called “Obamacare” this could prove difficult. Maybe they should rename it “Cruzcare.”