Saturday, August 20, 2011

GBS—The History of the English Parliament—and the American Congress?

What is the historical function of Parliament in this country? It is to prevent the Government from governing. It has never had any other purpose. If you study the constitutional history of this country, you will see that Parliament has grown up out of the old struggle against tyranny.

The Englishman, being a born Anarchist, always calls government tyranny. The result of that generally is that the Government does become a tyranny, because its subjects cannot interfere intelligently with it—they can only riot and get their heads broken.

Parliament was not in the first place an English institution. It was introduced into this country by a Frenchman named Simon de Montfort, whose father was concerned with the Parliament of Toulouse in France. Its object was to resist and disable the King. Its use—the only use it has ever had—was to ventilate grievances, to give the people it represented an opportunity of complaining of how they were being made uncomfortable.

But it never forgot its object of delaying, defeating, and if possible destroying whatever power happened to be governing the country at the time, whether it was the king, the Church, the barons, or the Cromwellian Majors-General. Bit by bit it broke the feudal monarchy, it broke the Church, and finally it even broke the country gentlemen.

Then, having broken everything that could govern the country, it left us at the mercy of our private commercial capitalists and landowners. Since then we have been governed from outside Parliament, first by our own employers, and of late by the financiers of all nations and races.
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes (1932)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GBS—Just What is the Point of the Rich?

Taxation of the poor and cuts in public spending by cutting government expenditure causes personal suffering among those who have to live off smaller take home pay, or who lose their jobs. The unearned income from returns on stocks, profits, bonuses and commissions—the ways the rich maintain their wealth—is treated “as so sacred that we must all tighten our belts sooner than touch it” (GBS). The media pundits and tame academics employed by the wealthy class explain to us that we need the investments of these rich people to replace and accumulate capital, without which we would have no industry at all. So we have to let this narrow class of super rich have so much money that it is quite impossible to consume, leaving them with no alternative but to invest it:

After stuffing themselves with every luxury that can be imagined on the face of the earth, they still have millions which save themselves because they cannot be spent. That is the argument for having an enormously rich class amongst you. What have we to say to that?

In the first place, it is an enormous waste to overfeed a handful of idle people and their millions of hangers on before you can save money when no money need pass through their hands at all. No sane nation, which could accumulate its capital in any other way, would chose that way. Well, what on earth is to prevent us from accumulating our capital in another way? Why not take its sources out of the hands of these gentlemen and accumulate it ourselves? They would then have to work for a living, but we would all be the richer and they all the happier.
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes, 1932

After all, they are always telling us that work is good for us, so they must be all the happier to be able to join with us in doing it, those of us, that is, who have jobs in the first place. But we will be able to sensibly organize employment by looking to rebuilding our decayed cities and providing better public amenities, thereby employing many who at present have no jobs and live in derelict inner cities despairing for the future of their kids who know nothing but the local drug baron.

Then again, what guarantee have we that these people will invest their surplus cash for the good of the nation? As a rule they send it wherever labor is cheapest, anywhere in the world except the USA.

Here we are with our cities rotted out with slums, and with the most urgent need for capital to do away with those slums and to improve the condition of our people, to give them better food, better clothing, better housing, and better education, for bringing our obsolete machinery up to date, organizing agriculture collectively, and introducing all the new scientific methods. We need capital for those things, but if there is a penny more in the way of dividend to be got by our capitalist class by sending money to the Argentine or anywhere else, they send it there.
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes, 1932

In the present day, China has vast amounts of US dollars. By controlling the release of these dollars on to the market, the Chinese can control the US economy, making exports expensive and imports cheap, perhaps, with disastrous consequences for home industries. What do the super rich class care? They bother only about their investments which make their money abroad anyway, so the US economy scarcely matters to them.

So you see the one defense you can set up for the conspiracy of silence about unearned income is nothing but a silly excuse for shirking the great enterprise of Socialism. It is not true that wages must be cut, public enterprises much be starved and stopped in order that more hundreds of millions can be added to those that are being wasted at present on idleness, extravagance and corruption of labor which are ruining us.
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes, 1932

As to innovation, it is true that private corporations have developed wonderful technological advances, but very much of the original scientific priming behind it is financed by the state not by the idle rich who too often consider it far too chancey to finance research, and then government contracts often under the auspices of the military are often necessary to encourage the private corporations to do anything towards technological development. In short, risk avoidance actually holds back progress when investment is in private hands. The rich look for security nowadays not enterprise. It is the small independent businessman, rising from the working and middle classes, who is often the entrepreneur, and they frequently have problems raising funds for start ups and growth.

Warren Buffet Says Squeeze the Mega Rich

We have noted elsewhere in this Blog that professor Greg Philo found some rich people—the intelligent ones—were willing, even glad, to pay additional tax if it meant greater economic and social stability in the nation and the world. Now, Warren Buffet, whose net wealth is valued at around $50 billion, in The New York Times has lashed out at Congress, saying that they were not handling tax breaks in a way that is best for the country. He called for higher taxes for the super rich of America, himself included.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we megarich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.

While he paid nearly $7 million in taxes last year, he should have forked over much more to the federal government but tax breaks kept him from doing so, he wrote. “It's nice to have friends in high places”, but Congress need not “coddle” the super rich any longer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

GBS—What Obama Should Have Done in the Face of Congressional Budget Opposition

…the existing system is in essense nothing but a gigantic robbery of the poor. what is the matter with society is that the legal owners of the country and its capital are getting for nothing whatsoever an enormous share of the wealth produced from day to day in this country… balancing the Budget or forming a Budget was simply this: how much money can we get out of the people?
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes, 1932

Of course, when all the measures directed at the poor are insufficient, a capitalist President and Congress have to consider taxation of the rich, who will never consent until the politicians have convinced them that every last dime has been screwed from the people. Today, they are even greedier and more unreasonable than they were in the 1930s, and we know how they ended!

If Obama were a socialist, having no socialist majority in Congress, according to Shaw, he ought to have resigned in the face of the idiotic Congressional Republican opposition. He should have said:

Very well, I resign, so you Republicans take this budget in hand yourselves. I know perfectly well that you will do everything you can to get the money without coming down on the rich. You will cut services and amenities, and tax every dime of earned wages and nothing or as little as possible on unearned incomes. You will pretend that the US of America will be communistic if a dime of the vast wealth of the rich is conscripted on behalf of the country, and will continue in the face of the dire situation to leave the rich all their tax breaks and bacon lard.

You will not mention what sum of money those tax breaks mean to the treasury, and therefore to the people, nor what the treasury could raise if the rich were obliged to pay tax even at the same rate as the poor, let alone the higher rates that are justified. The poor will spend their money here in the US, creating jobs for others, and demanding goods and services boosting our economy. The rich spend and invest much of their money abroad, depriving the US of jobs, goods and services, and breaking communities in the process.

Very well, serve the rich according to your traditions, and take the plaudits of success or the consequences of failure. I am not in on this deal. My conscience is clear.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

GBS—“The Cognate Question of the Redistribution of Leisure”

Millions of our people, some living on the dole—and some on property!—do not work at all, whilst other people are working fourteen hours a day… Can anything be more ridiculous? one man unemployed and the other working fourteen hours a day! Surely the sensible thing is to take the unemployed man and let him do seven hours of the work of the fourteen hours man, and then see whether you cannot split it up a little bit further. About four hours work a day all round, accompanied by a sensible redistribution of income would make us all healthier and happier than we are at present.
G B Shaw, In Praise of Guy Fawkes, (1932)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

GBS—“In Praise of Guy Fawkes”

Neglecting society is the cause of the political mess we find ourselves in. Capitalist society encourages individualism to the neglect of society, and the US’s irrational hatred of communism, fomented by its richest people and their lackeys in academia and the media, has led to “social” becoming a dirty word. The same rich elite buy politicians, so that we no longer have people dedicated to the good of society, but greedy sycophants dedicated to bringing home the bacon for rich men’s dishonest corporations. Look at Murdoch’s News Corp.

We abandon our societies to idle rich dilettantes, overambitious superannuated grocers and car dealers, and the class of three card tricksters and glorified bookmakers who now call themselves bankers, who take our money, giving us little of nothing for leaving it with them, but charging us large amounts of interest to borrow it, and meanwhile gamble with it thereby making the rich richer still without investing a penny themselves. As George Bernard Shaw said, “they are expert in nothing but making private fortunes and doing the other fellow down”!

GBS spoke to the UK Fabian Society in 1932 “In Praise of Guy Fawkes”, whom he thought was before his time for his perception of the need to end Parliament “by an explosion of the hot air which is its chief output”. Hot air is currently being spouted from both benches of Parliament about the riots and arson all over the UK being nothing but theft and thuggery, as if government policies of destroying the future chances of many of our youth through exporting their jobs, exhorbitant educational charges and savagely cutting social services and amenities has nothing to do with it.

The dishonest bought men we call politicians support not just riots but rebellion in countries the rich cannot profit from while ignoring the plain fact that our home brewed riots commonly arise when the burdens of society are being piled on to those who can least afford it. When society is perceived to be blatantly unjust our own youth can take their cues from the cues our grasping hypocritical politicians have given to rioters in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and especially Libya! If rioting and rebellion can be admirable there, then why cannot it be here?

Where then is the modern Guy Fawkes that Shaw praised to the Fabians all those years ago. Certainly, he is not to be found among the Fabians, for most of them now aspire to making themselves prominent enough to be bought like their hero—not Bernard Shaw!—Tony Blair, accumulating his rewards for supporting the rich oilman's attempt to take over Iraq. Guy Fawkes objected to the government of his day for scapegoating Catholics. All the mini-Guys today object themselves to being scapegoated by our government. When society is unfair, anyone among the oppressed underclasses can become a Guy Fawkes.

That goes for the US even more!