Throughout history, empires have come and gone. From the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Roman, and Maurya empires to the Spanish, Portuguese, Ottoman and British empires; they came, dominated for a time, and then went. That’s simply one of history’s natural cycles. Sometimes empires went because they succumbed to a superior military force. Sometimes through natural disaster. But most often, empires went because of mismanagement and decay—otherwise known as corruption.
For example; in the western Roman Empire, just like today in America, Rome suffered under a lack of a circulating currency—wholesale hoarding of bullion by Roman citizens made possible through economic stratification, widespread looting of the Roman treasury by ‘barbarians,’ and a massive trade deficit with Eastern Regions of the Empire serving to stifle the growth of wealth in the west.
What we are witnessing today is the end of the American Empire. The American Empire began as a result of our being the only major, western industrialized nation to survive largely unscathed from World War II. Therefore, as the other western nations rebuilt their industries after those hostilities, it was inevitable that our profits from selling goods to them would diminish.
On the other side of the world, the United States banned trade with the People’s Republic of China from 1947 until President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972. This began normalizing relations and reopened China. Beginning in the late 1970s, China reversed its Maoist economic development strategy and by the early 1980s, had committed itself to a policy of widening foreign economic relations and trade.
Therefore we can view our times as getting back to where we were prior to World War II. The major difference however between 1931 (the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War) and today is the entrenchment of a corrupt American plutocracy in our government and their willful ignorance on how economies work; purposely willful solely to enrich themselves at any cost—including the economic collapse of our nation.
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” —[U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856 – 1941]
The End of the American Empire
George Santayana said; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Today, and for the past 30 plus years, we are, and have been, repeating Rome’s decline—both the Roman republic’s and the Roman empire’s. Among developed nations, America is one of the most economically stratified, and growing increasingly so. America’s Right-Wing even promises to institutionalize economic stratification, and the resulting stagnation and decline from it, through libertarian economics. Let this be perfectly clear; libertarian economic policies can only be deemed fair if everyone starts from the same economic starting point. Otherwise libertarian economic policies inherently stratify societies because those without the moolah can’t get into the game!
Crony capitalism has been resurrected from Rome. Widespread looting of the treasury by corporate barbarians as American taxpayers are forced to subsidize corporations by paying for governmental programs, originally intended to benefit America’s poor, but now too often used to underwrite the meager pittances paid to the working poor by companies like Wal-Mart—unlike every other nation on the planet. This practice systematizes economic stratification domestically by driving down wages as laws to address these crimes are universally ignored. But it doesn’t stop with the poor…
“What Americans fail to appreciate is that controlling the text of legislation is the key to controlling Washington. When lobbyists can write the bills, they can control the government. Here, lobbyists are assisted by the American media. The media is so lazy that they rarely actually read bills. A lobbyist can count on the media’s research ending at a congressman’s claims in a press release. If a bill does something else, the media will never notice.” —[John Miano, CIS, When Lobbyists Write Bills]
The epitome of crony capitalism is the recent $26 billion mortgage deal written by lobbyists for Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and the others. Wall Street banks fraudulently and illegally foreclose on your house—you get $1,500 to$2,000. Visualize Ben Stein saying; “wow.” Robert Reich said, the “$26 billion settlement with banks over mortgage fraud is far short of what they should pay and distressed home owners deserve.” One in five Americans with mortgages owe the banks more than their homes are worth, and these home owners are underwater by an average of $50,000 each. This is a collective negative equity of nearly $700 billion.
Add to this that the federal government’s track record on enforcing settlement terms with Wall Street banks is abysmal. And after perpetrating the greatest fraud in history, what Reuters called “copious evidence” of “widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures….”, these same banks look to profit from this—enticing them to do it again. After all, where’s the downside? Meanwhile the statute of limitations on these grifters is ticking. Alas, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Justice Head Lanny Breuer are apparently linked to the banks accused Of foreclosure fraud according to a report from Reuters, 01-19-2012.
I’m shocked… shocked I tell you
What do AT&T, Amway Corporation, Baxter International, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, Merck & Company, Pfizer, Inc., and Wyeth Laboratories all have in common? First, they’re all supporters of the GOP; the biggest critics of doing business in communist China. And secondly, they all do business in communist China. China does a lot of manufacturing for U.S. companies, primarily exporting electrical and other types of machinery, especially computers and data processing equipment, as well as optical and medical equipment. But also apparel, fabric and textiles. The raw materials are shipped to China, where factory workers build the final products and ship them back to the U.S.
China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries. China does this to support the value of the dollar. According to the U.S. Treasury, Major Foreign Holders, China pegs the yuan lower than the U.S. dollar to keep its export prices competitive. China’s role as America’s largest banker gives it leverage. For example, China threatens to sell part of its holdings whenever the U.S. pressures it to raise the yuan’s value. China counters by saying it did raise the yuan’s value by 20% between 2005-2010. Therefore would any of these companies like to tell us how the Democrats are so socialist?
Meanwhile on the national defense front, reserve units are making multiple tours into war zones. And two newsworthy reports were conveniently swept under the rug just before Presidents Day—never making their way into the “mainsteam news.” The first was a tripartite agreement signed by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran to work together to “promote stability.” The second was U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis’ revelations on the lack of “truth-telling” by his superiors—e.g.; General David Petraeus, General Stanley McChrystal, General John Allen—on how the war in Afghanistan is actually proceeding.
The Afghani, Pakistani and Irani “spin” on the tripartite agreement is to address “terrorism.” But remember, Iran sponsors the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Pakistan’s military sponsors the Taliban. Not to mention; remember where bin Laden was finally brought down? So America should take these developments as justification to pull our troops and equipment out of Afghanistan and notify both Afghanistan and Pakistan that “you’re on your own;” no more aid! However to do so would be a disservice to America’s power elite; it would both kill a cash cow and remove a distraction intended to silence the rabble.
Defense Department budgets are heavily focused upon funding new unproven and previously rejected war toys as we draw down ‘boots-on-the-ground’ (which is why reserve units are making multiple tours into war zones). This is just exactly the same tactic that both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan used that enabled American Sherman tanks and Russian T-34s to run all over both during the Second World War. Thus it is abundantly clear that America’s power elite and Right-wing have subordinated American national security to lining their own pockets. And just to rub salt into the wound, Republicans are threatening to treat the veterans of these two most recent wars like veterans of the past—in getting their veterans’ benefits shafted by the power elite.
Thus, America’s halcyon days of being a global empire are numbered. Because of that short-sighted greed of America’s power elite, in a mere four years, China’s GDP will surpass ours. As China’s GDP surpasses ours, America’s position in the world will lessen as China’s rises. But since our nuclear arsenal remains as robust as it currently is, our position in the world will not drop that much. Although this new economic dynamic may potentially make forward basing—in Europe, Japan and elsewhere, with our diminished resources—prohibitively expensive. When the day does arrive that China’s GDP surpasses ours, America will have a new choice to make; working with China for our mutual benefit, or further antagonizing China as our congressional dilettantes struggle to reverse this new dynamic.
Experience has taught that, given this option, our dilettantes will invariably choose the worse of the two options. Our very recent history demonstrates this as the very imbeciles and morons that put America in the position we now find ourselves in want to do so again, and in exactly the same way! An optimist might view this as, to use the words of Fred Zamberletti; “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing year after year and expecting different results.” However as a pragmatist, one can only view these dilettantes as snake-oil salesmen—psychopathic, as opposed to sociopathic, grifters.
There are choices societies make when their empires end. Those choices determine both how far a tumble they will take and when they will restabilize. When the United Kingdom attempted to maintain the British Empire, they sank deeper into debt, prolonging the time it would take for them to recover—economically digging a far deeper hole than was necessary. And sadly, history has too many examples showing the greater the empire, the deeper the hole they dug as they attempted to hold on.
There is an alternative!
In Fred Wertheimer’s “Super PACs a disaster for democracy,” a study by Demos and the U.S. Public Interest Group found that half of the money raised by super PACs came from just 37 people. And it’s the super PACs that are corrupting our society, our economics and bringing our nation to ruin. Two of those 37 were casino and hotel magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife (supporting Newt Gingrich). Adelson is best remembered for bankrupting the contractors who built the Venetian Casino in Vegas by Adelson’s use of the threat of bankruptcy to renegotiate his debt, forcing many contractors out of business. Quoting Fred Wertheimer; “Super PACs are a game for millionaires and billionaires. They are a game for corporations and other wealthy interests. Meanwhile, citizens are pushed to the sidelines to watch the corruption of our democracy.” There are only 35 others in that same group. It’s time they learn how displeased America is with their ignorance and arrogance! Hey Anonymous, wanna have some fun?
Organizing for fun… and a future
One of the names Republicans like to use as a pejorative is Saul Alinsky (as they’re using his rules on grassroots organizing, by the way). In 1971, Saul Alinsky wrote the classic on grassroots organizing titled “Rules for Radicals.” Alinsky would say, “The first step in community organization is community disorganization.” In other words; agitating: rubbing resentments, fanning hostilities, and searching out controversy. This is necessary to get people to participate. An organizer has to attack apathy and disturb the prevailing patterns of complacent community life where people have simply come to accept a bad situation.
Although I have worked in management and management consulting my entire adult life, I remember my roots; both of my parents worked for a living. So I have long had a soft spot in my heart for labor. Moreover, I’ve done something about it! In 1996, having some ideas to benefit collective bargaining, I founded a local chapter of Jobs With Justice. Thus began my games of “cat-and-mouse.”
When I founded that local chapter of Jobs With Justice, the Machinist Union of a multinational can manufacturer went on strike after being denied a new contract; the multinational was trying to “cleanse house” of their unions. Moreover, the local district court sided with the multinational in placing obstructions in the way of the union to work out a solution to this impass.
Rules for Radicals Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what an opponent thinks you have. If your organization is small, hide your numbers in the dark and raise a din that will make everyone think you have many more people than you do.
Rules for Radicals Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
Showing up on the strikeline, I had only one question for the union members; what is your boss’ name? People have histories, and it is not that difficult to find out what they are. In the union members’ case, I didn’t have to research their boss. He owed money to a friend of mine. And that friend of mine had a reputation.
In this part of the nation, locals can’t imagine how people can climb from humble beginnings to become successes. So as an Italian-American, Joe was viewed as a mafiosa capo di tutti capi (a mafia boss of bosses). He wasn’t; Joe was simply a very personable salesman with exemplary skills in sales followup. However the Machinist’s boss didn’t know this, and he (the Machinist’s boss) went into hiding after the bill collectors came knocking on his door.
Rules for Radicals Rule 8: Keep the pressure on. Use different tactics and actions and use all events of the period for your purpose. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this that will cause the opposition to react to your advantage.”
This development rattled the multinational. The multinational tried to strike back by bringing in strikebreakers to resume production. The problem is that strikebreakers make for very good spies. Thus we found out that the multinational was skipping a crucial step in production—placing the health and well being of the general public at risk. So I contacted the multinational’s two primary customers; Coke and Pepsi. Coke and Pepsi returned those batches, and told the multinational, and in no uncertain terms, that they will resolve the strike, and replace the batches with batches they can use, or the multinational could find some new customers.
Rules for Radicals Rule 6: A good tactic is one your people enjoy. “If your people aren’t having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic.”
On the strikeline when those batches were returned, I knew we had just won. And since the local district court decided strikers could only cross the path of vehicles crossing the strikeline once; but didn’t state how long strikers could take in crossing that path, to the delight of police maintaining order on the strikeline, I introduced my “shuffle” with police laughing, gesturing and yelling “slo-ow down.”
From this, I gained a reputation. Nurses at our local medical center, having learned of the Machinist strike, used the threat to come see me as their Sword of Damocles against their bosses to get a new contract.
Putting the lesson learned to work
Rules for Radicals Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
Those other 35 people providing half of the money raised by super PACs can be identified. And like Sheldon Adelson and his wife, they have all opened themselves up for ridicule and the scorn that scum so richly deserve. For instance, Sheldon Adelson now stands charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act involving potential illegal dealings with a public official (bribes for casino licenses), and having a tie to an organized crime figure in Macau, China. Moreover, with people in those positions, it usually isn’t that hard to find some juicy nuggets that can terribly embarrass them. Hey Anonymous…
According to Alinsky, the main job of an organizer is to bait your opponent into reacting. “The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”
So do a little digging, use your imaginations, and have fun with it! After all; these are only games of cat-and-mouse. And anyone throwing that kind of moolah at super PACs is, by definition, a mouse.