Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 24th, 2010

Catherine of Russia kept a detailed diary since childhood until she died.  She mastered three languages:  French (the most dominant language in all of Europe during the 18 and 19th centuries), German, and then she learned Russian.  She communicated with most of the famous authors and thinkers of her time and supported them financially and politically when in dire need.  She changed from Lutheran to Russian Orthodox Church for political reasons and to be able to accede to the throne; her father sent her a cold letter blaming her for that conversion.

The original name of Catherine was Sofia-Fredericka (King Frederick II, known by history as “Frederick the Great” was ruling Prussia and raising and training a strong army for expansion); she started her journey from Prussia (East Germany) to St. Petersburg in 1944.  The trip, that lasted more than a month in a harsh winter weather, was to be conducted in secrecy in order for Empress Elizabeth to check out Sofia as a potential spouse to her nephew Peter (the potential heir to the Russian throne).  Peter was a year older than Sofia and they have met when children; thus, Sofia could not recall how he looked or how he developed.  It turned out that Peter was immature, not good-looking, and barely as tall as Sofia (5’5″).  Peter still played with toy soldiers and hide and seek with his servants.

The mother of Sofia, Johanna, accompanied her on this journey as her chaperon and councillor. The chamberlain to Empress Elizabeth wrote: ” The daughter is plain but healthy; she resembles her father in facial characteristics:  She has a large nose and heavy chin, but she is taller than normal women.  I noticed from her gait that she suffered frost bites in several toes of her left foot. The mother is a complete snob and cares only of how she look. She reprimanded her daughter for missing her dad saying: “Your father is an insignificant person, focus to learn the Russian language and don’t think to returning to Prussia for visits.  The guest felt very comfortable in our heated sleighs; they were using carriages in wheels that left many bruises on their bodies.”  Elizabeth acceded to power by overthrowing young Ivan VI.

The mother felt humiliated from the first meeting with Elizabeth who didn’t even look her way or addressed her; she had to wait over 2 years in Russia, relegated close to the servants’ apartment, until her daughter got married in late 1945.  Catherine gave birth to Paul in 1954; she had named hin Pavel but Elizabeth changed his name to Paul and didn’t permit Catherine to see her child since he was an infant; thus, this overwhelming anger of Catherine toward Elizabeth and of her idiot of nephew Peter “who stood there grinning as Elizabeth snatched the baby from my arms”

Catherine wrote in her diary:   “Elizabeth is the bossiest lady I have ever met.  She catered for the minute details and never allowed me to dress as I wished”.  Elizabeth was a tall, svelte, beautiful woman with blue eyes before she died of overweight and aged prematurely.  Elizabeth confronted Frederick II militarily for over 7 years in order to halt Prussia expansion at the detriment of Austria.  The Russian treasury was depleted when she died.

Peter was the new Emperor and he used to strut in Prussian army uniforms and declare that Prussia is the better than Russia in every thing and that Frederick II is the greatest monarch.  Catherine never dared to challenge Elizabeth but bid her time until the strong-willed Empress died.  Catherine dreaded that Elizabeth might demand from Peter to divorce her and then be shipped back to her family that was at odd with her.

In the mean while, Catherine worked on her connections with the highest personality  in the noble class, the military, the clergymen, and foreign diplomats.  She had countless love affairs, especially with military officers such as Gregory Orlov and much later with Gregory Pushkin. A military coup organized by Catherine removed Peter from power less than a year later, before the official coronation.  Peter was strangled in prison.  The day of the revolt, Catherine went straight to the main cathedral in St. Petersburg and got acclaimed by the archbishop as new ruler.  (To be continued)

Can Capitalism be reformed? Part 1 of 4

Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

1. Private property of means of production;

2. free exchange (products, services…);

3. open free market for commerce;

4. and availability of a vast pool of people willing to work for salary.

The main driving force is that the owner of the means of production (the bank, the partners, the shareholder, or the family)  should earn as much as the total salary that all workers receive.

Consequently, an employee is hired when the owner can generate profit, at least as equal to the total salary of the hired worker. Actually, members of the Board of Directors, owners of majority of share, and the highest in the hierarchy get first cut on 20% of the total revenue, and not on the gross profit basis as employees, workers…have to negotiate on.

The foundations of capitalism have proven not to function except within strong State institutions, which are almost totally controlled by the capitalist classes.

The judicial system obeys laws decreed by parliaments that are dominated by the richest classes, and the executive is intrinsically dominated by the aristocratic class.

This whole political system is called “capitalist democracy“, where people have the illusion of electing their representatives for a duration.  After election, people are to behave as spectators:  Any serious disturbances are crushed in the name of Law and Order.

Communism tried to abolish the first foundation by claiming that all means of production belong to the State (community property of means of production was a smoke screen and never taken seriously).  Communism also abolished the notion of internal market free exchange by the communes and State institutions:  the central plan or economic program for five years must be met at any cost to pain, suffering, and famine of the population.

Communism went even a step further by eliminating the right of citizens to quit the factory assigned to, move, and relocate to other places in the nation.  Basically, communism drastic economic ideology ended up destroying the foundations of capitalism until it was too late to changing people’s inclination to relying completely on State planning and resource distribution.

In this century, Western European States learned to reform capitalism by involving the government in instituting equitable wealth disparity (tax increase on the rich), encouraging barons of industries to negotiating seriously with syndicates, regulating the liberty of patrons in firing employees, and supporting unemployed until they find a substitute job.  These European economic capitalist systems are labelled “socio-democratic capitalism“.

China has reformed its communist economy one step at a time.  First, it allotted lands to family peasants to exchange the produce with the community; it worked and frequent famine occurrences receded.  Then, communist China allowing private ownership of means of production (and the subsequent financial facility supports) and then encouraging limited internal free exchange and commerce.  Workers are still not free to choosing where to work and to moving to other cities:  Movement of people are regulated.

Rural China is paying the heavy tax in hunger and suffering from the diversion of water and electrical power to the cities and industries and the building of giant projects that pollute and contaminate water resources.

The one foundation that all developed economic systems share is free global trade, which means the liberty to exploiting the developing countries in natural resources and cheap labor.  The developed States are allowed to subsidize their agriculture but the developing nations are not to do it and they cannot even if they witness the need to do it .  The developed States are to flood the markets of developing countries with affordable products with no “legal rights” for the developing nations to increasing import taxes in order to safeguarding their own means of productions.

The developed States can find financial resources at low-interest rates but not the developing nations.  In return for blatant exploitation, the developed States agree “voluntarily” to setting aside a small fraction of their GNP to developing the infrastructures in the poorer States; mainly, self-serving their interests to improving and facilitating exploitation efficiently.

Worst, all “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce Trades are dominated by the US and a few European States; thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence data are denied the developing nations, or leaked slowly after persistent demand from conscious States.

Fact is, financial institutions (banks, insurance companies…) are the real owner of means of production in capitalist systems.  They own 30% of the total wealth of a nation and represent only 1% of the population.

This is NOT acceptable.  Fact is, financial institutions generate three times more money than the combined tax collected by the government.

This is NOT acceptable.  Any reforms should first target the level of profit that financial institutions are permitted to generate.  “Effective” interest rates should be lowered accordingly and tougher regulations imposed of these behemoths.  Community banks with excellent transparency in decision process and lending policies should be the norm.  The current status of financial institutions is generating abnormal profit with no risks whatsoever.

If capitalism needs salaried people it must secure the fundamental right to work, a wide range of jobs that satisfy varied opportunity, access to affordable education, safe workplace, universal health coverage, caring for the elderly, and justice for people who worked most of their life for a comfortable retreat.  Has capitalism satisfied the basic needs of its workforce?

States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and to net revenue:  These two criteria are the most objective representatives of net profit and are easy to investigate and account for.

This gimmick of taxing on “net profit” is an accounting fraud that is not objective or fair.  Companies relocating for cheaper workers must be taxed according to the original “national wages” of the workers.  Companies substituting workers for robots should be taxed according to the number of workers substituted.  States will then be able to subsidize unemployed people until they find jobs and be imaginative enough to opening up newer job opportunities.

There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral to including employees as shareholders and participating in management decisions:  These companies are doing very well and not suffering from financial crashes.  Institutions and companies for profit are amoral and do not deal in ethical conducts.

Ethics and morality are individual characteristics:  the more such individuals gather in groups to reclaiming fairness and justice in actions the more institutions will be reminded of what is best for society.

The crux for any serious changes in capitalist system is revamping the election laws and processes that will extend much better odds for middle and lower classes to being elected into representative chambers.  (To be continued)


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2010
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