The Crash of 2016 Gets Closer Every Day
The denial of fundamental economic principles is setting the world up for another Great Crash. Although wages have been flat or declining since the West started following Thatchernomics and Reaganomics in the late '70s and early 1980s, the stock market has risen to all-time highs. Billions – hundreds of billions – have been made by individuals on Wall Street. Meanwhile over 60,000 factories have closed in United States just in the past 14 years, and over 50 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed.
In Europe, with the exception of the Scandinavian countries who are ignoring our economic advice, the situation is very similar. Other then Germany, which is becoming a major extractor of wealth from the rest of the EU, European countries and Great Britain are following the same fallacy that has been driving US economic policy for more than 30 years.
The Financial Times on June 29, 2014, with reporting by Sam Fleming and Claire Jones, lead their front page with the warning that "Bank for International Settlements warns 'Euphoric' Markets." The article notes that capital markets are "extraordinarily buoyant," according to the Bank of International Settlements, and argues that central banks around the world "should not fall into the trap of raising rates 'too slowly and too late.'"
They correctly point out how low interest rates have caused an explosion worldwide of corporate debt. Meanwhile, not noted in the article, for-profit corporate banks have discovered that instead of lending money to working-class people to buy homes or cars, it has become more profitable to simply borrow from central banks at very low interest rates, often less than 1%, and then park that money in government treasuries which pay 2% or 3%, in effect loaning the country's money back to the same government at a profit.
Similarly, huge transnational corporations from tech companies to pharmaceutical companies, are hoarding cash in offshore tax havens where it's not available to stimulate local economies, or they're making acquisitions based on fiscal strategies rather than how to best manufacture the best product.
Completely lost in the debate between the BIS and the IMF over simulative central-bank strategies is a simple economic fact. Economies are driven by demand, and the principal component of demand is wages.
Instead, the Financial Times noted that the Bank of International Settlements is "calling for policymakers to halt the steady rise of debt burdens around the world and embark on reforms to boost productivity." This echoes the old Reaganomics line that increased productivity equals a growing economy. Make more things and people will buy more things.
But productivity has been rising steadily in the United States since the 1930s, but since the early 1980s it has become uncoupled from wages, which have remained flat or fallen. Even as individual companies become more productive, producing more goods with lower costs and less labor, the economy has been stagnant because there is little demand for those goods. And that's because of the simple Econ 101 maxim, which dates back to Adam Smith, that demand is what drives economies, and that wages are the principal driver of demand.
The majority of American workers spend 100% or more (they go in debt) of their wages, and all but the top few percent of American workers save anything close to even 10% of their wages. It is their spending that creates demand. As wages flatten or drop, and as the ability of unemployed people to continue buying things is cut by the Republican efforts to cut long-term unemployment over the past six months, demand falls.
Meanwhile, large corporations, wealthy people, and banks are all making money simply playing with money. This "financialization" of our economy is driving us to the edge of a massive crash. Policymakers, from the Fed to the IMF to the BIS to the US Congress and the White House should all be looking back at the lessons of the 1930s – because we're about to learn them all over again.
Wages for working people, not the wealth of the rich, corporate income, or banking profits are what both drive and sustain an economy. As long as those wages remain stagnant or falling, there will not be sufficient demand to keep an economy from collapsing under the weight of its own high-end gamblers and the growing debt of its young and working-class people just trying to get by.
While inflation Hawks are hysterical about the possibility of our repeating the inflation of the 1970s if central banks raise their rates or stop buying bad corporate or good government debt, they fail to remember that most of the inflation of that era was driven by oil price shocks, and that it did not, by and large, impair the ability of average people to continue to gain wealth and buy homes.
(With rare exceptions, inflation is not caused by government borrowing or "money printing," but by shortages in essential commodities. In the United States in the 70s it was principally oil shortages that drove inflation; more recently in Zimbabwe it was food. The intentional hyperinflation of Germany in the 1920s was simply a "screw you" response to the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed punishing debt on Germany for World War I, and which John Maynard Keynes warned would provoke the next great war. He was right and the conventional wisdom among international policymakers was wrong.)
History – and the examples of Germany and Scandinavia – show us that high levels of unionization, trade and taxation policies that favor the working class over the rich, and heavy regulation of the banking and speculative industries will build a strong and healthy working and middle-class, and thus a strong and healthy economy. Instead, the United States and much of the EU still cling to Thatchernomics and Reaganomics, and the result is the continuing decline of both economies.
Until the corporate elite and our billionaire class are under control, and our working class once again can enter the middle class, we stand at the precipice of a great crash. Without vigorous governmental action to radically reduce student and working family debt, increase wages, and suppress speculation, that crash comes closer to us every day.
ckrob, it's like we're going back to the 1800s when rich men like Rockefeller, and Carnagie were making more money than could ever spend while their workers were barely getting by while working 16 hours a day 6 days a week. This gave rise to worker's unions. My union, The UA, was founded in October,1889. My local, UA Plumbers Local # 17 was chartered in Feb. 1890. The problem now is working people, whose financial interests are not served by by the rebublican politicians they vote for, vote for them anyway because they dodge the issue of personal income by saying they're anti- abortion or " I'm pro Gun" or anything else that will seduce a vote from the hand and the wages from the pockets of working class people. When it gets bad enough the people will once again rise up and demand their fair share again. They will also demand laws and a constitution that represent the people, not the corporations.
The Dow went up to 17068 (or close) today. Reason? The unemployment rate went to 6.1 and the fools think that means more spending. However,as Robert Rouch points out, BLS only cound those receiving pay checks without considering that many of those now employed are receiving fmaller play checks and fewer hour working so that the GNP is still falling. It will continue to fall until the money moguls begin to return productive capacity, plants, etc., back to the U.S.
Good points, RFord. Those wedge issues will git'em every time, the dumb asses. - AIW
Bob I have always enjoyed your comments. They are well thought out, unlike mine off the cuff. Respectively how do we get those "plants etc" back With all that cheap off shore labour. We are not in the fifties any more with a closed economy. This global economy is complicated. Plus most of the old plant jobs created pollution which are impossible to get started in these global warming times.
What America did: We looked at the policies and programs that were in place from FDR until Reagan, which took the US to its height of wealth and productivity, and decided to reverse course, doing the direct opposite. The people whose eyes merely glaze over when they hear that an unprecedented (over 50%) chunk of the federal budget goes into the military to maintain war(s) are the same people who raged against our former welfare aid. AFDC, the primary welfare program, used a mere 6% of the fed. budget at its highest, back in the 1970s. While closing out our former poverty relief programs, several trillion taxpayer dollars were being redistributed upward (since rthe 1980s), largely to corporations. Corporations continue to use this money to build offices and factories outside the US, shutting down jobs here. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who urgently need one. What do you think happens to the three who are left out?
If I may jump in: Our own modern history (past 100 yrs) shows what works and what doesn't. We can see how we got in this mess. To get out, we would need to restore the rules and regulations on corporate/financial powers that were eliminated via Reagan's deregulation agenda. We would also need to take a break from war and get back into investing in the American people. Instead of paying corporations the costs of moving our jobs out, use that money to create jobs right here (though not only jobs that are almost exclusively for men, like infrastructure). We would need to put money into poverty relief first, then job skills training and higher education. It's impossible to save (much less, rebuild) the middle class without legitimately addressing our poverty crisis.
Quote Kend:Respectively how do we get those "plants etc" back With all that cheap off shore labour.
Kend ~ It's not so complicated. We are only in a "global economy" because we dropped our defenses. You know what that is like. It's like dropping your pants in a prison shower and bending over. Essentially we have to reinstate our tariffs. That is all it would take. It might not work overnight; but, our factories weren't offshored in a day either. The only plan and solution to this problem is with steep import tariffs. You see Kend, we have always been in a global economy. It is nothing new. The only thing that is new is that we changed our tariff policy. And the only way to solve that is to change it back.
Ok DAnne. Honestly I agree. Why hasn't it been done. What am I missing. You have the farthest left of left of left leader in the history of American history in power for almost six years and still nothing. WTF. Why does America let China etc dump there goods into your Counrty over and over with no recourse? I don't understand. The same Chinese goods in Canada are at least 20% higher.
SHF bang on taking a break from being the worlds police. it should be Europes problem for a while.
Aliceinwonderland, Loren Bliss, and Sandlewould ~ I'm very happy that you all have been able to connect with emails outside of this blog. So happy I could cry. I suppose no one is interested in my contact info. Oh well, what are you going to do? Of course, if I'm wrong, let me know and I'll post that comment in Loren Bliss's site so he can distribute it amongst you all. If not, that's OK too. I'll just sulk in my lowly corner. Boo Hoo!
Are you guy having a party and I am not invited? Was it something I said. LOL.
Quote Kend:You have the farthest left of left of left leader in the history of American history in power for almost six years and still nothing. WTF.
Kend ~ We agree on everything except that statement. President Obama might be ever so slightly left of center. However, even that statement is arguable. If you think he is left of left of left then either you just don't understand "left", or you are thinking cyclically and that if you go left enough you must eventually end up right.
However, regardless of how you look at it, the fact of the matter is that all these problems were the birth child of the Clintons. I don't blame our trade fiasco on right wingers or Reagan. This debacle is a bipartisan problem; and, perhaps for that reason it is a very big problem. Neither of these Corporate owned political perspectives have any motivation to do--or even acknowledge--what our real problem really is. That makes it a most difficult problem to solve, despite the solution being very, very simple.
In order to see MSNBC you need cable and some can't afford it. In order to hear Randi Rhodes or Thom Hartmann you have to have a smartphone with an iHeart radio app or a laptop again some can't afford it or the internet. But in order to hear misinformation all one needs to do to hear Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck or Hannity is possess an AM radio or eat at any Burger King and watch Fox news. Also something I have noticed with my local democratic party most of the committee is composed of the 70 and over crowd. Most don't have computers. Our local democratic facebook page has 34 members the republican page has over 700. And this county I live in has been democratic since the Civil War. If democratic parties nationwide doesn't work to recruit younger members the party will implode without younger members and social networking sites Which is why net neutrality is so important. If Thom can't afford to pay an ISP to have a fast loading page but Fox can again the oligarchs win.
As Thom says "Democracy starts with you, tag you're it!"
UNC god bless America. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. Work hard and change it. in a lot of countries you can't.
Marc, I could not be more delighted by the interest you've expressed in joining our little outside group. Believe it or not, I was thinking about you a lot, hoping you weren't feeling excluded and wanting you to join. I've long considered you one of my main-squeeze blogger buddies, Marc; near the top of that list. Having you hobnob with us off the blog would be a blast. Loren & I have been e-mailing each other back and forth quite a bit, since we got the logistics worked out. I'll ask if he'd mind you joining via his blog site, the same way I did. He'll most likely be fine with it, but I just want to extend that courtesy. I'll keep you posted. - Aliceinwonderland
RFord, add the Rebublican meme that 47% don't pay federal income taxes. (Freeloaders) As the middle class works more and more in poor-pay jobs, that number will grow. Ironically, Texas has no state income tax so obviously everyone is a freeloader no matter how rich!
Thom - - excellent parenthetical regarding inflation. This is what MMT proponents like Randy Wray and Stephanie Kelton would tell you. There are two types of inflation: demand-pull inflation (caused by too much spending (demand) vis-a-vis the goods and services available for sale, or which could be available given excess capacity in the economy) and cost-push inflation (the oil shock example you give). As MMT economist John Harvey (check out his regular columns in Forbes) puts it, if new demand in the economy can be satisfied by an increase in production rather than in prices (as is the case when there is underutilized capacity in the economy), there is no reason to expect inflation. Also, as MMT economist Bill Mitchell points out, demand-pull inflation is not a unique characteristic of public spending - - too much private spending, if it comes up against a supply constraint, would cause demand-pull inflation as well. But given the excess capacity in the economy right now and the low levels of private spending, there is currently plenty of room for more government spending without having to worry about inflation. As Warren Mosler states, the relevant question, when it comes to proposed additional government spending in the U.S., is not where will we get the money from or what will it do to the deficit, but rather, will such additional proposed spending cause an inflation? That's the only relevant question for a monetarily sovereign, currency issuing government like the U.S. But, as Warren notes, no one even bothers to ask that question or do any sort of inflation analysis at all when additional spending is proposed.
The 50's were are farce!
Just because the dollar was strong and wealth was spread out more does not mean there wasn't an economic problem. Yes the economy was strong in the 50's and there were an abundance of good paying factory jobs. Jobs that afforded people a robust way of living. But we also know that those factories - as you mentioned - caused a lot of enviromental and health issues. So we created policies to "try" and correct the problem. Unfortunatly this cost the owners more money, along with Unions becoming abusive with their power. So the owners moved overseas.
There will always be a problem when we put Money above all else.
We must change our way of thinking so that People and Planet can co-excist. What does it matter to be a multi-millionaire if the planet no longer is livable for humans.
You, KEND, always talk about you grand kids and how you want them to have a good life...What is your defintion of a "good life"? There are only 3 things that we humans MUST have in order to live a "good life"...Clean air, Clean water, Clean food, everything else is a farrrrrrrrrrrrr second!
The good news is that most people, these days, do have a different mind set when it comes to the issues you mentioned; They are concerned with the Enviroment and Jobs, and Wages that cover the basic cost of living + a dollar more, and are anti-war/anti paramillitary, but unfortunatly we are deeply embedded in this selfish Capitalist, Robber Barron, Single Party, Economic Cast system that encourages people to desert their values when it comes to "doing what is good and right" beyond their wallets. We, and I am speaking of mostly Americans, are encouraged to be not just competitive, but the best in EVERYTHING we do. What's wrong with that you ask? Well there really isn't anything wrong with "striving" towards creating a level of quality, but when you measure that quality on an economic level it creates a much different arena, one that forces people to lie, cheat, steal and kill. Which pathologically isn't natural unless put into a situation of survival. However no one verbally teaches their children to Lie, Cheat, Steal, and Kill...You can blame that on our Economic Cast System.
Oh the tangled web we weave!
I love the prison analogy! :)
Marc, I see a need for more clarification here. Sandlewould and I were toying with the idea of connecting off the blog, but that was actually a separate thing from what Loren and I are doing. She was suggesting we try corresponding via the private "chat room", which is something I haven't tried yet. (Thought I'd give that a shot this weekend.)
Meanwhile Loren and I have begun private e-mail exchanges, and I've asked him about including you in these. Initially I passed on your post for his feedback. Loren says he'd like a couple days to mull it over before he decides. I know that he's been enjoying our one-on-one correspondences a lot (as have I!). But regardless of what Loren decides, I'd like very much to exchange contact information with you. I've felt for a long time that it would be fun cultivating a friendship with you outside this blog. I've already explained to Loren that my initial idea with Sandlewould was for us to correspond one-on-one, like I've already begun with him, and that's probably what Sandles and I will be doing anyway. I'd briefly considered inviting Sandles into the conversation with Loren, but since Loren is enjoying these private exchanges as they are, I've narrowed it down to proposing he let you in on them while corresponding with Sandles separately. You and Loren have done a lot of interacting on this blog, as much as he has with me, so we'll see what he decides to do.
Anyway Marc, I'll keep you posted on this. I'd love us both to be in on the correspondence with Loren, but it's really up to Loren. If Loren wants our exchanges to remain one-on-one, then you and I can figure out how to swap contact info if you're still interested. I certainly am. - AIW
kend -- You keep saying it, so I will keep saying it. What does the prez have to do with it?
nachos -- With reagan lowering tariffs and clinton passing NAFTA, why do you pick unions as the cause.
Quote Mmmnachos:Unfortunatly this cost the owners more money, along with Unions becoming abusive with their power. So the owners moved overseas.
Interestingly, the numbers show that lowering tariffs and NAFTA did not have a strong effect until dubya and the repugs changed the tax structure (per Thom).
Financial Disclosure Reports for SCOTUS Judges:
Aliceinwonderland ~ No problem. Take your time with Loren, I'm sure you have a lot to mull over; and, I don't want to be a fly in the ointment. I'm just fine with our correspondence here on this blog. Eventually though I'd like to at least exchange emails so we can keep in touch if--God forbids--anything would ever happen to this blog. Like you said several times, our exchange helps keep us both sane. I love Loren too. Whatever he decides is fine with me. Maybe I'll check out the chat room too. Never been there before. Do you think you could post the link when you go so I don't have to search for it. (Personally, I always thought this was the chat room.) That shows how blog savvy I am. What is the chat room anyway, a blog by another name? Looking forward to learning more about this.Thanks for the heads up Sandies! See you there Alice!
Sounds good, Marc. I too am fine with the status quo, just talking here on the blog. But I think it's a great idea to exchange e-mail addresses at some point; just in case, like you say, the blog gets trashed by corporate sabotage. We both know how fragile the status is with internet neutrality, wherein anything is possible.
I think this is something our other blog buddies might consider as well. It's a way to safeguard valued connections against a fascist takeover. Radical as this sounds, it's really not all that radical considering the freak show already well underway.
This weekend when my time is most flexible, I will check out the "chat room". I tend to be a bit skittish when it comes to doing anything new on the computer- an inhibition based on an abundance of experience, coupled with my inadequacy regarding all things technical! But when my incentive is strong enough, as it is now, I don't let that stop me. - AIW
Aliceinwonderland ~ Well, in the time it took you to respond I already found the chat room and am frustrated with it. It requires java to use and for some reason I can't install it. Strange, I honestly thought it already was installed. The cause could be anything and I just need time to figure it out. Meantime I might try from another computer. Maybe your hubby might have some ideas. The troubleshooter on the java website is a joke. I keep getting an error message that says it can't find the download package and that I need to check if it is an authentic Windows download. I'm almost certain it is a security issue, maybe with my antivirus software, firewall, etc. I've downloaded and installed java on many other computer before and never encountered this problem. Anyway, I can already sense it is going to take time to resolve this issue and I might just not be able to join this weekend. Sorry. I was looking forward to it. Don't count me out yet though. I'm quite persistent and good at resolving these issues.
Aliceinwonderland ~ I have to laugh. After spending most of the afternoon on the Oracle website I decided to try and access the chat room from my phone and it worked. Anyway, let me know what time you'll be on and I'll instant message you the info.
Marc, not having tried the chat room yet, I can't confidently give a specific time. We'll have to first give it a try. Soon as we've got it figured out, I'll let you know and we can take it from there. - AIW
Aliceinwonderland ~ I'm not so sure if you'll like it. It's a line by line real time type of thing. I like the blog much better. It gives one time to think and compose. However, it is what it is. If it's a useful forum for exchanging personal info it works for me. You can find it by hitting Thoms links above and below that say "community". Then look for the "chat room" button. Good luck! I'll check back here tonight and tomorrow morning to see if you got it and picked a time. I got things to do tomorrow afternoon and might not be available again till tomorrow night. It's morning or evening for me.
Happy 4th to all the participants on this blog that sincerely care about social and economic justice, like most of the founders did.!
Thanks 10-K! And like you do too. - AIW
chuck the prez has everything to do with it he is your leader. he should be rallying the country to buy American. He could be pushing to every one that America should have tariffs to protect American companies. If the leader of your country can't get it done who can. it is his job to convince everyone to invest in America. Instead he is scaring investers away. it's taken him fives years to say yes or no to a pipeline. Who is going to even consider a project knowing that.
Marc, I'm not going to get to the chat room until tomorrow, so you'd do best to check in tomorrow evening.
I'm not surprised by what you've just said. Like you, I prefer having time to think & compose my messages. My idea was that since it is private, it would be a way to exchange contact info with other bloggers. Do you think this would work? Is it private enough? Or did I have the wrong impression? - AIW
Aliceinwonderland ~ I think you have the right impression. My problem is that I connected only with my phone and not my computer. However, there seems to be a secure enough connection to whoever is logged on at the time to send private messages. There is a page with a list of people who are currently in the chat room. Same name as we are registered in the blog. On the phone, when I tap on a name I get a box that I can send--what appears to be--a private message to. I tapped on my own name and sent "hello" to myself. It appeared to work; and, did not appear in the chat room. I look forward to trying it with you tomorrow night. Till then, Happy 4th of July.
Yes that too CHUCK...There are many layers.
This is slightly off topic but last week I read a rather insightful article in Time magazine about the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby. Interesting stuff. They are billionaires. Something like the 17th wealthiest family in the country. They are also religious fanatics. They claim that they owe their success and vast fortune to living according to the Bible. However, I though Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and money." Apparently the Green family has proven Jesus wrong.
They run their business according to their own "special" "Christian" values. For instance there is a group prayer before every company meeting. Yes, as you may have guessed, more than one employee has resigned as a result of the proselytizing management. They pay their workers well, starting them off with $15/hr, and with $1/hr raise every year. Apparently, this form of Christianity pays well for those willing to accept it.
If that was the end of it ,one might think it to be a nice, harmless little isolated cult. However, wait, there's more. Currently, this family is financing a "Bible Museum" that will cost them anywhere between $250-$450 Million. What harm could that do? Well, the family is also financing a huge and expensive Bible study course that it intends to make available as an elective in public high schools. Ok now, here we go.
Here is where I draw the line. Obviously a clear entanglement of church and state. Obviously a clear intent to proselytize and indoctrinate our youth into their false religion. Obviously a clear and present threat to our freedoms, liberty, and way of life. This family has stepped way over the line; and, I am certain it is not going to stop there. This is just the beginning. All one has to do is look for the intent where it is hidden in plain sight. All one has to do is to alter the juxtapositioning of the words in the title of their company to see their real agenda. Hobby Lobby is actually Lobby Hobby. They intend to use their wealth to suppress and control us all; and they are off to a splendid start.
Don't confuse this bright shiny self proclaimed "Christian" cult with anything else. They are the Synagogue of Satan and nothing less. They are worshippers of money, hypocrites of the highest order, and extremely dangerous.
While I'm at it let me get something else off my chest. The Bible isn't a book. it is a loose compilation of books. The notion that the Bible is the Word of God is false. The Word of God is in the Bible if you want to dig for it. However, God is perfect and the Bible is not. In essence, the four Gospels are the Word of God. Everything else is a fairy tale. A very, very dangerous and misleading fairy tale.
The way the Bible is composed, anyone with a working knowledge of it can justify anything they want--especially if they are a man. The Bible isn't set up to help women exploit anything. However, if you are a man, you can justify anything from adultery to murder; and, murder includes genocide. You can own and rape slaves, cheat on your wife, and then turn around and have her killed for cheating on you. The list goes on and on with the sin and crimes you can justify in that compilation of books called the Bible. It needs to be edited down big time.
Whenever I quote something not in the four gospels I do so facetiously because it is so easy to twist some parts of the Bible to support anything. Of course I have no cult or reputation to protect--and receive no money to lose--by telling you this. You won't hear it coming out of the mouth of any representative of organized religion; however, that is exactly what they do as well. I'm just playing their game.
It is interesting to note that Jesus used to constantly correct and scold his apostles for not grasping the will of God. In one memorable passage he got so pissed off at his apostle Peter that he called him "Satan". Some of you might recall that it was this same apostle--Peter, the Rock--who later went on to found the Roman Catholic Church. Coincidence? I think not.
With that in mind one can easily discount all the letters written by the apostles after the death of Christ in the New Testament along with the Old Testament which Jesus himself discounted as being outdated, irrelevant hearsay. The only text relevant to one's spiritual growth is in the Gospels. Everything else is a vast web of conflicting ideas, values, and examples that only serve the needs of the self serving clergy and their official institutional agendas.
The Bible, as we know it today, can be an joyful source of enlightenment, or a dangerous weapon. In the wrong hands it has already lead to murder, war, and genocide. It has justified slavery, brutality, and oppression. It is high time that we as rational, critically thinking and logical human beings edit the book to reflect the clear and perfect intent that an immortal omnipotent being would wish to convey. Anything less is nothing else but an insult to both God and man. Every day we pay the price for that insult.
My apologies for getting so emotional and off topic.
Marc, for one who is so "emotional" you can sure write a lucid post. Maybe you oughta get "emotional" more often! - AIW
Quote DAnneMarc:They run their business according to their own "special" "Christian" values.I believe that everyone "picks and chooses" and interprets their holy books in the manner that suits them and serves their desires. If they choose to listen to someone else's interpretations and try to submit to those interpretations (like Priests, Preachers, Rabbis, Imams, etc) then they are, in effect, sloughing off their individual responsibilities, psychologically anyway, to those they follow. Many people would rather use that method so that they can just blame the "experts" if it all turns out to be wrong. If they break away from being a follower of one of those "holy" men/women and choose to interpret their holy books themselves...they are still "picking and choosing" according to what they WANT to believe. But much of what they already believe has been drilled into their heads from since their birth. They have been proselytized and manipulated into believing certain things so they will most likely continue believing them when they read their holy books.
DAnneMarc: I agree with most everything you have said except I believe that all religions, and all religious beliefs, are false. Atheism is not a religion..neither is science. And this is the definition of religion that I am referring (it has always been, until recently the definition--recently they have added on another definition that, In my opinion, is probably the result of political/religionist pressure to be able to include Atheism as just another religion..which would not be correct):
--the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
"the freedom to practice their own religion"
--- a particular system of faith and worship
I believe that in order to more accurately imagine what Jesus, for example, and all of his disciples were really like and what they really believed, if they ever existed at all, one only has to look at Al Qaida or the Taliban. The "Taliban" or "Al Qaida" of those days were also pious believers in their "God" and they also had a powerful enemy to defeat....the Roman conquerors and occupiers.
The whole reason why the Jews were looking for a "messiah" for many years was because it was a "believer's" way of creating hope that this messiah would come and defeat the Roman occupiers. (Kind of like how the Dems preach one thing, like a Dem Messiah that will beat the evil "Romans" of our day...the Republicans.. and then mysteriously disappear, acting like Republicans, after they are elected). They expected the new Messiah to be a military leader, with the help of God, to militarily defeat the Romans. Was Jesus a Zealot and/or a Sicarii? If Jesus really was a militant Zealot or Sicarii, how funny and brazenly defacing would it have been to... instead of a brave militant who crept up behind Roman soldiers in the market square with a curved dagger, stabbing them in the back, then disappearing into the crowds ... re-brand this guy as a peace-nik...love thy neighbor type? The elite Romans probably sh1t their pants laughing at all of those gullible converts to Christianity. What a better way of pacifying the militant Jews or anyone else that would be a threat to the Roman Empire!
Yes, yes, I know....Jesus was love...Jesus was for peace... Jesus healed the sick. "According to the Bible" (which is about the only place in history where Jesus was mentioned that wasn't a forgery), Jesus would never be a Zealot or Sicarii. But the Romans rewrote Jewish/Christian history as a way of making fun of them and trying to railroad the rebellious Jews.
And there were many contenders for mythical position of Messiah..many magicians concocted all manner of hocus pocus and generated myths about themselves in order to qualify as such a "messiah". I doubt that they would have been as interested in portraying that image if they knew the final outcome...crucifixion..if that is what really happened.
I imagine there are even many people, today, who fancy themselves as Christ reincarnated... believing themselves to be "holier than thou", or more Christ-like or God-like than others... with the ability to "properly" interpret their holy books.
Obscenely wealthy people are not any different. They are protecting their psychological meme's not to mention justifying the size of their bank accounts. No one is going to heaven or to hell because those things are merely just as made up as Thor, Santa Clause, and the Easter Bunny. After the adults play that little trick on their children when they are young and expect them to get over it, the adults go on to brain-wash them with equally fantastical fantasies when they force them to go to church and believe in all of those ridiculous lies.
There are no more truths to the Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, etc.) myths than any of the more ancient myths that Judaism and Christianity and Islam stole ideas from to begin with. Yes, they plagiarized and modified those more ancient myths to be more acceptable and believable by the audience of the day. And they added in their own bits of magic as well...walking on water, casting out demons into swine, feeding the masses with a few fish and loaves of bread, turning water into wine, bringing dead people back to life, dying on a cross and coming back to life and ascending to heaven... and many more.
And Emperor Constantine, during the 1st Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, made all of the Bishops of the early Christian Churches come together to hash out what was to eventually become the Bible. Many documents had been left out for various reasons. Bottom line, they had to get the story straight in order to minimize conflicting stories. And the "bible" was subjected to quite a number of "re-interpretations" and "subtractions" and "additions" along the way as well.
I happen to fancy the belief that the Romans created the Jesus story although just about anything could be true...or not.
Quote Palindromedary:And Emperor Constantine, during the 1st Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, made all of the Bishops of the early Christian Churches come together to hash out what was to eventually become the Bible. Many documents had been left out for various reasons. Bottom line, they had to get the story straight in order to minimize conflicting stories. And the "bible" was subjected to quite a number of "re-interpretations" and "subtractions" and "additions" along the way as well.
Palindromedary ~ Yes, that is correct. However, you forgot to add translations too. Many translations and the inevitable edits and misinterpretations that go along with them. Also, 'getting the story right' by the high council also had to include justifying everything the Empire wanted to accomplish. One very important detail. In fact, that was probably the number 1 item on the agenda. I certainly agree with that.
I differ though in how you interpret a Messiah being necessary to overthrow the Empire. Certainly, the Empire could be a pain in the butt; especially for those outside of it. However, the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus--much like here in the United States today--also served as a necessary evil. It offered stability, order, security, protection, regulation, infrastructure, and above all, an opportunity for prosperity for the vast majority. Much like here in the US the members of the Roman Empire were far better off with it than without it. Also, like with the US, the subjects of the Empire also enjoyed religious freedoms and local governance privileges. The Romans were really good at cultivating friends with benefits relations with their conquered territories. It made ruling them and collecting taxes much easier. That is the main reason they existed and prospered for so long. I doubt they had to stoop to the level of manufacturing a peace keeper Messiah to pacify the people. However, even if they did, it was a good idea for all.
Comparing what was going on in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus to what is going on now in the middle east is a hard stretch. What happened in Jerusalem at the time it was initially attacked and under siege by Rome is another story. The Romans drastically improved the situation for the Hebrews over that time interval. They were much better off under Roman rule than say under Egyptian rule. The Romans allowed and encouraged their culture. The Romans even rebuilt their sacred Temple of David for them. Of course, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence; and, to some degree, like Matt said, some people are never really satisfied. How can you be when others have something better than you. Better sandals, a shinier chariot... envy will always be with us. So will discontent. Sure you can compare a suicide bomber to a Roman guard assassin. You can also compare them to a mass shooter. There are nut cases everywhere throughout history; and, there always will be. These people, however, are not the status quo. They are the desperate lunatic fringe who simply get the most attention because they make the most noise.
The middle east right now also is not like it was under Roman rule. As much as the US would love to emulate that Empire in detail, in order to do so would require a vast amount of men, money, and machines permanently stationed there. The US is in no economic condition to leap into a quagmire right now; and, the current chaos there is proof of that. The moment we pull our muscle out, all order, security, stability, and prosperity goes out the window. I think that the Hebrew leaders in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus were well aware of that fact. They were simply hungry for as much power and easy money as they could get; and, were in no need whatsoever for competition. They promised their people a warrior hero to exploit their despair. They had nothing to gain from the realization of that promise any more than they did from the realization of a pacifist Messiah. All they had to sell was an empty promise and any realization of a any real Messiah was a direct threat to their authority.
Meanwhile, the people had nothing to gain from rebellion either. If they actually had the wherewithal to cast off the Roman Empire they would find themselves in the same boat that Baghdad is in right now--under siege from every corner and begging the Romans to come back and help. They had no ability to raise an army and their businesses would have been crushed. So you see, it doesn't really make any difference whether Jesus was real or made up. What he taught was how to live in peace with others and how to live in harmony as a citizen in a large Empire. That philosophy enabled prosperity and happiness for a multitude of people for countless generations. That lesson is just as useful and true today as it was back then. Personally, I don't want to abolish my government, I want to improve it. The only way to do that is to effect change from within. I believe we are far better off with the Federal Government than we would ever be without it. It is a huge asset in our lives and relatively cheap to run with everyone kicking in. It is a shame what it has been perverted to do in the middle east. My heart goes out to those people. Yes, there is a very real possibility that some would be warrior Messiah will rise in that region as a result. Strange too. Twenty years ago I would have told you that such a scenario would be impossible. Today, it looks almost like an inevitability.
Regardless, the story of Jesus and the Bible are apples and oranges. Few--if any--people who call themselves "Christians" and claim that every word in the Bible is the Word of God actually live the teachings of Jesus. Simple fact! Personally, I don't have a clue as to what they actually believe. All I know is they use the various hodgepodge of books in the Bible to justify making themselves rich and controlling and exploiting other people. I consider them to be extremely dangerous. I've also reconsidered what you've said about Atheism not being a Religion. I've decided that you are correct. It is a belief system; but, only involves the self and no external deity. Well said!
One great thing about the Roman Empire during the time of Jesus is that they did their best to remain religiously neutral--following many of the same principles that the US is founded on. It is my belief that this is one of the main reasons that the Empire lasted and prospered for so long. As the founding fathers pointed out, almost unanimously, a theocracy is unsustainable. The current groups in our government that intend to inflict their religious beliefs on us all is a direct threat to our national security. Unfortunately, they are such rich groups that all our "cops in black robes" have been bought off. The one shining hope we have as a nation is not in a Messiah; but rather our Constitution. As long as that document exists we have the power and the right to ward off these secular attempts at undermining our freedoms the same way Dr. Van Helsing uses a crucifix to ward off Dracula. May freedom prevail.
Marc, I hate cutting into this discussion but I just want you to know, we tried the chat room. Predictably, we didn't get too far. My husband & I managed to get Java installed, and access the chat room itself, but that's as far as it went. Exploring it thoroughly, we couldn't find anything private about it.
I'm not looking to chat with anyone; I prefer the blog for conversation like you do, and for the same reasons. All I'm trying to do is find a way to confidentially swap contact information with a few blog buddies. That's all I want. It's how I'm preparing for the possibility of losing this blog one day, should the loss of net neutrality result in Thom's blog biting the dust. It would be nice if some of us can have a way to remain in touch, with or without the blog. The chat room doesn't appear very conducive to that. What are we missing? - AIW
Aliceinwonderland ~ I don't know. I can't access it with my computer; however, my phone works fine. Why don't you log back in and wait. I will try to send you my info via a private message and see what happens. If you get it, email me and I'll email you back.
Let me know when you're ready, I'll check back here every 15 minutes.
In the chat room--on the phone--there is a button with the icon of people on it. When you press that button you get a list of buttons with the names of the people currently in the chat room. I think it works by pressing the name of the person you want to send the private message to. That brings up a dialogue box you can type into and hit send. Then your message appears in a private window. At least that's how I think it works.
Hi Marc! Sorry; I got sidetracked for awhile, but I'm back. Anyway I've got the chat box on my screen, I've followed your instructions and am now waiting for your name to appear in that box. I'll just wait patiently, since I had you hung up for awhile... - AIW
Do a Google search on "Java Dangerous". If you really don't have a need for Java or if you don't keep it upgraded then keeping Java on your computer could be dangerous.
Also, if you are just trying to keep your chats private from the casual snoop then you may be ok with an encrypted chat room. But, don't think it is private from the USG. If the USG can put the heavy on Edward Snowden's email site then they can and most likely have put the heavy on all such sites...email...chat rooms...etc. Snowden's email site, Lavabit, did the honorable thing and just shut down. But a lot of other sites would just go along with government snooping. You can make it more difficult for the USG by using strong encryption and TOR but then if you do so, the USG automatically targets you and puts you on a list of possible terrorists.
If you want to be pretty secure, and harder to spy on, try Tails. Tails is a "live" operating system that lives on any storage device you put it on...mostly a USB thumb drive..and it is freely downloadable. You boot up with this plugged in and it bypasses your normal operation system and hard drive. Nothing gets stored on your hard drive because nothing gets written to it. No risk of viruses or trojans and you can use your Tails thumb-drive on any computer...library...coffee shop...lap tops...etc. If you ever do banking online...it would be safer to use Tails. But, of course, don't rely on what I have to say about it...do some due diligence and check it out your self. Be sure to read the "about" and "warnings" pages after you click on download (it doesn't immediately download but gives the first time user some vital information to read).
Hey Marc, check your e-mail again in a little while. I'll have a surprise for ya, via attachment. - AIW
Palindromedary ~ Thanks for the advice. However Aliceinwonderland and I just wanted to exchange emails not sell nuclear secrets to the Kremlin. Nevertheless, your concern is touching!
Marc I am surprised that on this the forth of July weekend you are mad at someone for using their rights of freedom of religon and speech. Just because you don't believe in what they say doesn't mean it's wrong.
When everyone in our countries where scared they could to hell if they where bad there was a lot less crime and greed.
Aliceinwonderland ~ I got it! Thanks! That was really good too. Awesome! I took piano lessons once at SFSU just so I could learn how to read and write music and accompany myself rhythmically on a synthesizer. It was a lot tougher than I expected. A real brain workout if you will. I can really appreciate good ivory tickling. You've reached a level I never dreamed of hitting. My instrument of choice back then was the guitar. Shame too, now after Carpal Tunnel surgery and trigger finger in my left hand I'm far more suited for the piano. I guess its never too late to start though. Pick up where I left off. You might have just inspired me! Thanks!
The recent Supreme Court decision (Hobby Lobby) should be considered not so much a religious rights issue as it is a massive, additional power-shift to the wealthy who own the already too powerful corporations. This follows the similarly purposed decision of Citizens United.