Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Groupthink

13 November 2020

“Groupthink” is a term that came into use in the early 1970s to describe phenomena of group behavior noticed by psychologist Irving Janis and others. This discussion of the subject uses data obtained from Wikipedia.

The term was coined 20 years earlier by sociologist William H. Whyte who had some success writing popular books about the effects of urban environments on human behaviors. He modeled the term after George Orwell’s newspeak, introduced in his now-famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is sometimes referred to as “group think.”

Janis described this behavior pattern in a rather satirical way, in the manner of C. Northcote Parkinson in his writings about bureaucracies (both business and government, but especially government) that were popular in the late 1950s and onward.

Janis attempted to apply the principle to executive groups thus: “…among the members of a policy-making ingroup” certain conditions will result in “…the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink…” resulting in “irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against outgroups.” (I have rephrased his original wording a bit to clarify my own argument.)

Too narrow a view?

In the fashion of the times, Janis wanted his work to be relevant to corporate and government decision makers. This did not, however, include the general public, although – in a democracy at least – the public must make decisions all the time; political, economic, and philosophical (or moral).

As it turned out, the phenomenon was more likely to show up in public opinion, entertainment and other consumer choices, and voting. This is because, I would suggest, in groups where good decisions are critical, trained and experienced decision makers are more likely to be used. And they tend to make better decisions than the general public, being less swayed by obvious irrationality or deception.

The general public, however, pressed as they are with the challenges of daily life, and not necessarily trained in decision-making, are seen to be swayed by persuasive lying, the omission of facts, and irrational or provocative statements. Psychology and sociology, prone as they are to ignore the role of sociopaths in public life, often attribute these public failings to the public’s lack of education, or prejudices. I find this a bit patronizing.

Three areas of public behavior mentioned in the Wikipedia article are:

  1. Behavior of users of social media, as well as behavior of the platform administrators.
  2. The tendency of “leaders” to tell the public, or their fans or followers, what they want to hear rather than what is true, and of fans or followers to only look at data that supports their beliefs or preferred narrative.
  3. The tendency in certain groups to coerce members into obedience or agreement. In particular, we have as examples various recent dictatorships such as Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. But more recently this type of behavior has shown up in universities (academia), and on social media platforms.

Shallow concepts of causation

Typical of “modern” psychology and sociology, attempts to identify and measure causative factors tend to be superficial.

The first and most obvious problem arises from their poor confront of evil.

We are for the most part looking at situations where a single criminal or a small criminal group is attempting to persuade a decision-making body to make choices that will benefit the criminals (and presumably not the larger group).

The tools available to criminals to accomplish this relate to the various reactive behaviors that are common in human groups. At the base of these behaviors is a “mental machine” that reacts based on stored experiences rather than on present-time actuality. It is a form of mental laziness that most people are prone to, particularly if they are tired or under unusual stress.

The criminals, then, only have to identify the most common “buttons” for the group they are targeting, and push them to get the desired (irrational) reaction. This response manifests as “group think” because everyone reacted the same way. The probable truth is that very little real thought was involved. The behaviors noted were due to “reactive thought.”

Ingroups and Outgroups

One great and favored way to generate irrational reactions is to create the appearance of conflict, even when the target groups might prefer peace. Thus, the psychologists talk about “ingroups” and “outgroups.”

Criminals have gone so far as to arrange for and fund violent events to make it appear that one group is an enemy of another. The only real enemies, quite often, are the criminals themselves.

Once violent conflict, or the threat of it, has been established, all groups that have been persuaded that they are part of the conflict can be incited to do things that they would only do to enemies or criminals and not to friends or potential friends.

The modes of persuasion include various forms of character assassination or black (false) propaganda leveled at leaders or members of rival groups. The exact accusations depend on the “buttons.” Thus, Trump is accused of being a “fascist” because the Left hates Fascism. And the Left are accused of being “communists” because the Right hates Communism.

The real criminals will identify with whatever ideology suits their purposes. They really don’t care about ideology. They only care about tricking others to give them what they think they require to remain operational.

Once group members are convinced that their rivals are all “nazis” or whatever, they can be persuaded to take actions against their rivals that would, under normal circumstances, be considered unlawful. This is the way criminals turn target audiences into accomplices in crime. Let’s be clear: To riot, spray paint public buildings, and destroy other people’s property is CRIMINAL. I hope that is clear enough.

Earlier examples

  1. Race. This is a perfect way to pit people against each other, as the identification process usually involves only hair and skin color. Very close to nothing told to one race about another race has ever been true or will ever be true. Yet these lies have resulted in more “groupthink” violence than just about any other strategy that has been employed.
  2. Religion. I am sure that 99.999% of what is said to Christians about Muslims (or to Muslims about Christians?) is false and designed only to incite fear or violence. Great conflicts such as The Crusades have been based on such lies. The damage from those conflicts persists to this day. I am particularly impacted by this ancient strategy, since the false rumor that my church is a “cult” continues to this day, and is only forwarded in the hope that my church will disappear, which I assure readers it has no intention of doing.
  3. Sex. Here is another way to cause conflict based on characteristics that are very easy to see. This gets very emotionally charged, as we all had mothers, didn’t we? Only a criminal could show true hatred for his own mother, and only true criminals forward the lie that the woman is in some way inferior or has secret powers that must be feared and suppressed. This is a very sad way of dividing us that I have seen many examples of.

More modern examples

  1. Mental illness. In most places, if you can successfully label someone “psychotic” you can have police sent to their home to pick them up and take them to a psychiatric hospital where they will be drugged or killed. I hope none of my readers think I’m kidding about this. It happens all the time. I DON NOT propose that we handle sociopaths (criminals) this way. They should be carefully tested for this trait, and if found to have it, labeled and disallowed from holding high positions in government or industry. They should have a right to appeal such a decision as many times as they see fit – without doing it in a way that is disruptive.
  2. Political correctness. This has now morphed into many variations. This seems to be the idea that any public speaker should be required to self-police his verbiage to such a degree that it will not offend anyone. Anyone known to constantly violate this mandate should not be given the right to speak in public. The fact that this dictum violates basic human rights is countered by the assertion that such speech incites violence, like Hitler did against the Jews. However, I have never seen it used that way in recent times. This is a prime example of modern groupthink.
  3. Emotionally challenging situations. By leaving almost an entire generation out to twist slowly in the wind of human life, with no practice or instruction in the fine art of sticking up for oneself or keeping calm while someone tries to push all your buttons, we have before us a group of young people who have become convinced that to say something to them that makes them blush or become slightly uneasy constitutes a form of violence. As such comments are the stock in trade of sociopaths, we have in this strategy the ultimate ironic turn being played against us by the criminals. Pretending to be psychiatrists or psychologists, they have somehow convinced us that we are destined to be eternal children, never sufficiently resilient to stand on our own two feet without the help of our parents, the state, or some therapist. It makes good money for bureaucrats and therapists, I guess. It has been a disaster for this planet.

Thinking versus reacting

Psychology, in striving to be right without looking at any facts that would help it to do so, has ignored the actual mechanisms of reactive behavior and grouped much of it with analytical behavior which of course it isn’t.

The fact that a person can come up with “analytical” reasons why he reacted a certain way does not change the fact that he reacted.

The skill of retaining rationality in the face of extreme pressures to react is a fine art. It is not easily learned on this planet at this time. And only a few so far have mastered it. Some day, I truly hope, there will be enough such people to stand up once and for all against the criminals of the world, and with great love, end their reign of terror here.

I certainly look forward to that day.

Dady Digs Deeper: Disasters by Design

27 October 2020

I have now finished Dr. Dady Chery’s book about Haiti, written around 2015. This is her only book, but she has written many articles and continues to do so. I looked for a quote that would sum up how she felt about the situation at that time. I found this:

In the shadow of neocolonialism, criminal elements within NGOs, religious and otherwise, converge like so many hyenas on the unfortunate victims of natural disasters, for the purpose of human trafficking. As in Haiti, the women and baby snatchers would be replaced by the likes of Bill Clinton, who will promise investments and reconstruction so long as the country’s assets are liquidated in a fire sale to corporations. More than five years after its earthquake, Haiti is not reconstructed, but rather more demolished than ever before, and it is firmly under the boots of disaster capitalists.

Chery, Dady. We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation (p. 290). News Junkie Post Press. Kindle Edition.

In the latter part of her book, Dady reviews several examples of how “disaster capitalism” works. Notice that our current situation, which she writes about on her blog, is another example.

Biopiracy

“Scientific expeditions” arrive to locate rare and exotic plants and animals. Samples are brought back for testing and genetic studies. These are a possible source of new medicines. The fact that these specimens are often endangered in their native habitat, and that those habitats are shrinking due to Western industrial-style activities in those areas, is given lip service, but no real action results. This constitutes a new form a theft of natural resources.

In many cases, real protection of species and habitats would best be achieved by returning control of those areas to their original inhabitants. Local Haitian fishermen, for instance, kept a beautiful and delicate fishery ecosystem stable for years. Then industrial-style fishing from the Dominican Republic came in and depleted or destroyed those fisheries and habitats.

Ecotourism

Foreign interests, working through local officials who are corruptible, purchase acres of prime coastal land and some inland areas for the development of hotels, airports, and support services for tourists who like to visit “remote” places with lots of “nature.”

This development not only tends to ruin the area, but often displaces existing residents, forcing them off their farms or other businesses and into the tourism industry. For various reasons, they may get no compensation for the loss of their land. Much of the construction work, and concessions once the development is up and operating, is contracted out to non-local companies, so the locals do not benefit from those activities, either.

Dady’s example was Île-à-Vache, a beautiful little island in the south that was targeted by the Haitian government as a new tourism development. The Haitian Constitution protects coastal lands and similar areas as common property, so all the development done there was in violation of Haitian law, overseen by bribed officials. If the residents protest, their leaders are arrested. One such leader has been in prison for many years now. No charges were ever brought.

Violence against citizens

Things can be “made to happen” in a certain area that is looked upon as a favorable place for commercial development. Citizens may the be ordered to leave the area. If they resist, they may be treated as combatants and fired upon to scare them away.

This happened in Haiti in a place near Jacmel, in the southeast. A populated area was seen as favorable for tourist development, so an excuse was devised to remove the population from that area. They were supposedly endangering the cleanliness of water feeding a reservoir.

When the residents refused to leave, 36 “commandos” were sent in to evict them. Four children and eight adults were shot dead. The residents also had houses burned and livestock killed.

In another incident in the north, the prime minster inspected an historic site (the Citadel, actually), declared it in ill repair, but stated he did not have the money to fix it, then departed on his motorcycle, leading his entourage on a fast chase down a hill. A staff car then plowed into a nearby house, injuring seven people, including one little girl very seriously. Behind the scenes, negotiations were taking place to bring in an out-of-country firm to operate the site, the most important site of national pride in all of Haiti.

In another incident, a young female reporter was attacked by police while covering a protest. It took many months for a judge to finally award a small amount of damages (about $9,000 US) in what should have been an obvious case of abusive conduct.

In another case – a very important corruption case – the presiding judge mysteriously died after being threatened by high-level government officials. The plaintiff had also been threatened. The officials would not admit that any threats had occurred.

Separation of Rich and Poor

Dady then details the situation in the U.S.

Disaster response – Katrina for example – treats the poor as crime suspects rather than victims in need of assistance.

There is much statistical evidence that the lower classes – largely people of color – continue to be held down by various “legal” and illegal means.

She mentions the gentrification of New York City. Now all the service workers have to ride in (on the subway) from the outlying boroughs. They used to be able to afford to live in the city. Meanwhile, the homeless live in underground tunnels.

Haiti has been at the heart of the disaster-capitalist program. For years, NGOs have administered palliatives to suppress a popular revolt, as the country’s once lively agricultural economy was displaced by a less than 60-cents-per-hour sweatshop economy and a ruthless military occupation by the UN. With the advent of the UN-introduced cholera in 2010, medical NGOs such as the Red Cross, MSF and PIH failed to control the epidemic; instead they have organized to stay for the long term. For years, Haitians have appealed to the world for solidarity against the parasitic onslaught and warned that everyone was one disaster away from becoming a Haitian too, but the appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Chery, Dady. We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation (p. 240). News Junkie Post Press. Kindle Edition.

After tropical storm Sandy in 2012, only the Occupy Movement (themselves mostly well-to-do people) were in a position to supply support services to the people who lost their electric power. FEMA was almost totally ineffective, while President Obama is on record as pleading with Americans to donate to the Red Cross.

On 30 May, 2011, Miami police killed Haitian Raymond Hérissé who had become a bit involved in the local drug scene, but was simply partying on the night of his death. The police fire also hit four other people. We have a video of the event only because one of the attendees managed so successfully hide his copy from the police. All other recordings were destroyed by smashing or confiscating phones. Rather than coming clean, the police decided to try to convince the public of how bad the man they killed really was.

As we know, incidents like this, though not everyday, are not uncommon. In that year (July 2010 to May 2011) Miami police had killed seven young men. No police were charged.

It should be noted that police also die in the line of duty.

On 13 Nov, 2011, soldiers and police attacked and occupied favela Rocinha, the largest favela (squatter settlement) in Rio de Janeiro. The supposed reason for the attack was to reduce drug dealing. But the favela is still controlled by a major criminal organization, Amigos dos Amigos, per Wikipedia.

Dady makes the point that Haiti is the only country NOT AT WAR that is occupied by U.N. peacekeeping troops. She sees Haiti being used as a training ground for how to use “friendly” soldiers to terrorize poor people.

Wars against immigrants

While U.S. political parties argue over human trafficking across the Mexican border, elsewhere long-time immigrants have been forced out of their places of residence for odd political reasons.

There are many people of Haitian (black African) descent who have lived and worked for lifetimes in the Dominican Republic. In 2013, hundreds of these people were abruptly “deported” to Haiti. Many of them were born in the DR and considered themselves residents of DR, not Haiti. Many were forced to leave without being able to collect their belongings. Those belongings were then stolen by the people who ousted them.

DR also hosts several “binational” markets that are supposed to be open to both Haitian and Dominican Republic vendors. The Haitians live just across a river. But they are often pushed out by high fees or violence.

The U.N. has done nothing to improve this situation. In fact, it helped the DR collect data on exactly who in the DR was of Haitian origin. This happened in 2012. The deportations then started after the DR changed their immigration laws, in 2013. Later that year, investigations confirmed that human rights violations had occurred. Oddly, Haitian officials were not much involved in the complaints that led to those investigations. Both countries are under heavy pressure from outside forces to take bribes and soften up their populations for further encroachments.

More quotes from her book:

Here is how the con works: Venezuela sells oil to Haiti at 60 percent of the going rate, with the remaining 40 percent being payable over 25 years at one-percent interest. The Haitian state sells the oil at market prices and does as it wishes with the profits, but all the loan, every drop of sweat to pay it with interest during the next 25 years, will be wrung from the labor of poor Haitians.

Chery, Dady. We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation (p. 266). News Junkie Post Press. Kindle Edition.

Every year for a decade, Haitian presidents and prime ministers have appeared at the UN to invite the international community to rule Haiti for yet another year because, presumably, the citizens of the world’s first black republic cannot govern themselves. Nothing: not the alleged gang rapes, murders, child prostitution, or even the cholera from the so-called peacekeepers, have induced the Haitian regimes to say no to the UN.

Chery, Dady. We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation (p. 267). News Junkie Post Press. Kindle Edition.

Dr. Dady Chery goes on to eulogize Toussaint L’Ouverture, a great Haitian general and leader who was tricked by Napoleon into attending a peace conference where he was captured and sent to France to die in prison. She sees nothing but bitter racism and power lust in the actions of the likes of Napoleon. L’Ouverture on the other hand stands as a self-made leader and a martyr for the cause of freedom.

Dady then goes on to outline the current situation in Haiti, dominated by the legacy of Clinton’s Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, installed after the 2010 earthquake. To this day, Haiti appears to be in the hands of politicians corrupted by promises of personal wealth offered to them by external groups only interested in profiting from misery.

Why cooperate with your own suppression?

Dady goes on to outline and endorse MLK’s approach to making change – non-cooperation. Though I believe she does not emphasize enough the role of a free press (or other groups) in educating the people so that they can make sound local decisions, this may not be the major situation in Haiti at this time. There they still struggle just to regain control of their lives. The rule of law, in the case of Haiti, seems insufficient to ensure self-governance. And so it goes in many places across this planet.

Threat

14 October 2020

Imagine receiving on your phone a message spoken by an automated voice announcing the following:

…social security number…the moment you receive this message I need you to get back to me on my department/division number…

Now, if I don’t hear a call from you we will have to issue an arrest warrant under your name and have you arrested.

So get back to me as soon as possible. Thank you.

Archived voice message.

The dark world of phone scamming

This happened to me a few days ago.

I looked on the internet for data about this type of call.

At the top of the search results was a Forbes article of 24 Nov 2019 about a recent increase in phone scams involving Social Security numbers. It covers this particular version of the scam (intended to extort money or personal information from you) and several others.

The articles states, “The government says it would “never” threaten anyone with arrest for crimes associated with their Social Security number.” This data is taken from a Social Security Administration press release on the subject, dated 7 December 2018.

According to a Wikipedia article on the subject, in 2011 this type of fraud managed to steal about $20 billion from the legitimate economy.

The cost of crime

Crime and society’s response to it pose significant costs to the United States. The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that federal, state, and local governments collectively spent over $280 billion in fiscal year 2012 (adjusted to 2016 dollars) on criminal justice programs such as police protection, the court system, and incarceration. There are also many other financial and nonfinancial effects of crime that researchers consider when estimating the total costs of crime in the United States. These can include tangible costs such as replacing damaged property or medical care to treat victims’ injuries, and intangible costs such as changes in people’s behavior to avoid crime, among many other costs. Researchers have estimated varying annual costs of crime, including totals of $690 billion, $1.57 trillion, and $3.41 trillion, adjusted to 2016 dollars.

GAO-17-732: Published: Sep 26, 2017

We are looking, then, at crime-associated costs (drain on the legitimate economy) anywhere from about $1trillion, on up to multiple trillions, depending on exactly what you include as a “cost” and as a “crime.” Annual GDP for the U.S. is around $20 trillion, or $5 trillion per quarter.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2nd Quarter (April-May-June) GDP dropped by $2 trillion from the previous year. That means the legitimate economy lost (had stolen from it) about 10% of its annual production – 40% of its quarterly production – due to the economic lockdowns meant to (we are being told) control the outbreak of a new viral disease.

These figures are of necessity quite impersonal. Yet imagine how your life would change if your personal income suddenly dropped to about half of its normal range, with no prospect of ever recovering that loss. Imagine how your life would change if your car were stolen or your house burned down, even if you had insurance to cover the replacement value of the vehicle or the structure. Imagine how your life would change if police appeared at your door and announced that you were under arrest.

A culture of atrocity

What sort of culture do we live in, that would allow the situation to deteriorate to its current state?

We have battled against criminality in society for as long as anybody can remember. Just within recent history, we decided that the right thing to do was to elevate the value of individual freedom and devalue the tyranny of the group. History labels that period of our history “the Enlightenment.”

But this was far from a world agreement. Not only did various powerful groups fight against this trend, but many who paid lip service to it were not really that dedicated.

And so another set of battles were fought, just to have this basic principle of human rights extended to all humans, not just those with a certain appearance or bloodline.

And still this principle was fought. Eugenics arose, along with mob “justice” in the U.S. South, forced sterilization all over the planet, and even forced euthanasia (mercy killing) for a while in Germany. More wars were fought, and more property destroyed in the name of “us over them.”

By the middle of the last century, while the U.N. was ratifying the most comprehensive list of human rights ever assembled (1948) in response to Nazi atrocities, a “Communist” dictator in Russia had already killed or ruined the lives of millions he fancied to be his political opponents, or in other ways undesirable. A similar thing happened in “Communist” China between 1958 and 1962. And Blacks continued to suffer race-motivated terror and killings in the U.S., in Africa, and in the African diaspora; Haiti in particular.

Atrocities of this magnitude do not occur without support or cooperation from high places in society. And yet a broad base of support-via-neglect, or perhaps arising from ignorance, apathy, or fear, must also exist. It has been observed that this “support” (or acquiescence) is created from the top through propaganda efforts, and may rely on belief systems installed in a similar way in the more distant past.

Don’t honest people have rights, too?

Getting a handle on the threat

There are a few points that are clear to me:

  1. Criminals seek power as a way to protect themselves and their activities.
  2. If honest people can’t learn to identify and handle criminals, they will continue to suffer.
  3. Persons who seek positions of power should be fairly tested for criminality, and denied the position if they don’t pass as basically honest.
  4. Handling governments in this way would be insufficient. Large businesses also function like governments and must follow similar rules.

Structures of power

This post may seem a bit disjointed, as I was planning to write more about these general subjects before I got the threatening call. I have touched on these themes in past posts, and will continue to do so. But the basic data I am working with are worth repeating.

In the book I’m reading about Haiti, local governments are seen (as would be expected) to be closer to the people. Thus locally-elected officials are more likely to truly represent their communities and, possibly, be more immune from corruption. Dr. Chery reports that the central government of Haiti is highly corrupt, and suggests that this is the general pattern across the world, in both democracies and otherwise.

Commonly-held beliefs and values are attained by methods that are essentially irrational.

Though the Enlightenment has also been known as the Age Of Reason, in the end it could only replace one kind of irrationality (mysticism, religion, superstition) with another, which came to be known, broadly, as “science.”

Science is irrational because it reacts against religion instead of solving the problems of religion. Thus to this day we still argue about Origin, Spirit, and Evil. Furthermore, irrationality is instilled in all of us in ways that most of us are not aware of and have not properly confronted. Thus, Democracy can only obtain agreements that are essentially irrational. That this makes it inferior to other political structures is not being suggested here. But you can see its weak points. Can you imagine allowing children to vote for who would get to be their parents? That is essentially what Democracy does. It’s main advantage is that you can hold the voters responsible for the quality of their government. And thus, possibly, it has a future.

Governments that work for the good of everyone deserve support.

Some benevolent dictators are still adulated in history simply because they made enough good decisions to give their people a measure of security, prosperity and freedom. But for the most part these were one-off wins.

The secret of good leaders was probably their ability to spot and handle criminals rather than give them power. So far we have not found a way to guarantee this in government. And so we muddle on.

Power asymmetries are detrimental to basic rights and freedoms.

If a would-be tyrant can identify an individual as a political enemy and send loyal agents to his house to arrest him and get him thrown in prison, then that would-be tyrant has a “workable” path to becoming a full-fledged tyrant.

If a would-be tyrant has no legal structure he can use against his supposed enemies, then he is less likely to ever become a tyrant.

Dr. Chery, in writing about Haiti, extols the virtues of bottom-up politics. Haiti’s Constitution (1987) attempts to enact such a system. What does this actually look like in practical terms? The problem is that organizations need leaders/coordinators. This sets up a constant tension between leaders and the members of the groups they lead. An honest leader, then, will tend to retain his or her position to the extent that the group members can see that they are mostly benefiting from the decisions being made by the leader. Criminals can upset any such system to the extent that the members of the group are uneducated on the subject of criminals. I know this subject as Ethics. It is a vital subject in any group.

In practical terms, then, a group trained in Ethics has some chance of prospering if its leader is chosen on the basis of skill in leadership and if the group has a workable way to police itself using some sort of Ethics system. Larger groups have similar chances to prosper if they operate under similar conditions. This gives you a structure that starts at the bottom with smallish production groups, then continues up in a coordinating structure that makes use of people who have proven to be successful leaders at lower levels. Choice of personnel may come from the bottom up, or from the top down, or from some combination of the two. But an Ethics system (operated by honest people) is required to prevent criminals from rising through the ranks or appearing suddenly in senior positions. Groups that are prospering long term have something like this in place, whether they realize it or not.

Individual freedom is highly desirable.

This is because individual ability is highly desirable, and this goes hand-in-hand with freedom. Only a criminal would rail against giving honest people the rights and freedoms that they require. For it is these things that boost individual ability, and thus group prosperity.

You cannot expect equal results in such a community, even if you obtain equal opportunity. Some beings are just more able. But to the extent that you can give each community member an equal, or equivalent, chance to develop and demonstrate his or her abilities, higher levels of group prosperity are possible.

Society will always come up against the challenge of families who wish to preserve their “place” in society by devious means. This is what the Ethics system is there for. Its lack is why things are the way they are now.

Dady Digs Deeper – GDP

5 October 2020

GDP: Gross Domestic Product

This term was unknown in literature before the 1960s. It came into popular use in the 1980s.

All this is from Investopedia:

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. It is a broad measure of overall domestic production.

The calculation of a country’s GDP encompasses all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments, additions to private inventories, construction costs, and the foreign balance of trade.

The expenditure approach, also known as the spending approach, uses spending by the different groups that participate in the economy to calculate GDP. The U.S. primarily uses the expenditure approach. This approach can be expressed by the following formula: GDP = C + G + I + NX (where C=consumption; G=government spending; I=Investment; and NX=net exports).

Consumer spending is the biggest component, accounting for more than two-thirds of the U.S. GDP.

After the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, GDP was widely adopted as the standard means for measuring national economies, though ironically the U.S. continued to use GNP as its official measure of economic welfare until 1991, after which it switched to GDP.

Some criticisms of GDP:

  • It ignores the value of informal or unrecorded economic activity.
  • It emphasizes material output without considering overall well-being.
  • It counts all costs, including waste, as economic “benefits.”

Bretton Woods

Bretton Woods” was a wartime economic agreement centered in Europe but brokered by the United States. It is named after the town in New Hampshire where the delegates met.

The agreement created the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These were not actually implemented until after the war. It established a monetary system pegged to the U.S. dollar and the price of gold. In 1971, the U.S. under Nixon backed out of this agreement.

However, the program of global lending initiated by Bretton Woods continues to this day. The 1950s marks a new phase in how the planet is managed economically and politically. Coincidentally, a real government interest in UFOs dates from this same period.

This system, as far as we can tell, is operated for the benefit of bankers and other moneyed interests; the ruling elites. Its propaganda story of “economic development” is ironic from the viewpoint of many of its victims.

Dady’s view

In the four years since Haiti’s earthquake, the unemployment rate climbed from 80 percent to more than 85 percent. Simultaneously, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went from a decline of 5.5 percent in 2010 to a growth of about four percent per year on average.

Dr. Dady Chery. We Have Dared to Be Free: Haiti’s Struggle Against Occupation (p. 81). News Junkie Post Press. Kindle Edition.

Dady sees the current system of international lending as a modern way to continue the exploitation of “poor” countries under the guise of “economic assistance.” GDP is a primary statistic used by international lenders to measure the “success” of their programs. The goal is to profit from the work, suffering or enslavement of poor people, while keeping them poor and thus desperate enough to continue to work, suffer and endure slavery.

She lists seven “enemies” of GDP:

  1. Home Ownership.
  2. Unpaid Labor.
  3. Barter.
  4. Durability of goods.
  5. Government services that are cheaper than private replacements.
  6. Good luck.
  7. Population decline.

These are the factors that international lenders, which include USAID, the International Development Bank, and the European Union, and their supporters, work against in the countries they lend to.

The major vectors of attack include:

  • Takeover of parliaments, government executive functions (run by Presidents and Prime Ministers), or both.
  • Local businesses owned or operated by local politicians.
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by wealthy donors.
  • International corporations.

Examples

Home Ownership.

Forced urbanization of the rural poor tends to move them out of housing they owned or controlled into housing they must rent. This has happened in Haiti by replacing subsistence farming with more “modern” practices that produce export crops instead of products that local people need and want. A large number of Haitian farmers were also forced off their land by introducing cholera to the country. Too sick to work, they were forced to flee to the city where medical assistance was available.

Unpaid Labor.

Urbanization has forced more women to seek paid work, rather than doing informal work at home and in the community. It has contributed to destroying the traditional practice of communities cooperating around important agricultural activities, such as harvest time. It has also forced more families to purchase all the food they require rather than growing some of it themselves.

Barter.

Urban life discourages barter by forcing everyone to spend all their working hours doing one thing at a factory or sweat shop.

Durability of goods.

Without being able to barter for equipment repairs, lower-quality products become tolerated. Increased sales of goods “looks good” economically, even though it is actually more wasteful.

Government services.

Bottled water is generally more expensive than municipal water, so tends to be favored in a GDP push. In Haiti, many towns have seen their local water systems destroyed by vandalism or natural disasters, forcing them to use privately-supplied water. In some farming regions, community irrigation systems are not maintained, for lack of local funds or manpower.

Good luck.

Earthquakes, storms, floods, looting, arson, and civil strife wear heavily on a population, but are “good” for GDP. Haiti has seen all of these, including many incidents, such as the introduction of cholera and the destruction of community property by gangs, that appeared to be planned attacks. In a similar way, bad health increases medical spending. This helps the GDP and the doctors and hospital owners, not the poor who are being made sick.

Population decline.

Population growth is “good” for GDP, and the proliferation of high-income spenders helps much more than that of low-income spenders. So we see a lopsided emphasis on population control in poor countries, among the poor in those countries. This functions as a sort of soft genocide.

Dr. Chery reports that as of 2015, the majority of the urban “middle class” in Haiti are foreigners who work for NGOs. One of the premiere NGOs, Partners In Health, is closely connected to Bill Clinton through its co-founder Paul Farmer. Another co-founder is Jim Yong Kim, who has also been heavily involved with the WHO, and the World Bank.

Dr. Chery has also studied the trajectory of the “new” polio vaccine promoted by the Gates Foundation in poor countries. In India in 2011 this vaccine caused 47,500 cases of Vaccine-Associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis (more recently renamed Non-Polio Acute Flaccid Paralysis). This “live virus” vaccine was banned in the U.S. in 2000 because of this effect. It is cheaper to produce than the safer vaccine used for many years in the U.S.

The Creole Pig

Dr. Chery also tells the story of how Haitians lost their domestic pigs. These animals were important to many Haitians, and they were kept as a sort of “insurance” against bad times. If things got bad, a pig could be sold, or slaughtered for food.

As Wikipedia (somewhat edited) reports:

In the late 1970s an outbreak of African swine fever hit the neighboring Dominican Republic (DR) and spread to Haiti. Officials [what officials?] feared it would spread to the United States. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Haitian government led a campaign, known by the French acronym PEPPADEP, to exterminate Haiti’s pigs.

Farmers who were compensated received pigs imported from the United States. In the Haitian peasant community, the government’s eradication and replacement program was highly criticized. The peasants argued that they were not fairly compensated for their pigs and that the breed imported from the United States was unsuitable for the Haitian environment and economy.

In recent years, Haitian and French agronomists have bred a new variety of pig similar to Haiti’s Creole pig, and an effort to repopulate Haiti with these pigs is underway.

Medical terrorism

“African Swine Fever” is similar to “swine flu.” But Swine Influenza is associated with a coronavirus (H1N1/09) which is believed to have caused a mild pandemic that occurred in 2009. The fever virus is a larger virus that has never been known to jump to humans.

There is no real evidence that the extermination of the Creole Pigs was necessary. Here we have, then, another example of medical terrorism resulting in economic destruction and suffering. Sound familiar?

Why They Hate The West

4 October 2020

Dinesh

Dinesh D’Souza is an American conservative born in Mumbai, India. In his many recent films and books he has attempted to expose the lie that is the Democratic Party. I recently viewed his film Hillary’s America which was influential in the 2016 election. Though I found Dinesh’s approach over-emotional, I didn’t find it particularly untruthful. He also exposed the early crime years of Saul Alinsky and Hillary Clinton, which was most revealing. If I could find similar films and books about the Republican Party, it would make a perfect balance.

Dady

Dady Chery, on the other hand, is most likely NOT a “conservative.” She has been a tireless documenter of the predations of power elites against those who wish to be rid of them. They have had over 200 years to bury Haiti, and have not succeeded – yet. Those elites happen to include the Clintons. Coincidence? Dady’s book We Have Dared to be Free was reviewed and recommended back in 2016, by Catherine Austin-Fitts, who is a “conservative” but also a student of the predations of the power elites.

Dady’s book is almost 400 pages and will take time to get through; it is not easy reading. But the first 50 pages were damning enough.

Haiti

Haiti was not always aided. Between 1963 and 1972, for example, the country enjoyed an economic renaissance as it buzzed with the activities of small entrepreneurs. The Kennedy administration had cut off all aid to Haiti in 1963 so as to bring Francois Duvalier to heel…

Haiti thrived with style and panache during this decade that merely continued its isolation as the world’s first black republic. A community that was sustainable, tolerant, and harmonious with its gods had been forged, with none of the starkness associated with sustainability projects. Haiti brimmed with laughter, flavor, music and color. Things dear to the Haitian soul were valued: things that could not be bought. Anacaona‘s descendants lived there, and their life’s purpose was self-realization and the creation of art. That was the Haiti in which I grew up.

Dr. Dady Chery, as quoted by Catherine Austin-Fitts

Anacaona was the “mother chief” of the indigenous Haitians.

I studied Haiti after it was hit by an earthquake in 2010. I needed to report on a country for my Customer Relations class at Seattle Central College, and this one seemed perfect. At that time, I read many books and articles, including cultural studies presented by groups such as the State Department. The books I read include:

Haiti Singing by Harold Courlander, 1939. A sympathetic look at Haitian cultural traditions.

The Drum and the Hoe by Harold Courlander, 1960. Update to the above work.

The Immaculate Invasion, Bob Shacochis, 1999. Report by an embedded reporter on the more recent U.S. invasion of Haiti.

Culture and Customs of Haiti, J. Michael Dash, 2001.

Avengers of the New World, Laurent Dubois, 2004. History of the Haitian revolution.

I want to make this as clear as I possibly can:

This is a story of criminal actions and neglect at high levels across the world community.

My teacher has continuously warned us that power and privilege will attract the criminally insane until such time that we can find a way to strengthen sane men enough so that they are willing to hold positions of power without succumbing to the various seductions of power, and can hold their ground against criminals who oppose them. This is no small feat!

We will NOT have sanity in high places until we see to it that those who operate in those places are sane. There is no law, no ideology, no prayer that can protect us from criminal rulers. There is only a technology that we must learn, and then apply to ourselves and others.

Learn from these examples!

These methods can be – and are being – used, now, in this country to subjugate people, starting with those who are the most vulnerable.

Cultural snobbery. This is used to justify criminal incursions into indigenous, peaceful societies. In the case of Haiti, the Africans, as slaves, had become the new indigenous people of that region. They brought with them religious traditions that came to be known as Vodoun, and social traditions that are more community-oriented than what we in the West are used to. They also developed their own language. It is only very recently that the Haitian language started being taught as a legitimate language in Haitian schools. Other traditional practices remain under attack.

Worldwide, religion in most of its forms is under attack by “more educated” persons. These attacks are dishonest, to put it mildly.

Weaponized lending. This has taken many forms around the world. A key aspect to this way of loaning money is that the lender’s rights take priority over the borrower’s rights.

Using disasters to create criminal groups. When a disaster results in widespread unemployment, it tends to force people into making immoral decisions in order to stay alive. They may be offered jobs in gangs or militias which then go out and steal or destroy the property of honest people, or of communities.

Using poverty to enslave children and adults. Haitians had developed social mechanisms for coping with poverty and job loss. These were imperfect but workable. They recently were attacked, and outlawed as human rights violations. Now people who suffer economic stress are forced to look outside the extended family to human traffickers (including some child adoption groups) and sweat shops in order to stay alive. Bigger human rights violations are the result, plus the destruction of a culture.

According to Dady, the most valuable and honest disaster assistance has come from Cuba. The West paints Cuba as a criminal dictatorship. Why is the Haitian perception of Cuba so different?

Where can sanity be found?

Most thinking people, even though outraged by the criminality they see around them, are trying to use reason to come up with a way through this mess. For better or worse, most are extremely unaware of what they are actually facing. Every individual, every group seeking power, has skeletons in its closet. Every one. Every individual, every group seeking power, will find themselves hampered by these skeletons. Every one. They must confront and handle their skeletons. They must.

If you don’t care what happens to you ten years from now, a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, then look the other way and go about your business. That neglect will come back around to you eventually. Not all of us are physically or financially prepared to do what it takes to handle our skeletons. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take some steps in that direction. You can watch a video. You can read a book. You can take a free online course. You can talk about this on Facebook or Twitter or Parler or CloutHub. If you have friends that you can actually meet with, you can talk with them about it, too. Maybe you can pool your resources and sponsor one person. You can always do something.

We still have a chance to reverse this. We will always have that chance. But on this planet at this time, I can’t tell you for sure how much time we have left. Learn as much as you can while you still have time.

Airshow

13 September 2020

This is a work of fiction about a remote viewing group (that is real) which helps pave the way for more honesty across the planet.

More on Human Rights

21 July 2020

In my attempts to get better informed about the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, I looked at some of the videos of testimony which they received from experts in the field. One video I watched was a presentation (speech) made by Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF).

Perhaps Mr. Halvorssen’s defining experience in this regard is given here:

On February 1, 2005, our founder’s mother was shot by the Venezuelan government while she was protesting their corruption in the streets. But no matter what Thor Halvorssen did, no one would take action to hold the Venezuelan government accountable.

Human Rights Foundation website

Here we have a relatively recent example of a modern regime gone suppressive. It didn’t make this transformation as noisily as, say, Germany in the 1930s. But nevertheless, it did.

Venezuela was a developing democracy. But it was also rich in oil. And with those riches (or so it seems), temptations. In fact, the national government had never been very stable. Like all “third world” nations with valuable natural resources, its governments were under constant pressure to grant special deals and play favorites, both in the world arena and locally.

But I do not, in fact, know that much about Venezuela. It is just that this is one of many nations across the planet where basic human rights are no longer protected by legal institutions (if they ever were).

Governments attract criminals

The point I have always made about this is that the general population creates, or tolerates, governments in the expectation that a certain level of organized violence is necessary to protect the people from criminal organized violence so they can get on with life. Governments, then, are the people’s last line of defense against criminal incursions, and so a constant target for criminal infiltration.

If you do not “believe” that such a thing as a “criminal mind” exists, then we have a problem. All I can say is that when people who are able to look do look, they find it. The phenomenon has been reported by so many different observers (even psychiatrists!) that I see no good reason to challenge it.

The idea that the “line” between what is criminal and what is acceptable has been moving over the years in favor of human rights is persuasive, but in the end, hollow. What we say has never matched that well with what we do. And that pertains to criminals in particular. If a criminal thinks that verbal support for human rights will make him more popular or acceptable, he’ll say he supports human rights. But he assumes that all people lie about what they really think, and he knows he does.

Crime and business

Even criminals need some way to sustain themselves, so they either find ways to latch on to more legitimate human activities, or they die.

There are many mechanisms of attachment. Some criminals work to become licensed professionals, then use that license to protect their criminal practices. Others find ways to get rich, then find activities – legitimate or otherwise – to invest in so that they can live off profits without having to work. Some aspire to academic positions where they can have influence in government and industry while avoiding responsibility for the actions taken by others based on their false data. And, some seek to rule.

Though human trafficking was always considered morally repugnant, the fact is that this activity could be indulged in legally up until quite recently in history, in most places. Likewise, wars of conquest. Realize that India was “conquered” originally, not by the British Crown, but by a business operating under a crown charter. This business employed its own soldiers, its own negotiators, its own bureaucrats. This still happens.

But where a business, criminal or not, can work in concord with the government of the territory in which it is operating, such an arrangement can be mutually beneficial.

Business and government

In the end, many of us come to the realization that government is a kind of business. It’s “business practices” are a bit “odd” compared to ordinary commercial companies, but they share all the same basic elements and mechanisms. In such a wise, large governments and large businesses may often see eye-to-eye on many subjects.

It might seem that, considering the above, a culture that wants to do well should very adamantly demand that business and government should remain separated as much as possible. This may be a valid argument, yet most people, in practice, find it just too demanding.

Just as I, in helping my church to gather data about psychiatry – by long tradition an outlaw profession – learn more about its individual members and thus tend to feel more friendly to some of them, so it works in government, particularly where it is mandated to regulate businesses.

Under this same concept, any political philosophy that required government to operate commercial concerns, or cooperate very closely with them, would seem fundamentally flawed.

Socioeconomic “rights”

Scholars of the subject of human rights distinguish rights which are essentially political (such as freedom of speech) with rights that involve access to services that are often provided by the business sector. These are sometimes spoken of when referring to the ‘social safety net.”

The thing about these “rights” which Halvorssen points to is that they can be provided (or at least appear to be) by regimes that do not grant citizens the usual political rights. However, in this wise, the population loses its legal power and authority to correct any socioeconomic omissions. He assures us that this has actually happened in places like Cuba.

These “rights,” then can be held in front of a population like a carrot, tempting it to allow authoritarian rule in exchange for their basic freedoms. This is the dilemma of the slave. That the authoritarian usually lies in this regard is often overlooked by persons who wish to be charitable to authoritarian regimes, particularly ones that seem to embrace “socialism.”

The proof, however, is in the pudding. And if the population is not allowed to speak and report freely on what is occurring in the streets and towns of the nation, then how are we supposed to know if the pudding is worthy of praise, or a total disaster?

Full version of my featured image, a drawing done in high school.

Slavery

On July 27, 2018, the Human Rights Foundation released a report entitled Authoritarianism and Trafficking in Persons.

Modern slavery is an odd phenomenon. The planet now is more or less fully populated. Three are plenty of people in every region, country, of the world, to do the work needed to produce items for local consumption and for trade. Yet living conditions are so bad in some areas that many people would rather leave as slaves than stay. I don’t think this was true of the old African slave trade to the New World. My impression is that most Africans back then were forced into slavery on pain of death. Nowadays, slaves can be procured using advertising techniques.

Modern slavery, though illegal, is for the most part operated by business-like groups, just as it has always been. Suppressive regimes assist mostly by tolerating these activities, creating conditions that people wish to escape from, and providing labor pools in the form of detention camps or similar operations. This is not to say that authoritarians do not benefit financially from these activities. But if they are true criminals, this is not even their major purpose in life. They are afraid of other living beings, and wish them to suffer, which makes the suppressive person feel safer.

The report gives three examples and also discusses the U.S. role.

In modern China (though this may have been going on for centuries, since it also happens in Japan), refugees from North Korea are used as slaves. In North Korea, people who wish to leave and succeed, if later captured, are kept in prisons. They may later try to leave again. Meanwhile the prisons function more or less as slave camps, propping up the North Korean rulers. In China, enslaved people work as sex slaves or merely domestic workers, or factory workers.

In modern Cuba, Cubans are trafficked into the U.S. and other places for a variety of purposes. Cuba also serves as a relay point for some countries in Africa. Cuba presents itself as a “spiritual” country, materially poor, but happy. But it is deeply involved in the modern slave trade, and the HRF reports that its leaders personally benefit from that trade.

In Thailand, an authoritarian regime allows fishing businesses and others to enslave workers from its own country as well as people from other places. Some of those products I am sure end up in democratic countries like Japan and the United States.

This report gave these three examples. I can only imagine how difficult it is to extract true data from an authoritarian country. The people there are under constant threats of reprisal if they complain. But we know very well that many other countries have similar problems. Per an HRF analysis, which is updated every three months, over half of the population of earth lives under authoritarian regimes, and so are subject to impoverishment and slavery with no legal recourse locally.

"poverty"
Two color print from linoleum blocks, made in junior high art class.

Is the planet lost?

Things look really really bad to me. But that doesn’t mean that the situation can’t be turned around. After all, all those enslaved and suppressed people come back after they die, and perhaps some of them will end up in a place where they have more freedom and opportunity, will remember, and will be able to help all the activists already working on this issue to do something about it.

However, we are headed into a techno-machine world that has traditionally depended on slavery to operate. This is because life in such a place becomes so intolerable that people will only stay if they are forced to. Though experiments were made to see if a population, Matrix-like, could be lured into a sort of “happy slavery” using entertainment and other gimmicks, this does not seem to work that well, at least not on Earth.

How do we preserve sanity as our population expands and our space contracts? Though our current Secretary of State can proudly say that the United States still “leads the way” in the field of human rights, that’s not saying much. We stand today as a huge consumer of illegal drugs, slave labor, and other items and services produced by criminals. And it is not the State Department that can solve that problem.

List of rights

Though it seems like an afterthought, the rights in the Universal Declaration (see HumanRights.com), are listed below in a shortened form used with children:

1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!
7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.
28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.

Understanding Human Rights

20 July 2020

On 16 July, 2020, the U.S. State Department released a report put together by a commission created by Secretary Pompeo for that purpose. The report is entitled “Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

The State Department exists to assist our government in implementing foreign policy and to provide government representatives in countries around the world who act to protect U.S. citizens and interests in those countries, and to serve as liaisons to foreign governments. In recent years, dating back to the mid-1980s perhaps, our State Department has come to be known for its human rights monitoring activities. I am only aware of them becoming a major factor in diplomacy in the past 10 years or so. Previously, the byword of our foreign policy had always been “democracy,” not “human rights.” You can look at the founding documents of a nation and see whether it is a democracy or not. But how well it protects the rights of its citizens is more difficult to discern.

This report has been widely seen by Trump opponents as a sort of cynical way to reframe the issue of human rights in ways that support the viewpoints of the new administration. The whole gay rights question is de-emphasized, while religious freedom (or tolerance) is brought forward.

For me, those quibbles are not substantive. What this report does for me is give me an opportunity to repeat my view of the proper context for understanding the subject of human rights, note where the scholarly view has traditionally fallen short, and to see if I can find any evidence that this group of scholars has achieved a better understanding of the subject.

Spiritual background of the subject

It has been with considerable difficulty that any progress has been made in understanding the more basic truths that underlie our existence on this planet at this time. Search high and low, and we find minimal data on this subject that can be characterized as anything above the level of myth and speculation. I briefly summarize this data:

As individuals, as personalities, as beings, we began our journeys in this reality as non-material points of cause. We quickly assembled for ourselves a “playground” of sorts. Today that “playground” is known as the Physical Universe. As bodyless beings, we had no need for “rights.” We were, in our native forms, invincible and immortal. We could engage in games with each other of a most violent and furious form. But in our thirst for “experience,” we gradually added factors to these games that included concepts like “right/wrong” and “good/bad.” We chose to identify ourselves with objects we had created, and to accuse each other of “violations” whenever those objects became lost or damaged. Today, the primary object we identify with “me” is the body. Secondary objects include our possessions.

Out of what could easily be interpreted to be a decline in the level of game, we evolved sets of “rules” that seemed to be necessary to keep the game going at an acceptable level of play. One example of an early set of such rules is the Ten Commandments. Most human societies have such rules. Some of them are more severe and would be considered “less Christian.” The advantage of the more “Christian” rules seemed to be in the degree of security and happiness they secured for more players, the women and children in particular, but also many men who, not wanting or needing to be warriors, grew tired of being called on to fill that role.

The key roles in those traditional games of human society that most of us still value and seek to promote are reflected in our game of chess: king and queen, knight, rook, bishop and pawns. (Chess, by the way, seems to have arrived in Europe via Persia, and has several Asian variants.) We see in these roles: governance, military, the support structure for these (rook), religion or popular local management (bishop) and everyone else.

The need for a military role

The role of the “knight,” soldier or warrior, is to fight for the defense, or advancement, of some group, and be perfectly willing to die in that fight. Traditionally, the spiritual value of the soldier seems to rest in his ability to perfect his willingness to die, for in so doing, his courage is also perfected. As far as I know, these more spiritual concepts of soldiery are dead, but I could be wrong about that.

But what is it about modern games that continues to make this role so important? From my point of view, this devolves to the central and basic problem in any game but especially human games: Those who can’t or don’t want to play “by the rules.” And though for much of history “the rules” allowed for the pursuit of war, after our more recent experiences with this aspect of play (WWII in particular), humans began to get the feeling that we had taken this aspect of play too far, and it was time to outlaw it; to make it into a “bad” activity. Wanton violence had always been frowned upon, particularly when it was directed at the defenseless (anyone other than a “knight”). Now that officially includes the act of war itself. This is noted for its significance in history, though it has no particular bearing on the flow of this discussion.

What keeps the “warrior” role important today is crime and the violence that surrounds it. In my view, this has always been the more important role of the warrior. Though “crime” now technically includes war (making the soldier, oddly, into a kind of “criminal”) it can be more broadly defined as any action that violates the basic rules of the game. Crimes are compulsively committed by “criminals” but often by others out of desperation, greed, ignorance or other factors. When crime involves violence, a warrior is often called on to defend the victims, or to try to catch or stop the criminal. As the criminal often uses weapons, this explains why most “warriors” also prefer to be armed.

The basic rules of human games

Traditionally, human rules (or law) applied mostly to governance, management and warriors. These were considered the real players. But there has been constant pressure from the bishops and pawns to be included in these games as players, and so the rules, and their enforcement, have been gradually extended to include everyone. The traditional focus of law, however, remains.

The basic rules of play follow the basic needs of human groups to survive. These include some way to “own” and defend resources like land, food and shelter, the need to protect “innocents” (women and children and elders) so that the group can survive in body and in culture, and above these, some sense of justice, responsibility, beauty and virtue. These basic rules are “inalienable” in the sense that they go with the basic human game of life. If they aren’t followed, the game of human life could end.

In any attempt to list these rules, the notion of seeing them as “rights” appears as one way to frame them in language. But we could also list them out as a set of essential activities that require protection if the game is going to continue. There is also a sort of philosophical component to the list, which has to do with the level of society where these rules begin to be important. As social norms, they could be seen to apply most strongly at the group level, as that is where they must originate. But there has been a persistent urging to elevate the importance of the individual in the games of life. Historically, individuals (including great leaders like Christ and Gandhi) have suffered so often when the rules were applied to favor the interests of the group, that today it is seen proper to extend these rules to protect individuals and not groups only. In this sense, our current concepts of “rights” are anti-democratic!

Responsibilities of leaders

You cannot be a leader if no one is willing to follow you because you only look out for yourself at the expense of the interests of others. This has continued to be a huge problem with leaders. Yet most leaders, if questioned, would agree that they serve to forward the purpose of keeping the game going, and that means looking out for all the players and seeing that their ability to participate in the game is protected, and perhaps even enhanced.

In modern terms this means that leaders have a responsibility to their followers, their “people,” to protect the game and protect each one’s right to play. Beyond that, leaders may strive to enhance the ability of individuals to be players. But the traditional assumption is that this ability is not much in question; if given the right and opportunity, most people will do just fine as players.

The popular expectation of leaders, then, is embodied in the words of our Declaration of Independence (as a relatively modern example):

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

The popular expectation is, then, that government will act to secure the rights of the governed to life, liberty (freedom) and the pursuit of happiness. In this tradition, there is no expectation that government can ensure that happiness will result. In more modern traditions, this expectation sometimes plays a stronger role.

Most bluntly, though, what this reduces to in terms of the activities of government is to protect its population from criminals and criminal acts. Of course, if the government itself turns criminal “we have a problem.” But this was never the primary concern of the governed, from what I can tell. They needed the basic protections against theft, violence, famine and so forth that threatened their survival on a daily basis. They assumed that governments could be capable of this, and were not quickly persuaded that governments would lose that capability. At the local level, the police were seen as the protectors, and as long as there were a few police around, things should be okay. At the local level, the police held the warrior role.

Governments as criminals

The picture painted by the history of human rights is one that seems quite contrary to the above expectations. Governments and tyrants are seen as the great criminals of history. And so our “rights” are framed in the context of protecting us from government infringements. But this does not necessarily coincide with the experience of the people. The level of government where those battles over “rights” were fought was usually the national level. Yet the reach of national governments rarely extends to the daily lives of people. Most people deal first with local governments, local police, and local criminals. Their concerns are usually focused on crime and the police, and not on government or legal concepts.

This, then, I see as the proper and more understandable context of Human Rights. In this context, governance and warriors are assumed to be in a position of being able to protect the rights of the people against the encroachments of criminals. The big question is how successful they are.

To get all caught up in the problems of criminality in governance, while relevant, misses the point. The problem we have as we attempt to play the game of human life is crime, not government. The stress of any campaign to strengthen the protection of human rights should be aimed at the correct target: Crime. The correct target is not governance, or warriors. They only become targets if they go criminal. And though this is a very common problem, to dwell on it as if it were central is incorrect.

The report mentioned earlier – the supposed raison d’etre for this piece – contains but one paragraph that I could find that addresses this most important and central theme underlying the subject of human rights:

Rise of Human Rights Violations by Non-State Organizations.

Non-state actors have long posed a challenge for human rights, which paradigmatically apply only between nation-states and the individuals under their jurisdiction. Recent years, however, have seen an alarming multiplication of the number and diversity of non-state groups responsible for large-scale human rights violations including, for example, terrorist groups, transnational organized-crime networks, purveyors of child pornography, and organizations engaged in human trafficking. These non-state organizations are often based in fragile states that lack the capacity or political will to address the abuses originating within their territories. In such weak states, the relative power and autonomy of multinational corporations and other business enterprises can present complex challenges for the promotion and protection of human rights as well.

Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights

And there it is. The above paragraph succinctly states the core of our problem. It lists all the important criminal players, along with some (legitimate businesses) that can turn criminal. I believe it underestimates the problem of “weak states.” This has been a concern for centuries, even in “developed” countries. The main problem in the past was that the criminals were often able to persuade governments to legalize – and protect – their criminality. This remains a major concern to this day, in all nations.

Strategy for improved success

Laid out this way, I hope a way forward becomes more clear. It begins with naming the real target responsible for human rights abuses, the criminal. This target must be more fully understood. Its tactics must become well-known and counter-tactics must become more fully developed. In modern times, this means far more than “wars against…” This expression has been applied so variously to so many different activities, and with so little result! It means a revival of dialog that will result in the establishment of best practices in all sectors of society where crime might lurk. The distribution of criminals in society is perhaps the key to understanding why this viewpoint is not more widely used. Crime lurks in all sectors; none can claim total freedom from it. Thus the need for counter-balancing structures (such as those set up by the U.S. Constitution) that will assist to “keep everybody honest.” This understanding also frames the problem of gaining enthusiasm for a real crackdown on crime.

The basic strategy, then, would be to enable and strengthen the various elements in society that are expected to play key roles in the restraint or elimination of crime. This includes all individuals who wish to participate as players in the games of life. They need basic information to counter the disinformation they often receive from criminal interests trying to confuse them and their allegiances. But the focus of our more visible efforts would be aimed at the levels of management, up through the warrior classes and of course including the governing classes. I use this terminology because it matters not to me exactly what system any particular nation or culture uses to achieve human rights. It matters much more to me that human rights are actually achieved. Thus, the managers, the warriors, the leaders must have programs of education and training made available to them that will appeal to them, speak to the problems they face, and help them to successfully overcome those problems. What I am saying, then, is that they have been missing a technology. And that is the technology of how to protect the human rights of their people against criminal incursions. They will never have success in this if they cannot find a technology that works. We can talk about human rights until the end of time. If we don’t know the basics of how to achieve them, they will never be achieved.

Flat!

31 May 2020

…being a slightly decorated listing of unfortunate events.

It was threatening rain yesterday (Saturday) so I postponed my shopping trip until today. Probably just as well, as there was a demonstration downtown yesterday around the issue of the recent killing of a black man in Minneapolis. I have not seen the video.

This morning some people – volunteers I guess – were trying to clean off the spray paint left by a few out-ethics “demonstrators” on the Supreme Court Building (and legal library) across from the Capitol building.

volunteers try to remove paint defacing the Supreme Court Building in Sacramento

I had been in Folsom doing my shopping when I found I had run over something (looked like broken ceramic) that had punctured my front tire. So I came back home on the train, then got on my other bike to take a second try at a bike ride.

flat tire
Flat tire!

The demonstrators had walked across the “tower bridge” to visit West Sacramento. I thought I’d ride over that way, too. Someone defaced some utility boxes with their message. It’s a valid message, but not good to deface public property with it. Makes your “cause” look questionable, doesn’t it?

black lives matter

And another box near Macy’s:

defaced utility box near Macy's downtown.

Macy’s is one of many department store chains having problems competing with online shopping sites. And the pandemic lockdown doesn’t help. This quite large store hasn’t closed for good yet, but it very well might.

Government and Corporate

Governments and business have been intertwined for a long, long time. When something goes wrong in a society, where can you find the causes for it? The answer, of course, is the criminal. It might be a criminal in government, or one in corporate, or one not much connected with either.

Governments are usually expected by businesses and the public to capture and punish street criminals, such as the ones who defaced those utility boxes. However, punishment has not been found to be effective in reducing such crime. In places like the U.S., governments have also been leaned on by the public to capture and punish “white collar” criminals, usually ones thought to exist in business. But governments and businesses have always been so intermingled, that such actions are seldom very thorough.

Businesses, for their part, often don’t have definite methods for keeping their employees honest. They may choose to fire someone who is not performing satisfactorily. But what about someone who appears to making the company more money by engaging in questionable activities? The business may choose to try to hide such people from outside scrutiny or protect them in other ways. This is a long tradition in both business and government.

Thus, when a police officer acts like a criminal, most people expect him to be treated like one. But government (and business) would prefer to handle such matters more quietly. And so, the public are likely to perceive that an injustice has occurred in such a case.

My ride down Capitol Mall took me past the Wells Fargo Center. This is an old American bank with a colorful tradition.

Wells Fargo Center front plaza

Inside is a restored stage coach – one of their favorite things to display.

stage coach inside

This company made it’s wealth, we can suppose, by providing valuable services to its customers, like package and letter transport before the transcontinental trains went in. Those actions can be respected.

But those coach routes were being “made safe” by the U.S. Army’s program of rounding up and killing or encamping all the disgruntled native Americans who saw their lands being given away and destroyed. In like fashion, the British Navy used to protect East India Company merchant ships. And later the Company itself, with its own private army, took over much of India in order to protect is ports and other assets.

West Sacramento

I rode across the bridge, stopping for a minute to watch the boats on the river.

boats on Sacramento River

Across from downtown Sacramento, where the waterfront is set up as a tourist destination, is the West Sacramento waterfront – a decidedly corporate creation.

West Sacramento waterfront

There is a “nice” walkway and park along that side of the river, but a man found a bench there a convenient place to indulge in a somewhat fitful sleep.

Man sleeps on bench at entry to West Sac riverfront walk

What could he possibly be worried about? From a corporate perspective, everything is going fine, “we’re all in this together,” and we’ll all get through it somehow. Corporate, however, owns large and expensive assets, while this man probably doesn’t even own a bed.

We can see that an intention existed at one time to make this area a nice place. But how firm was that intention? How much did it include the local government and nearby residents?

West Sac waterfront walk

While this part of the waterfront remains tidy, the area is not in really good condition.

At the north end of the walk is an old railroad-and-car bridge (built 1911). The bridge can swing sideways to let bigger boats through, but I’ve never seen it do that. There are plans afoot to move the vehicle traffic to a new bridge. A much higher bridge to the south carries freeway traffic.

The view across to downtown Sacramento gives us a look at the steam locomotive they have parked in Old Sac with newer, higher buildings behind.

view of downtown from West Sac

I judge the Sacramento side to be in better shape, probably because of all the foot traffic in Old Sac.

I return to the vicinity of Tower Bridge to explore in the opposite direction.

donuts in an intersection

Someone has been using this intersection to make “donuts!” There are reports from many places that “car nuts” are taking advantage of the not-so-busy streets in many cities to do show-off stunts like this.

Just to the right of this location is Raley Field (for Raley’s a local grocery chain) which recently became Sutter Health Park. It is a successful minor league baseball park.

Beyond the ballpark is a lot of undeveloped land. Just before the I-80 bridge, several apartment complexes have been built, with some still in-progress.

apartments being built

The older building is called The Foundry.

the Foundry apartment building

The newer buildings are called 980Central.

980 Central

There is a cute little park in the middle…

new west sac mini park

Both were developed by the same company. They rent apartments to singles, young couples, and small families, starting at $1500/month.

Across the street is the beer garden/pizza restaurant and play field.

the Barn from the playfield

Beer is big in this area. But the pandemic lockdown has made this empty on what would normally be one of its busiest days.

the Barn

YOLO!

I have previously addressed the issue of YOLO here: https://lecox.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/notes-from-the-wild-side-and-yolo/

YOLO!

Perhaps YOLO is part of the problem we’re having. It’s…not true, of course. But what happens to a person if he totally believes it? On the one hand, its sentiment might entice you to throw caution to the wind and feed your hunger for new experiences, the supposed original intention of the phrase.

On the other hand, it could lead someone to be much more averse to experiencing “bad” or “unsafe” things that could cut one’s “only life” short! This could be related to the expression “I’m good” which had one boost in popularity in 1980 and another around 2000 (according to Google’s N-Gram Viewer, which I like to use on all unfamiliar expressions). It really means “please don’t bother me with that because it’s beyond my comfort level.”

It’s easier to go ahead and wear a mask than to wonder why someone supposedly representing the medical establishment told us that we need to all wear masks and be six feet apart to “stay safe.” There is actually no study demonstrating that these precautions, applied the way we have applied them, would slow a pandemic. It’s just a guess. But when YOLO crashes into “I’m good” your result is an economic crash of unprecedented proportions.

Next, I found this sign next to an art installation on the river. No one wants to wipe the bird turd off. Not even me!

A few interesting things

This well-known flowering plant (this one at Folsom Winco) is called agapanthus.

agapanthus flowers

However, these ones, planted near the new apartment buildings, aren’t fully identified:

pink liliaceous flower

And out in back of the Barn, beyond where the paved trail ends, I saw a pair of jackrabbits playing around in the weeds. They were chasing each other, but I was too slow for that with my camera.

jackrabbit
jackrabbit
jackrabbit running

On my way back home, I took this shot of my other bicycle, with a pretty girl riding a bike in the background, among other things.

girl riding bike, etc.

At the foot of the bridge stands this sycamore tree. I think it is the largest sycamore I have ever seen.

rhododenron and

Beside it grows a little rhododendron bush. How did it get there?

Oh – and the lizard with its tail broken off. I almost forgot this one. From Folsom.

Vacant Urban Land

6 May 2020

Every time I go down the stairs to get the mail, I have to look out on this scene across the street.

This used to be the location of the “Clunie Hotel.” I believe it was burned down about ten years ago. This lot appears to have been vacant for quite some time.

This scene keeps hitting me in the face as “wrong.” So I wanted to write about it.

Other unused land

There are several pieces of land close to city center that have been marked for redevelopment but so far stand empty and unused.

One such area in Sacramento is the “railyards” area just to the north of downtown. It was established around the time of the Civil War as a major maintenance depot for local and transcontinental trains. A plan to make this area into a living part of the city has been on the table for years.

sacramento railyards looking into the city

If you get up on that overpass (which goes over the existing rail line) and look to the north and east, you see how large this area is.

railyards area looking away from the city

As was obvious from the previous photo, the city has already put in a road grid with street lights and storm drains. Nothing else has really happened, though, since that time.

Vacant land in the “old days”

In the mid-1800s, as California opened up to immigration from the Midwest and East, people who could afford to would go in and buy large quantities of land and then sit on it until the people came, and sell it to them at a big profit. This has been called “land speculation.” This made a few folks very rich and started a popular trend of “investing in land.”

Well, back then there was a lot of open land and most U.S. cities were still quite small. The money was thought to be in agriculture until industry started to build up in cities.

In the late 1800’s land speculation was a big problem in cities, too. It kept urban land out of production and forced workers to seek cheaper lots further away from where they worked. A thinker of that time, Henry George, proposed that communities should force more urban land into productive use by taxing only the value of the land, rather than land plus improvements. He argued that communities owned their land and gave it value by their very presence, and that land “owners” really only owned the improvements they added to the land to make it productive. A “land tax” would provide incentive to someone holding title to land to make it and keep it productive.

Various modifications to this scheme were tried in a few places, sometimes with good results. But most areas stuck with the traditional way of valuing land, which meant that the owner was basically penalized for improving the land to make it more productive. There was pressure from land owners to keep property taxes low, and cities started relying more on other forms of tax, like sales tax. Investing in land continued to be a “thing to do.”

Vacant land now

Today there is still a problem with unused/undeveloped land in or near cities. The problem these days tends to be that the original owner cannot afford to continue to use the land. They have experienced some economic setback that prevents them from repairing or replacing structures, keeping up mortgage payments, or even paying property taxes. When taxes go into arrears, the county or city government usually gains control of that land. If one defaults on mortgages, the lender will foreclose. But most lenders are not prepared to be land owners and will try to get the land resold as soon as possible. There is still room for land price speculation in these scenarios.

The most common solutions I have found for getting land into use are to either tax it more heavily until it goes into use, or get it into the local “land bank” where it can then be sold cheaply to someone who promises to actually use it for something productive.

Per reports I have read, penalizing vacant land owners does not seem to work that well. They just find sham ways to get the land to appear on paper like it is in use. I suppose such people are speculators, or they would just sell the land and rid themselves of the problem.

Land Values and Property Tax

Most land is assessed for tax purposes by an “Assessor” who follows certain guidelines of good practice, along with whatever the law in his state dictates. It is usually assessed at some percentage of what he thinks it would sell for if put on the market for sale. He compares the land to similar land that has recently been sold to estimate this value.

This is a problem for most municipalities when there is an economic downturn, because the sale price of unused land tends to decrease, and so their tax revenues. If they don’t have a land bank system set up, they can’t do that much when an owner defaults on his taxes except to hope that a new owner will come along who can afford to pay the taxes.

City (urban) planning

The problem of how communities could get more control over their land and how it is used has been a big issue for quite some time. Most communities do not want to challenge the “free market” aspect of land ownership and use, yet have made various attempts through “zoning” and other urban planning strategies to increase their control. Sometimes this process just results in stalemates, because existing residents will pile up against some new idea for using land in their area in fear that it will result in reduced property values (their “investment”).

There is also a push for more open space among some sectors of the urban population. This usually means turning a lot into a park, which the community will then have to maintain at its own expense.

However, none of these dynamics are very evident in downtown Sacramento. The residents here are mostly not land owners and not organized. The land owners are mostly governments, developers, and some big corporations. They normally have buildings on their land (which may include nice park-like areas) which are there for commercial (or governmental) purposes. If a major player wants to build a skyscraper next to my apartment building, they’d probably get their way, though the parcel is currently part of a “special planning district.” Special districts offer incentives to developers to provide certain types of business and residential spaces in their areas. The city planners want K Street to be a “multi-use” type of street, which means more people and less cars. The overall idea is to reduce the costs of commuting by allowing more people to live near where they work and/or near public transit (although public transit isn’t currently less costly than cars, just more compact).

How all this has impacted the plans for the vacant lot next to my building is hard to say. I don’t know how to find out what the current owner is planning to do with the property. And then there is the issue of the economy….

Criminals create poor economic conditions

If a criminal element or operation is bleeding the economy generally, everyone suffers and regular expenses, like taxes, mortgages, and construction loans, become more difficult for everyone to afford.

Criminals find their way into communities by various means. Some (like psychiatrists) pose as “experts” who know how to handle some sort of problem plaguing the community. This can also be done on a “protection racket” basis. In this operation, the criminals create a problem in the community, then offer themselves as the solution to that problem. This has happened in some places in Central and South America where criminals now “run” whole neighborhoods or towns, because they caused so much trouble for the existing honest managers that they gave up and left.

Crime is no minor concern in today’s world, and there are lots of pressures in the direction of increasing use of criminal methods instead of honest methods in handling situations in life. Such is our current condition in this “COVID Crisis” per my best estimates.

It should be noted that the Nazis started in Germany as a more-or-less popular political party and ran the government there for many years. This is even though they openly supported Eugenics and other racist ideas. Eugenics was also widely supported in the United States (and many other places) back then.

Any concentration of power is attractive to criminal elements because if they can gain some control of it, it gives them more “freedom” to commit more crime. This should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to concentrate or centralize power and authority to “solve” local or world problems. It won’t work if criminals take over, so you need an active and working protection against their incursions. We already have the IRS in the U.S. It has only been kept somewhat in line by good sense and constant oversight. It has had many criminal episodes, and is based on a basically criminal idea.

Remedies

If the lot across from my building is vacant because of unfavorable economic pressures, then Sacramento is still dealing with a criminal scene somewhere in its midst. I’ve spotted psychiatry as one for sure. It is strong here for some reason, but just as ineffective as always, and so should really be fired from its current position controlling “mental health” in the city. For now we can use psychologists who are a little more ethical.

Major drug trafficking lanes run through the city, so there is some criminal attention on letting their traffic pass through on the freeways. They probably also traffic people (slaves) on the same routes. There are probably a variety of other unseen forces at work, as this is, after all, the capital city of one of the largest states on the planet.

Remedies in terms of law, policy, and “community development” are often discussed on the internet. Getting the bleeding to stop by kicking out the criminal elements in a community or society in general is less commonly mentioned, but I think is obviously a more key action to take. Not only will criminal activity ruin a community financially, it will ruin it spiritually, too. And then reviving it will become that much more difficult, because somewhere along the line it started to decide that it was easier to give up and die.

This is, in essence, what had been happening to various communities – including the global community – over the years as the pressure from criminal interests and activities has increased. They are, individual by individual, beginning to give up.

This is an old pattern. It has caved in – if not entirely erased – many civilizations on this planet (to say nothing of other planets). We now have technology to remedy this problem, but it goes up against an attitude of defeatism that actually runs quite deep.

However, if we don’t take the needed steps to revive ourselves, we could all end up living like this guy:

tent of a homeless person.

And the whole city will look not much different than these vacant areas he looks down upon. If buildings remain, they will be unusable – no electricity or water – and probably guarded by armed gangs as superior shelter. This is what we get if we give up!