Hello all! Here’s some bio of myself. I am, by the way, Rick Battams. I use Arby (RB) all over the net, or try to. I often end up using a variation of Arby because the name’s already in use or for some other reason. I used Arby on Baywords. I couldn’t use it on WordPress because someone (me?) is already using it. So here I’m Arrby.
It’s not that I imagine that it makes me invisible. But I quite possibly avoid getting harassed by yahoos and other unhinged folks who hate to hear views that don’t jibe with the propaganda they think is revealed truth. It’s probably easy enough for some folks to hit a few keys and make someone who gets their attention, and under their skin, miserable. I’m just filtering those people out of my life and cutting out the crap a little, theoretically. I very well know that there are those out there – also yahoos and unhinged but smart, capable and empowered – who could get through any amount of disguising myself I might do.
I really don’t want to hide. I’m just being cautious, to a reasonable, not extreme, extent.
I’m single and without dependents. I was born in 1956. I connect with people easily. Paying attention to what’s going on in the world has some side benefits, such as enabling you to hold a decent conversation with people pretty much no matter what the conversation is about. There’s that. But then people don’t always like to be challenged to think. That can make them antsy rather than interested in anything further you might want to say to them. Also, Being non conformist and religious (but rational) sometimes puts people off, even though I really don’t bring up religion unless it’s reasonable to do so. (And I have as much patience for a discussion that suddenly diverts into the ‘fact’ of evolution as others have for my sudden references to Jehovah God.) Other subjects, my views on which make me non conformist, I am more willing to bring up. For example, I often toss out that I’m anti-capitalist since capitalism is against me.
I feel no need to talk to people about things they are not interested in, whether it’s religion or politics or sex, which are things I’m very interested in. I am happy to talk to people about anything, depending. If you make me feel uncomfortable or if I detect belligerence, I’m going to disengage. Other than that, I love a good conversation and I like people. And I like to learn and teach. Which isn’t to say that I have all the answers.
I don’t plan on changing who I am, which isn’t to say that making changes is automatically a bad thing.
I’m a wage slave. I’m also anticapitalist, as I’ve noted. Bosses don’t have to pull their weight, so they don’t. But they are encouraged to whine about taxes and beg for tax cuts that politicians, pursuing their neoliberal agenda, are eager to give. The problem is, The only ones who really benefit from those cuts are those who already have money. Then the politicians complain about the deficits that their endless tax cuts cause, telling the people – the majority who don’t benefit from tax cuts – that they must endure austerity now that there’s a deficit. The politicians who complain about the deficits that they create are simply setting the people up. The operation/theft begins with politicians complaining that there is no money, and is followed by dire warnings from them and their media allies about debt walls and preaching about fiscal responsibility. Once the people’s attention has been gained, you hear the corporatist politicians promising that “We will do the responsible thing and cut taxes and spending” which means mainly ‘corporate’ taxes and ‘social’ spending. Military spending is usually protected. (Imagine! Tax cuts, and unfair taxation generally – very low rates for corporations, tax havens, deferred taxes, tax inversions, etc – cause deficits and these ‘leaders’ tell us that the solution to the problem of deficits is to keep causing them, since they offer as solutions the practices and policies that caused the problems!)
Corporatist politicians and their partners in the private sector, some time after the destruction/sabotage caused by underfunding has taken place, pipe up and start talking about better ways to deliver services. Sometimes out and out privatization is on the menu. Often it’s privatization by stealth, aka public-private-partnerships aka alternative financing and procurement. The people are told the truth, which is that there is no money. (Well, It’s a partial truth.) They are not told that the abandonment of (taxpayer built) programs and services is due to defunding in the pursuit of the neoliberal agenda of privatization (which is one component of that agenda). Now, If the socialist (public or collective) approach is inherently inefficient, then okay; There might be a basis for seeking alternatives. But if publicly funded programs and services are being sabotaged by neoliberals within and without, that’s a different thing than a publicly funded service being inherently inefficient. Our Canada Post is a good example of neoliberals within and without sabotaging a publicly funded service and setting it up for privatization. Type “Canada Post,” with the quotation marks, into the search field on Rabble.ca and check out the returns. Here’s one: “Canada Post provided 800 pages on postal banking, but 700 are redacted.”
I know that I can’t add two plus two. I’m terrible with math. But I do get that there is less money available for investing in whatever publicly funded service you’re looking at if you privatize it. When you privatize, you then end up with investments ‘minus’ profits for the owner.
In a democracy, the people should have some say in how their taxes are used. And they should have ‘all’ the say when corporatist politicians start talking about privatization of some publicly funded service. If the people, through their taxes, payed for it to be created and maintained, then it belongs to the people. And if it’s to be sold, then it’s owners should be the ones who are asking for that. As for deficits, People don’t ‘ask’ for deficits, specifically. A wife doesn’t tell her husband, when he’s received his paycheque or when she’s received her paycheque, that she needs to create a deficit. She says she needs to buy the groceries, pay the bills, etc.. Which is fine. If she said she had to buy weapons and/or drugs and/or beer and couldn’t afford the groceries and to feed the kids, etc., then no one would support that. Governments are a little different, granted. They do buy weapons. But the social spending takes an unnecessarily big hit under corporatist leaders who take their marching orders from big corporations, including the military industrial complex that profits from war making and the militarization of police forces, especially in an era of austerity in which the people are constantly squeezed by and ignored by, uncaring, traitorous ‘leaders’.
Anyway, Deficit terrorism is examined in Linda McQuaig’s awesome book titled “Shooting The Hippo – Death By Deficit And Other Canadian Myths.” (See “Shooting Baby Hippos For The Sake Of Austerity,” by Linda McQuaig. For the book, I’m thinking ebay. And there are some good books about related subjects: 1. “A Game As Old As Empire – The Secret World Of Economic Hit Men And The Web Of Global Corruption” edited by Steven Hiatt and 2. “Treasure Islands – Tax Havens And The Men Who Stole The World” by Nicholas Shaxson 3. “The Courageous State: Rethinking Economics, Society and the Role of Government” by Richard Murphy) The shooting of the hippo actually took place (as far as I know), in New Zealand, showing how far rightwing politicians will go to prove that their lies are the truth. There wasn’t supposed to be enough money to properly fund the zoo and so something had to go. The animals on the insides of zoos are no match for the vicious animals on the outside.
When the corporatist politicians talk about what we can’t afford, the ‘we’ actually doesn’t include the ‘important’ people (the iconic 1%; for example: “Necessary Illusions – Thought Control In Democratic Societies” + Use the search term ‘Churchill’) and not the supposedly wealth-generating corporations. And that sets things up for their partners in the private sector who will then try to make the case for privatizing the services etc that are falling apart because they are now not properly funded due to austerity.
It doesn’t matter that we don’t consciously vote for politicians who are bent on stripping the ‘civilization’ from society, which is what we get when they do this deficit terrorism at the behest of privatizers and corporations that benefit from it. Enough people, accepting the campaign rhetoric of “We are all in this together” and the lie “I will create jobs, protect the environment and hold rich corporations accountable,” ‘do’ vote for such politicians and the consequences to the majority are negative.
It’s a conundrum actually. When the majority eschews voting, because so many don’t understand politics or have other challenges, and because others just don’t believe in politics, which they have good reason not to, then that leaves a minority of eligible citizens who will vote and who will find that the electoral system is tailored for them. That’s how this sham electoral system/ democracy is perpetuated. We can all vote and make the best of a bad situation, voting for the best of a bad bunch of corporatocracy-approved candidates, which really changes little, or we can leave this harmful election ritual alone and try to build something else that we can use to replace the corporatocracy-imposed system with. But that leaves the corporatocracy-imposed system in place while we’re spending time building. And while it’s there, it will be used to consolidate power and keep the people sidelined and unable to build anything anti-corporatocracy.
Occupy Wall Street was inspired by the Arab spring that started in Tunisia. That died. And other movements that bubble up will come and go. (I keep revising this page and it’s probably mainly due to events and changing circumstances, such as the Occupy movement that came and went. Yes, The movement has left traces.) Among the (former?) Occupiers are those who see the current electoral system the way I do. But, as a number of my 2012 posts show, OWS is seriously outgunned. Some, like Murray Dobbin, saw it coming. The goats, the macho, pushy, destructive capitalists, weren’t going to suddenly become nice and embark upon a project of society-building together with the rest of us so as to make a world that works for everyone. On the contrary. And they knew what their pushing would lead to, which is to say, They knew they were going to produce wounded, angry citizens who would take to the streets not because they want to be there, but because they have no other way of being heard. Certainly the electoral system doesn’t afford an outlet.
Glorious! And hey! Why not make money off of it? Aren’t we clever? Before OWS hit the streets everywhere, the security/surveillance network that began in earnest post 9/11 was being assembled, and the necessary legislation (easy enough to do when you – corporations and special interests – ‘are’ governments) was being put in place to allow that network to operate. OWS arrived and so did the corporatocracy’s answer to it. We are outgunned. (But that doesn’t mean that the wild beast has no powerful enemies. Indeed, It has powerful enemies – not the people – who it will by no means crush. That’s another story.)
Crumbling publicly funded institutions and programs lead to the rightwing call to fix them by privatizing them. And privatizing poorly funded programs and services doesn’t lead to more efficient anything, since you no longer have investments going mostly into the programs and services offered. ‘For profit’ operations mean that investments are geared to returning a profit to owners of those operations and associated shareholders and investors. And deregulation means that there is no real guarantee that services – like buses or postal services that service sparsely populated areas, for example – will continue (everywhere or at the same relatively high level), since private companies can do what they want and they won’t prioritize the social aspect of their businesses over the profit making aspect of their businesses.
I have spent way too much time in payday lender hell, Penalized for what? This is how hard working ‘law and order’ governments treat their citizens. Maybe they want us to join the terrorists they help create. I pay little rent, sacrificing freedom and privacy. And health to some extent, since I don’t own the house in which I have a room and can’t clean it, everywhere, or cool it by turing on the landlord’s central air which he doesn’t want to turn on. (I now have an air conditioner in my room, which he asks me to give him extra money to allow.) Another roomer lives in the bathroom we share, horks all over everything in an effort to clear his throat and walks away without cleaning it up. Anytime I do more than use the toilet or shower, I have to do major cleaning or else touch surfaces that might lead to a bad outcome for me. Home is not my refuge and thinking about it when I’m on my way there stresses me out. I don’t have debts (that are hunting me down anyway) or kids or pets or much in the way of expensive habits. I like my indie coffee and organic food. That’s where I could save money – which would leave me with no life if I were to do so. But that’s my problem. Right? So, While I still find myself frequenting payday lenders, I am also reasonably comfortable.
The media is full of people, capitalists (only some of whom actually own capital), complaining, essentially, about capitalism, even if they are conditioned to not bring up the subject and not use the word. (And they, and the Left, have a hard time with the word ‘fascism’, although that’s changing. But are activists among the 99% playing at activism or serious when they can’t call fascism fascism?) Those ones are conditioned in different ways. Some within the 99% who truly benefit (in important if limited ways) from the exploitative capitalist system consciously or instinctively protect it by helping to kill open, frank discussion of it, partly by trying to not name the system/problem. (And I’m sure that ego sometimes plays a role. I think leftists sometimes slow down discussion when they avoid plain language, which they do because they want to dominate the discourse and they therefore use inappropriate terms – messing up their own narrative – that have us pausing to scratch our heads. It must rankle when uneducated nobodies like myself can sometimes offer a narrative that is more compelling than their own.) By avoiding focussing on the exploitative system that many of us call corporatocracy and which is fascist (demonstrating the correct approach that ‘we’ should take) themselves, they hope to have us not focus on it. That’s how they hide the problem of our neoliberal capitalist system.
Other capitalists, including those who are not actual capitalists, who are even victims of corporatocracy but who don’t get what’s going on, just follow the example set by capitalists who do know what’s going on. They are also victims of what I refer to as demonstration (or horizontal rather than vertical) thinking and behavior, namely discussions and dire warnings about subjects that are relatively shallow and diversionary. It’s the “Look over there” ploy by manipulators who, in various ways, take from us our means of survival. ‘Over there’ is most effective when whatever topic is over there is of interest, for whatever reason, to us. And it can even be a worthwhile topic. But that’s not the point. That subject isn’t up. It’s being forced on the agenda, by the manipulators, so that another subject can be left off of it. Our being manipulated, not by people who care about us or believe in social justice, but who are trying to do things that are socially harmful, is the point. I use the term ‘horizontal’ this way because I’m trying to convey the idea of ‘relative’ shallowness. The shallowness consists primarily in the way social progress is hindered by the manipulators’ effectiveness in having their agenda tended to and the citizens’ agenda sidelined. Getting ‘down’ to business escapes the people when they are successfully herded by exploiters who convince us that not only is ‘what’ they want to discuss (taxes for example) what is important but also ‘when’ it’s discussed. Their priorities come first, always. The end result is social inequality and injustice, making it clear that they should therefore ‘not’ hog the dialog or the power.
Demonstration thinking and behavior isn’t genuine, in the above sense. It’s an act. It’s designed to demonstrate to onlookers – who don’t grasp how shameless corporatocracy politicians, and other leaders, are – how they should think and behave. Again, It’s usually done in relation to other subjects that elites want de-emphasized, sometimes permanently. Some of those subjects – Quebec’s language laws – replacing bumped subjects are not unimportant, obviously. But they are diversionary, or shallow, in the sense that the politicians and their media allies consciously prefer to keep those issues and problems alive, and hot, as a way to avoid discussing with us other, more pressing issues relating to institutions and structures of power that need changing before we can have a society that works for everyone rather than solely for a minority. Then you have those on the Left who also engage in horizontal thinking and behavior, with the idea that divisive, diversionary electoral politics are essential. They hide behind the the qualifier “but the street is also important.” Others on the Left, such as Linh Dinh, state the obvious about the undemocratic electoral system that the corporatocracy forces on us.
While elites and their political partners would like (in some ways) the people to believe that they are democratic and that our society is democratic, they are not and it isn’t. Democracy today only resides in pockets here and there, in the breasts of individuals, including those in charge of progressive organizations. Today, those individuals are viewed, collectively, as the 99%. (But that view is faulty. There is a confusion of ‘victimization’ with ‘membership’.) It’s a useful way of looking at things, in one respect. It highlights the fact that the system under which we live features inequality and unequal social relations. It is run by believers in inequality who enjoy and willingly and knowingly play the great game of ‘riches for the strongest’ in which there ‘has to be’ losers. But being a victim of criminals doesn’t automatically make you righteous. In fact, I’ve taken to referring to the 1% within the 99%, where that 1% is comprised of caring, principled people, especially activists ‘doing’ rather than just talking (like myself), who carry the entire 99%. That’s because that’s what I see.