The Mason Missile, March 5, 2019

Greetings! I’m sorry to be so late; I’ve been doing my work as a Committee-person for my ward in South Philadelphia. Politics, the process of electing persons who run the community’s affairs, are the concern for all of us.

I was delighted by the defeat of Amazon, in its attempt to establish its second headquarters in New York-specifically, Long Island City in Queens-by neighborhood people protesting the disruption of their neighborhoods and the massive tax breaks, up to $3 billion, that the City and the State would have given the company-a company said to have $11.2 billion in profits (including the upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods), and whose CEO Jeff Bezos is worth $130 billion-rich enough to organize his own private space program, SpaceX. There were also worries by the community and the unions-still the best hope for working people-of low-wage work under stressful conditions-there were reports out about those practices at Amazon facilities-and of disruption of neighborhoods and gentrification.

Working-class and low-income people standing up to a corporate behemoth that, for a while, was valued at one TRILLION dollars, (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/04/amazon-hits-1-trillion-in-market-value.html), is something to be proud of. Organizations for tenant’s rights, immigrant rights groups like Make The Road NY, and neighborhood groups joined together to stand up to Amazon and for their community. (https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/19/organizers-oust-amazon-hq2-new-york?cd-origin=rss#)

Amazon also serves as a poster child for the challenge to the idea that giving corporations tax breaks stimulates the economy, and so state and city governments must offer these to corporations to establish themselves I their communities. That was the way Amazon played it-several cities, including Philadelphia, were on the list to be the site for HQ2, and cities and states offered the company billions in tax breaks. A report by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) shows that Amazon, with all its billions, has not paid a single cent of federal income taxes last year. (https://itep.org/amazon-in-its-prime-doubles-profits-pays-0-in-federal-income-taxes/) Moreover, Amazon has received a tax REBATE of $129 million.

Another bad example of corporate socialism is Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of pasts for Apple. The original deal was that, according to Governor Scott Walker (with Donnie trump going along), Foxconn would set up a factory that would create “up to 13,000” manufacturing jobs, mainly for display panels; for that it company would have the incentive of tax breaks from the state, worth $3 billion, along with three-quarters of a billion from local municipalities. But all of a sudden, Foxconn executives announced that the company would make the site into a research and development “hub,” which would hire approximately 1,000 technical employees. Billions of dollars lost, elected officials groveling to foreign capitalists, hopes raised for jobs for workers who have no jobs-for nothing. ( https://thinkprogress.org/factory-wisconsin-foxconn-billions-to-build-eea422ff0cef/)

May I introduce you to one of the most influential-and malignant-economic thinkers you never heard of: economist James McGill Buchanan, who did his work out of George Mason University. (https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/meet-the-economist-behind-the-one-percents-stealth-takeover-of-america) . Buchanan, like Milton Friedman, Friedrick Hayek, Ayn Rand, and Ludwig Von Misis, has been an influencer to the economic elite, advocating absolute “free market” capitalism, at the expense of workers and community people.

Buchanan has projected upon workers, social activists, and similar enemies of conservatives the traits of utter selfishness-to him, they are people who want to take property away from its owners for their own benefit-but are the capitalists, the owners of said property, not being selfish in bleeding workers and community people for their profit being selfish? Property owners-oligarchs-must, said Buchanan, be protected from working-class and low-income voters standing up for their rights-which, to Buchanan, would lead to tyranny, and so protecting the property of plutocrats-who wouldn’t be where they were without their workers-was defending liberty.

And in defending his idea of “liberty,” Buchanan had the support of Charles Koch-you know, of the Koch brothers-and worked against such threats to “free enterprise” as the environmental movement, feminism, public education, Social security and Medicare, and the civil rights movement-blatant racism was a loser in publicity, so Buchanan’s patrons utilized the arguments of “controlling government spending.” Buchanan’s ideas were antithetical to the idea of utilizing the state apparatus for progressive ends, for the public weal; but he was happy to be an advisor for the brutally repressive Pinochet regime in Chile, and he supported the repression of low-income and working people organizing themselves for their benefit.  

The 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has come and gone, and there was none of the defense of tradition that is supposed to epitomize what “conservative” is supposed to mean.  There was the old scare of “socialism,” updated to include terrifying pictures of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, and distorted interpretations of the proposed Green New Deal.

One rock-star speaker was Sebastian Gorka, a former trump advisor and member of the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian group founded by that nation’s pro-fascist (and anti-Semitic) dictator Miklos Horthy; members of the group were declared “Inadmissible” into the United States by the State Department. (  https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/trump-anti-terror-adviser-a-sworn-member-of-nazi-allied-group-1.5449737) But that did not stop Gorka from raving against how he interprets the Green New Deal; “They want to take your pickup truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers! This is what Stalin dreamt about!” said one of the deep thinkers of conservativism today.

Michelle Malkin, another right-wing pundit, raved about the “invasion” of immigrants, both legal and illegal; “Both parties are to blame,” Malkin proclaimed, “and yes, I’m looking at you, retired Paul Ryan. And yes, I’m looking at you, Mitch McConnell. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bush family. And yes, I’m looking at you, the ghost of John McCain.” The crowd cheered at that-an attack on people who were as conservative as themselves, but they disowned them when it suited their purpose. (  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cindy-mccain-john-mccain-cpac-speaker_n_5c7c225ae4b0614614db7900)

The fear of the “Other,” of dark-skinned immigrants, who don’t look like themselves, was in Malkin’s speech. (Malkin, by the way, is of Filipina extraction, yet she used rhetoric worthy of David Duke. Hmmm…) Blatant white nationalists-like Peter Brimelow, of the racist web site VDare; Gavin McInnes founder of the Proud Boys, the white nationalist thug gang; and Faith Goldy, who has been on podcasts of the racist web site Daily Stormer- people who conservatives of an earlier era would have shunned, roamed the halls of the conference, denying the value of diversity and treating it as a plague. And during the conference, there were reports of harassment of Muslims and LGBTQ people by CPAC attendees. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cpac-harassment_us_58b7360fe4b0284854b3a2a4?fbclid=IwAR3B2uOpF77FJXBsq5NRV36bJYREya5R887z7y37RBdylEZ61CYFt3UJp5E)

THIS is what there up against; and our commander in chief is their enabler and hero. Let us continue to organize, to study the issues, and fight against this menace to our liberties.

Bye!

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The Mason Missile, August 27, 2018

 

Greetings!

Upcoming is Labor Day, the holiday commemorating the working men and women of America.

What is there to celebrate lately? Here we have a “populist” President, supposedly the champion and voice of (white) working-class Americans-always assumed to be white-who signed a tax bill favoring the wealthiest Americans, and fighting against the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

trump’s attitude, and the attitude of plutocrats in this country, is one of condescension towards(white) working people, that they are too addicted to opioids and the drug of racism to see who their real enemy is-the same plutocratic class- and they feed working-class people with racially-coded fears of “law and order,” “crime in the streets,” “lazy welfare bums,” “affirmative action programs taking jobs away from deserving white workers,” etc.-trump updated this tactic to rail about “MS-13” and “rapists” coming over the border with Mexico- not mentioning that our tax policies have been long skewed in favor of corporations and the wealthy-people who pay lobbyists to alter the tax code in their favor, and to approve federal contracts with certain defense industries. (The news media, also large corporations, have played along with this; however, I think they’ve been pretty good lately at standing up to the trump tantrums.)

Along with this is the Supreme Court’s decision on the Janus case, which limits the ability of public-sector unions to do their work in representing their clients; I have no doubt the learned justices of the Court welcomed this decision, for they sympathized with the corporations-and the Koch brothers-trying forever to weaken and finally destroy unions in this country. The decision upset me terribly.

However, I have been buoyed by the Labor victories throughout the country, the successful teachers’ strikes in such conservative states as West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona; and the voting down of the referendum in Missouri for “right-to-work” (for less)-in Missouri, another conservative Republican state.

We have to overcome the idea that the plutocratic class would automatically rain their blessings on us proletarians, that they know what is best for all of us with their nearly total control of the economy; as a Democratic Socialist, I believe that we the people should have a say in the economic destiny of the nation, since it deals with OUR jobs, OUR ability to pay our bills and purchase OUR groceries, etc. An editorial in the New York Times of May 9, 2018 tells about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is now the wealthiest man in human history, worth $131 BILLION! (I could live easily on one lousy billion.) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/opinion/jeff-bezos-spend-131-billion.html

Since Bezos can’t spend all that money, what does he plan to do with it? Not charitable donations, like the old Robber Barons like Carnegie and Rockefeller carried out with their fortunes (made with the sweat and muscle of workers they overworked and underpaid). Bezos’ bright idea is space travel, including regular trips to space-space tourism!

We have problems aplenty on THIS planet-global warming through the use of carbon-based fuels, illiteracy, unemployment, infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric power stations) collapsing, famine, genocide-and Bezos wants frequent-flyer points to Mars! Bezos can do whatever the hell he wants with his money, okay, I’m cool with that; but with the constant deregulation of business practices, the weakening of trade unions, the tax policies favoring people wealthy enough to buy and sell members of Congress, it has led to widening extremes of wealth and poverty-the likes of which eventually leads to violent social upheaval-let’s say it, revolution.  We HAVE to educate ourselves on the issues, organize at our communities and our worksites, and get out and vote this November

Also upcoming are the High Holy Days, Rosh Ha-Shana and Yom Kippur, where we re-assess our lives, give up what no longer is good for us, and realize whatever good is in us and around us. Currently we are in the Hebrew month of Elul, when we sit back and reflect on our lives over the past year. Self-improvement is a long process, taken step by step; if you slip and fall on your way to advancing and improving, that’s okay, it’s all part of the learning process, just get back on your feet and keep walking. An excellent guide to the High Holy Days, and the other Jewish holidays, is Seasons of our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays by Arthur Waskow, one of the leaders of the Jewish Renewal movement and head of the Shalom Center (https://theshalomcenter.org/).

On that note, I bid everyone L’shana tova, a sweet, happy, and prosperous year to you all.