Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Red State Socialist Next Door…

The Red State Socialist Next Door…

Violent Souls, but only as the Hollow Men, the Stuffed Men…
-       T.S. Eliot

Histrionic conservatives exclaimed: Obama favors “redistribution of wealth”! Which is most of what modern government does. And it does this even faster under Republicans than under Democrats.
-       George F. Will, Washington Post

By J.M. Hamilton  10-29-16

Much has been made within the corporate media that Senator Bernie Sanders is a “socialist – democrat” (you know, from the five major corporations that disseminate 90% of the news to Americans).  That is to say, Mr. Sanders is a liberal.  We can expect a lot more of this attempted smear campaign, as Mr. Sanders and his supporters turn up the heat on the Wall Street owned GOP & Clinton, Inc.  But conveniently, the same corporate news media has little to say about the fact that the two political parties, GOP & GOP-Lite/Dems, have overseen a massive redistribution of wealth from the 99% to the 1%, since President Reagan’s inauguration.

JMH has covered this ground before, but it bears repeating: 

1)  Thanks to a quaint theory called trickle-down economics, Mr. Reagan increased the national debt from 1.0 trillion to 2.9 trillion, or a 190%, during his two terms.  This fact really doesn’t fit the GOP’s narrative of their patron saint, but there you have it.
2)  Under the first President Bush (HW), the national debt increased another 150%.  To his credit, HW did not believe in trickle–down, or tax cuts of for the rich (aka Voodoo economics), and he was duly relieved of office for speaking the truth.
3)  Under President Bush II (W), the national debt skyrocketed from $5.68 trillion in 2000 to 9.98 trillion in 2008, nearly doubling the national debt under his watch.  Of course, Bush may have bought into VP Cheney’s quip that “deficits don’t matter,” and we know for a fact that he bought into the redistribution of government largess to the 1%, via tax cuts for the wealthy.
4)  The national debt is expected to double again, per the OMB, by the tail end of President Obama’s second term.  While President Obama inherited domestic and foreign policy catastrophes from President Bush II, not to mention that the President had to deal with a GOP dominated House of Representatives for much of his two terms, he cannot entirely escape responsibility for the budget mess that occurred under his watch.  Mr. Obama made the choice to keep the U.S. immersed in two failed nation-building exercises throughout his two terms:  Afghanistan and Iraq, and now is making moves forward into Syria (JMH would argue, perhaps, as a matter of political expediency – to keep the war lobby/MIC/GOP off his back).
5)  Bottom line, the GOP, Reagan through Bush II, is made up of either: A) reconstructed Keynesians; or B) believes in a failed trickle-down ideology; or C) all the above.  Unfortunately, the GOP only utilized half of Keynes fiscal policy prescriptions, since he recommended raising taxes during prosperous economic times.  If your keeping count that's three GOP Presidents, who nearly doubled the national debt.  One last figure to consider: during this same thirty-five year time frame, state and federal spending as a percent of U.S. GDP has rested consistently within the 30 to 40% range.  So in the land of the free, in the land of rugged individualism and unrequited capitalism, total government spending makes up approximately a third of the U.S. economy.  Factor in a Wall Street crash, and government spending bumped up to nearly half the economy for a period of time.

It all sounds fairly “People’s Republic of the United States” to me: the GOP adopted borrow and spend fiscal policies, so as to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy, while saddling the government and the economy with trillions in debt and trillions in debt service payments.  Or let’s try a new analogy: like a private equity firm fronting loading profits by maxing out a takeover target's credit line, the financial & political elite have tapped out the Federal government’s credit line to pay for their tax cuts, government privatization, and wars without end.

During the same time frame, it’s no accident that GOP socialism for the 1%, and austerity for the 99%, coincided with ever-growing wage and wealth inequality and stagnating wages.  Throw in free money or exceptionally dovish monetary policy, courtesy of the Federal Reserve for Wall Street, and the table was set for the evisceration of the American middle-class and the American Dream. 

Businesses, multinationals, shadow banking, private equity and Wall Street showed their gratitude for the GOP’s brand of socialism (not to mention free trade agreements), by: offshoring American labor; maxing out/plundering corporate credit lines for executive and stockholder immediate gratification – a private equity specialty; destroying the environment; engaging in financial engineering; merging into monopolies and cartels; the hottest trend - tax inversions; and issuing pink slips and gutting the tax base/American worker.  Many of these same businesses have been getting their way for so long at the government trough, that at the first hint that the government might not yield to their every demand, they threaten to offshore jobs, the tax base, and business.

How very patriotic.  Then again, the government has allowed many sectors of the economy to metastasize into cartels and monopolies, so that politicians have no choice but to yield to corporate demands and surrender to blackmail.

Factor in regulatory, tax, and government capture by the 1% - made permissible by Republican led White Houses, SCOTUS, and GOP led Congresses, and one has to conclude there are no greater socialists than Republicans.  Americans really saw this with the ’08 Wall Street bailouts under the Bush (W) administration; that is, per the usual, the profits of GOP (and Clintonian Dem) backed businesses are privatized, and the bailouts, tax cuts, and social costs are redistributed to the American public/taxpayer – who are left holding the bag.  The GOP, and yes, Dems too, don’t mind bequeathing trillions in welfare to Wall Street banks, but talk about spending an extra billion on indigent children and the GOP controlled House of Representatives acts as if the world might end. 

The GOP wrings their collective hands that welfare might be a corrupting influence…. And welfare can indeed create moral hazard, particularly when it is gifted to the plutocracy.

The difference then between a Republican socialist, and a Sanders socialist, is rather simple:  Republicans believe in redistributing government largess to the 1%, while – let us pray – a President Sanders would redistribute government largess to the 99%, perhaps the 100%.

Our Corporate media has also already begun to attack Senator Sanders on how he’s going to pay for all this “free- stuff” (to use Mr. Jeb Bush’s language).  Mr. Sanders has some ideas, among them: increase taxes on the wealthy, who often pay at rates significantly below the middle class – if they pay taxes at all; a more progressive tax structure (as opposed to the regressive tax structure currently in place); and there’s also the matter of making sure that government vendors/contractors stop shafting the U.S. taxpayer.  For instance, military contractors stick it to the U.S. taxpayer for tens of billions in the form of cost overruns and fraud (it’s hard to put a precise figure on it because the Pentagon isn’t subject to audit), and neither political party has the courage to say a word.  Big Pharma is finally getting the attention it deserves, and Americans are waking up to the shear unmitigated greed with which the pharmaceutical industry operates.  The U.S. is the only Western democracy that does not set caps on Big Pharma’s drug mark ups, and this industry is fiscally disemboweling the United States. 

Time to send some of these CEOs to prison?  You bet.

That’s just the low hanging fruit.  Show JMH a government contractor, like Mr. Cheney’s former company, Brown and Root (aka KBR), and the odds are pretty good that said contractor is taking the taxpayer for a ride.  The odds are also great that these same government contractors are kicking back a gratuity to the U.S. Congress and Presidential candidates, in the form of campaign and Super-Pac contributions.  They might even contribute to the Clinton Foundation.

All of which brings up the obvious need for a constitutional amendment separating money and state.  But I digress.

Tis the Season, and the right-wingers, and GOP-lite/Dems, will attempt to scare us with spooky tales of communist and socialist, failing to mention that there are no greater socialist than red state Republicans and GOP-Lite/Dems.  When Republicans spend on corporate welfare, they make Dems look like amateurs.   So dear reader, the next time you hear the word “socialist” from our corporate news media, or from Senator Sanders’ critics…. Please think of Presidents Reagan, Bush (HW), and Bush II (W), as well as, GOP led Congresses, from Reagan forward.

Not that socialism is always bad, it’s just a matter of where government largess is allocated.  Should government money go to those who are fabulously wealthy, so they can continue to pillage and plunder the planet?  Or should social spending go to those less fortunate so that they can receive a hand up?  (Ditto Capitalism… do we want crony capitalism that enriches an elite-insider-few and favors cartels and monopolies; or real capitalism with plenty of competition that favors the market, consumers, employees, and innovation?)

These are the political questions of our time, perhaps of the 2016 Presidential campaign?

Either way, the U.S. owes a debt to red state Republicans, who have shown America how socialism works, that is exceptionally well for the 1%.   As a result of this hypocrisy, xenophobia and overt racism, the GOP, as a brand, is nearly destroyed.  The double-standard of establishment candidates – speaking out on the evils of socialism – are on full display for all the world to see.

P.S.  Happy Halloween!

Copyright JM Hamilton Publishing 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Stasiland – U.S.A.?

Stasiland – U.S.A.?

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.  When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe.  When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
-       President John F. Kennedy, Ich bin ein Berliner Speech, June 26th 1963

“I think at the end the Stasi had so much information… that they thought everyone was the enemy, because everyone was under observation.  I don’t think they (the Stasi) knew who was for them, or against, or whether everyone was just shutting up.  When I find a file where they’ve been watching a family in their living room for twenty years I ask myself: What sort of people are they who want this knowledge for themselves?”
-       Author, Anna Funder, Stasiland, Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, Copyright 2003

By J.M. Hamilton 10-16-2015

In February of this year, JMH explored whether or not the U.S. actually runs a command economy, or exhibits the characteristics of a centrally planned economy; today, we visit a not entirely dissimilar issue, often associated with authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, and that is whether or not the U.S. runs a police or surveillance state?  Moreover, if the U.S. is running a surveillance state, who are the beneficiaries and to what end?  And finally, is the U.S. marching down the road toward an authoritarian or totalitarian state model?

Exiting through London’s Imperial War Museums’ gift shop this summer, I ran into the book, Stasiland.  The book was placed just above eye level on the shelf, and being a history freak, I bought it immediately.  Stasiland was researched and written by Anna Funder, an Australian, starting in the mid-nineties and through the very early aughts.  Stasiland addresses topics – taken largely from firsthand accounts and interviews - about German citizens, who suffered under East Germany’s totalitarian regime; the men who made up the German police state, or Stasi; and the Berlin Wall.  Encountering this book was timely and I highly recommend it, as Germany celebrates the 25th anniversary of its reunification this month, and last November was the fall of the Berlin Wall’s 25th anniversary. 

These are seminal events not only in Germany’s history, but w/in the history of Western democracy as well.  Moreover, there is a great deal the U.S. and our citizens can learn from the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) police state, as we shall soon see.

First a quick overview and some history.  Ms. Funder’s timing for writing the book was impeccable, as even by the mid-nineties, the Berlin Wall was rapidly disappearing, and for some Germans, perhaps intentionally or unintentionally, memory of the Wall and East Germany were already beginning to fade.  That’s not to say, that there weren’t, or are to this very day, some former East Germans engaged in Ostalgie, or nostalgia for the former GDR. 

For the majority of Western democracies’ citizens, Berlin represented the focal point of the Cold War that dominated international relations and foreign policy, post WWII, all the way through the very early 90s, when the Soviet empire and its satellites (including East Germany) crumbled and collapsed. 

The backstory: During the Cold War (a war waged between Western democracies, and the Eastern Soviet Union and its Communist satellites), Berlin was severed in two by a physical barrier, The Wall.  Berlin, the historic capitol of Germany, was situated in East Germany.  So the world saw this Western enclave of democracy, West Berlin, situated inside the Communist Bloc.  The former German Capitol, along with the German state, were divided up by the Allied Powers, Post- WWII, into zones of influence and control: American, British, French, and Soviet/Russian.  The Berlin Wall ran up against the Reichstag building, or German parliament building, which during the Cold War was no longer operational. 

Fearing that Western Europe - largely in ruins Post WWII -would fall to communism, the Marshall Plan was introduced by America, which provided aid and financing for Western Europe’s rebuilding.  When the Soviets attempted a Berlin power grab in 1948, essentially cutting off/blockading West Berlin from food and medicine by rail and truck, the Berlin Air Lift was authorized by the Truman administration.  The Air Lift transported tons of food, fuel and medicine into Western Berlin by plane on a daily basis for over a year.  As such, West Berlin became a symbol of Western Democracies’ defiance against communism and totalitarian tyranny.  In 1949, the Soviets lifted the blockade, and the supplies to Western Berlin resumed being transported into the city by rail.  (Prior to this crisis, in 1946, Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech, in of all places - Fulton, MO, warning of these events and the Cold War to come.)

Throughout the Cold War, Berlin, and the Berlin Wall, became a symbolic backdrop for Presidents Kennedy and Reagan, who both gave historic speeches in front of the Wall – to rapturous applause by West Berlin’s citizens.  Both President’s speeches extolled the virtues of freedom and democracy against the evils of communism and the tyranny of the totalitarian state.  The Wall’s construction began in 1961 by the East German regime to keep East German citizens from fleeing to the West, and came down shortly after President Reagan left office with communism’s demise.  As mentioned, the two Germanys, East and West, were formally reunited on November 9th, 1990.  Ms. Funder's book takes us on a nightmarish journey into the Orwellian police state of East Germany.

Among the key characteristics of the East German state, outlined in Stasiland, were the following:

1.   The state had, and would exert, hegemonic control over nearly every aspect of an East German citizen’s life, from the cradle to the grave:  religious, educational, sports, political, and career, etc.  This power was exerted arbitrarily and capriciously.
2.   If a GDR citizen attempted to escape over the Wall, the escapee could be shot and killed, or if they survived and caught, many were often sent to prison.
3.   If an East German citizen associated with the wrong element, say a foreigner from the West, said citizen could be placed under surveillance and blacklisted, so that educational and career opportunities dried up and vanished.
4.   Citizens were often coerced by the state into informing upon family members, fellow employees, or fellow church congregants.  Stasi officials would often laugh at the number of protestors at a rally, knowing full well that the number informants at the rally actually swelled protestor numbers.
5.   Many of the GDR’s informants weren’t paid or even given special privileges.  East Germans often informed upon one another for purposes of payback, retribution, and for a sense of power.
6.   While many of the East Germans interviewed noted the insidious nature of mass surveillance, they also noted the tremendous sense of inequality, once capitalism and democracy triumphed over communism and totalitarian rule.   Both systems present their own problems, some former GDR citizens commented.
7.   Without due process, an East German could be held in detention and tortured, indefinitely, and worse, murdered. The Stasi, or East German security and surveillance force, held absolute control over the GDR’s civilian population, and was also charged with foreign espionage and covert operations (basically, the equivalent to MI5 and MI6, or the CIA and FBI, rolled into one).
8.   If someone is investigated by the Stasi, the individual is automatically assumed to be an enemy of the state.
9.   Dossiers on many GDR citizens were maintained by the Stasi, and many of these files were burned or shredded shortly before the Wall came down.  Hundreds of thousands of files have been reassembled, and the German public can view their own files.
10. Many of the Stasi men, when the Wall fell, found work in the West in insurance, marketing, and real estate; and the Stasi generally suffered lower rates of unemployment than their fellow GDR citizens, post-reunification.  The rank and file Stasi, largely, were not prosecuted.  Russian leader Putin spent some time in East Germany, during his KGB career, and witnessed the GDR’s collapse.
11.                 If one wanted to get ahead in the GDR, you were expected to be a party member.  Lip service was paid to democracy, and alternative political parties were established in name only, but there was only one East German ruling party.
12.                 The state often used blackmail and extortion to encourage citizens to inform; and family members and children would be used as leverage and pawns by the state to coerce citizens into informing upon others.
13.                 The East German state controlled broadcasting, and the news, except that which was beamed in from the West.
14.                 At the end of the day, the motivation of the Stasi, first and foremost, was to protect the state and the state’s elite, and GDR citizens were essentially slaves to the state.  Therefore, it could be said, the Stasi often considered its citizens to be active, or prospective, enemies of the state.

 File:Flag of East Germany.svg

Reading deeper into Stasiland, what one increasingly becomes aware of is how many parallels there are between the policies and government operations of Western democracies today, and the policies of hegemonic control exercised in the former Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc countries, and in particular the GDR.  To be sure, the U.S. is not a totalitarian regime, and Americans still enjoy a great many freedoms; but these freedoms – particularly privacy – and the expectation of some economic security (aka The American Dream) are rapidly eroding.  Indeed, some of the U.S. military and intelligence institutions presently in place, as well as, some of our policies on mass incarceration and internet surveillance, would suggest that America is on a slippery slope, if not toppling into becoming an authoritarian regime.  Factor in the very real possibility that the U.S. arguable operates, to some degree, a command economy (written about earlier this year), and how SCOTUS – through campaign finance law – allows an elite ruling cadre (aka the oligarchy) unmitigated access and control over the Congress and yes, even POTUS, and one might conclude that some of the parallels between the U.S. and GDR are frightening and cause for serious concern.

Consider the following:

1.   The U.S. has a ruling elite that holds a disproportionate amount of wealth, which has been well documented by the fourth estate.  The Wall Street banks, alone, hold assets worth approximately 65% of GDP.  While wages remain stagnant in the U.S., approximately 95% of all new income earned has gone to the 1%. 
2.   Thanks to SCOTUS, the Citizens United ruling, and current campaign finance laws - to say that our State and Federal officeholders are owned is no exaggeration.  In short, the plutocracy owns the state, and many elected officeholders owe their positions in the government to their patrons, the ownership class.  It is the rare politician who can, and does, finance their own campaign.
3.   The plutocracy not only owns federal and state government, but thanks to privatization, it operates and fills as much as 70% of the positions and staff within the U.S. surveillance or intelligence services.  No wonder the GOP is never quite successful in rolling back Big Brother….. I mean Big Government.  The reason: Corporate America is Big Government; and Corporate America owns the GOP.
4.   Thanks to Snowden’s revelations, and before him author James Bamford’s books and research on the NSA, we all know that the United States and her citizens are under mass surveillance, often with the full knowledge and cooperation of some of America’s largest internet, tech, and telecommunications providers. 
5.   This panopticon of surveillance is multi-layered with multiple points of egress, has the support of a secret U.S. court and both political parties, and enjoys several ambiguous laws and court rulings that further its interests and ability to spy.  This surveillance is pervasive and due to electronic records, and the internet, has the capability to hack every aspect of a U.S. citizen’s life: tax records; travel locations – time and place - thanks to GPS; checking account and credit card transactions; on line medical records; and you’re internet profile and communications.  In essence, the Stasi’s dream and a civil libertarian’s nightmare.
6.   As with the GDR, the primary motivation of the NSA, and the various intelligence and defense services, is to protect the state, and in the U.S. this would obviously include the elite, who own and operate same.  And like the citizens of the GDR, arguably, U.S. citizens are interchangeable cogs in the machine.  Moreover, in the U.S., civil rights, especially the right to privacy, are under assault and steady erosion.  There are some jurist on the far right, who have argued that the Constitution affords no right to privacy, whatsoever.  Know this too, the surveillance state's lust for power is insatiable.
7.   Before tackling the economic and political similarities, it’s important to talk about the DOD, which – like the intelligence services - has a near pathological history of lying to the country about U.S. motives and reasons for war.  The DOD, or MIC (yes, the institution Republican President Eisenhower warned us against), has become a profit center for at least seven of the ten largest government contractors.  Which means there’s a perverse incentive for putting the lives of the men and women who serve on the line and going to war: It’s called the profit motive. 
8.   To keep up public support for the war machine and the private contractors who own and operate the DOD, the corporate run news media, arguably, runs fear campaigns to keep the American public on edge and in support of a never ending war effort.  Going back to Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, foreign entanglements have been a means to distract the public from domestic and economic problems, and some wonder why the U.S. has been at war in the Middle East, continuously, for over a decade with no end in sight.
9.   Arguably, the elite are not only waging political warfare against U.S. citizens, but economic warfare as well.   We can see this in secretive free trade agreements, where free speech and the right to be heard in a court of law are under assault.
10.                 The elite, just like a totalitarian regime, fear democracy and they fear the vagaries of courts and due process even more.  That’s why, through free trade agreements, they have set up extra-judicial bodies (ISDS) that allow them to sue foreign governments, who threaten through regulation monopolistic profits. In essence, the plutocracy has established its own commercial courts and tribunals, under various free trade agreements and pending free trade proposals (TPP and TTIP), which are a direct threat to the rights of man and popular sovereignty.
11.                 Thanks to free trade agreements (aka corporate trade agreements), which have become little more than corporate welfare codified, globalization has strangled what little economic security ordinary Americans may have possessed.  U.S. citizens - with little or no education - find themselves competing with the sweat shops of S.E. Asia, whose workers are often paid as little as 60 cents an hour.  Thanks to globalization and corporate trade agreements (e.g. TPP and TTIP), it is an employer’s market for labor, and wages have stagnated and wealth inequality has escalated to form a Neo-gilded Age.  Throw in regressive tax policies, advocated and enacted by the minions of the plutocracy, plus monopolistic taxation upon the citizenry, and the U.S. middle class and the poor are under economic and political siege, as never before by the ruling plutocracy.  Feel the crushing weight of a totalitarian state, yet?
12.                 While America may not lack for a vast cornucopia of inexpensive products – dumped upon our fair shores by multinationals exploiting third-world and child labor – the U.S. does suffer from a lack of jobs, opportunity, and wage stagnation.  This is yet another means of economic and political oppression carried out by the plutocracy against the American public.
13.                 Another means to exert economic control over U.S. citizens, and an alternative means to control the number of jobs and wages, is via business combination.  The U.S. has seen a record number of mergers and acquisition (M&A) in 2015 (thank you very much Federal Reserve), and M&A fuels monopolies and cartels.  Monopolies and cartels are known for issuing pinks slips to control costs and pay down debt often utilized for financial engineering.  The resulting cartel or monopoly can easily set the prevailing wage rates for that particular industry’s labor pool.  This maybe done through collusion, direct or indirect (e.g. looking at a competitors job posting site and the wages established for a certain class or type of employee); or in the case of a monopoly, the business utilizes monopsony powers to set wages.  It’s just another means of economic control, not unlike what one might see in a totalitarian state. And just like a totalitarian state, the ordinary employee has limited negotiating power, and particularly if one’s labor skills revolve around a monopoly controlled industry, a skilled employee may find themselves with little wage and benefit negotiating power.
14.                 As within the former Communist Bloc, the U.S. means of production for a market – ownership and control - are often organized under a single ruling body.  In the GDR, this would have been the elite cadres that run the state; and in American, it’s the plutocratic elite, who also own and operate the state.  In both scenarios, Crony Capitalism and Communism, the means of production is often formed around a cartel or monopoly.  As this blog has stated many times, monopoly is little more than socialism by private proxy, with all the incumbent inefficiencies of scale that we have come to expect and have witnessed.
15.                 While the U.S. government does not own the press, the plutocracy does; and the plutocracy’s message is heard loud and clear on a daily basis.  Factor in dumbed down content, the consolidation of news outlets, and the gradual elimination of the long form of journalism, and this spells trouble for U.S. democracy and an educated electorate.
16.                 The U.S. prison system is yet another means of control, both economic and political.  And while the U.S. prison system is no Soviet Gulag, the U.S. does suffer the highest incarceration rates in the world, all too often for victimless crimes such as drug possession.  And what is the outcome?  A class of citizens – prisoners - who are disenfranchised, and often are a means of slave labor, during and post incarceration.  Try getting job with a felony record, particularly in a sub-par economy, and we’d all come to quickly understand how the prison, and parolee, population is a pool of slave labor.  Minorities suffer disproportionately from present laws, and enforcement of those laws, and these laws are executed in an arbitrary and capricious manner.  Do my readers believe for an instant, all of this is by coincidence?  Blacks and other minorities tend to vote for politicians that are antithetical to the interests of the Billionaire class.
17.                 Toss in a black site or a covert incarceration site in Chicago, and what do we have?
18.                 Witness too, the militarization of our state and local police force, basically establishing local armies in our communities across the nation, with fire power grossly disproportionate to any threat, real or imagined.  And speaking of threats, while the hallmark of a totalitarian regime is to play up the external threat, we’ve seen that the U.S. too, likes to play up the external threat, but that the real threat – the threat to public safety - is from within.  As documented by The Guardian there have been over a 1,000 mass shootings within our borders, since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.  But apparently, the fact that the U.S. spends more money on defense, surveillance, intelligence, and the police state, than the G-20 combined, buys the average U.S. citizen little or no relief from the prospect of being gunned down in our own communities by our fellow Americans. 
19.                 In fact, black citizens and minorities are more likely to be the victims of police violence, than white citizens.  The number of police killings this year now exceeds 900.  The number of jihadi attacks on U.S. soil this year?  Zero.
20.                 The surveillance state isn’t limited to the U.S. government, however.  There’s a very good chance that your employer is swapping information with the government.  As recently as 2013, Bloomberg reported that thousands of U.S. companies were swapping intelligence with the surveillance state.  Now, when one is working, we expect to be monitored, as we are being paid for our time; but when we are off the clock, what business is it of anybody, our employer or our government, how we choose to lead our lives?  That’s where the right to privacy comes in.  If a citizen has done something wrong than the police, or prosecuting attorney, should be forced to obtain a warrant, and judging by the history of our courts, warrants are easy enough to come by.
21.                 Children being used as pawns in the GDR, well they are used as pawns in – unconstitutional - family law courts all across America; only the extortion is often paid to U.S. family court judges, crony lawyers, and members of the family law industrial complex, such as psychologist and therapist.
22.                 A key characteristic of a surveillance state is the secrecy it hides behind, where nothing is transparent and everything is “classified.”  As was the case in the GDR, once the mask falls, the totalitarian state cannot stand public scrutiny.  It may take years, or even decades, but the totalitarian state ultimately collapses under the weight of its own lies.  China should take note.

I could go on and on…. With parallels between the GDR’s police state/totalitarian regime and our own U.S. government and economy.  Please note too, these examples aren’t the ravings of a paranoid mind, but rather, I’m merely quoting our own mainstream news media.  Please, do yourself and your children a favor, and read some of the articles highlighted in blue, above.

It’s a lot to digest.  The examples above on a one-off basis, admittedly, aren't overly concerning (particularly when we – as loyal U.S. citizens – like to give our government, our elected officials, and the ownership class the benefit of the doubt).  Many of us are very proud of our country, especially what the U.S. has the potential to evolve into.  However, when the aforementioned facts are viewed holistically, in sum, the American public should really question where our government, economy, and the mass surveillance state is headed. 

A couple of final thoughts.

A friend of mine recently attended an internet security conference.  As relayed to me, the conference was highly informative; but what was most interesting was that during the entire seminar not once was end-to-end encryption mentioned.  Nor did anyone at the conference mention end-to-end encryption as a means to protect privacy and hold criminal enterprise and foreign governments at bay.   In the ultimate Catch-22, not one speaker mentioned how the surveillance state (NSA, CIA, FBI, Et Al.) had insisted that U.S. hardware, software, and internet providers build backdoors into their products, and how these backdoors were a threat to corporate, government and the public’s privacy and internet security.  You see, thanks to these backdoors and the lack of encryption, we need the security state to protect us from the security state.

But if nothing in this piece concerns you… Look how close we are to becoming a police state?  All the tools of repression are in place:  a massive surveillance state; a monolithic DOD and a heavily armed police force; a watered down press and a public that receives 90% of its news from five corporations; secret courts and a government that is opaque; wars without end; intimidation of whistle blowers; the megalomanical greed of the plutocracy; and a public that is willing to let fear drive them to sacrifice their freedoms for specious claims of greater personal safety.   And last but not least, a government owned and operated by a plutocracy, neatly privatized and legitimized for their personal gain.  Unfortunately, the government itself, and the tools of repression, have become profit centers unto themselves.  All it would take for the plutocracy to clamp down, and destroy our freedoms is an actual act of terrorism or a false flag event.  Burdened by the fear of a catastrophic event, many Americans would welcome such oppression with open arms, based upon false safety guarantees.  In fact clamor for it.  And within seconds, because all the tools of repression are already in place, the U.S. becomes a totalitarian state.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

President Kennedy, months before his assassination, said before the Berlin Wall: 

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last eighteen years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for eighteen years that still lives with the vitality and the force and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin.

Today, there are many walls, many Berlin Walls if you will, dividing American society, placed there by the plutocracy and the ruling elite.   We have walls in our justice system, within our government, and barriers and death strips in our economy…. These walls divide the ruling elite from the 99%, in a corrupt and repugnant two-tiered system. 

And these walls kill, and are a direct threat to our democracy and freedom.

Copyright JM Hamilton Publishing 2015