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Monday, April 22, 2013

Wasted Energy.

A waste of thyme.

In an article on , Jay Tompt explains how energy can be derived from different sources of 'waste'. He fails, however, to point out the fact that there is, in fact, in nature, no such thing. It is only an anthropomorphic perspective of the world that calls plant-derived materials and excreta or urine, as 'waste'. They are not. They are, as everyone, on some level of their consciousness knows, part of an organic cycle of production and reproduction in a tight cycle of life whereby the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom are in balance: each providing, via the byproducts of their metabolism, input into the metabolism of their counterpart. It is misinformation to call plant byproducts waste because it implies that using them as inputs to the energy infrastructure is a win-win situation, whereas it, in fact, deprives the natural environment of  necessary energy and other ingredients it needs for its sustenance.

The soil, let's say for agriculture, then needs to have those ingredients we have depleted it of, replaced with ingredients derived from energy-intensive means, such as natural-gas-based fertilizers and petrol-based mechanization. Industries that produce these products are the source of the true, and only, source of waste in the natural environment: man-made waste that locks up energy molecules in the form of plastics and other polymers of multi-chained hydrocarbons for which nature has no mechanism for restoring them to the environment in a configuration that's usable to any lifeform on the planet.

It is not simply semantics to insist that the natural byproducts of metabolism NOT be referred to as waste when they are suggested as inputs to energy production in lieu of fossil fuels. It is highly deceptive to do so. A case in point, is the manner in which a San Francisco company, Sunset Scavengers, which has renamed itself Recology, has marketed its waste-disposal program to its customers and the city. A manner it would not be able to use if it weren't for the acceptance by those who should know better, such as the writers on, for the inaccurate conception of what waste is.

In order to attain their laudable goal of zero landfill by 2020, Recology has substituted carbon-burning units, referred to as human beings, with fossil-fuel-burning trucks that come around, not once, but three different times every week for different colored bins, the 'green' bins being the ones of interest, since they are filled with food scraps and garden debris which is then trucked hundreds of miles to compost facilities which the customer has to pay for, which burns huge amounts of fuel, releasing climate-change gasses the whole way, to be sold to farming concerns and the proceeds, (it is a public company) going to their shareholders, forcing their customers to do labor, for which, far from being paid for, they must pay for, for Recology's shareholders' benefit.

I do the exact opposite, but must pay the price, as it is a City mandate to have garbage collection.  This is what I do:

Using grey water from my dishes and laundry, instead of allowing all the land in the back yard to simply have its nitrogen content burn off in the summer sun as my neighbors do, I have planted local plants that are used to the weather patterns in the area. They have grown heartily and supply a good amount of nitrogen-rich biota with which I fill the three compost bins I bought (Recology provides its customers with a green bin instead, so they can remove the nutrients from the local soil and use it elsewhere: I am charged the same amount though I have no such bin. If they were truly interested in
Recology, it would be the other way around). The bins provide me with all the compost I need to then feed the garden and food crops I grow, as I have them in a rotation, such that when one is being emptied, one is starting its compost cycle and the third is being filled with the fresh output of the perennials, which birds have found to be a welcome retreat as well as, hummingbirds in particular, a source of nourishment.

I know therefore, that this works (the operative word being work, which it does require, but since its not for a Corporation  it is in no way considered to be work by our broken concept of what an economy is (ask any housewife who's labor is given the same consideration)). And yet, even though the darling of Capitalists everywhere, Adam Smith, in "The Wealth of Nations"  completely based his ideas of economics on the increase in the output of the earth via its fructification from agriculture, the incentive to do so by the average person  of which there are, let's see, how many? oh yeah, BILLIONS, is not only ignored, but, as in my own example, punished.

If instead of having its customers pay to have their green 'waste' picked up at their curbside and trucked  via CO2-spewing trucks to Timbuktu to enrich their shareholders:

If Recology paid for the finished compost from each of its customers, hundred of thousands of people would be encouraged to generate nitrogen-fixing solutions, planting succulents, covering their grounds, not with grass, but with local flora, using solar power as it should be used, by the plants that have evolved over the lifetime of the planet to change energy into matter: matter that we can then use to enrich our own lives. It should not come as a surprise that enriching Your life is not what Corporatism is about.  It is about exactly what it says it's about: enriching Corporations' lives. Corporate solutions are exactly that.  What is perplexing about the American public is that this seems to come as a surprise to them.

If my methods were used across the country, soon millions of people would be assuming the responsibility for their neighbors' greeneries. Small local businesses would sprout up and go around and pay a small fee for the resources households could provide them in the form of scraps, and take them locally to others who have the wherewithal to compost. These folks could then be paid for their final product, and the small company could then sell it to Recology who has access to the larger market. Also, as with my aloe plants, local yards could grow goods that are in demands by cosmetics firms and Tequila makers (agave does very well even in the cooler climes of San Francisco). That is how capitalism works: by taking a resource that's concentrated and using it in an industry that requires that concentration. Historically that has been mining, oil, asbestos; anytime a resource is found in one locale in abundance.  But as those resources get exploited until they are no longer concentrated, the business of capitalism changes such that it is the concentration of them that has to be done first, and the best way to do that is by making it worth the while of those doing the separating and concentrating by paying them for it, by making it in their own self-interest.

This is how a REAL capitalistic society would solve its problems, not by encouraging people to go to gyms to get their exercise, and then come home and sit on the couch watching  reruns of Charlie Sheen showing our youngsters the laughs to be derived from being rich and famous and using that as a platform for drug-abuse and moral degeneracy.

Corporatism, with Creditism as its financing arm, functions completely different than a capitalistic society. But since no one's ever heard of, never mind read, Adam Smith, Corporate rulers can use his phrase, the invisible hand, to refer to something he never meant, and no ones knows any better.  It requires a lazy, shiftless, dependent populace uninterested in doing a stick of work, unless it earns Corporate dollars, one that has an upperclass that shows them the splendor of caring about absolutely nobody, and having nothing to do but loll about in idle navel-worship, and the incredible adulation to be thereby derived, one that adores militarism and the domination of the world, even while it claims to believe in Freedom and equality (Fraternity, that other member of Democracy's triumvirate, was never considered of any importance in America, where it's Dog eat dog, even as, in the wake of the Boston Massacre last week, they crow about how much they care about each other ... Really? Have you never Heard of Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Jim McConnell? Grover Norquist. Or Ronald Reagan's Darling, Margaret Thatcher who died that same week, she of , "There's no such thing as society",  even as she got Damed, proving she's fully aware that there's very much such a thing as Society,  which she worked mightily to be included amongst).

It is in this way that, instead of helping see a new way to structure our economic life, and our households, many left-leaning, well-intentioned individuals and groups unknowingly work against their own interests. When you use the same terms in the same erroneous manner as the Powers that benefit from keeping the populace steeped in ignorance, you inadvertently swallow their game plan. And one of the ways we do that is by accepting their terms. Garbage, although it seems a contradiction in terms to think so, is not waste. Well, not all of it. and certainly not biodegradable foodscraps, switch grass, or yard and lawn cuttings. They are all valuable inputs into the natural world which we are continuously stripping of its needed nutriments, which will only strip us of ours, all in order to provide sustenance for the machines, which more and more are of more importance. (Keep that in mind: they ARE of more importance to the upperclass, to the military, and to Corporatism (basically defined as the marriage of Corporation and Government: Capitolism as opposed to Capitalism) than you are. You they can do without, their I-pad and SUV? not so much).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Future Shock Doctrine: Cloud Computing = Vaporized Money.

Greed'sFan: Bringing Friedmanite-marish visions to life.

As we pour more and more data into the "cloud", we mass-hypnotize ourselves into forgetting that the purpose of a cloud is to vaporize its contents, taking moisture, data, from one place and pour it down elsewhere, sometimes in torrents so unrelenting and sudden that instead of giving the sustenance that's needed, it drowns those who had prayed for its arrival. So computer-users the world over decant their most personal and strategic data into a cloudbank where it resides to be siphoned into the enormous megamemory of the NSA's Computers, computers that suck more and more energy out of the industrial infrastructure, for the purported reason of giving us security. Which they don't ... can't.

What Cyprus showed us, or should have, is that your savings are nothing. They're certainly not yours. Even as Russian Oligarchs, now having been well-versed in the chicaneries of robber-capitalism by their Western criminal cronies, started pulling money out of the Cyprus banks, the Cypriot depositors were being re-assured by their over-stuffed bank officers that there was no problem  (although, for a system to remain honest, all the remuneration of said officials should be deposited into their own banks, and not allowed to be siphoned offshore  ..which they can, and which they were... wouldn't you do the same?). This vividly illustrates the new form of electronic bank runs, which also shouldn't be news, having been already demonstrated by the method by which Northern Rock was emptied of its resources. Everything, is, after all, in the cloud. Just waiting to be vaporized. Network access is everything: round and round the capital flows, where it stops, nobody knows.

But it isn't paper money, or printing presses, it's electrons. As we've been shown once again this week that even real commodities, like that barbaric relic, gold, can be collected by central banks, stuffed into their vaults, thereby causing its price to rise, which encourages its accumulation by the great unwashed, only to have its value vaporized by those same Central Banks who keep it piled high in their vaults for ....what? As long as it's sitting on the same shelf as all the worthless mortgage-backed securities (MBS) it's relieved the banking industry of, any amount of mark-to-market value can be assigned to it. Unlike the rest of us, the Fed or the ECB can buy securities, or gold, at a given price and maintain that it is worth the price they paid at 100% valuation. What do they care what the 'Market" says it's worth?  It's only what they decree its worth that matters anymore. So your gold? That's valued at, oh, what is it today? $1320/oz? The Fed's gold? Whatever they say it s worth, just like the MBS. Anything the Fed or any Central Bank buys is quite obviously no longer subject to market valuation but to Fed valuation. Capitalism by Diktat, or Fascism, if you will, but Fascism is soooooo out of fashion these days, we need to find a different word, one that doesn't result in the world simply shrugging its collective shoulders.

So why not me? Why do I, alone amongst all my friends and acquaintances, bother myself, (and you, as much as I can) with these issues and concerns? Why do I feel an urgency about the topics I write of that makes me write about them, removing even the desire to engage in 'fine writing' (I started blogging because I wished to write fiction), settling instead for a style, or lack thereof, that modulates between anger, compassion, self-pity, satire, irony, tenderness, exasperation, and a kind of controlled insanity? Like so many others who have sought to understand the laws of economics, I am of Scottish descent, and it does seem to be something that springs internal. Like a character out of Zola's Rougon-Macquart series of novels, I seem driven by a genetic imperative, or at least predisposition, toward understanding the world of finance and political economy, but not from a desire to enrich myself or be employed by one of the great financial firms, but from an impulse that wishes to understand the hidden  strings that drive human behavior, and a conviction that those strings are manipulated, not by a Divine  impulse, as those who operate them would have us believe, and that we in our narcissistic self-adulation like to fantasize, thereby concentrating more on getting ourselves and our progeny  coveted position in the next life, thereby neglecting the attention we should be paying to the only one we have, but by very real flesh and blood beings, intent on our destruction, as it is the only means they can think of to assure their own ascendancy. But no outside influence has prodded me in my study of economics, or, more accurately, political economy, the term used by someone whose essays I've recently stumbled upon, but who I'd never heard of before, John Ruskin.

See if the introduction to Ruskin's essays, entitled, "Unto This Last", written by Clive Wilmer in 1985, the same year Joni Mitchell released her "Dog-eat-Dog" album, don't seem cogent today:

What he sought to expose was a society statistically rich that could find no employment for its workers, one that lamented over-production as a cause of poverty, that accepted the notion of planned obsolescence, encouraged an arms race as a source economic growth, allowed extremes of poverty and starvation to coexist with ostentatious luxury, professed Christianity but saw such poverty as a law of nature not to be tampered with, and expected the majority of its people to rest content in conditions of squalor and brutal ugliness. The responsibility for these evils could not be laid at the door of wicked individuals who cared nothing for their fellow humans.

Ruskin suggests that the causes of these failures were the result of the great European apostasy, but that doesn't, can't, explain its current breakdown. The Empire of America is a superficially self-proclaimed Christian country (as it must be, its actions and philosophy being in diametric opposition to the words Christ spoke, per the Book they supposedly believe verbatim, albeit only the Old Testament ... a strange state of affairs given that Christianity is based on the New Testament, the words and message of which are assiduously ignored), but its real philosophy must be found elsewhere. It favors a mechanistic , almost Skinnerian, understanding of human nature, a belief in liberty (although for most of its 50 million people on food stamps and lacking any health care coverage, the reality of deprivation renders such liberty worse that useless), and the belief that communal prosperity is only to be achieved by the individual's pursuit of his own interests, even as the main institution they trumpet as being the bedrock of its society, the family, is based on principles that are the exact opposite: that strength, happiness and security is best arrived at through the cooperation, support, and, dare I say, love, of its constituent members for one another.

It is similar contradictions that I find most disturbing in the rhetoric being used to dismiss the current Banking crisis, the most telling of which is 'printing money' in a world where not a single piece of paper need be printed in order for billions of dollars of liquidity to be poured down from the CloudBanks. Like peak oil, the reality of the fact that electronic money is a completely different animal, as different in its nature and substance as gold is from paper currency, is not denied: it is simply not even considered. This despite the fact that the ramifications of this new reality are constantly being thrown in our faces.

Some of those ramifications, although hinted at in the 2007 'Credit Crunch', and brought home, to subsequently be ignored, in the 2008 collapse that followed, were further illustrated by the Cyprus shenanigans:

  • What you think you have in financial assets, no matter how they are accounted or valued, is not in fact what you DO have ... all of it is subject to the whims of the collaborative efforts of your Bank and government working together to seize them for their own nefarious purposes whenever they see fit.

  • Savings are secure only outside of the banking system. And that security is then up to your own ingenuity. A metal box buried under a tree in the yard stuffed with cash is more secure than a bank account where the 'cash' is represented by electrons and is in actuality not physically there.

  • The push toward a credit-based economy as opposed to a cash-based one, gives great arbitrary power over our lives to un-elected, and therefore unaccountable, oligarchs who sole driving force is their own enrichment, always at the expense of yours.
  • The belief in the accumulation of wealth as a source of prosperity has receded. The importance of consumption - and the consequent danger of so-called austerity - is beginning to be widely accepted.
  • The bedrock on which Capitalism is supposedly resting, the sense of honor in its upper echelons, has been eroded so profoundly that the judge we once respected, believing that in all important acts of his life, justice comes first, his own interest second, we now know is completely erroneous, the judge completely bought. The physician, from whom we would shrink in horror if we suspected he received bribes from persons (legally big-pharm companies are, indeed, persons) interested in their profits more than our wellness (as legally, they must be), we now know is courted, usually fairly successfully, for exactly that purpose. And, not to leave out those who are tax-exempt, the clergyman, who, although their intellect is invariably small, is respected on the presumed ground of his unselfishness and servitude to a higher power, but who, as has been shown time and again, is married to Mammon, and declares that success in amassing riches, for himself as well as his grasping flock, is the greatest sign of god's approbation of one's actions.

This has turned the rhetoric of Capitalism on its head, or perhaps merely torn the veil from what it always was about: robbing the poor because they are poor, taking advantage of people's need in order to obtain his labor or property at a reduced rate. One need only look at what the Neo-liberal philosophy is to see the fact that this is no new force, that it was in fact their entire rationale behind moving entire industries to Communist China in order to obtain labor at a reduced rate by taking advantage of an entire continent's poverty. We found no problem with this as long it was the Chinese. We needn't even worry about the slave-like conditions they worked under or the destruction of their air, land and water, since we were the catalysts of their newly earned wealth, our motives should not be impugned. But as the same dynamic works its way through our own economy, as it must, and as the implications of electronic money flows impinge on our own bank accounts and 'savings', the underlying fact that questions of economics, art, and science, are inextricably woven into the fabric of morality make it increasingly apparent that, in Ruskin's words, "There is no Wealth but Life".

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oil Prices: Once Bitumen Twice as High.

Wants Bitumen; Price High

In the last week, there has been a plethora of disconnected connectedness that would give James Burke of that wonderful BBC series, "Connections" an entire season of work. 

First, Chris Hedges gives the elites of the Left a well-deserved slap with his piece featured on Paul Craig Roberts' website posted on "Common Dreams", entitled "The Treason of Intellectuals", in which he spares none of the Iraq apologists who ten years ago,  "acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate. Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing “patriots” and their liberal apologists, became pariahs".

The "Shutting down  public debate" clause then connects us to William Greider's excellent article, published in the Nation posted and on Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism blog, that so-called 'conscience of a gliberal", Ms. Paul, The Krug, in which Greider reminds us that those who disagreed with Krugman on 'Free Trade', using common sense and knowledge of how real capitalism works as opposed to the pollyanna version of it, to predict that moving industries to a communist totalitarian regime where labor is powerless to make demands for a safe work environment, unpolluted water and air, never mind living wages, would of necessity drive down wages in American companies that were moving their entire manufacturing facilities to China. Instead, Ms. Paul insisted that it would have no downward pressure on wages in the USA, stating that, “A likely outcome is that high-tech goods will be produced only in the North [the advanced industrial economies], low-tech goods only in the South [low-wage developing economies], proving that a liberal conscience can accommodate a liberal dose of racist attitudes, while spouting absolute nonsense in the process. The way he shut down public debate was by, as Greider notes, ridiculing opponents like organized labor as being typically backward Luddites, promoting what Krugman called “disguised protectionism.” That label scared off major media. Reporters take their cues from the “supposed authority” of business leaders and scholarly experts. At the most prestigious newspapers, reporters and editors simply ignored the substantive critiques of free trade orthodoxy as not worthy of their investigation. After thirty years, the case against free trade is still a taboo subject in respectable circles."

By 'respectable circles', he, of course, means those same vapid, bankrupt intellectuals who cowardly folded to the Bush regime's war-mongering and went along with it, as they cheekily described War as only a 'cakewalk', a little lark, a walk in the park to clear out the cobwebs. The utter destruction to be visited upon the Iraqi people was given nary a thought as we demonstrated once again Democratic institutions' impotence at stopping arbitrary aggression while simultaneously using the supposed desire to impose Democracy on Iraq as one of the trumped-up pretexts for the invasion.  Never mind that the powers in Europe were dead-set against it before WW2, and it was the fight against it, often disguised as a fight against Communism (England's Cliveden set, for one, considered Democracy and Communism to amount to much the same thing), left Europe in utter ruin. 

And you can't mention Iraq War without mentioning oil, and Peak Oil in particular. 

For a world heading pell mell into disaster because of the burning of fossil fuels, since the turn of the millennium the burning of the dirtiest of these, Coal, has doubled, while Exxon, for one, denies there's any such thing as peak oil. Yet now, per Exxon, as revealed in an article in Commondreams regarding an oil spill in Arkansas, diluted bitumen from Alberta tar sands' heavy crude, is mysteriously not classified as oil, because, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, these unconventional oils cannot be produced, transported, and/or refined using traditional techniques. They require new, highly energy intensive production techniques and new processes to deal with their inaccessible placements and unusual compositions. 

So, if there is in fact, no such thing as Peak Oil, why would a capitalistic system choose to instead, knowing the escalating costs and increasing frequency of climate change events, choose to arbitrarily use the dirtiest energy source known to man, and these unconventional 'oils', which are, Exxon admits, not oil at all, when there is no such phenomena as Peak Oil? Why aren't they extracting all this supposed oil and using it for our transportation and electric production instead of unconscionably accelerating the world's warming by producing these esoteric and much more energy-intensive (ie they must burn even MORE oil just to transport and refine them) products? What possible reason can there be, when, if they are to be believed,  simply pumping out all that oil they insist is there for the taking will meet our energy needs in a much cleaner, cheaper and less disastrous manner?

The answer to that is reflected in the escalation in oil prices since the turn of the millennium. When GW took office in 2001, the price per barrel of oil was $11. $11! It is now averaging closer to $111.00. The costs of providing energy to our economies has increased by a factor of TEN. (their productivity, however, is in an historical decline no amount of QE can disguise).  But, apparently NOT because there is a dwindling amount of oil, there's no such thing as peak oil, remember?  There's plenty of it. we're awash in the stuff, per Cera's "the oil is surgin'" Yergin, and Rob Wile the author of, "Peak oil is dead," sentiments echoed by Colin Sullivan, who says,per an article on, that it has "gone the way of the Flat Earth Society", writing that "Those behind the theory appear to have been dead wrong", even as every single one of the results expected and predicted by such prognosticators as Michael Klare, Colin Campbell, and Matt Savinar, to name a few, have come to a disastrous fruition and resulted in, because the obvious was denied, an intractable global depression. A phenomena that is, in turn, denied, even as Central Banks around the globe debauch their currencies and Sovereign States subject their citizens to crippling austerity in a bid to pretend everything is normal: "Move along folks, nothing to see here".

Denying the obvious has gotten us to this place in history and will bring us to the place we're heading to in 2014: the same one, as i have said in the past, it got us to in 1914. Rather than admit the failure of the uber-energy consuming paradigm of the world that the US created after WW2, the puerile "Jetson" fantasies of hyper-mobility for all, we will heedlessly speed into the wall of resource constraint that will end up the only way it has always ended up: World War, so that we can annihilate all the 'excess  population" in order to make our expectations of those who survive the slaughter fit in with our pre-determined concept of what a motorized life should be. In the process, we will go on denying the truth: there is no Peak oil, oil is not oil, the banks are not insolvent, only Dictatorships cause Wars, everyone should drive ever-larger vehicles everywhere they go, that will get ever-increasing gas mileage while more and more roads being paved over arable land won't impact our food supply, nor will growing acre upon acre of corn to burn up as fuel, after being processed in a coal-fired plant, 1000 of which were built during the Bush administration, even as China halted their own ethanol program (WHY oh WHY does an 'energy independent' USA have to make ANY gasoline from food?). Lies matter. They compound one upon the other until Exxon can tell us oil is not oil. Yeah, and deficits don't matter, War is a cakewalk, this 2-bedroom shack is worth half a million dollars, teachers should be armed in the classroom, the Defense Department increases our security, TBTF banking isn't, like 'extend and pretend' accounting, simply a euphemism for fraud, you have deposit insurance, and all debts will be paid, and we just shrug. Whatever. TGIF. I need a drink.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Resurrection of the Zombie CyprusBank: Gyp-R-Us.

The Resurrection of the Bank:
"ATM! ATM!" ..."I'll give you your ATM, my pretty!"

I was lucky enough to overhear a conversation that the infamous Russian scoundrel, Tulip Van d'Mir,  was having the other day, and thought I'd try to record some of the juicier tidbits, which proved harder than I'd supposed. But listening in on important conversations is not even a choice anymore. People discuss, in front of total strangers, as though secure in the privacy of their own living rooms, topics, the sensitivity of which, is such that they would go into the other room if they were, in fact, in the privacy of their own living rooms. But in public, where no one especially wants to, but everyone is essentially forced to, listen to your drivel, people discuss the most private of secrets ... never more so than when they're somebody else's (such as their employer's). So when I heard the word "Cyprus", spoken in a Russian accent, naturally my ears perked up.

San Francisco has a popular Farmer's Market held every weekend outside its renovated Ferry Building, one of the most remarkable revitalization stories in US urban history, all precipitated by a rather upsetting Earthquake in 1989, which resulted in the decision to demolish what was a still precariously standing Embarcadero Freeway. It was while I was pretending to shop there while checking out the customers' merchandise that I first heard this remark, "Why, of course, we're in the era of the high commodity fetish". This is the time you wish you could hear the other person. Instead, after a pause, I heard him growl,

"Communism, Capitalism, Corporatism, they're merely different manifestations of the same thing - concentrated power in the hands of a few elites that treat humans as resources. It's like Vandana Shiva said, The World Bank takes power away from communities, gives it to the central government, then gives it to the corporations through privatizations. The only reason Russians are more hip to what's going on is that they've already been shoved under the train, so the Western Hypocrisy of calling 'structural adjustment' when it applies to third world economies, and 'austerity' when it's applied to their own, is just more of the same. But the SAPS just fall for it. (Big guffaw, a pause, and then: )
Hah! They still don't get it: the Faustian bargain that was made was 'Free Trade' in exchange for the power to govern themselves. Citizens around the globe have elected social democracies and workers' parties, but a fat lot of good it's going to do 'em, as the only thing they're good for is to watch helplessly and plead impotence in the face of 'Market Forces' and IMF dictates."

He paused for breath again, but his level of indignation was causing him to puff like a runner, while the volume of his voice was increasing and his arms pumping like a parody of Will Robins' Danger ... Danger ... robot from "Lost in Space". Meanwhile, I'd lost all interest in vegetables, as I noticed him deliberately lower his voice as he mentioned the word 'Cyprus'.

I couldn't hear him for awhile. I was remembering GW's "Trade helps Freedom". Hahahha .... that was the funny thing about GW, he didn't even have to lie: it's true. He never mentioned whose. The Slave Trade helped freedom too, just not that of the slaves. But no free people are long tolerated by free markets. No trickle down Democracy is sculpted by the invisible hand of the market. It's just a fantasy of the well-off who prefer it to social engagement, so they can retire into their advertisements, like hermits going into a cave to contemplate, only to discover, as the passengers on Cruise lines have, that the real world has a way of impinging on them even through multiple layers of denial reinforced by a media house of mirrors.

But I'd gotten too introspective ... Tulip was gesticulating wildly now, and his reddened face suggested he was becoming apoplectic. I had to get closer, but it seemed unseemly to cup my ear in his direction. Luckily, instead he turned in mine ...

"Botched central planning and misuse of State Capital, isn't that what we brought the Berlin Wall down to avoid? Instead power shifts further and further from local control, We don't need more 'enlightened' central bureaucracy. Yet  we have Liberals insisting that the key to prosperity is foreign investment. No one seems willing to confront the power elite with the consequences of their broken promises of deregulation, or trickle-down capitalism. While liberals boast of cultural diversity and argue for gay marriage, neo-liberal economics is biased toward greater centralization, consolidation, and homogeneity: it is a War on economic Diversity. Like capitalism itself, Americans have no understanding of how the computerization of the economy and life in general is biased toward the elite. Convinced that their system is superior to any other, they fail to see that the same forces that ripped apart the Soviet Union are now at work to do the same thing first in Europe, and then in America. Things of real value like a pension and a roof over one's head are bartered away, and not even for life's necessities, but for trinkets and toys in the guise of Killer apps and Tivos. Freedom's on the march, all right, right out the door, as the Federal government, run by either party, follows the Nazis and fosters autocracy, brutality and hatred. They've already forgotten that there was any such thing as tolerance, having decided en masse that you must be brutal and ruthless, as evidenced by Obama's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize; and so the spirit of ruthless brutality has entered into the very fiber of the national life, infecting Congress, the Courts, the Police, .... No no no, such infections are never cured, they must be stomped out. But it was the Americans, with our help, though they're loath to admit it, that stomped it out in Europe; but who can stop the Americans?"

"Whoa, Tulip", I thought, "No one wants to". Or are you unaware that all those Euros being pulled from Cypriot banks are finding a safe haven in New Yourk (sic)? American hegemoney (sic), of which most Americans are blithely unaware, is not a winner for Americans, but for other countries' citizens. That 's the true magic of the market place, the Crypto-colonizers become the colonized. The Native Americans are shoved aside in favor of the lower-cost immigrants, and, just like the true Native Americans  are shoved onto economic reservations and become completely dependent on Federal largess and drugs. Anti-Socialism in action.

Like Dmitri Orlov, Tulip doesn't see that the US is very different than the USSR, in that its Dream Machine is very powerful, attractive, and seductive. Militarism, aggression, the promise of dominance and the lure of unearned, easy riches will always trump fairness, virtue and sobriety. Of course, it doesn't hurt that if it doesn't, it just stomps you into the dirt.

On that note, sadly, Van d'Mir's wife or girlfriend  reclaimed him and they piled into the limo (how cliche). Was his glance in my direction purely accidental? I'd felt a chill down my spine as I watched a third man I'd not noticed before pull the door open for them and say something to him in Russian. I was hoping to return for more next week, because few of my fellow citizens even think about half the topics he was bandying about and I was thirsty to hear more, but that cold look gives me pause. Why didn't I think of that? Still ... I think my curiosity will win out by then. Besides, it's called a public market because it's, well, public. Watch what you say if you don't want anyone to hear it. People would do well to remember that.