You've heard the quote many time: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Almost invariably, Thomas Jefferson gets the credit for saying those words. Almost invariably, the person repeating those words is a gun nut or a high-testosterone militarist dreaming of the day when he can shoot Ay-rabs and libruls with gleeful abandon.
Guess what? Jefferson never uttered or wrote that phrase. And the guy who did
say it had a very different message in mind
As near as anyone can tell, the quote was first uttered by Wendell Phillips in an 1852 speech given in Boston. Dig the context:
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty -- power is ever stealing from the many to the few... The hand entrusted with power becomes...the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.
"Power is ever stealing from the many to the few." That sounds like a prophecy of Wall Street's epochal heist of America's wealth.The problem isn't gummint. The problem is libertarianism. Here's
an important point which most people refuse to recognize:
Tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 50-year low. (In 1986, the top marginal tax rate was 50 percent -- today it's 35 percent.) That means the United States has the resources to balance its books in the end, if its leaders can summon the political will to do so. And the markets know that.
Under Ike, the top tax rate climbed parlously near 90% -- and the country was doing great. Let's go back to the future.Or maybe we should just buy a bank. This piece
has garnered a lot of attention, though not enough
attention. North Dakota is doing (relatively) well right now, because North Dakota -- unlike, say, Wisconsin -- owns a bank.
Wisconsin could draw down the fund by the small amount needed to meet pension obligations, and put the bulk of the remaining money to work creating jobs, helping local businesses, and increasing tax revenues for the state. It could do this by forming its own bank, following the lead of North Dakota, the only state to have its own bank—and the only state to escape the credit crisis.Here's more
This could be done without spending the pension fund money or lending it. The funds would just be shifted from one form of investment to another (equity in a bank). When a bank makes a loan, neither the bank’s own capital nor its customers’ demand deposits are actually lent to borrowers. As observed on the Dallas Federal Reserve’s website, “Banks actually create money when they lend it.” They simply extend accounting-entry bank credit, which is extinguished when the loan is repaid. Creating this sort of credit-money is a privilege available only to banks—but states can tap into that privilege by owning a bank.
An innovative answer is provided by the state of North Dakota, one of only two states (along with Montana) expected to meet its budget in 2010. North Dakota was also the only state to actually gain jobs in 2009 while other states were losing them. Since 2000, North Dakota’s GNP has grown 56 percent, personal income has grown 43 percent and wages have grown 34 percent. The state not only has no funding problems, but in 2009 it had a budget surplus of $1.3 billion, the largest it ever had – not bad for a state of only 700,000 people.
The BND is 100% owned by the state, and it is required to operate in the interest of the public. Its stated mission is to deliver sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: We must recognize a distinction between industrial capitalism and finance capitalism
. Industrial capitalism = good; finance capitalism = bad.
"Industrial capitalism" refers to the manufacture of stuff -- cars, shoes, toothbrushes, condoms, TVs, pig iron. Stuff.
"Finance capitalism" refers to stocks, bonds, financial instruments. Numbers. Concepts. Abstract intangibles. Anti-stuff, if you will.
Financial capitalists got us into our current mess. You can't blame the industrial capitalists, and you can't blame labor (unless you've been programmed by ideology to do so).
Adam Smith's entire argument was about industrial
capitalism -- and nothing else
. Laissez faire
may be a good general rule, but only in that
realm. When it comes to finance capitalism, the answer is simple: Socialize it, or at least a good chunk of it. See here
I think the "industrial capitalism versus finance capitalism" distinction is the big point which riverdaughter misses here
.Soldiers, why would you shoot fellow Americans to benefit Wall Street? Professor Peter Dale Scott
weighs in on the financial bailout. Worth reading. He argues that the military has taken on a new function: Protecting the owners of this country in case the Wall Street heist of our economy places the citizenry in a rebellious mood.
This document embodied the secret Continuity of Government (COG) planning conducted secretly by Rumsfeld, Cheney and others through the 1980s and 1990s. This planning was initially for continuity measures in the event of a nuclear attack, but soon called for suspension of the Constitution, not just "after a nuclear war" but for any "national security emergency". This was defined in Reagan's Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, as "any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States." The effect was to impose on domestic civil society the extreme measures once planned for a response to a nuclear attack from abroad.Russ Feingold.
If there's one politician I can support without reservation -- okay, in all of human history, there has never been such a politician. The words "reservations" and "politician" should always go together. But the one who comes closest
to being supportable without reservation is Russ Feingold. If you want to know what his new organization Progressives United has been up to, check out his message