Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Zionist Jews Need To Remember

From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught… that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, “vomit you out” if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah (command):
When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” but also “you shall love the other”.
Rabbi Lerner
Ha Aretz (The Land) was granted to the Jews as a tenancy only on certain conditions as Rabbi Lerner says. Jews were not to oppress the stranger. And God also said what the punishment would be for not complying. Ezekiel (33:24-29) received Yehouah's words of warning to the Jews who boasted that “the land is given to us for a possession”, as follows:
So says the Lord Yehouah: You eat on the blood, and you lift your eyes up to your idols, and you shed blood. And shall you possess the land? You stand on your sword, and you each do abominations, defiling his neighbor's wife. And shall you possess the land?
Says the Lord Yehouah: I will give the one who is on the face of the field to the beasts to be eaten, and those in the forts and in the caves shall die by the plague. For I shall make the land desolate and a waste, and the pride of her strength shall cease. And the heights of Israel shall be a waste that none will go through.
And they shall know that I am Yehouah, when I have made the land desolate and a waste because of all their abominations which they have done.
Many Zionists think or assume that Ha Aretz was given to the Jews as their possession, and base their religious and political beliefs on this thinking, but it is not so. The most orthodox Jews rightly reject it. So too should Christians. To be serious, they should be proselytizing Israelis, but that they fail to do. At the very least they should be deterring Jews from oppressing Palestinians as being utterly contrary to anything that Jesus taught. They do that even less.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Primate Leaders Chosen for Popularity not Dominance or Aggression

The best leaders of the wild chacma baboons of Namibia are the most sociable ones, those with lots of friends. Dr Andrew King of the Royal Veterinary College in the University of London, who led the study, wanted to know how groups of baboons manage to stick together when searching for food. When deciding where to eat, it makes sense for individual baboons to agree on where to go and then go together, otherwise they would lose the benefits of being in a group.

Initially the researchers thought the leaders’ grunting or backward glances might have been the cue that triggers the troop to follow. But it wasn’t. Baboons glancing back were less likely to be followed. These monkeys live in open country where looking and following may be more important than grunting, but in wooded and forested areas making noises might have been more important.

Nor did sex or dominance matter, even though the alpha male did tend to be more successful than most at initiating foraging trips. The troop do not automatically follow the dominant male everywhere. When any baboon sets off in search of food, the others may follow, depending on whether the initiator is popular in the grooming network. The troop is unlikely to follow less popular baboons. The alpha male might lead the troop but not because he is dominant or aggressive, but because he is popular. That in itself might be enhanced by his dominance and value as an ally. King et al likens it to humans being more likely to respond to suggestions by popular figures.

Social relationships are really important. Research by colleagues working with baboons in Kenya and Botswana has shown that female baboons who get on best with others tend to have more babies, and these babies are more likely to get to adulthood and have young of their own.
Dr A King

We humans are social primates. We choose our leaders nowadays by a popularity poll called an election, but we have no personal experience of the people we choose. We go by video clips and sound bites to judge who seems the most pleasant or dynamic, and since we very often find we are wrong within a few months, we know we are being misled more often than not. These men (mostly) have to seem nice, so have blindingly white teeth to match their rictus smiles, and are usually tolerably good looking.

The trouble is thast most of them are using us for their own personal gain, and not serving us as our representatives, as the founders of democracy imagined. Our real leaders are those rich enough to buy the politicians, have the power and money to do it, and the incentive to stay on top. They are the 1 percent. These people need to be controlled by law for democracy to work properly. That is the point of the revolution against our present bent system.

This is What a Police State Looks Like

This is What a Police State Looks Like

Health Act Review Will Show Whether the Supreme Court is Impartial

John Case of WSHC offers the following points in regard of the Supreme Court decision to “review” Obama’s health care act because its “mandate” for nearly universal coverage may be unconstitutional. Even the right wing majority of judges on the Supreme Court should only need to take about ten minutes to make their decision. The commerce clause of the US Constitution unambiguously declares:

Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

If the health care act violates any supposed mandate preventing US citizens from being obliged to pay for general welfare as well as defense, then all taxation must be illegal too. It might sound like paradise for the rich 1 percent, but it will mean the country will cease to be manageable.

It would mean we can all refuse to pay for foreign wars, or refuse to pay for a fire department on the grounds that some of us don’t need it. We all need a fire service and we all need health care. A decision against the health care act will mean working people will be denied coverage for a host of pre-existing conditions for which they are now covered, under the act. Perhaps, instead of reviewing this act, they should review the Citizens United decision that has empowered the rich and corporations to corrupt the political process anonymously and without financial limit. The New York Times offers competent guidance in this case:

All of these issues are best resolved in the political system, not the courts. The Supreme Court ought to show judicial restraint, adhere to precedent and uphold the constitutionality of health care reform.

But don’t hold your breath. This Supreme Court:

  • reversed the will of the American people in the Bush/Gore election
  • stood by allowing Texas to become a death state
  • okayed the arrests and imprisonment of refugees
  • undercut the rights of women to control their own bodies
  • nullifies democracy at every turn, in favor of corporate interests.

If it approves this phony move against health care it removes its cloak of legal impartiality. It will openly declare itself an arm of the Republican party.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Regulation and Severe Personal Penalties Needed to Get Ethical Management

Many accountants believed that markets are efficient and as such, a lot of the issues of earnings management would be corrected by the markets. But this belief has changed over time, and we understand better now that earnings manipulation occurs and does indeed affect markets.
Prof Ramy Elitzur, University of Toronto

The case of Enron is famous. The scandal in 2009 at Satyam Computer Services was called India’s Enron. The bank collapses in the last few years are worse. Satyam’s chairman, Ramalinga Raju, admitted to years of systematic inflation of earnings and assets, beginning with small manipulations of account statements that eventually inflated hugely. Elitzur:

For a long time we’ve asked ourselves, “How come smart, rational people carry out short term schemes that in the long-term undoubtedly are going to sink them?”.

So why do corporate managers do it? Why do they lie about their companies’ earnings eventually damaging themselves and their company. Elitzur, who is Edward J Kernaghan Professor in Financial Analysis said:

The answer is “we’re not rational”. We’re rational only in a limited sense.

A limited capacity to see the whole picture, known as “bounded rationality”, and a faulty ethical compass are the main reasons. More important perhaps, and certainly as important, is why shareholders let them get away with it. Elitzur’s study finds shareholders are just as guilty as their CEOs. They have the same weaknesses. In particular their opportunities for insider trading—an illegal practice still—is linked to the CEO’s earnings manipulation.

Prof Elitzur says that it took a decade to develop his model and get it published partly because of corporate resistance to his findings.

The study model combines game theory—used to predict strategic behaviour—with the idea of bounded rationality, that our decisions are always made within bounds, within the limits of available time, information, and the human capacity to analyze it. Rather obviously, Elitzur says:

If we would like to have managers who engage less in earnings manipulation and insider trading, we should look for managers who are more ethical, and suffer less from bounded rationality.

What is less obvious, indeed counter-intuitive, but potentially vitally important is that Elitzur’s model suggests that choosing less ethical managers is not in the best interests of shareholders, unless they are sold on dishonesty. Penalizing unethical and damaging behaviour and anyone encouraging it is the atraightforward way of stopping it from happening. Some provisions are already in place in the US to guard against these tendencies, the authors conclude.

But the fresh regulation that is desperately needed in our business and banking sectors, at the very top ought to include severe penalties for such transgressions. Pleas of ignorance should not be an adequate defence, for ignorance at the top is then negligence and that too should be severely penalized. Perhaps in such cases of criminal negligence, the notion of limited liability should be dropped. Negligent CEOs ought to be liable for the damage they have caused.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Join the Protests against the Greedy Bankers and their Rich Clients

Politicians, most recently European ones, tell us the bankers know best, and so we are wise to let them be in charge of defaulting economies like Greece and Italy. No democratic elections have been held to let the voters pick a new government but technocrats are bringing in total banking domination, as the world’s real economies go down the tubes. So much for the democracy that our banking paid politicians go to wars so frequently in the name of.

Now bankers lent money to weak economies in the first place, so, in the logic of capitalism, bankers made bad investments, and when those weak nations default on their debts, the bankers ought to carry the can. Instead they are given control of the defaulting countries—with the cover propaganda echoing through our ever so fair and democratic media that the countries are bankrupt—so that they must impose austerity, squeeze the people, sack government employees, thereby increasing government costs and decreasing tax income, with the outcome that the banks can lend more to the blighted nation to incur more returns for the banks! It is insane for everyone except bankers and their clients, the über rich class.

At one time, pre-Reagan and Thatcher, if banks took undue risk, they were penalized by the system, but, since Reagan and Thatcher set the greed ball rolling, the more risk bankers take the greater the rewards they get, being bailed out at the cost of empty treasuries when necessary rather than letting the duds and cowboys go bankrupt, and to jail.

Interest rates are zero or fractional per cent so the money is not fed back to customers as a reward for keeping their assets safe, as they used to be, and banks were intended to do. While the banks pay negligible percent, they are lending the money, everyone put in their care, to defaulting countries at exhorbitant interest rates, effectively directly extracting the difference in interest earned from the people working in that country into the banker’s coffers. With bank deposits yielding almost nothing, and inflation growing, the banks are effectively robbing the accounts of their customers. Such blatant larceny and theft has not been seen since the Nazis stole from Jews and opponents in Germany in the 30s.

Yet these gangsters, banksters, bandits are being put in charge of our destinies to preserve the fortunes of the 1 percent of very wealthy people. Join the protests against them. Your own rights are rapidly disappearing. Defend them!

The Revolution Begins—Capitalist Police Don their Jackboots

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The first casualty of war is truth, and the reason is that propaganda supercedes it. The propaganda war against the OWS protesters has started to accompany the first actions of the capitalist jackbooted riot police against the demonstrators.

The police loyally align with the rich man’s state even though they are not rich men themselves. They should join the revolution, or stand aside in support of the 99%. That is democracy!

Apologies for the advert

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Ultra-rich—Intelligent? Talented? No, Lucky and Brutal

The ultra-rich 1% claim that they have unique qualities that explains why they are where they are—among the ultra rich. They credit themselves with success for which they were not responsible. Many got certain richly rewarded jobs by a ruthless greed or by being born to the right parents, talents that they would rather not boast about, so they claim it is intelligence, creativity, hard work, enterprise or acumen, much more acceptable talents.

In findings that have been widely replicated, psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, studied for eight years the results of 25 wealth advisers. Their average performance was zero, but, when their results were above average, they got bonuses. Traders and fund managers across Wall Street had their massive compensation for success hardly or no better than random. Doubtless they got bonuses even when they did badly because everyone is allowed to have a bit of bad luck! Surprise, surprise, the city slickers did not want to hear Kahneman's findings.

So much for the financial sector and its super-educated analysts. As for other kinds of business, you tell me. Is your boss possessed of judgement, vision and management skills superior to those of anyone else in the firm, or did he or she get there through bluff, bullshit and bullying?

In another study “Crime and Law”, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon psychologically tested 39 senior managers and CEOs of leading British businesses, then performed the same tests on patients at Broadmoor hospital, a mental hospital for convicted criminals too insane for prison. On certain criteria, the manager’s scores matched or exceeded those of the criminally insane patients, beating even some psychopathic patients. These criteria are just those which closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for in managers. Some are:

  • their skill in flattering powerful people to manipulate them
  • egocentricity
  • a strong sense of entitlement
  • a readiness to exploit others
  • a lack of empathy and conscience.

Paul Babiak and Robert Hare also point out in their book Snakes in Suits, that psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded in modern management. So, while those with psychopathic tendencies born to a poor family are likely to go to prison, those with psychopathic tendencies born to a rich family are likely to end up as top managers. CEOs now take from their businesses “rewards” disproportionate to the work they do or the value they generate. Business has been rewarding the wrong skills.

The über-rich are called the wealth creators, but they have preyed upon the earth’s natural wealth and workers’ labour and creativity, impoverishing both people and planet. Now they have almost bankrupted us. The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are actually wealth destroyers. In the US:

  • between 1947 and 1979, productivity rose by 119%, while the income of the bottom fifth of the population rose by 122%
  • between 1979 and 2009, productivity rose by 80% , while the income of the bottom fifth fell by 4%
  • in roughly the same period, the income of the top 1% rose by 270%.

In the UK:

  • the money earned by the poorest tenth fell by 12% between 1999 and 2009, while the money made by the richest 10th rose by 37%
  • The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, climbed in this country from 26 in 1979 to 40 in 2009

The undeserving rich are now in the frame, and the rest of us want our money back.

George Monbiot

George Monbiot writes, usually excellently penetrative articles, in The Guardian and on his own website. In the article above, his latest (8 November) essay is summarized in slightly edited form. See the originals at the link given here, or at The Guardian.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Best Protest Sign

This protest sign says it all. Society is grossly unfair. The top 1% get more than anyone can need, while the rest get the American Dream.

The Banker by C-J Moncur

The Banker

Hello, my name is Montague William 3rd
And what I will tell you may well sound absurd
But the less who believe it the better for me
For you see I'm in Banking and big industry

For many a year we have controlled your lives
While you all just struggle and suffer in strife
We created the things that you don't really need
Your sports cars and Fashions and Plasma TV's

I remember it clearly how all this begun
Family secrets from Father to Son
Inherited knowledge that gives me the edge
While you peasants, people lie sleeping at night in your beds

We control the money that controls your lives
Whilst you worship false idols and wouldn't think twice
Of selling your souls for a place in the sun
These things that won't matter when your time is done

But as long as they're there to control the masses
I just sit back and consider my assets
Safe in the knowledge that I have it all
While you common people are losing your jobs

You see I just hold you in utter contempt
But the smile on my face well it makes me exempt
For I have the weapon of global TV
Which gives us connection and invites empathy

You would really believe that we look out for you
While we Bankers and Brokers are only a few
But if you saw that then you'd take back the power
Hence daily terrors to make you all cower

The Panics the crashes the wars and the illness
That keep you from finding your Spiritual Wholeness
We rig the game and we buy out both sides
To keep you enslaved in your pitiful lives

So go out and work as your body clock fades
And when it's all over a few years from the grave
You'll look back on all this and just then you'll see
That your life was nothing, a mere fantasy

There are very few things that we don't now control
To have Lawyers and Police Force was always a goal
Doing our bidding as you march on the street
But they never realise they're only just sheep

For real power resides in the hands of a few
You voted for parties what more could you do
But what you don't know is they're one and the same
Old Gordon has passed good old David the reigns

And you'll follow the leader who was put there by you
But your blood it runs red while our blood runs blue
But you simply don't see its all part of the game
Another distraction like money and fame

Get ready for wars in the name of the free
Vaccinations for illness that will never be
The assault on your children's impressionable minds
And a micro chipped world, you'll put up no fight

Information suppression will keep you in toe
Depopulation of peasants was always our goal
But eugenics was not what we hoped it would be
Oh yes it was us that funded Nazis!

But as long as we own all the media too
What's really happening does not concern you
So just go on watching your plasma TV
And the world will be run by the ones you can't see

Written By Craig-James Moncur

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