Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 8th, 2014

 What’s your position on legalizing smoking and planting marijuana?

Is there a referendum to take place in your state for legalizing marijuana consumption?

Most probably, the opposing group will show ads of a 12 year-old smoking a joint. The TV programs will portray potheads, clandestine growers and dealers.

The medical aspects will be highlighted with discussions and debates.

Does marijuana affect driving? Like using smart phone while driving? Or being under the influence of alcohol?

Suppose a car accident takes place and the police discover some marijuana in your glove compartment? Even if the accident is none of your fault, this salient issue at this particular period becomes the focus of attention.

“Marijuana kills yet another motorist” could be the caption on a few dailies.

Though the statistical relationship between smoking marijuana and car accidents is almost nil, possessing illegal marijuana becomes the prominent feature, a stand-out attribute.

The same salient effect is attached to the rare women who become CEO in major corporations.

Although no ethnic group is responsible for a disproportionate number of bank robbery, if the police catch Nigerians, Somalians, Porto Ricans… red handed, then the right wing propaganda will have a field day and they want to stop immigration of colored people or Africans or Moslem people…

The same salient effect with rape cases.

Mostly, salient effect is predominant in forecasting: sensational news get the upper hand over the long-term effect or growth, and supersede rational thinking processes.

Slow-to-develop and hidden factors are neglected.

No need to be blinded by irregularities each time.

Focus on the trend and statistical significant facts.

So far, in all Sates and nations were consumption of marijuana was legalized smoking dropped, crimes generated from both gangs and police officers reprisals have dropped… Cost dropped and rendered less attractive to traffic of this drug.

Uruguay legalized planting of marijuana and the crops dropped in quantity. And legalized gay marriages: Have no statistics yet if gay relationship dropped.

Bolivia legalized planting coca leaves and the production dropped. It is in the culture of the indigenous Bolivians to chew on the leaves for endurance sake. Like the qat in Yemen?

The less expensive the product and the lesser its emotional value.

This is the case of current drop of oil prices. It has nothing to do with this crappy equation of demand and supply.

Supply in crude oil is huge and demand is huge: The superpowers have exercised undue influence on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates to continue high output of oil in order for the western superpowers, which accumulated most of the capital, to replenish their depleted reserves under the illusion of potential world conflagration.

The decrease in oil prices is excellent news for the developing countries who have refineries: The deficit will shrink a bit. No refineries? the cost of gas and oil will never drop for the developing countries.

If the price of oil stays low for an extended period, the strategic psychological effect will kick in: Since oil is cheap then its effective value has been lowered emotionally to the common people.

The oil producing countries are shooting themselves in the foot by giving the impression that oil has lost in importance and value.

At least, if the oil producing lower their output for the sake of future generation: Oil is the most important raw material for chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

The same process is underway after Obama’s “blood mineral” import prohibition. All rebel movements in the Congo and in Africa rely on exporting raw minerals to sustain their movements.

You might think that this move is to make it harder on the Chinese companies to import from Africa. Wrong. The Chinese use fictitious companies (license produced within 2 days in due forms in Hong Kong) to import blood mineral products.

As it dawn on the rebels that it make sense to lower the prices because of the difficulty for them to export, very soon most raw materials in Africa will drop in prices and the capitalist nations will replenish their depleting reserves.

Plutocracy system in the USA?

A billionaires’ election system?

Since when as the common people actually elected who they knew is right for the job?

Are the Us citizens imagining that they have just elected the new Congress?

In a formal way, they did have. The public did vote.

In a substantive way, it’s not true that they have chosen their government.

 posted this Nov. 11, 2014

Understanding and Overcoming America’s Plutocracy

This was the billionaires’ election, billionaires of both parties.

While the Republican and Democratic Party billionaires have some differences, what unites them is much stronger than what divides them, a few exceptions aside.

Indeed, many of the richest individual and corporate donors give to both parties. The much-discussed left-right polarization is not polarization at all. The political system is actually relatively united and working very effectively for the richest of the rich.

There has never been a better time for the top 1%. The stock market is soaring, profits are high, interest rates are near zero, and taxes are low.  (But real wealth generated by the working people has not materialized in this economy)

The main countervailing forces — unions, antitrust authorities, and financial regulators — have been clobbered.

Think of it this way.

If government were turned over to the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, Bechtel, and Health Corporation of America, they would have very little to change of current policies, which already cater to the 4 mega-lobbies: Big Oil, Wall Street, defense contractors, and medical care giants.

This week’s election swing to the Republicans will likely give these lobbies the few added perks that they seek: lower corporate and personal tax rates, stronger management powers vis-à-vis labor, and even weaker environmental and financial regulation.

The richest of the rich pay for the political system — putting in billions of dollars in campaign and lobbying funds — and garner trillions of dollars of benefits in return.

Those are benefits for the corporate sector — financial bailouts, cheap loans, tax breaks, lucrative federal contracts, and a blind eye to environmental damages — not for society as a whole. The rich reap their outsized incomes and wealth in large part by imposing costs on the rest of society.

We can’t actually tote up the total spending on this campaign by the richest donors because, thanks to the Supreme Court, much of the spending is anonymous and unreported. Still, we know that the Koch Brothers, through their complex web of shell groups, put in at least $100 million and probably much more.

Many other billionaires and corporate contributions helped to raise the total kitty to more than $3.6 billion.

The evidence is overwhelming that politicians vote the interests of their donors, not of society at large. This has now been demonstrated rigorously by many researchers, most notably Princeton Professor Martin Gilens.

Whether the Republicans or Democrats are in office, the results are little different. The interests at the top of the income distribution will prevail.

Why does the actual vote count for so little?

People vote for individuals, not directly for policies.

They may elect a politician running on a platform for change, but the politician once elected will then vote for the positions of the big campaign donors.

The political outcomes are therefore oriented toward great wealth rather than to mainstream public opinion, the point that Gilens and others have been finding in their detailed research. (See also the study by Page, Bartels, and Seawright).

It’s not easy for the politicians to shun the campaign funds even if they want to. Money works in election campaigns. It pays for attack ads that flood the media, and it pays for elaborate and sophisticated get-out-the-vote efforts that target households at the micro level to manipulate who does and does not go to the polls.

Campaigning without big money is like unilateral disarmament. It’s noble; it works once in a while; and it is extremely risky. On the other hand, taking big campaign money is a Faustian bargain: you may win power but lose your political soul.

Of course there are modest differences between the parties, and there is a wonderful, truly progressive wing of the Democratic Party organized in the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but it’s marginalized and in the minority of the party.

So many Democrats have their hand in the fossil-fuel cookie jar of Big Oil and Big Coal that the Obama administration couldn’t get even the Democrats, much less the Republicans, to line up for climate-change action during the first year of the administration.

And how do Wall Street money managers keep their tax privileges despite the public glare? Their success in lobbying is due at least as much to Democratic Party Senators beholden to Wall Street as it is to Republican Senators.

Is there a way out?

Yes, but it’s a very tough path. Plutocracy has a way of spreading like an epidemic until democracy itself is abandoned.

History shows the wreckage of democracies killed from within. And yet America has rallied in the past to push democratic reforms, notably in the Progressive Era from 1890-1914, the New Deal from 1933-1940, and the Great Society from 1961-1969.

All of these transformative successes required grass-roots activism, public protests and demonstrations, and eventually bold leaders, indeed drawn from the rich but with their hearts with the people: Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.

Yet in all of those cases, the mass public led and the great leaders followed the cause. This is our time and responsibility to help save democracy. The Occupy Movement and the 400,000 New Yorkers who marched for climate-change control in September are pointing the way.




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