About Jewishness

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About Jewishness is a website by Nathan Pinto and Jack Vanderwyk. Here you will find the history, the culture and the habits of the ethnic Jewish groups, the politics of the state of Israel, and their call for secular democracy there.

Nathan Pinto and Jack Vanderwyk are secular Jews. They are anti-Zionist and oppose the contemporary Israeli government and its politics. They strongly believe that the Palestinian people have the right to an own Palestinian state, that Israel should respect the Green Line and should stay within its boundaries.

For search-term reasons we will publish the index page underneath.

INDEX
Simply click a number behind the item. Bold numbers connect to the main article.


A

Abbas, Mahmoud 1
Achievements 1
Alexander the Great 1
Algeria
1
Aliyah 1 , 2 , 3, 4
America
1
Amsterdam
1
Anat Kam affair
1
Ancient history
1
Antisemitism 1 , 2, 3, 4 , 5, 6, 7,
8
Anti-Zionism
1
Antwerp 1
Arab Jews 1
Arafat, Yasser 1 , 2
Ashkenazi Jews 1 ,
2 , 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7
Assimilation 1
Atheism -see Secularization
Austria 1

B
Babylonian empire
1
Ban Ki Moon Statement 1
Bar mitzvah
1
Barak, Ehud 1 , 2
Begin, Menachem 1
Bowen, Jeremy 1
Bordeaux 1,
2
Brazil 1 , 2
Brit milah
1
British Mandate 1 , 2
Buber, Martin 1, 2
Bund 1
Byzantium
1, 2

C
Camp David 1 , 2
Carlton, Mike 1
Chamberlain, Neville 1
Chasam sofer 1
Christians 1, 2, 3
Clinton, Bill 1
Cockburn, Patrick 1
Constantinople 1
Convert to Christianity 1, 2, 3
Convert to Judaism 1 , 2 , 3
Convivium
1
Cost of Jewish religious living 1
Crimea 1
Crusades 1, 2
Crypto Jews 1 , 2 , 3
Cuisine
1
Culture
1, 2
Cyprus
1
Czecho-Slovakia
1

D
Declaration of Independence 1
Décret Crémieux 1
Democracy 1 , 2
Denmark
1
Diaspora 1 , 2 ,
3 , 4, 5 , 6, 7 , 8, 9
Disraeli, Benjamin 1 ,
2
Distribution 1, 2
DNA 1, 2 , 3

E
Early settlers 1
Edot HaMizrach 1
Egypt
1
England 1 , 2, 3,
4
Erasmus, Desiderius 1
Ethnic cleansing 1 , 2
Ethnic Jews 1 , 2
Evian Conference 1
Exile from Spain and Portugal 1, 2 , 3
Exodus 1 , 2 , 3

F
Famous Jews
1
Finland
1
Finnish Jews fighting alongside the Nazis
1
Food
1
France 1 , 2,
3
Freud, Sigmund
1, 2

G
Galloway, George 1
Gandhi, Mahatma 1
Gaza 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Germany 1, 2, 3,
4
Ghetto 1, 2 , 3
Glossary
1
Greece 1,
2
Green Line
1
Great Jewish Revolt
1

H
Haganah 1
Hamas 1
Hanukkah
1, 2, 3
Haredim 1
Hasidim 1
Haskalah movement 1 , 2, 3
Hass, Amira 1
Hebrew
1
Heine, Heinrich 1
Hernandez. Antonio Akiba 1
Herzl, Theodor 1, 2
Holland 1,
2
Holocaust 1, 2 , 3, 4 , 5, 6
Huguenots 1
Hungary 1,
2
Human shields 1
Humour
1 , 2,

I
Iberian peninsula 1
Ibn Gabirol 1
ICC 1
IDF 1,
2
Illouz, Eva
1
Ireland
1
Irgun 1
Immigration 1 , 2 , 3, 4, 5
Inquisitions 1, 2
Intelligence 1
International Criminal Court – see ICC
Intifada 1, 2
Introduction
1
Invention of the Jewish people
1
Iran
1
Iraq
1
Italy 1, 2,
3
Islam 1, 2
Israel 1,
2
Israeli politics
1, 2, 3
Ivrit
1

J
Jerusalem 1, 2, 3 , 4 , 5, 6, 7 , 8
Jewishness – Nature, not nurture 1
Jokes
1
Jordan 1, 2
Judaism
1, 2 , 3, 4
Judezmo 1 ,
2
Juice-box Mafia 1

K
Kaballah
1
Kaniuk, Yoram 1 , 2, 3
Kashrut
1
Kippah
1
Kittel
1
Koenig Memorandum
1
Kohen
1
Kosher 1,
2

L
Ladino 1,
2
Laicity 1
Lebanon 1, 2,
3
Lehi 1
Levi
1
Levy, Gideon 1
Liberal Jewish communities 1
Libya
1
Lithuania 1

M
Machal 1
Maimonides 1
Mahreb
1
Maliki, Riyad 1
Marranos 1
Matrilineal principle 1
Megged, Eyal
1
Melting pot 1
Middle ages
1
Migrations 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Mikveh
1
Mizrahi Jews
1 , 2
Montefiore, Sir Moses 1, 2, 3
Morocco 1 ,
2
Musta’arabi Jews 1

N
Nakba
1
Names 1 ,
2
Netanyahu, Benjamin 1, 2 , 3
New Yishuv 1
Niddah
1
Norway 1,
2
Nuremberg Laws 1
Nusach 1

O
Obama, Barrack 1, 2
Old Yishuv 1,
Olmert, Ehud 1
Operation Cast Lead 1
Operation Entebbe 1
Operation Pillar of Defense 1
Operation Protective Edge 1, 2
Operation Returning Echo 1
Opinions
1
Ottoman rule 1 , 2, 3 , 4, 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10

P
Pale of Settlement 1, 2, 3, 4
Palestine 1 , 2 , 3, 4, 5 , 6, 7, 8 , 9, 10, 11, 12
Palestinian Authority 1
Palestinian Islam Jihad 1
Passover 1
Peace
1
Pelhed-Elhanan, Nurit 1
Peres, Shimon 1
Pinto, Nathan 1
Perushim 1
PLO 1, 2
Pogroms 1, 2 , 3 , 4 , 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Poland 1, 2, 3 , 4,
5
Portugal 1 , 2,
3
Post 1948 dispersal 1
Poverty 1,
2, 3
Professions 1
Prussia 1
PTSD
1
Purim 1,
2

R
Rabbinic Judaism 1
Rabin, Yitzhak 1
Reconquista 1, 2
Religion
1
Right to exist
1
Rishon LeZion 1
Roadmap for Peace
1
Roman rule
1, 2
Romania
1
Rosh Hashana 1 ,
2
Rothschild 1
Russia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4,
5

S
Sabbath 1 ,
2
Sabra and Shatila massacre 1
Sadat, Anwar 1
Safed 1, 2
Sand, Shlomo 1
Scandinavia
1
Secret services
1
Secularization 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5
Seldin, Michael 1
Self-hating Jews
1
Semites
1
Sephardi Jews 1, 2 ,
3 , 4 , 5, 6 , 7, 8, 9, 10
Sharon, Ariel 1,
Shavuot 1 ,
2
SHUM 1
Six Day War 1 ,
2
South Africa
1
Spain 1, 2 ,
3
Spinoza, Baruch de 1, 2
Steele, Mark 1
Stereotypes
1 , 2
Sternhell, Zeev 1
Sukkot
1
Sweden
1
Synagogue
1
Syria 1,
2

T
Tallit
1
Tassels
1
Tefilin
1
Timeline
1
Tisha B’Av
1
Trotzky, Leo Davidovich 1
Tunisia
1
Turkey
1
Tzitzit
1

U
Ukrain 1, 2
Usurious loans 1 , 2

W
War Crimes 1, 2,
Weizmann, Chaim 1, 2
West Bank 1
White Paper 1

Y
Yechiel of Paris 1
Yehuda heHasid 1
Yetzer Hara
1
Yetzer HaTov
1
Yiddish
1
Yom Kippur
1
Yugoslavia
1

Z
Zaken, Mordechai 1
Zionism 1, 2 3,
4, 5, 6

 

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The History of Our Future

In the year 2020 over 60% of the European and North American population was unemployed. The United States adopted a law which said that every adult U.S. subject, without exempt, had to pay taxes. Not paying taxes became a criminal offence, even if the subject was homeless and living below the poverty line. As a result, millions of people lost their right to vote. The pro-American European Capitalist Party (ECP) wanted to adopt a similar law in Europe, but they didn’t have a majority in the European Parliament, so these measurements were postponed. 

As recession and depression are unavoidable under free-market capitalism as there are no restrictions on accumulations of capital other than the market itself, capitalism created unbalanced accumulations of wealth, leading to over-accumulations of capital which inevitably lead to a crisis in the capitalist world. This especially sharp bust was a regular feature of the boom and bust pattern of what modern economists termed “chaotic” capitalist development. Inevitable this crises became increasingly severe, and the contradictions inherent in the mismatch between the mode of production and the development of productive forces were about to reach the final point of failure. By taking away the civil rights from the pennyless majority of the people, the United States tried to keep the capitalist world intact, but the U.S. were aware of the fact that they couldn’t go on like this. Something had to be done.

In Europe, where the poor and unemployed still had the right to vote, populist political parties were powerful. However, like the European Capitalist Party, they didn’t have a majority in the European parliament. Since the voters for the populist parties were increasingly anti-capitalist, their leaders didn’t have the freedom to form a coalition with the ECP against the Moderate Islam Party (MIP), which was backed by the newly formed Islam Union (formerly Iran, Irak, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey). Despite the anti-capitalist sentiments in Europe, the European Union still embraced capitalist economy. The U.S. economy depended heavily on the European capitalist economy, and couldn’t allow the anti-capitalists to succeed. The United States prepared for war, which didn’t stay unnoticed in Europe. Their excuse was that the Islam Union and Muslim politicians in the European Union formed a threat to world democracy. An enemy was born.

The war industry bloomed in the United States, the European Union, and the Islam Union. Unemployment was reduced and capitalist markets favoured the war industry. Families in the United States and Europe who had been unemployed for generations, could suddenly afford health care, a home, a car and plenty of food on the table. And then came the Great Depression of 2029.

The Great Depression of 2029 would become was the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 21st century. The depression originated in the U.S., after the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. The United States decided that the long expected war to save the U.S. economy had to start.

The U.S. war plan outlined those actions that would be necessary to initiate war between the European Union and the United States. The plan further assumed that Britain, a European Union member, would probably use its former dominion in Canada as a springboard from which to initiate a retaliatory invasion of the United States. The assumption was taken that at first the European Union would fight a defensive battle against invading American forces, but that the U.S. would eventually defeat the E.U. by blockading Europe and economically isolating it. The idea was that the American attacks on Canada would prevent the E.U. from using Canadian resources, ports, or airbases.
One key move was a joint U.S. army-navy-airforce attack to capture the port city of Halifax, cutting off the Canadians from their E.U. allies. Their next objective was to “seize Canadian Power Plants near Niagara Falls”. This was to be followed by a full-scale invasion on three fronts: From Vermont to take Montreal and Quebec, from North Dakota to take over the railhead at Winnipeg, and from the Midwest to capture the strategic mines of Ontario. In parallel, the U.S. Navy was to seize the Great Lakes and blockade Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific ports.

The E.U. and Canada developed a counterpart to the American war plan. Maintaining that the best defense was a good offense, they planned for rapid deployment of flying columns to occupy Seattle, Great Falls, Minneapolis, and Albany. With no hope of holding these objectives, the idea was to divert American troops to the flanks and away from Canada, hopefully long enough for E.U. allies to arrive with reinforcements.

Another U.S. key move was a series of joint U.S. army-navy-airforce attacks against the Islam Union. The Islam Union controlled the world’s major energy resources, and a war could make the U.S. the “owners” of these resources. However, the Islam Union was prepared for these attacks.

Although the political leaders were prepared and saw it coming, the population of the European Union were utterly surprised when the United States invaded Canada in 2040 and declared the war to the European Union and the Islam Union. Russia, China and Japan had invested too much in the capitalist system to be able to side against the United States. The United States had to win the war to regain their supremacy.

The war lasted five years and left the European Union and the Islam Union devastated. The leaders of these unions surrendered to the U.S. on May 5, 2045. As a result of the war there were only a few supporters of the capitalist system left in the European Union. The United States of America, which now included the occupied countries of Canada and the Islam Union, offered the European Union a large scale Recovery Plan.

U.S. administration officials met with European Union foreign minister to press for an economically self-sufficient European Union, including a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure. The E.U. took a punitive approach, pressing for a delay rather than an acceleration in economic rehabilitation, demanding unconditional fulfillment of all prior reparation claims, and pressing for progress toward unionwide socioeconomic transformation.
After six weeks of negotiations, the E.U. rejected all of the American proposals. The only major powers whose infrastructure had not been significantly harmed in the war were the United States. They were much more prosperous than before the war but exports were a small factor in their economy. Much of the Recovery Plan aid would be used by the Europeans to buy manufactured goods and raw materials from the United States, and the European Union didn’t wish to play this game, which would make them once more a slave to the American capitalist system, and history could once more repeat itself. The crisis period had encouraged intensified class conflict and demanded significant societal changes.

Without any “help” of the United States, the E.U.’s economies would recover slowly, despite some strikes and unrest by people who thought they needed the American capitalist system. The Americans were very disappointed to see that people could actually be quite happy without expensive cars, houses,,consumer goods, and above all: consumer loans. In the years of severe economical depression and war, the people had learned to live without these things. They had learned to help themselves and their fellow human beings, and with this spirit they would rebuild their countries. Finally Gesellschaft was turned into Gemeinschaft once more.

Jack Vanderwyk

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Dimetown Bus Station

Detroit Area Economy Worsens As Big Three Automakers Face Dire CrisisDimetown was a nasty place to be. Centuries before, it was a lovely, lively town. People from Cent Village, Pfennigdorf and Kurusköy were encouraged to move to Dimetown, Quartertown and Dollar City, to work there, in factories, and they were also encouraged by special factory employees, called “priests’, to have lots of children, who then also could work in the factories.
But then the people from Dollar City invented machines that could do all the work, and the workers were fired. Dimetown impovered. There was a political system called “Dictatorship of the Majority”, and most people from Dimetown voted for a better life, but they were overruled by the votes from Dollar City and Quartertown.

The priests from the factories told the people from Dimetown to be satisfied with what they had, and said that they would be rewarded after death, but only if they kept their calm and stopped nagging about their lack of health, wealth, and all the other things you could find in Quartertown and Dollar City.

However, this didn’t really work — only retarded people bought it — so the people in Dollar City came up with a brilliant idea: if the people from Dimetown couldn’t be used as workers in the factories, there was only one thing they could be: consumers.

A bus station was built in Dimetown. Free buses went there, to Quartertown and Dollar City, but there were no bus stops. You could get in, have a look at all the beautiful things that were going on in Quartertown and Dollar City, but the bus never stopped, until it returned to Dimetown bus station. There was a mall, right opposite the bus station, where you could buy all the things you saw during the bus drive.

Most people from Dimetown took the bus every day, since it was free and there was nothing else to do, and in the end they would just return to Dimetown bus station and the mall. Once in a while people tried to get out of the bus when they were in Quartertown, or even in Dollar City, by breaking a window, but this was severely punished. They were taken to Quartertown Jail (there was no jail in Dollar City). Some of them didn’t mind, as life in Quartertown Jail was better than to be “free” in Dimetown, but others returned to Dimetown, promising themselves that they would never try to get out of the bus again.

Life in Dimetown was grim. More and more people decided to move to Trailer City, where there was no bus station, no buses to Quartertown and Dollar City. A man called Mr. Carl said that things had to get worse before the people from Dimetown and Trailer City could use the system to their purposes, but the people in Dollar Town heard about this evil person and decided that the Dictatorship of the Majority would only work for them if the balance stayed in their favor. So, as long as 51% of the total population voted for them, they were safe, but they had to make sure that they kept the majority on their side.

A system was created in which some people from Dimetown, the ones that got on the bus every day and never tried to get out, were able to move to Quartertown. All the people in Dollar City had to do to keep the balance in their favor, was to control the flow from Dimetown to Quartertown. Once their voters dropped below 51%, they were in serious trouble and had to do everything in their power to get more people to Quartertown, but as long as the population of Dimetown and Trailer City didn’t exceed 49%, they were absolutely safe.

Mr. Carl and the wise people that once invented a system called “Democracy” turned in their graves.

Jack Vanderwyk

 

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The Obscenity of Being – or Becoming – Filthy Rich

Less than a week after Edvard Munch’s The Scream went for a record $119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York, a piece by the late Mark Rothko set the record for a work of contemporary art. Orange, red, yellow, a 1961 piece by the master color field artist, went for $86.9 million at a contemporary art auction at Christie’s in New York.

According to The New York Post, it also broke the record for the most expensive piece by Rothko, which was previously set at $72.84 million, Christie’s said. The large-scale canvas work was in high demand by collectors, who sometimes bid in increments of $1 million to $2 million.

The auction sales combined for a remarkable $388.5 million, breaking the 2007 record for a contemporary art auction.

At the same time the people of the world are facing bankruptcy and poverty. Countries on the front line of the economic crisis are suffering the worst, and suicides among men have increased the most.

In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24 percent from 2007 to 2009, government statistics show. In Ireland during the same period, suicides among men rose more than 16 percent. In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 percent, to 187 in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — from 123 in 2005.

Researchers say the trend has intensified this year as government austerity measures took hold and compounded the hardships for many. While suicides often have many complex causes, researchers have found that severe economic stress corresponds to higher suicide rates.

“Financial crisis puts the lives of ordinary people at risk, but much more dangerous is when there are radical cuts to social protection,” said David Stuckler, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge, who led a study published in The Lancet that found a sharp rise in suicides across Europe, particularly in seriously affected countries like Greece and Ireland from 2007 to 2009, years that coincided with the downturn.

“Austerity can turn a crisis into an epidemic,” Mr. Stuckler added.

In Ireland, the phenomenon has been linked to what some therapists call Celtic Tiger depression, the period after 2008 characterized by an influx of middle-aged male patients who complained about sleeplessness and a lack of appetite in the aftermath of that nation’s destructive boom-and-bust real estate market.

To search for answers, researchers for the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork interviewed surviving relatives of 190 people who committed suicide in County Cork during the turbulent period from 2008 to March 2011.

The victims were predominantly men, with an average age of 36. Almost 40 percent were unemployed, and 32 percent worked in construction as plumbers, electricians and plasterers, said Ella Arensman, the foundation’s director of research. Generally, she added, they suffered from a constellation of problems: financial struggles, unemployment, broken relationships and loneliness.

Across Europe, men are the most vulnerable, particularly unmarried men who have weak family and government support, according to Mr. Stuckler, the sociologist. Alcohol abuse is a frequent contributing factor, he said, adding, “It’s really important to have friends and family you can trust in hard times.”

In August, 2012, a New York Times article reported that the rich and super rich have fully resumed their ways of conspicuous and opulent luxury consumption. “Even Marked Up,” the headline runs, “Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves.” Further: “Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat with a $9,010 price. Neiman Marcus has sold out in almost every size of Christian Louboutin ‘Bianca’ platform pumps, at $775 a pair. Mercedes-Benz said it sold more cars last month in theUnited States than it had in any July in five years…. Even with the economy in a funk and many Americans pulling back on spending, the rich are again buying designer clothing, luxury cars and about anything that catches their fancy. Luxury goods stores, which fared much worse than other retailers in the recession, are more than recovering—they are zooming. Many high-end businesses are even able to mark up, rather than discount, items to attract customers who equate quality with price…. The luxury category has posted 10 consecutive months of sales increases compared with the year earlier, even as overall consumer spending on categories like furniture and electronics has been tepid.”

The Times noted that, “the success luxury retailers are having in selling $250 Ermenegildo Zegna ties and $2,800 David Yurman pavé rings—the kind encircled with small precious stones—stood in stark contrast to the retailers who cater to more average Americans.… Apparel stores are holding near fire sales to get people to spend. Wal-Mart is selling smaller packages because some shoppers do not have enough cash on hand to afford multipacks of toilet paper” (NYT, August 3, 2011).

The really super-rich are found in the top thousandth, not the elite hundredth. In 2007, the top thousandth received 6 percent of all U.S. income. The top five hundredth, with incomes of $1 million or more, got 13 percent of all U.S. income. The top 400 income “earners” averaged $344.8 million per person.

Last year, by stark contrast, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the quantity of Americans living in poverty in the U.S.in 2009 was “the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published”—44 million. The Census Bureau forgot to add that the official U.S. poverty level, based on an arcane formula (the minimum adequate cost of food multiplied three times) is an open joke among serious poverty researchers (try to maintain a family of four at the official poverty threshold of $21,954 in any major U.S. metropolitan area today) and that many millions of those officially poor live in what those researchers now call “deep poverty”—at less than half that level. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reported last year, the number and percentage of people mired in deep poverty hit a record high in 2009. Nineteen million Americans were stuck in deep poverty in 2009, up 2 million from 2008.

How do they get their money? 

The wealthy do not simply benefit from society; they accumulate fortunes at the expense of it. They profit from:

  • mass unemployment’s depressive impact on wages, which cuts their labour costs 
  • regressive tax cuts and loopholes, which increase with wealth while shutting down social services for the poor 
  • the cutting and undermining of environment regulations, which reduce their business costs while spoiling livable ecology 
  • wars and giant military budgets that feed the bottom lines of the “defense” corporations they own while killing and crippling millions and stealing money from potential investment in social uplift 
  • a hyper-commercialized mass consumer culture that despoils the environment while reducing human worth to exchange value and destroying peoples’ capacity for critical thought  
  • deals with corrupt dictators who provide natural resources at cheap prices while depressing wages and crushing democracy in “developing countries” 
  • the closing down of livable wage jobs and the export of employment to repressive and low-wage peripheries 
  • a health care system that privileges the profits of giant insurance and drug companies over the well being of ordinary people
  • exorbitant credit card interest rates that lead to millions of bankruptcies each year 
  • predatory lending practices that spread and perpetuate poverty and foreclosure 
  • agricultural and trade practices that destroy sustainable local and regional food cultivation and distribution practices at home and abroad
  • the imposition of overly long working hours that keep employee compensation levels down while helping maintain a large number of unemployed workers
  • exorbitant public business subsidies and taxpayer incentives and bailouts to the rich at the expense of the rest

The list goes on and on. As the left political scientist David McNally notes, profits have been restored in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis “largely because working class people have paid for them, through layoffs, wage cuts, reduced work hours, and the decimation of social services. The rich are capitalists, for the most part, and under the modern marketplace and corporate capitalism—generator of contemporary fortunes—the wealth of the few is related to the comparative impoverishment of the many. Indeed, the exploitation of the latter by the former is the essence of what passes for reasonable and normal economic activity under the standard rules of the capitalist system. Most of us engage with the market (primarily by renting out our core human capacity for work to more privileged others) to survive, to purchase simple use values that make life possible. Capitalists are very different. They care about nothing but exchange value and profit and engage the market to exploit the world and its people. There would be no point in their investments without exploitation. There would be no point in paying wages and salaries without surplus value—extra labour value going to them beyond the commodity price of our labour power. When profit and its critical ingredient surplus value are deemed unattainable, they toss us into the gutter where, as members of the reserve army of labour, we help them bid down the commodity value of the labour.”

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Bullshit Artists – We Can Do Without Them

Look around you, they’re easy to spot, the bullshit artists of the world. They’re everywhere, not only in politics. Businesses need bullshit artists to sell people products and services they don’t need. Bullshit artists make you believe that you need certain products or services, and you can witness their lies day in, day out, every minute of the day, in commercials on tv.

When bullshit artists are doing a good job for the businesses that hired them, these businesses are thieving, maybe surreptitiously thieving, deceptively thieving, or under-the-table thieving, but not explicitly stealing. Yet they profit from your trust. And they know it.

An increasing part of the population are sick and tired of lying politicians and corporate greed. The bullshit artists of this world are trained to mislead people. In politics they’re called “advisers”, in the corporate world they’re called “marketers”. A whole bunch of bullshit artists in one company is called “the marketing department”. They are reversed Robin Hoods – they steal from the poor and give to the rich.

In the eyes of a businessman an employee is a good salesman if he sells something to a client, even if the client doesn’t need the product and didn’t intend to buy the product. In my opinion a person is a good salesman if he provides good services to clients, if he would say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have what you’re looking for. Go to the store across the street.” I think a salesman is really ethical if he would say, “You know, you don’t even need that… if you buy (another product, or a  cheaper product) it will work just as well.” Such a salesman I would trust, and next time I would surely visit the store he works.

We need marketers and salespersons who give the customers the solutions they want and need, instead of blindly pushing products. 

Bullshit artists are intelligent and shrude, and since not every store, not every local politician, can afford their own bullshit artists, they let commercials and political slogans do the job for them.  

Insurance companies make you believe that their products couldn’t be any cheaper, while at the same time they’re making billions of profits. Politicians make you believe that the financial crisis couldn’t have been avoided, while at the same time a very small part of the population has become extremely rich thanks to this crisis. It takes a skillful bullshit artist to come up with these terrible lies. It takes gullible people to believe this bullshit.

The Occupy movements all over the world show that people are fed up with bullshit artists, with lying politicians, with corporate greed. These movements show that the public has become more intelligent, that the public sees through the lies. If businesses and politicians want to survive, they need to embrace new paradigms, they need to start earning the trust the public puts into them.

We can surely do without bullshit artists.

(Yes John, I know I’m downgrading your profession, I know you will lose your expensive apartment in Brighton, your two cars, your free trips to the U.S., if you lose your job as a trainer of bullshit artists in a company that doesn’t do anything but improving the skills of bullshit artists. But so be it. I think it’s better for the world. Sorry mate, find yourself a decent job.)

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People are consumers in the first place, and only employees if they’re lucky

People and governments in this capitalist society need to realise that there are far less jobs than people who want jobs, and this is only getting worse. People and governments in capitalist societies need to realise that the main function of people is being consumers, very valuable consumers, because without consumers there’s no production, and without production there’s no capitalist society.

Education is only part of the solution when it comes to the possibility of getting a job.  Even with a university degree you’ll discover that there are less jobs than applicants for the jobs. Before you know it getting an education becomes something like buying an expensive lottery ticket. You might win, but there’s a huge chance you won’t.

Let’s face it: we’re consumers in the first place, and only employees if we’re lucky. As soon as governments in our capitalist society start to realise that, instead of pumping billions into artificial projects which are meant to lower unemployment figures, who are we kidding, these governments are ready to value people for what they are in the first place: consumers. Valuable consumers. And as soon as the billions of people on the dole get the feeling that they’re not useless, lazy scum, but very much needed to keep production going, and as soon as governments start to pay people on the dole and working people alike a basic allowance which enables them to pay the rent, feed the family, buy all the necessicities without having to worry too much, then there will be wealthier consumers and more production. Another effect of this system is that people who prefer to stay at home to look after the kids or just to enjoy life will be able to do so, making place for the real motivated employees. Which in turn will result in happy faces, happy people, happy voters.

Yes, there needs to be a difference between working people and people without a job, because people need to be motivated to work. It’s all about the right balance. Companies need to sell their cars, tv’s, furniture, food, drinks, etc., and people want to buy all these things, so there’s no shortage in demand, only in money, and I’m not saying that every person on the dole should be able to buy a Ferrari, but I do say that every person without a job should be able to buy the neccessities without having to worry about the end the month. Combined with an obligation to vote, this would result in more democracy, because right now the masses on the dole are numb. They feel that it doesn’t matter what they vote – democrat or republican, labour or tory – there will be no changes in their situation as long as governments don’t realise they are valuable consumers.  

So imagine the change in politics if you start appreciating the unemployed masses for the consumers they are, if you start to give every citizen a basic allowance, based on a realistic minimum, in exchange for the obligation to vote. No longer will politicians be able to ignore the billions of have-nots, because have-nots will have ceased to exist. Only a society that solves the problem of a significant, apathetic part of the population, is able to call itself a democratic society.

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Noam Chomsky on Why the Right Hate Social Security

AMY GOODMAN:

Our guest for the hour is MIT professor Noam Chomsky. His latest book is called 9-11: Was There an Alternative? That last question, “Was there an alternative?,” referring to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Aaron?

AARON MATÉ:

Well, Noam, you mentioned the changes in discourse between 10 years ago and today. And actually, this issue of the reasons behind 9/11 came up last night at the Republican presidential debate. Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas drew boos from the crowd and a rebuke from other candidates on the podium when he criticized U.S. foreign policy in discussing the roots of 9/11.

REP. RON PAUL:

We’re under great threat because we occupy so many countries. We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke. The purpose of al-Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11. But we’re there, occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say China, did to us what we do to all those countries over there?So, this whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit. They have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked—we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians a fair treatment, and you have been bombing—I didn’t say that, I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing. At the same time, we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for 10 years. Would you be annoyed? If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.

AARON MATÉ:

That was Republican Congress Member Ron Paul of Texas speaking last night at the Republican presidential debate. Noam Chomsky, your response?

NOAM CHOMSKY:

I think what he said is completely uncontroversial. You can read it in government documents. You can find it in polls. Maybe people don’t like to hear it, but, as I mentioned before, it goes back to the 1950s. Actually, right after 9/11, the Wall Street Journal, to its credit, did a study of privileged Muslims, sometimes called “monied Muslims,” people in the Muslim world who are deeply embedded in the U.S. global project—lawyers, directors of multinational corporations and so on, not the general population. And it was very much like what Eisenhower had—was concerned about, and the National Security Council, in the 1950s. There was a lot of antagonism to—a lot of antagonism to U.S. policy in the region, partly support of dictators blocking democracy and development, just as the National Security Council concluded in 1958.

Also, by then, by 2001, there were much more specific things: very much a lot of anger about the U.S. backing for the way—Israeli occupation of the Occupied Territories, settlements, the bitter oppression of the Palestinians, and also, something that isn’t discussed much here but meant a lot there—and remember, these are privileged Muslims, leaders of—those who kind of carry out, implement the general U.S. economic and social policies in the region. The other thing, besides the Israeli—support of Israeli crimes, was the sanctions against Iraq. This was 2001, remember. The sanctions against Iraq were brutal and destructive. They killed hundreds of thousands of people. Both of the international diplomats who administered the Oil-for-Food program, distinguished international diplomats—Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, in sequence—both of them resigned in protest because they regarded the sanctions as genocidal. They were carrying out a kind of a mass slaughter of Iraqis. They were strengthening Saddam Hussein. They were compelling the population to rely on him just for survival. And these were major crimes of the 1990s. And privileged Muslims, monied Muslims, in the Saudi Arabia, elsewhere, were bitterly opposed to this, not because they hate our freedoms, because they don’t like murderous and brutal policies.

AARON MATÉ:

Noam, before, you were quoting a CIA analyst saying that the U.S. had actually become Osama bin Laden’s biggest ally through being drawn into so many wars abroad, and talking about how all this engagement has undermined U.S. standing. What has this decade of war meant here at home for the domestic situation and how that relates to bin Laden’s goals of bleeding the United States?

NOAM CHOMSKY:

Yeah, he was pretty explicit about that. He wanted to draw the United States into what intelligence agencies called a trap, which would lead—which would inflame and incite hostility in the Muslim world, he hoped, help mobilize people for his cause—I don’t think that happened—but also bankrupt the U.S. at home. I mean, current estimates—there was a recent estimate, a study at Brown University, estimated the cost just of the two wars at about $4 trillion. If you count in the costs of, you know, homeland security and so on, probably doubles that. That’s pretty serious. That’s the—between the wars, the housing bubble and Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, that—it creates the economic crisis that we’re now in.

AMY GOODMAN:

On Monday, President Obama sent his new jobs proposal to Congress. In a new challenge to Republicans, Obama said he would propose paying the $447 billion package by raising taxes on the wealthy. Around $400 billion would be raised by eliminating a number of deductions claimed by wealthy taxpayers. Obama discussed the bill in a White House speech.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

On Thursday, I told Congress that I’ll be sending them a bill called the American Jobs Act. Well, here it is. This is—this is a bill that will put people back to work all across the country. This is the bill that will help our economy in a moment of national crisis. This is a bill that is based on ideas from both Democrats and Republicans. And this is the bill that Congress needs to pass. No games, no politics, no delays. I’m sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it immediately.AMY GOODMAN:

Noam Chomsky, what is your assessment of President Obama, whether we’re talking about his new jobs plan or whether we’re talking about his foreign policy?

NOAM CHOMSKY:

Well, I can’t say that I find it disappointing, because, quite frankly, I never expected anything. Actually, I wrote about it before the primaries, just based on his record on his website.

I think my—I should say, first of all, that this latest jobs plan is one of the better things he’s done. I don’t think it goes anywhere near far enough, but at least it has elements that are going in the right direction. There was, when the—during the lame-duck session, the serious question was whether—what to do with the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts were carefully designed so that, at the beginning, everyone got a little, and you had a feeling taxes were being reduced. But they were designed so that, as the 10-year period ended, it was overwhelmingly going to the very rich. Now, the population is strongly opposed to that. You take a look at polls during the lame-duck session, when this was coming up: very strong support for increasing taxes for those with incomes over, say, quarter-million dollars a year. Well, Obama didn’t push that. If he had appealed to the public, they, I think, could have overcome the opposition of the financial institutions, you know, the Republican—the new Republican congressional delegation and so on. But he didn’t even try. And that should be done.

Now, the current proposal goes partially in that direction by indirectly increasing taxes through elimination of deductions. But the tax code simply has to be revised. It’s become highly regressive. In fact, the share of GDP, you know, national income by—of taxes, is probably lower than it’s ever been, far lower than 20 or 30 years ago, particularly for the rich. All of that should be adjusted. There is a stimulus in the program, which is a good idea, but it’s much too small. And the concentration on deficit reduction, when the problem is—the serious problem is massive unemployment, I think that’s a very serious error. You can understand why the banks and insurance companies, and so on, like it, but it’s completely wrong for the—for trying to extricate ourselves from quite a serious economic crisis. The other things are unfortunately—the deficit itself, if you want to take it seriously—I don’t think it’s the major issue, by any means. In fact, I don’t even think it’s a serious issue, at least in the short term. But if you do want to take it seriously, it’s pretty easy to trace it to the roots.

Dean Baker, very good economist, has done—has pointed out, done the calculations which show that if the United States had a healthcare program similar to other industrial countries, which is not a utopian dream, not only would there be no deficit, but there’d be a surplus—that plus the huge military budget. Military budget is probably half the deficit. It’s way out of line with anything needed, certainly for any defensive purpose, but for any justifiable purpose. Ron Paul, who you heard before, was quite right about that. If the military—I mean, the U.S. is spending about as much as the rest of the world combined almost on military spending, technologically very advanced, new destructive techniques developing far beyond what any other country has. This is all—first of all, it shouldn’t be done, on principle, but it also ends up being harmful to us, essentially for the reasons that Paul mentioned. The—and very expensive, of course. That plus the hopelessly dysfunctional healthcare system, those are fundamental problems that have to be addressed.

Now, that could have been addressed. At the time of the healthcare reform, a large part of—depending on how the question was asked, either the large plurality, often a majority, of the population was in favor of some form of national healthcare, which would be incomparably more efficient and more humane. But Obama just dropped that. The public option remained as a possibility. That was supported by, I think, maybe almost two-thirds of the population. Obama just dropped it. So, everything is in the hands of the insurance companies. We continue to have roughly twice the per capita healthcare costs of comparable countries, some of the poorest outcomes. And it’s the only large, almost unregulated, privatized system. Yes, it’s highly inefficient; it’s also very inhumane—not to speak of tens of thousands of people without insurance or many more with not enough insurance. Well, that can be changed. It should be changed. If it could, the deficit issues, such as they are—I think they’re secondary—would largely disappear.

There’s a long-term debt problem. That’s a different matter. And that can be dealt with—the best way to deal—we can trace that to its roots, too. Ronald Reagan, who was fiscally totally irresponsible, tripled the U.S. debt and shifted the U.S. very quickly from the world’s leading creditor to the world’s leading debtor. George W. Bush enhanced it with his fiscal policies, including the huge tax cut for the rich, the wars. And in the long term, that’s a problem. But the way to deal with that problem, in the long term, is with economic growth, appropriate economic growth, sensible economic growth. Well, that can be done, but it’s not going to be done through deficit reduction programs or tampering with entitlements, as is on the table, unfortunately.

So there were elements—and infrastructure development is significant, and Obama mentioned it. There’s small programs. I think that those are—he talked about work sharing, which is quite an important proposal. I don’t know if anything will be done. It was done in Germany, and it cut down unemployment very sharply, led to substantial economic growth, even through the recession. Those are options that could be pursued. They’re mentioned. They should be pushed harder. They should be expanded. But at least there are elements there that could turn into a constructive program—however, not until the core issues are handled.

One is enormous unemployment. That’s the worst problem, and it’s becoming almost permanent unemployment. Another is the deterioration of manufacturing, meaning offshoring of manufacturing. The only way that can be dealt with is by cutting back on the overvalued dollar, that would improve possibilities for exports. The healthcare system, which is grotesque—it’s an international scandal; the huge military spending; the very low taxes for the rich, by comparative standards, also corporations and so on—those are problems that—those are fundamental problems that have to be dealt with if there’s going to be anything like successful economic and social development in the United States.

AARON MATÉ:

Noam, you mentioned entitlements, and obviously this is an issue that’s come up a lot in the deficit debate. Governor Rick Perry, the Republican presidential hopeful, has called it a Ponzi scheme. But even Democrats seem to buy into this narrative that it’s in crisis. Can you address that?

NOAM CHOMSKY:

Social Security is not in any crisis. I mean, the trust fund alone will fully pay benefits for, I think, another 30 years or so. And after that, taxes will give almost the same benefits. To worry about a possible problem 30 years from now, which can incidentally be fixed with little—a little bit of tampering here and there, as was done in 1983—to worry about that just makes absolutely no sense, unless you’re trying to destroy the program. It’s a very successful program. A large number people rely on it. It doesn’t pay munificently, but it at least keeps people alive, not just retired people, people with disabilities and others. Very low administrative costs, extremely efficient, and no burden on the deficit, doesn’t add to the deficit. The effort to try to present the Social Security program as if it’s a major problem, that’s just a hidden way of trying to undermine and destroy it.

Now, there has been a lot of opposition to it since—you know, since the 1930s, on the part of sectors of extreme wealth and privilege, especially financial capital. They don’t like it, for several reasons. One is the rich don’t barely—for them, it’s meaningless. Anyone with—you know, who’s had a fairly decent income, it’s a tiny addition to your retirement but doesn’t mean much. Another is, if the financial institutions and the insurance companies can get their hands on this huge financial resource—for example, if it’s privatized in some way or vouchers—I mean, that’s a huge bonanza. They’ll have trillions of dollars to play with, the banks, the investment firms and so on.

But I think, myself, that there’s a more subtle reason why they’re opposed to it, and I think it’s rather similar to the reason for the effort to pretty much dismantle the public education system. Social Security is based on a principle. It’s based on the principle that you care about other people. You care whether the widow across town, a disabled widow, is going to be able to have food to eat. And that’s a notion you have to drive out of people’s heads. The idea of solidarity, sympathy, mutual support, that’s doctrinally dangerous. The preferred doctrines are just care about yourself, don’t care about anyone else. That’s a very good way to trap and control people. And the very idea that we’re in it together, that we care about each other, that we have responsibility for one another, that’s sort of frightening to those who want a society which is dominated by power, authority, wealth, in which people are passive and obedient. And I suspect—I don’t know how to measure it exactly, but I think that that’s a considerable part of the drive on the part of small, privileged sectors to undermine a very efficient, very effective system on which a large part of the population relies, actually relies more than ever, because wealth, personal wealth, was very much tied up in the housing market. That was people’s personal wealth. Well, OK, that, quite predictably, totally collapsed. People aren’t destitute by the standards of, say, slums in India or southern Africa, but very—suffering severely. And they have nothing else to rely on, but what they—the, really, pittance that they’re getting from Social Security. To take that away would be just disastrous.

AMY GOODMAN:

We’re talking to Noam Chomsky. He has a new book out, 10 years after his book 9-11. This is called 9-11: Was There an Alternative? We’ll come back to this conversation in a minute. And if you’d like to get a copy of the full show, you can go to our website at democracynow.org. Stay with us.

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