Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘economy/finance’ Category

For regaining confidence in Capitalism and sustainable growth: What is “Gold-paper currencies”?

Posted on December 1, 2008

I have this gut feeling that, if one major superpower does not adopt for a period gold currency, then confidence in paper money or investment gimmicks is No longer going to fly.

 In these uncertain financial crisis and economical deflation, I suggest a psychological incentive for people to recover some sense of value to their currencies. 

My idea is to issue hard currencies that are an alloy containing the quantity of gold commensurate to the large denominations.  This currency would be almost as thinner than paper money and more durable, and could not be forged, unless the amount of gold is Not the same as the officially issued currencies.

This project should be feasible: Gold can be made as thin as needed, and if we find a cheap metal or plastic that can add resistance and flexibility to the currency to be folded, and handled as paper money then everybody would be satisfied.

At first, the gold paper-like money could be distributed at a rate of say 1% higher over its real value to recover the upfront expenses, in addition to the increase in market value of gold, averaged once a week.

These extra expenses would not discourage the use of paper money for those who could not afford the extra cost of gold currencies.

The higher denomination currencies would be larger in order to keep the same thickness as the other smaller denominations.  As the value of gold would certainly keep increasing, the government would, at interval, retrieve the older currencies from the market and replace them with smaller size currencies containing the market value of the amount of gold in the alloy.

This idea is logical because the gold-paper currencies would require less gold as its value increases.

Travelers could then exchange their State own gold-paper money abroad and register them at any bank for Interpol investigations in case of thefts and get exactly the same money value of the respective States.

Obviously, all governments that signed in to this system would have to submit to international control when issuing gold-paper money for credibility and quality reasons.

I believe that with real gold-paper money then the businesses of currency speculations and rate of exchanges should wane and quickly disappear. 

What might remain is currency trade or the accumulation of gold in rich sovereign funds.

The governments would quickly learn to issue enough gold-paper currency to satisfy internal commerce.

The superpowers and regional powers would exercise political and military “incentives” on weaker and unstable States to issue more gold-paper currency than needed for inner commerce, but then they would have to deliver real gold and good value products to retrieve the surpluses.

The US Administrations do not have real value money or real value economy to hoard gold and will not be able to do so for many decades to come. Only China, India and the rich oil-producing States with small populations would be the major players in currency trade of gold-paper money.

There are several policies that governments would revisit to manage this new system. 

Governments might issues a composite weight of the amount of gold-paper and regular paper money that should satisfy internal commerce. 

Either the gold-paper money would concentrate in the hands of the rich and thus reducing commerce to regular money, with industries specialized in high quality and luxury products for the rich and industries focusing on lower quality and basic products for the masses.

Or the little people would not desist from the gold-paper and use them as personal saving account in their homes and thus deflation would hit the economy due to the lack of currency circulation.

Consequently, governments would have choices to either limit the amount of gold-paper in circulation to encourage circulation of money or eliminate regular paper currencies to force the masses into liberating their hoarded gold-paper.

The same pitfalls and recurrences of the present monetary system would be exhibited, but the remedies would be more straightforward to comprehend by the common people.

An interesting phenomenon will emerge: cultures where mostly little people horde the gold-papers and cultures where gold-papers are concentrated in the class of the rich. 

Well, if there is civilization clashes then this division between the two types of cultures would set the foundations for a new sociology science where the manipulation of hard money is the first principle.

This system would require many fine tuning but the advantages must far exceed the disadvantages for smaller and weaker States. 

Countries with real value-added economies would not be affected by any mischievous financial embezzlement schemes in destabilizing their financial status because the middle classes would have re-learned the value of hard money and desist from speculative schemes for some times.

This re-learning process of the value of real hard money is the fundamental benefit of the new system so that financial history would repeat its cycle of development for the century. 

In any case a genuine International Monetary Control and Management Fund would be instituted to focus on the circulation of money within and among States and help in the synchronization of real commerce.

The crux of this gold-paper currency system is to stabilize growth to a sustainable level for human kind. 

Since gold is limited on Earth and its production has reached a limit, wild GNP rate of increases would slow down; redundant and irrelevant consumer products would make room for basic products essentials for the survival of mankind. 

The new economical strategies would focus on cutting cost, cutting waste, re-cycling and vigorously researching for substitute renewable energies for the benefit of all States.

Lebanon and Palestine: Same and Different(Part 1)

Posted on April 29, 2009

Brief ancient history:

Lebanon is a recognized State by the UN in 1943. The Lebanese State got its fictitious “independence” from France who withdrew its troops in 1946 (2 years before the State of Israel was recognized by the UN).

Palestine was partitioned in 1947 between Palestinians and the minority Jews (barely 40% but allocated 55% of the land of Palestine).

Currently, all of Palestine is under occupation by this Zionist State called Israel.

Lebanon and Palestine were throughout antiquity under the domination of neighboring Empires such as in Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq (Mesopotamia). 

The people in the two tiny stretches of coastal lands on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea were mainly mariners, traders, middlemen among Empires, and skilled artisans. (They were united under the Seleucid dynasty, an officer of Alexander army)

Under the nominal or explicit domination of Empires, Lebanon and Palestine had autonomous administration of their society as City-States that were highly democratic within the city limits as Athens emulated in the 7th century BC. 

The famous City-States from north to south are Ugarite, Tripoli, Jubail (Byblos), Saida, Sour (Tyr), Akka (Acre and Haifa), and Askelan. 

The City-State of Jubail (inventors of the alphabet) built Saida; Saida built Sour and dominated the sea routes; and Sour built Akka and relayed Saida in sea domination and expanding the trading posts to Spain. 

These City-States were the masters of the sea and traded with all Empires, and build trading towns: they have resisted many overwhelming sieges, sometimes for years, and occasionally managed Not to be entered and devastated.

Every empire that conquered Syria resumed its drive by dominating Lebanon and Palestine. 

In general, when more than one empire co-existed at the same period and when the empire in Egypt was powerful enough then it governed the southern half of Palestine while the other empire governed the upper half, including Lebanon. 

The strip of Gaza to Yafa was mostly under Egyptian cultural influence.

The coastal strip from north actual Syria to the Sinai was called Canaan. Then, the upper stretch to Akka was called Phoenicia or even Saida (in reference for the main City-State).

The Sea People, called Philistines and probably coming from the Adriatic Sea, destroyed Greece fleet, devastated many coastal cities, and conquered Egypt before they were driven out and settle in Gaza and the southern part of Canaan, called Palestine ever since.

Moses (this mythical story) arrived with an amalgam of nomadic tribes and his successors attempted to occupy part of south Palestine.  These tribes worshiped Yahweh/Yahwa, thus, yahoud and Jews for the Latin people

These tribes under Moses reverted to worshiping the all encompassing God of the Land called El., except a few tribes such as Judea and Benjamin.  During the Roman Empire, and most of the empires that dominated Syria, the district of Tyr administered the upper half of Palestine, including Galilee.

Modern History:

 In the beginning of the 20th century, the military in Turkey deposed the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and started policies focused on Turk Nationhood.  Many in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine immigrated to Egypt. 

During the First World War famine fell on Lebanon along with a devastating wave of locust; they immigrated to the USA, Brazil, Latin America, and many were dropped in Africa by unethical ship captains who claimed that they reached the Americas.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain had mandate over Palestine and Iraq; France had mandate over Lebanon and Syria.

Consequently, the bilingual Palestinians spoke English, and their counterpart in Lebanon spoke French.

In 1930, Haifa grabbed the center of trades and many Lebanese flocked to Haifa and Palestine.  The reverse wave occurred when the State of Israel was recognized by a majority of one vote at the UN in 1948.  Lebanon received Palestinian refugees who were installed in camps on the ground that their stay is temporary! and will return under the UN resolution 194

In one chapter of “World Adrift” Amine Maaluf said “The western powers are now paying the price for failing to apply their values in the colonies” 

The European colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany, and the  Netherlands had no intentions of spreading their moral values to those they considered Not worthy of their pearls and gems.

The indigents were to be enslaved, exploited, and humiliated;

The indigents who adopted the western values of equality, liberty, and democracy were persecuted and harassed and imprisoned;

The colonial administrators negotiated with the conservative conformists who were ready to strike deals and cohabit with lesser human rights. 

Dictators in Europe maybe abhorred after their defeat, but the colonial powers readily accept dictators in underdeveloped States to facilitate the embezzling businesses.

Human values had different quality and flavors according to the whims and interest of the exploiting colonial powers. 

Britain used astute diplomatic policies to subjugate their colonies more frequently than France did; but France of the French Revolution had No patience negotiating and communicating with their colonial people and never skipped an occasion to stat its true purpose for domination.and exhibiting arrogant military posturing.

 The colonial powers installed infrastructures that were appropriate for exploitation of the colonies; they established the required administrations for smooth and efficient exploitation.

The other administrative offices for legislation and justices were carbon copies of the ones in their homeland, but these codes could be disposed off and trampled at the first occasion that short sighted interest called for swift and immediate actions.

Contemporary history:

Current Lebanon was created by France during its mandate period and cut out from Syria; it is now a recognized State by the UN since 1943.  Palestine was divided but the Zionist movement conquered the allocated portion for the Palestinians by the UN in 1948. through a detailed pre-planned attack drawn in 1935. 

The Palestinians are now located in the West Bank of the Jordan River and in Gaza where Israel has built 150 Jewish-only colonies and increasing every year. 

The Palestinians who fled their towns and villages in the State of Israel are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  And they spread throughout the 5 continents. The UN resolution 193 demands the repatriation of these Palestinians to their hometowns but Israel has been rebuffing that resolution since 1948.

Lebanon suffered many civil wars and calamities for Not being capable or unwilling of absorbing the Palestinian refugees.

Israel has waged four devastating wars against the State of Lebanon on flimsy pretexts based on the Palestinian resistance trying to regain their rights for a homeland.

And three more pre-emptive wars against after the withdrawal of the PLO in 1982.

Note: More detailed facts of the daily business trades between Lebanon and Palestine in Part 2. The implantation of Israel was mainly meant to break down daily trades, and One market, and prevent daily communication among the One people in One Nation: Syria.

Ziad Abi Chaker wants to replacing stolen metal drain covers with recycled materials that last longer and cost less (and do Not entice the robbers to resume their beneficial enterprises?)

Saving Lebanon’s streets: the engineer with a sustainable fix

Using recycled single-use plastic, the industrial and environmental engineer applies a technique known as extrusion to melt the raw material and form it into the required shape.

In this case, Mr Abi Chaker repurposes plastic waste to make drain covers to replace stolen ones.

Where other people see rubbish, he sees opportunity.

“I’m an industrial engineer, so my job is to find resources for manufacturing,” But I’m also an environmental engineer, so I find these resources among discarded, recyclable material.” Mr Abi Chaker told The National

Mr Abi Chaker makes use of all single-use plastic, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, food packaging and more, and turns them into long-term sources of raw material to give them a new life.

His line of thinking offers a creative solution to a mounting problem in Lebanon.

Metal theft is becoming increasingly common as the country’s economic situation continues to deteriorate.

The stolen materials are being sold for scrap in US dollars as people grow increasingly desperate to generate income in a country with scarce jobs and a depreciating currency.

Ziad Abi Chaker, Lebanese industrial and environmental engineer and CEO of Cedar Environmental. Courtesy of Ziad Abi Chaker
Ziad Abi Chaker, Lebanese industrial and environmental engineer and CEO of Cedar Environmental. Courtesy of Ziad Abi Chaker

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces confirmed the increase in these crimes to The National, with at least one person arrested for stealing a drain cover off the streets.

Other recent thefts included steel wires and pylons from power stations, plunging Lebanon further into darkness in March.

Eleven metal graveyard doors were also stolen from a small Lebanese town in Bekaa on April 4, prompting protests against sanctity violation.

Yasa, a Lebanese NGO for road safety, warned of the dangers of missing drain covers after a car got stuck in an uncovered manhole in Jnah, Beirut in April.

But with his simple and sustainable approach, Mr Abi Chaker is saving the environment and the streets.

So far, the engineer has been able to manufacture three manhole covers, with 20 more in the works, out of his own pocket.

Capable of supporting 100 kilogrammes, up to 400kg, they are fit for human and road traffic. He is also producing a cover able to carry up to 800kg.

The first manhole was set to replace a missing lid in the south of Lebanon, while the two others were placed near Beirut River.

According to Mr Abi Chaker, the plastic covers are much more cost-effective than metal ones.

“The human traffic covers are between $20 and $30, while the vehicular ones cost between $40 and $60,” he told The National. “They’re 50 per cent cheaper than steel covers.”

The plastic drain covers are also faster to make, taking two to three days to complete each piece, which is “a record compared to casting iron”.

Although the plastic covers are a highly efficient quick fix, Mr Abi Chaker cannot carry the cost burden on his own.

He is on the lookout for contributions from supporters of the project in the Lebanese community. “It’s the best way to go,” he said.

Beirut Mayor Jamal Itani showed interest in the project, telling The National he is open to receiving a proposal from Mr Abi Chaker team on the details of the initiative to study potential collaboration and methods of implementation.

“Of course we’re interested in an alternative, replacing the metal covers with new metal ones costs a fortune,” he said.

But Mr Abi Chaker would rather secure funds independently from the municipality owing to the urgency of the matter and lack of faith in Lebanon’s officials – a sentiment shared by many who took to the streets in October 2019 against political corruption and mismanagement.

Mr Abi Chaker is working with lawyers to pursue legal action against the municipality for “failing to properly and hastily respond to an imminent danger affecting vehicles and pedestrians of the city”.

Manholes in Lebanon have been coverless for some time after the thefts began during the first quarter of 2021.

Despite the huge risk to pedestrians and vehicles, authorities have yet to take action. The open drains join a long list of malfunctioning public properties, alongside failing traffic lights and low-grade infrastructure.

The manhole covers are not the first initiative by Mr Abi Chaker to take the country by storm.

One of his projects, the Green Glass Recycling Initiative Lebanon, was ranked eighth out of 10 most innovative companies in 2021 for the Europe/Mena region after recycling 125 tonnes of discarded glass after the Beirut port blast.

The August 4 explosion killed more than 200 people, injured more than 7,000 and destroyed large parts of the city, leaving huge piles of shattered glass in the streets.

Instead of discarding the glass in Lebanon’s overrun landfills, the initiative collected the material and provided it to the few remaining glass packaging factories in the northern city of Tripoli, supporting the country’s glass industry and one of the poorest cities in the Middle East.

When asked why he continues to give to a country that does not give back, Mr Abi Chaker said: “When you love someone, do you give up on them in their time of need?

“Our country is afflicted with a disease of the ruling class, and I won’t give up on it now. Even though I was tempted by numerous offers to do the work I do over the world, I love being here, I love the work I do here, I love the impact we make here, I love the people and places here, and this is why I won’t leave.”

READ MORE

German firms unveil $7.2bn proposal to revamp Beirut port

Explained: Why Lebanon has an ongoing trash problem

Why Nadine Labaki believes Beirut blast marks the ‘birth’ of a new world: ‘There’s a revolution inside us’

How Monetary Currency instituted mendicancy?

Posted on November 9, 2010

Since mankind shifted from a barter economy to dealing with currencies, societies turned steadily and consistently away from production to a specie of mendicants.

In the barter trade, every individual in the tribe, clan, women, men, and children had a special task to support the survival of the tribe. 

Once a member is entirely incapacitated to be a productive entity in the order of the small community, or unable to get moving at a regular pace with the tribe to better seasonal greener pastures then, the member was relocated to a shady place near a source of water to tend to his peaceful death a “paradise for the old spirits“.

Most probably, a core of compassionate individuals delegated their services to aiding these old spirits as best they could.   They extracted from these elders oral stories of myths and traditional laws of conduct.

Transmitters of oral teaching and education are called “marabout” or “grios” in Africa:  They have been transmitting the oral spiritual traditions of communities around bonfires.

A few of them decided to institute religions, based on the captured myths told about the creation of the universe and what happen to the souls after death; until the written languages codified the sacred religious knowledge within the sacerdotal classes.

Currently, old people are still Not that scared of death: Just fearing a state of lack of liquid currency, lest they are forced to beg to staying alive.

They are Not afraid of dying of hunger:  Just apprehensive that no aides will come, unless they have to beg.

After years of toils and unconditional disposition to raise a family, sending them to universities, marrying their offspring, and distributing properties to their married children, old parents are dragging their arthritic feet as best they can and feeling ashamed to ask for small money.

I am witnessing a grandmother, wrecked with arthritis, barely able to shift its body during sleep, and having to do dishes, sweep, do laundry, preparing jams for the winter season, and even cook for her married daughter with six children, many of these children are way over 25 years of age.

I am witnessing a grandfather, having difficulty getting in a car and thus, deciding to stay home, dragging his feet three flats up in order to replenish water in the water tanks on the roof:  He had plenty of reasons not to trust automatic systems and the damage they did when they failed.

Old people are worried that their children will not make it in this new harsh world: They were not adequately trained to fending for their survival.

Old people without any social covering are waiting to die in pain and hopelessness.

Old people of the middle and upper classes, with health coverage, are willing to undergo heart surgery at the age of 80, only to survive three lousy months in pain and suffering.

I am pretty sure they were warned by surgeons of the humiliating conditions they will suffer, but sacrifice is forgotten at a senile age.

We beg for food and pocket-money, though we are entitled to vote, to drive expensive cars, to join armies, and to kill for “motherland”.

We beg for better grades; we beg for jobs; we beg for a raise; we lick asses to keep our jobs; we forget morality and ethical conducts and obey the boss; we claim that we are skilled survivors.

There was a time, still as valid now as ever, when materially fallen noblemen, had priority over the most disinherited people for the money collected in churches.

Poor Noblemen had to be secured firstlest the social structure disintegrates and chaos reign supreme.

Multinational financial institutions have to get first help:  They worked so hard to bilk people out of their earned money.

Multinational do Not beg: They demand their rights as knights and barons of the establishment.

The verb to “beg” was created for the poor people and it does not apply to the rich barons of industries who demand their rights to financial aids:  They invented the social and economic structure for the begging citizens.

We are effective beggars: we keep the mask of revolting against mendicant behaviors.

Wild animals and pets search for a shady and isolated place to die when the time approach:  They refuse further unnecessary suffering and pain.

They leave the company of the tribe:  They cannot expect the community to feed them; this is contrary to the nature of the specie.  Mankind is willing to beg mercilessly and assiduously to the last moment.

Millions of kids faking work, selling chewing gum on streets for a loaf of bread.  

Millions playing the meditative game, so that their collective spirits in prayers will bring about world peace, in exchange of one daily meal.

Billion of people are producing nothing.

They are the ones who cannot teach art but expose the results of art.

They cannot teach how to make shoes, but display instead varieties of shoes for you to select from.

The shopkeepers, working a lifetime in a box, collaborating with wholesalers, quickly turning over products in warehouses.

Engineers, supposedly trained to design products and services and ending up working salesperson.

Engineers  are hired to selling products and services, thinking that they can extend the illusion to consumers that they know something about the product or engineering practices.

It never crosses the mind of this engineer to make the effort of “re-designing” the product/system he is selling.

Sales people selling whatever there is to sell, uttering big technical terminologies: they have no ideas what these words mean.

Lawyers, shuffling papers and documents, bilking people, communicating with the lawyer of the other party, hammering out settlements, because they were Not trained or lack the talent to defend clients in courts.

Teams upon teams of “hygiene engineers” cleaning offices, gathering trash, vacuuming,  and then collecting garbage.

The lower middle class, learning technical skills, working around conveyor belts, assembling consumer products and canned food.

Now and then, facilitating modern lifestyle by updating plumbing and electrical systems:  running water, ready electrical power, and automatic appliances that were meant to liberating essential time for a real productive life, but falling short on target.

Who are the producers?  

They are the peasants in remote areas, no one paying them a visit, except wholesalers at harvest time.

Millions working in sweat shop factories:  the modern sacrificial lambs targeted to die at young age for disastrous workplace conditions.

Millions working in underground tunnels, extracting raw materials, trapped in worse conditions than taupe.

Millions working in open grounds, extracting raw materials, dying young, in polluted environment, for their daily meals.

If those are the people producing something then, how come so many trillions of dollar-kind money have been accumulated?

Trillions being talk about like we are meaning billions of dollars.

The world is currently  posting $60 trillion GNP per year; $15 trillion are saved by the “poorer” developing States so that multinational financial institutions move the surplus to the “powerful” States to maintain their higher standards of living.

The financial institutions cut out their commissions for facilitating the transfer of money from the poor people to the “richer” people maintaining high State indebtedness.

Last century, people were producing.  

In this century, worthless paper money are being printed, shifted, transacted, and transferred around as valuable earning: Fictitious wealth backed by the power of aircraft carriers and lethal killing equipment.

Millions of “men of war” in 200 official armies, begging for their daily meals in exchange for killing their own kinds, fighting for the “fatherland”.  

Millions of men of war enlisted in militia organizations fighting for the honor of the tribe, the trampled dignity of a local  leader, a religious cleric.

There was a long period in mankind history, tribes going on razzias expeditions against richer tribes and rounding up livestock.  Tribes expected razzias: They were meant for survival purposes under harsh conditions.

In the last three centuries, razzias on grand scale, are directed for pure greed.

Mankind: a specie of mendicants, with no dignity and no shame.

A specie that convinced itself that life is precious, even if they are totally worthless to producing anything spiritual.

Compassion is meant to help the abler body.

A specie toiling a lifetime not producing a dime’s worth;  unable to write an article, even an illegible one.

A specie no longer worth surviving.

Can Capitalist systems be reformed? Part 3.

Posted on September 26, 2010

In the previous two articles, I discussed the foundations of Capitalism, the variations in capitalist systems, communist/capitalism systems, the ideology of private property ownership, and the reforms needed.

This part will discuss the practical political and legal reforms needed if change is to be effective.  

First, let me summarize the last two articles.

One:  Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

  1. Private property of means of production;
  2. free internal people movement and exchange (products, services…);
  3. open free market for commerce; and
  4. 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.

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

Three:  The one foundation that all economic systems in developed States share is free global trade, which means the liberty to exploiting the developing countries in natural resources and cheap labor. 

How this work and corollaries to capitalist systems:

First, the developed States are allowed to subsidize their agriculture, but the developing nations are Not to do it and they cannot, even if they realize the need to do it .

Second, the developed States are to flood the markets of developing countries with affordable products with No “legal rights” for the developing nations to increase import taxes in order to safeguarding their own means of productions.

Third, the developed States can find financial resources at low-interest rates with a phone call, but Not the developing nations that have to borrow at at least twice the interest rates.

Fourth, 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 infrastructure to facilitating exploitation efficiently.

Fifth:  All “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce and Trades are dominated by the US, China, and a few European States. Thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence are denied the developing nations.

Sixth:  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.  

The aristocratic political family class (representing 10% of the population and hoarding more than 20% of the nation’s wealth or what is called “Old Money”) is the main beneficiary of the current capitalist system dominated by the financial barons.

Seventh:  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?

Basically seuring Equal starting life to all its kids.

Eight:  States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and total revenue generated:  These two criteria are the most objective representative of net profit and are easy to investigate.  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…

Ninth:  There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral standards 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.

Tenth:  Historically, land and private property were the basis for the emergence of the “bourgeois and merchant” classes and which initiated the major leap forward into creating wealth. This system of private ownership lead to the abolition of feudalism and absolute monarchic powers, backed by the clergy.

The structure of private ownership of land and properties materially weakened nobility and clergy and eventually displaced them. Private property of land should be revised…Read part #4.

Eleventh:  Private ownership of land and properties are not currently economically essential for capitalist system to function properly:  Enterprises can lease properties and resume their business as usual.  It is the political ideology behind private properties that is the culprit.

 Private property ownership remains as a reminder that aristocracy image of power must not vanish in order to retaining political power in “democratic” political system.

Twelfth:  Ownership of land and real estates must be legally abolished in order to having a serious chance for political reforms.  Land should be owned by communities and regulated by community councils.

Land and real estates should only be leased for durations, and never owned by individuals and never renewed for any member of the family in order to dissuade political inheritance of images and statuses.  Inheritance of private real estates and money is the main reason for the existence of aristocratic lineage in wealth and politics.

The inheritance mentality encourages sustaining ancient beliefs that the aristocratic class is better fit to rule, guide, and lead simply because this class created the system that perpetuates its interests and egoistic power.

I then offered the required necessary reforms on property ownership.  For example, enterprises may be allowed to renew the lease for specific duration as long as the nature of the business did not change or will not change after the renewal.  For example, transforming from a manufacture to real estates development.

This section of the series will develop on Election processes and laws reforms.

In the current “capitalist democracy”, the judicial system obeys laws decreed by the parliaments (supposed to be representing the common people) that are dominated by the richest and political “aristocracy” classes.. And the executive branch is intrinsically dominated by the highest classes, directly and indirectly.  

This entire 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.

It is imperative that real political power in reformed election laws should  shift the odds for the middle class and lower classes to acceded to legislative and executive positions.

Private enterprises within a free internal movement and exchange of people and merchandise, and supported by a smooth flow of liquid money, as commerce increases and develop, are the basis for creating wealth.  

The State should not be doing business, but regulating laws and order, and securing the well-being of  all its citizen “equal under the law of fairness to work, opportunity, and happiness.”

Thus, the sole reason for the existence for State government is doing politics.  

Mainly, equalizing the odds so that all its citizens live equally in dignity.  So far, the current capitalist system appears to  running smoothly only for the survivors of the holocausts of financial crisis and degradation of normal living conditions.

Election laws and regulations reform targeting all citizens, regardless of gender, ethnic minority, and wealth status must be undertaken relentlessly and closely monitored and supervised by ethical, moral, and just citizens.

First, No fee  charges should be levied for submitting any documents to being candidates to any representative community, council, or State chambers and Houses.  This costly application favors the well-to-do.

Second, contribution to campaigning is strictly done on individual basis and having a fixed limit representing the capacity of lower classes for contribution.  Thus, flow of contribution from rich classes and enterprises are off-limit in election campaign.

Third, stiff penalties should be levied on owners, executives, and managers of enterprises (not the entity) who bribe or press upon employees to get biased toward candidates and extending bonuses at election periods.

Fourth, quota should be imposed on rich and aristocratic classes in number of candidates, commensurate to their representation of the entire population.

Fifth, the campaign should be made easy to comprehend and run, so that many citizens would be encouraged to participate.

Sixth:  All candidates should have equal air time and receive fair contribution from the State to running an equitable campaign and supporting staff.

Seventh:  Prison terms should be attached to officials in any enterprises  or interest lobbying groups who are backing candidates by fraudulent financial means.

These are sample example for fairness in election laws so that many more common people get into the legislative chambers on their own potentials, without feeling indebted to any rich baron or political aristocrat.  

Either power is democratically obtained or anarchy is the end result for the state of injustices in capitalist systems.

Market cannot regulate itself for the interest of the common people.  Rich classes are not just following their interests, but also their overextended egoism to grabbing more power when left at their own volition.

Enterprises have No moral or ethical standards regulating them.  

Only external pressures, for example State politics of fairness to all and justice to all, can make a difference.  

Practicing democracy is hard work and it requires constant vigilance, reflection, and mass actions.

Ready or not, we need to start talking about menopause in the workplace

By Lisa DeShantz-Cook. Senior editor, ThinkHR. May 3, 2021. (Borrowed from Quartz with a few editing)

What is menopause anyway?

Speaking of menopause and its precursor perimenopause aloud can clear a room.

While everyone knows it’s something we have to deal with, no one wants to actually talk about it—especially Not in the workplace, and certainly not in mixed company.

But in this era of bringing our whole selves to work (whether that’s in the physical presence of our coworkers or from our home workspaces), it’s high time we introduced the topic.

Menopause, meet the workplace. Workplace, say hello to menopause.

Employers are okay discussing and making accommodations for pregnancy and breastfeeding, but menopause seems somehow different, a workplace taboo best swept under the proverbial carpet. As a result, they’re missing opportunities to support us.

What is menopause?

Menopause isn’t just a time when we stop having periods. A whole host of symptoms related to menopause can affect us in our 40s, 50s, and into our 60s.

These symptoms include hot flashes, cognitive changes, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, stress and burnout, to name just a few.

Mind you that Menopause can occur earlier due to certain health conditions, surgery, or chemotherapy.

My own experience with menopause just happened to coincide with a worldwide pandemic. With work travel effectively shut down, I could suffer symptoms over video meetings, where luckily my co-workers were unlikely to notice my pounding heart and shirt-soaking hot flashes.

Experiencing the indignities alone in my home office, and being able to shut off my video camera to run outside, is a luxury many of my friends aren’t afforded.

When menopause arrives, we may be at an age where we may have more time to devote to work or other interests now that children may be off to college or grown and gone.

We might also have fewer responsibilities outside of work, so more time to dedicate to work, education, certification, or other interests.

Conversely, menopause can happen when we have even more demands—like caring for older or ill parents or family members—on top of other family stressors.

Menopause can be a cruel twist in a life that might just be hitting its stride or yet another challenge on top of an overfilled plate.

If you’re in it, you know. You’ve probably raced into a meeting and gotten situated at the table, only to be overtaken by the internal fire that signifies an oncoming hot flash—and had to race for the door.

Your co-workers might be confused by your constant fanning, or your need for dressing in umpteen layers and peeling them off at seemingly random times. You might have snapped at someone for little reason or pushed past someone in the hallway in a rush for fresh air.

Worse still is the brain fog.

Routine tasks might get hazy, or you may have forgotten where you were in the middle of a meeting or presentation, or dropped the ball on your part of a team project. These slips can be brutal to your ego, but if you’re supported in the workplace, they don’t have to derail your career.

How employers can support women going through menopause

Menopause does affect the workforce—recent studies show 20% of the current workforce is experiencing it—so employers should acknowledge it.

Here’s how they can begin:

  • First and foremost, actively work to demystify and destigmatize this very normal life phase.
  • Encourage open and honest discussion about menopause and its side effects. Acknowledging that symptoms can be both emotionally and physically challenging can go a long way.
  • Build policies that help us feel supported in all phases of our work life, and facilitate conversations that help co-workers and managers understand when support and understanding is needed.
  • Create a safe space for us to express our needs to managers and supervisors, such as flexible hours if sleep is being interrupted, access to fresh air during the workday, proximity to bathrooms, or breaks in meetings. Our having to say “I’m having a hot flash and need to step away” shouldn’t be met with ridicule, shame, or personal questions.
  • Make room for menopause in workplace health programs.
  • Is there a place to get information on menopause for those experiencing it or those wishing to provide support? Does the employee assistance program (EAP) offer guidance? Do health and wellness talks include information about menopause?
  • Educate managers on menopause, symptoms, accommodations, and appropriate support, and teach them what they can do to keep their employees experiencing menopause symptoms engaged, productive, challenged, and feeling valued.

If those of us experiencing menopause aren’t acknowledged and supported by workplace policies and initiatives, we’ll feel alienated, invisible, less valued, and may bow out of the workforce well before we’re ready, taking with us valuable wisdom and experience.

Support from company leaders, openness and efforts to destigmatize menopause in the workplace, and employer policies and programs that support our health at all ages benefit everyone.

Can Capitalism be reformed? Part 2

Posted on September 25, 2010

This part will discuss ownership of private land properties in capitalist systems and the practical political and legal reforms needed if change is to be effective.  

In the first part I wrote:

One:  Capitalism is based on four  foundations:

1. Private property of means of production;

2. free exchange (products, services…);

3.  open free market for commerce; and

4. availability of a vast pool of people willing to work for slave 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 in the business.

Consequently, an employee is hired when the owner can generate profit, at least as equal to the total salary of the hired worker.

Two:  The foundations of capitalism have proven Not to function except within strong State institutions, which are almost totally controlled by the capitalist elite classes, especially the Old Money classes that generated the wealth in previous slave working system.

The judicial system obeys laws decreed by parliaments that are dominated by the richest and political “aristocracy” classes, and the executive branch is intrinsically dominated by these classes, directly and indirectly.  

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.

Three:  The previous article described Communist economic systems (Russia and China) and then, capitalism in Western European social-democratic States.

Four:  The one foundation that all economic systems of developed States 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 meager means of productions.

The developed States (colonial powers) can find financial resources at low-interest rates (at 3%, even if they accumulated far higher sovereign debts than the poorer States), but not the developing nations( at least over 7% interest rates on loans

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 and transport of raw materials efficiently.

Five:  All “international” institutions such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Commerce Trades are dominated by the US, China, and a few European States. Thus, transparency and access to timely information and intelligence are practically denied the developing nations.

Six:  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.

Small community banks with excellent transparency in decision process and lending policies should be the norm. 

The current status of multinational financial institutions is generating abnormal profit with no risks whatsoever.  

The aristocratic political family class (representing less than 10% of the population and hoarding more than 20% of the nation’s wealth or what is called “Old Money”) is the main beneficiary of the current capitalist system dominated by the financial barons.

Seven:  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?

Eight:  States should start taxing according to the number of employees hired and net revenue (not based on financial sheet profit):  These two criteria are the most objective representative of net profit and easy to investigate. 

This gimmick of taxing on “net profit” is an accounting fraud that is not objective or fair.

Companies relocating their factories or main business 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 be able to subsidize unemployed people until they find jobs and be imaginative enough to opening up newer job opportunities.

Nine:  There is a trend for owners with strong ethics and moral values 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 reclaim fairness and justice in actions the more institutions will be reminded of what is best for society.

Land and private property are the basis for the emergence of the “bourgeois and merchant” classes and which initiated the major leap forward into creating wealth.  

This system of private ownership lead to the abolition of feudalism and absolute monarchical powers that were backed by the clergy.

The structure of private ownership of land and properties materially weakened nobility and clergy and eventually displaced them.

Private ownership of land and properties are Not currently economically essential for capitalist system to function properly:  Enterprises can lease properties and resume their business as usual.  

It is the political ideology behind private properties that is the culprit.  Private property ownership remains as a reminder that aristocracy image of power must not vanish in order to retain political power in “democratic” political system.

Ownership of land and real estates must be legally abolished in order to have a serious chance for political reforms.  Land should be owned by communities and regulated by community councils.

Land and real estates should only be leased and never owned by individuals or enterprises.  Why?

First, inheritance of private real estates and money is the main reason for the existence of aristocratic lineage in wealth and politics.  The inheritance mentality encourages sustaining ancient beliefs that the aristocratic class is better fit to rule, guide, and lead simply because this class created the system that perpetuates its interests and egoistic power.

Second, land and properties leasing laws prevent inheritance problems and its successions of hate, suffering, and legal procedures.  

Land and real estates should be leased for a period No longer than 30 years and never renewed for any member of the family in order to dissuade political inheritance of images and statuses.  

Leases can be extended for three years under particular circumstances. For example, father, mother, and grandparents have the right to die in their property and not experience humiliation and exacerbation at old age.  I guess children will make sure that their folks remain at home and not be sent to specialized rest homes in order to enjoying a free location.

Third, leases on unused properties or uninhabited could be canceled.  Consequently, homes will be properly maintained and the homeless people will have the availability of shelter in unoccupied properties.  Families with crippled or handicapped children will have priority for occupying uninhabited properties.

Fourth, leased land and real estates offer greater opportunities for the newer generations to different life-style in habitat, sustainable energy, and better community life.

Fifth, enterprises may be allowed to renew the lease for specific duration as long as the nature of the business did not change or will not change after the renewal. For example, transforming from a manufacturer to real estates development is Not acceptable.

The third part of this series of articles will develop on election processes and laws reforms that would shift the odds for the middle class and lower classes to acceded to legislative and executive positions.

Note:  You may read about the Real Estates bubble that won’t burst and is converging to another financial crisis in https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/obama-praying-mantra-next-f-crash-not-on-my-watch/

Anthropologists poking at Capitalism: With the 4-Field Manifesto? Part 2

Posted on March 1, 2012

Note: you may read the first part of this article https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/part-1-anthropologists-poking-at-capitalism-with-the-four-field-manifesto/

A short recapitulation of the first part. What kinds of fairy tales that capitalists dump on us?  

The premises of the market-capitalist religion are:

  1. Humans are naturally greedy-selfish.
  2. Capitalism harnesses greed and selfishness for productive dynamism.
  3. Capitalism successfully delivers the goods.
  4. Capitalism is invincible.

The second part is “on how Capitalism has not delivered the goods…”

Cultural Anthropology: Capitalism has not delivered the goods.

One reason anthropology knows more about capitalism than any other discipline is that anthropologists have not just studied capitalism from the inside: most anthropology was done with people subjected to capitalism, people who were often forced to provide the labor or coerced into furnishing the raw materials for capitalist dynamism.

For much of the world’s population, capitalism has already been a miserable failure.(Covid-19 pandemics has demonstrated this failure? Except for the mass media platforms?)

Of course indigenous response has varied:

1.  there have been those who have profited tremendously from capitalism;

2. people have ingeniously appropriated capitalist products and styles;

3. people have not just been pawns in the system but have actively influenced and altered that system; no one knows these facts better than anthropologists.Thomas Hylland Eriksen writes in a 2010 foreword to Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History:

“Through the dual processes of integration and disintegration, wealth creation and poverty creation, empowerment and humiliation, global capitalism leaves contradictions in its wake. The story of contemporary globalization is not a straightforward saga of development and progress, Nor is it a simple tale of neo-colonialism and oppression.

It needs to be narrated from a local vantage point, and whatever their degrees of interconnectedness, localities are always unique blends of the old and the new, the endemic and the foreign, power and powerlessness”.

On balance, capitalism has at best been a mixed bag, at worst catastrophic.

And this fact applies not just on the edges of capitalism but at its heart. After some periods of relative stability and apparently fine-tuned management of the business cycle, we are back to lurching from crisis to crisis, in ways not seen since 1929 or the times of Marx and Engels. 

Trouillot wrote:

“Anthropologists are well placed to face these changes,

First by documenting them in ways that are consistent with our disciplinary history. The populations we traditionally study are often those most visibly affected by the ongoing polarization brought about by the new “spatiality” of the world economy. They descend directly from those who paid most heavily for the transformations of earlier times. . . .

We cannot abandon the four-fifths of humanity that the [ 1% ] see as increasingly useless to the world economy, not only because we built a discipline on the backs of their ancestors but also because the tradition of that discipline has long claimed that the fate of no human group can be irrelevant to humankind”.

The world needs cultural anthropology more than ever before.

We may disagree on the importance of Writing Culture–but we can agree that when much of the world’s population gets written off as irrelevant, then anthropological fieldwork has become even more necessary.

Back to Eriksen, who tells us Wolf’s “perspective is even more sorely needed than it was when Europe and the People Without History was written in the early 1980s”

Linguistic anthropology: Capitalism is not invincible

Capitalism is not just an economic system. What Trouillot terms the “geography of management” is accompanied by a “management of imagination” and a projection of “North Atlantic universals” through words like development, progress, and modernity:

“North Atlantic universals so defined are not merely descriptive or referential. They do not describe the world; they offer visions of the world. . . . They come to us loaded with aesthetic and stylistic sensibilities, religious and philosophical persuasions, cultural assumptions ranging from what it means to be a human being to the proper relationship between humans and the natural world, ideological choices ranging from the nature of the political to the possibilities of transformation. . . .

As a discipline, we have launched the most sustained critique of the specific proposals rooted in these universals within academe. Yet we have Not explored enough how much these universals set the terms of the debate and restricted the range of possible responses”.

It is here we most need the insights of a linguistic anthropology attuned to language and power, the condensed histories of words, and how words become harnessed to imagination.

Anna Tsing’s Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection contemplates a similar project, examining how the particular universals travel:

This brings to light a deep irony: Universalism is implicated in both imperial schemes to control the world and liberatory mobilizations for justice and empowerment. . . . Universals beckon to elite and excluded alike”

The world needs linguistic anthropology more than ever before. We may disagree on universal grammar or Sapir-Whorf, but we can agree that the imagination of capitalist invincibility is built on shaky and contested terms–terms that can also be used toward emancipatory ends.

Anthropology: Observe, describe, and propose

This account of contributions from each of anthropology’s major subfields is not meant to fragment and divide.

The world needs anthropology more than ever, for anthropologists to stand with anthropology as a whole. As Tim Ingold opens Being Alive: “I am an anthropologist: not a social or cultural anthropologist; not a biological or archaeological anthropologist; just an anthropologist” (So what is an anthropologist?)

Ingold’s comparison of anthropology with art and architecture is pertinent:

“The truth is that the propositions of art and architecture, to the extent that they carry force, must be grounded in a profound understanding of the lived world, and conversely that anthropological accounts of the manifold ways in which life is lived would be of no avail if they were not brought to bear on speculative inquiries into what the possibilities for human life might be.

Thus art, architecture and anthropology have in common that they observe, describe and propose.

There is a discipline waiting to be defined and named where those three fields meet, and if some readers would prefer to regard this book as a kind of manifesto for that discipline, then I shall not object”.

“After all, how could there have been a more perfect alignment of the stars than happened in 2008?

That year saw a wave election that left Democrats in control of both houses of congress, a Democratic president elected on a platform of “Change” coming to power at a moment of economic crisis so profound that radical measures of some sort were unavoidable, and at a time when popular rage against the nation’s financial elites was so intense that most Americans would have supported almost anything.

If it was not possible to enact any real progressive policies or legislation at such a moment, clearly, it would never be. Yet none were enacted. Instead Wall Street gained even greater control over the political process, and, since Republicans proved the only party willing to propose radical positions of any kind, the political center swung even further to the Right.

Clearly, if progressive change was Not possible through electoral means in 2008, it simply isn’t going to be possible at all. And that is exactly what very large numbers of Americans appear to have concluded”.

The article summerizes with the 10-recommandations:

1. That poverty and inequality–globally and regionally–be placed at the forefront of policy agendas.(Let kids have equal start in life, regardless of gender, race, financial comfort…)

2. Progressive income taxes and taxes on conspicuous consumption, with revenue devoted to a true national healthcare system: Medicare-for-All. (And free preventive health institutions)

3. Increasing inheritance taxes and other measures addressing wealth inequalities, with revenue devoted to prenatal care, infant nutrition and early childhood education. Particular attention to the ongoing racism manifest in infant-mortality disparities.

4. Abolition of off-shore tax havens, declaration of all income from investments, and full enforcement of capital-gains taxes, with revenue devoted to reparations.

5. Regulations on credit and banking so the financial industry becomes a boring sector dedicated to allocating investment, not a glamorous parade of outsized returns. Make banking boring again.

6. Investment in mass-transit and regional infrastructure to provide alternatives to individual automobiles.

7. An agricultural plan to phase out subsidies for mono-cropping, to encourage environmentally-sustainable farm management, and eliminate the tariffs harming the world’s poorest farmers.

8. A true jobs program to increase employment, with work targeted toward infrastructure improvement and environmentally-sensitive retrofitting. Consideration of measures such as reducing the work week in order to address contradictions of a high unemployment rate coupled to overwork by the employed.

9. Comprehensive immigration reform to bring rationality and humanity to a broken system.

10. Investment in education to create truly informed citizens. An educational system based on human holism, not just mono-dimensional economic efficiencies

Franz Boas in “An Anthropologist’s Credo, 1938)” wrote:

“In fact, my whole outlook upon social life is determined by the question: how can we recognize the shackles that tradition has laid upon us? For when we recognize them, we are also able to break them”.

Wallerstein wrote in The End of the World As We Know It: Social Science for the Twenty-First Century: “There is nothing to lose but our irrelevance. We can make the world less unjust; we can make it more beautiful; we can increase our cognition of it”

The life expectancy of irrelevance tends to be short.

More courageous and healthier is the acknowledgment of the many dead ends within the human disciplines brought about or brought to light by current global transformations, including the death of utopia.

Trouillot wrote:

“We might as well admit that all the human sciences may need more than a facelift; most will be deeply modified and others, in their current institutional shape, might disappear. As the world changes, so do disciplines

Note 1: Most excerpts were borrowed from the Findlay edition

What natural disasters cost the global economy in 2020

By Tim McDonnell Climate reporter. of Quartz. December 29, 2020

Obsessing about climate change

Covid-19 is clearly the crisis that defined 2020.

Yet, millions of people were forced to grapple with natural disasters alongside the pandemic. A massive deluge of record-breaking catastrophic events:

Atlantic hurricanes, devastating wildfires, floods, and even locust storms added up to one of the world’s most damaging and expensive years of natural disasters in the last half-century.

According to a Dec. 15 analysis by the reinsurance giant Swiss Re, global economic losses from natural disasters amounted to $175 billion this year.

Of that, $76 billion were insured, the fifth-highest total since 1970.

With some notable spikes in 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) and 2017 (Harvey, Irma, and Maria), average annual insured losses have risen steadily in the last few decades, up from $7.4 billion, adjusted for inflation, in 1979.

That’s the result of 3 main factors:

Rising property values in developing countries, increasing insurance coverage in developed countries, and climate change driving more frequent and severe storms and wildfires across the board.

This year, the most expensive series of events was the Atlantic hurricane season, according to a Dec. 28 report from the UK-based nonprofit Christian Aid, with a record 30 named storms, 12 of which made landfall in the US.

The figures below capture insured losses only; the full scale of damage is much higher.

The US is also expected to break another record, for the number of disasters causing damages of $1 billion or more.

Since 1980, the average has been around seven disasters.

This year, it could be 20, due to hurricanes, West Coast wildfires, and storms and flooding in the Midwest.

Still, while the geophysical impacts of climate change are widely distributed among rich and poor countries, the economic toll is felt most acutely in the poorer States, where disaster insurance is still a rarity.

According to Munich Re, almost three-quarters of the $5.2 trillion in global natural disaster damages since 1980 were uninsured.

And although some governments in the Caribbean and Africa have started to partner with insurance providers in offering disaster insurance to their citizens, the vast majority of damages there remain uninsured.

We have this insurance gap,” Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s chief climate scientist, said in an interview.

“In low-income countries the gap was 95%-plus in the 1980s, and today it’s exactly the same. Nothing has changed, and this is very frustrating.” (Frustrating? Why, are there enough money saved with these poor citizens to mind paying overcharged insurance fees?)

The Imperialist Origins of Saudi Arabia

By Yanis Iqbal / April 22nd, 2021

Note: I posted many articles on the Saudi monarchy and the history of the Arabian Peninsula. This is one of the exhaustive research papers

Why Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, a Sunni absolute monarchy, is enthusiastically supported by the West, and promoted as a global promoter of “democracy” and a peaceful entity in the region? This question is rarely asked.

The apparent mismatch between liberal democracy and religious fundamentalism is hastily airbrushed when the matter is about oil trade and arms deals.

This attitude is not an expression of mere hypocrisy on the part of the West; it is deeply rooted in a historical process, whereby the Arabian Peninsula was propped up by major powers as an outpost of imperialist interests and a bulwark against revolutionary ideologies.

Creating the Kingdom

Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism, was an 18th century peasant who left date palm cultivation and cattle grazing to preach locally, calling for a return to the pure beliefs of the seventh century “authenticity”.

He denounced the worship of holy places and shrines as denying the “unity of the One God”. He insisted singularly on beatings that led to inhumane practices: thieves should be amputated and criminals executed in public.

Religious leaders in the region objected when he began to perform what he preached and the local chief in Uyayna asked him to leave.

Wahhab fled to Deraiya in 1744, where he made a pact with Mohammad Ibn Saud, the leader of the Najd tribes and the founder of the dynasty that currently rules Saudi monarchy today.

Wahhab’s daughter became one of Ibn Saud’s wives. Ibn Saud utilized Wahhab’s spiritual fervor to ideologically discipline the tribes before hurling them into a battle against the Ottoman Empire.

Wahhab considered the Sultan in Istanbul as undeserving of any right to be the Caliph of Islam and preached the virtues of a permanent jihad against Islamic modernizers and infidels.

Lamenting the demise of the former greatness of Islamic civilization, he wished to remove all bidah (innovations/heresies), which he regarded as heretical to the original meaning of Islam.

Basing himself on the Sunnah (customary practices of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Hadiths (accounts, collections of reports, sayings and deeds of the Prophet), he wished to purge the Islamic world of what he viewed as the degenerative practices introduced into the Islamic world by the Ottoman Turks and their associates.

In 1801, Ibn Saud’s army attacked the Shia holy city of Karbala, massacring thousands and destroying revered Shiite shrines. They also razed shrines in Mecca and Medina, erasing centuries of Islamic architecture because of the Wahhabist belief that these treasures represented idol worship.

The Ottomans retaliated, occupied Hijaz and took charge of Mecca and Medina.

(Actually, it was the army of Egypt Muhammad Ali, at the insistence and persistence of the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 4, and led by his son Ibrahim Pasha, later labelled the “Little Napoleon” by the French, that Ibrahim army entered Deraiya and erased it around 1820. Ibrahim took all his time to progress slowly and rally the tribes before advancing surely and determinately. It is after Ibrahim retreated from the peninsula, and after the British captured Aden in Yemen, that the British resumed their weapon and financial support to the Wahhabis).

The Ibn Saud-Wahhab alliance remained in the interior, with the full support of the British in weapons and money, until the Ottomans collapsed after World War I.

By 1926, the al-Saud clan – led by their new patriarch Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud – and their fanatical Wahhabi allies – the Ikhwan, or “Brotherhood” – once again seized control of the holiest cities in Islam, as well as important trading ports on the western coast of the peninsula. 

Like the initial advances of the 1700s, it was a campaign defined by bloodshed, forced conversions, enslavement, and the enforcement of the strict and eccentric laws of Wahhabism. 

It was also a campaign that was grounded in an alliance between Abdul Aziz and the British Empire. A 1915 treaty turned the lands under Abdul Aziz’s control into a British protectorate, ensuring military support against rival warlords and uniting the two against the Ottomans.

The intimate relationship between British imperialists and Abdul Aziz continued even after the dismantlement of the Ottoman empire, reflected in their close cooperation in the war against Sharif Hussein of Mecca, the Guardian of the Holy Cities, the chief of the clan of Hashem and directly descended from the Prophet.

Hussein had contributed the most to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat by switching allegiances and leading the “Arab Revolt” in June 1916 which removed the Turkish presence from Aqaba.

He was convinced to alter his position after Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, made him believe that a unified Arab country from Gaza to the Persian Gulf would be established with the defeat of the Turks.

The letters exchanged between Hussain and McMahon are known as the McMahon-Hussein Correspondence. As soon as the war ended, Hussein wanted the British to fulfill their war-time promises.

The British, however, wanted Sharif to accept the division of the Arab world between the British and the French (Sykes-Picot agreement, two Jewish administrators) and the implementation of the Balfour Declaration, which guaranteed “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine through a process of colonization done by European Jews. 

These demands were laid out in the Anglo-Hijaz Treaty – written by the British – which Hussein refused to sign.

In 1924, the British unleashed Ibn Saud against Hussein. Lord Curzon hailed this as the “final kick” against Hussein.

Meanwhile, the Ikhwan grew increasingly angry about Abdul Aziz’s accommodation with the imperial powers that financed him. They disliked his lavish lifestyle, his family’s relations with the West, the relative leniency toward the Shia sect on the coastal region of the Gulf.

The Shia were actually being savagely repressed, but the desired rate of execution in forcible conversion and deportation were Not to the level expected by the Ekhiwan.

The introduction of new technologies (the telegraph, for example, was viewed as being of satanic origin).

Consequently, the Ikhwan began to openly rebel in 1927, shortly after Abdul Aziz signed another treaty with the British which recognized his “complete and absolute” rule of the twin kingdoms of Hijaz and of Najd and their dependencies.

The Ikhwani insurgents, after conquering the various regions of Arabia, began to attack the British and French protectorates of Transjordan, Syria and Iraq in order to subject them to Wahhabi doctrines.

They came into direct conflict with imperialist interests in the Middle East. After some three years of fighting, Abdul Aziz – with military assistance from the British Empire – defeated the rebellion and executed the leaders. 

(It was the same deal as done during the initial Nazi regime as the German army demanded that Hitler militias be dismantled, the militia that brought him to power. Hitler personally got engaged in arresting his own leaders in what is known as Cristal Night)

In 1932, Ibn Saud confirmed his conquests by crowning himself as king of a new state, named after himself and his family: Saudi Arabia.

The suppression of the Ikhwan revolt did not in any way signify the weakening of Wahhabi fundamentalism. Threatened by Islamic radicalism, the royal family co-opted the Ikhwan movement by incorporating its local leaders into the Saudi state apparatuses.

This laid the foundations for the backward ideology of the state: unity of religion and loyalty to one family, making Saudi Arabia the only state in the world that was titled as the property of a single dynasty.

Cozying Up to USA

In 1933, Abdul Aziz had to face a severe financial crisis because his main source of income, taxation of the hajj (Muslim pilgrimage), had been undermined by the world slump.

(Actually, the Wahhabis were intent on destroying the Kaaba (shrine) and forbid Islamic pilgrimage as anathema to their ideology, but Saud was reminded of the wealth he could generate from the Hajj seasons)

For £50,000 in gold he gave an oil concession to Standard Oil of California (SOCAL). The deal between Abdul Aziz and SOCAL provided crucial funds for the fledgling king to consolidate his precarious rule.

Indeed, at the time, his rule was so tenuous that Britain had more control over the House of Saud than the House of Saud had over their own recently conquered dependencies. 

SOCAL gave Abdul Aziz a $28 million dollar loan, and paid an annual payment of $2.8 million in exchange for oil exploration rights throughout the 1930s. SOCAL later merged with three other US firms (Esso, Texaco, Mobil) to form the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO).

This began exploration in eastern Arabia, and in 1938 production of Saudi Arabian oil commenced. The developing political economy of Saudi Kingdom quickly became linked to ARAMCO and its American backers, as the company built labor camps, corporate towns, roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure necessary for the production and export of oil. 

These infrastructural projects tapped into subsidies from the US government that ran into the tens of millions of dollars.

During the Second World War, the role of Saudi monarchy as a reliable partner of a nascent American empire was strengthened. In 1943, Washington decided that “the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States” and lend-lease aid was provided: a US military mission arrived to train Abdul Aziz’s army and the United States Air Force (USAF) began construction of an airfield at Dhahran, near the oil wells.

These arrangement were to give the US a position independent of the British bases at Cairo and Abadan (port in Iran.

This airbase became the largest US air position between Germany and Japan, and the one nearest Soviet industrial plants. Washington managed to retain the base only until 1962, when anti-imperialist resistance forced the Saudi monarchy to ask the Americans to leave.

Not until three decades later, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, were the Americans provided with an opportunity to reoccupy the base.

The relationship between the US and Saudi Kingdom was famously sealed in a 1945 meeting on the Suez Canal between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abdul-Aziz. The two leaders agreed that the kingdom would supply the US with oil, and the US government would provide the kingdom with security and military assistance.

Over the years, US presidents reiterated their commitments to Saudi monarchy security. The 1947 Truman Doctrine, which stated that the United States would send military aid to countries threatened by Soviet communism, was used to strengthen US – Saudi military ties.

In 1950, President Harry S. Truman told Abdul-Aziz, “No threat to your Kingdom could occur which would not be a matter of immediate concern to the United States”.

This assurance was repeated in the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine. The 1969 Nixon Doctrine included aid to three strategic American allies in the region – Shah of Iran, Saudi monarchy, and colonial Israel.

After the US-supported ruler in Iran was overthrown and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter issued his Doctrine as a direct threat to the Soviets, essentially asserting USA’s monopoly over Middle East’s oil.

Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, extended this policy in October 1981 with the “Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine”, which proclaimed that the USA would intervene to protect the Saudi rulers.

While the Carter Doctrine focused on threats posted by external forces, the Reagan Corollary promised to secure the kingdom’s internal stability.

Spreading Counter-revolution

The 1960s and 1970s saw the emergence of Saudi petro-nationalism, based upon the rapidly expanding oil industry and the growth of transnational energy corporations.

The petrol bonanza – driven by the western economies’ steady consumption of oil – not only filled the coffers of the Saudi state, but also provided the Saudi state the ability to spread Wahhabi ideology, Not as a minor creed of militant jihad, but as a cultural export to influence the direction of Islam.

(Actually, it was the insurgency of the Ekhwan after the entrance of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and their occupation of the Kaaba in 1977 that convinced the Saudi monarchy to revisit its origin and cow under harsher laws and customs, principally targeting women and exporting millions of their brand of Quran, free, and establishing thousands of Madrassas (religious schools) in the Islamic world)

Oil wealth enabled the Saudi royal family to counter the rival interpretations and denominations of the Islamic world, and spread its influence over the Ummah (the community of the faithful). In other words, the Saudi ruling elite attempted to project itself as the ultimate definer and protector of the Ummah.

The export of Wahhabism to other countries was a part of the post-World War II US-Saudi strategy, wherein the two countries were allies in their opposition to Soviet “godless communism,” with USA focused on communism while the Saudis were more concerned about the “godless” side of the equation.

Wahhabism also served as a counter-revolutionary instrument against Nasserism, Ba’athism, and the Shia radicalism of the Iranian revolution.

Saudi Arabia started an organisation called the World Muslim League in 1962 to “combat the serious plots by which the enemies of Islam are trying to draw Muslims away from their religion and to destroy their unity and brotherhood.”

The main targets were republicanism (Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser Nasserite influence and invasion of Yemen) and communism.

The objective was to push the idea that these anti-monarchical ideologies were shu’ubi (anti-Arab). Saudi Arabia was also a central member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), created in 1969 as a counter-balance to the socialist-oriented Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Apart from this geopolitical function, OIC was used by Saudi monarchy to undermine its regional adversary, namely Nasserite Egypt.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 brought shudders into the palaces of the Saudi royal family, and into the US higher establishment. The overthrow of the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi announced the creation of an Islamic form of republicanism. 

Iranian Islamic leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said that Islam and hereditary monarchies were incompatible and he characterized Saudi Arabia as a US agent in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi rulers felt threatened. They denounced Iran’s revolution as an upheaval of heretical Shiites, but to no avail as Islamic republicanism swept the region, from Pakistan to Morocco. 

Ultimately, the Saudis and the West egged on Saddam Hussein to send in the Iraqi army against Iran in 1980 and supported by all the colonial powers, including the Soviet Union, with all kinds of modern weapons and financial infusion from Saudi Monarchy and Kuwait).

That war went on till 1988, with both Iran and Iraq bleeding for the sake of Riyadh and Washington. (Over 400,000 Iraqi soldiers perished and 1.5 million Iranians. A ceasefire was announced as Khomeini felt that this war might resume indefinitely if he comes to die before an end to it)

Iraq, weakened by the lengthy war, turned against its Gulf Arab financiers who were demanding to be repaid, at the USA request. With insufficient support to rebuild Iraq, Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, threatening Saudi Arabia as well.

The US entered the picture with its full spectrum warfare – bombing Iraq to smithereens and providing Saudi Arabia with the confirmation that the US military would protect it till the end of time.

Once the history of Saudi Arabia is understood, it can be easily concluded that the monarchs of the kingdom willingly entered into a relationship of geo-political servitude to the West.

The kingdom would have had marginal or limited importance in the world if it was not supported wholeheartedly by the British and American empires.

With the significant backing it received by the colonial powers, Saudi Arabia became an international political player. With the help of their enormous oil wealth, the decadent kings and princes of Saudi Arabia have been perpetrating massacres and wars in various countries, such as the bombing of Yemen, the indirect attacks in Syria and Libya.

All this has been allowed to happen by the West, which provides both tacit and explicit support to the House of Saud in its myriad crimes.

As Che Guevara said, “The bestiality of imperialism…knows no limits…has no national boundaries”.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2021
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