Tuesday, March 27, 2012

When is a Government not a Government? (Part 2 of 2)

     I pointed out in the first part of this series that government is not an objective reality like a table or a hill.  It's a social reality, like a friendship or any other agreement.  It exists only to the degree that people agree that it exists and only as long as people agree that it exists.
     The United States Constitution hasn't been observed in years.  Bit by bit, since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2001, the Bill of Rights has been discarded.  On October 27, 2006, habeas corpus was outlawed after it had been the keystone of Western freedom for 794 years.  The same day, posse comitatus was outlawed after it was the law of the land for 128 years.  More recently, acting President Barack Obama taken upon himself the power to indefinitely detain accused Americans even after a jury has found them not guilty.
     The United States government has been usurped by an illegal regime consisting of Wall Street banksters, war profiteers, and their Judases in Congress.  Regardless of who gets elected, policies remain the same or get worse.  Besides, with touch-screen voting machines with easy-to-rig software, we have "elections" without ballots; thus, even legally mandated recounts are impossible, and fraud is difficult to prove.
     The good news is, the money changers who occupy the temple are not all powerful.  They have only two tools at their disposal: lies and violence.  Lies and violence, which are their only strengths, are also their biggest weaknesses; the more they use them, the weaker they get.  The forces of freedom have two tools of non-violence: truth and ideas, which help us to grow stronger the more we exercise them.
     It starts with a few people, such as US Army PFC Bradley Manning, simply saying, “No, I won’t cooperate with this any longer.” (link)    Then non-commissioned officers such as US Army Sgt. Kevin Benderman refuse to cooperate (link)Then officers, such as RAF Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith (link).  Before long, dozens of others refuse (link).
     Now middle-level officers are refusing to cooperate with illegal wars and other illegalities in the system.  Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, a decorated US Army doctor who could have retired in two years has refused service in Afghanistan on the grounds that his alleged Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, was not legally elected President.  In the following video, corporate media Pharisee Anderson Cooper spouts distortion after distortion in his attempt to badger Dr. Lakin into making statements that might tend to incriminate him.  (video)
     Since the Lakin interview, Mr. Obama has released an electronic image purporting to be a long-form birth certificate.  Retired Major General Paul Vallely is calling the alleged long-form certificate the result of felony fraud, and that the fraud is being covered up by the FBI.  (video)
     (The 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen through illegal vote counts, and the 2008 election was stolen through felony fraud.  The United States has not had a legally elected President since January 20, 2001.) (link)
     The collapse of illegitimate regimes has been compared to the melting of an iceberg.  At first, a little melts here and there.  Then the melting accelerates.  Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, the whole thing collapses into slush. 
     The present attempts to steal the 2012 Republican primaries and caucuses could possibly be the event that causes the regime to collapse, driving the money changers from the temple, restoring the Constitution, and returning lawful government to the American people. (link) and (link)
     Every state in the Union legally mandates ballot recounts under certain conditions.  The trouble is, most American polling places no longer use ballots, so nothing can be recounted, and the accuracy of a computer program’s count can’t be verified.  An election without ballots is invalid.
     What recourse have we?  Consider this: What do people consider news?  What do they forward to others?  Answer: Something that’s current, pertains to their interests, and is visually striking.
     Suppose every supporter of Ron Paul in the primaries (and later, for any third party candidate in the election on the sixth of November) wore something strikingly green when he casts his ballot.  Diebold can lie boldly about how people voted, but they can’t lie about what the voters wear.  (I’ve checked in several different places.  At a given time, only four or five people out of a hundred wear an article of clothing that’s mainly green (and fewer still wear conspicuous green), though I suspect that most people have something green enough in their closets.  What if 15% or even 30% of the primary voters wore something strikingly green?  Visually striking evidence of election fraud could force an honest vote count. Otherwise, the resulting backlash could melt the iceberg and force state and local governments to conduct legal elections in America.
     I select the color green because it has several different meanings depending on the person, and it's usually seen as positive.  Take Ireland during the 1790's, for example.  The English outlawed all things that they took to be symbols of Irish nationalism: St. Patrick's Day commemorations, displays of shamrocks, and even wearing green.  As a consequence, the "wearing of the green" has become a symbol of resistance to oppression. (song) 
     The false witnesses in the corporate-controlled media would be loathe to cover a story of voters wearing green to the polls to show their defiance of both the Democrat and Republican parties.  As the story spread by word of mouth and through the Internet, the corporate-owned media’s already shaky credibility would risk complete collapse.
     Larger numbers of Americans will vote in the presidential election on the sixth of November.  We have more time to get out the word for that election.  Voters in the general election can wear something conspicuously green to show that they're voting for someone other than the Republican or Democratic nominee for President.  I say again, Diebold can lie boldly about how you vote but not about what you wear.  People can thus know if the vote is honestly counted.
     Let me further remind you that the power of the criminal elite comes only from lies and violence.  We have truth and ideas.  We don’t have to fight them.  The criminal elite can use violence to destroy our bodies, but they can’t destroy ideas.  The concept of a government exercising its just powers by the consent of the governed is an unstoppable idea.  If we withdraw our consent, uniting with one another in peace and mutual understanding, we can restore our constitutionally guaranteed liberties.  
     I have no illusions that one campaign of this sort will result in total victory on the sixth of November.  It's at best a beginning.  Conversely, I strongly advise those who believe in the myth of "strategic voting" to shed the illusion that electing the "lesser of two evils" can result in anything other than evil.  (See "The Only Strategic Voting that Works")
REMEMBER the sixth of November.
Wear green when you vote for a third-party candidate  for President.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dick Cheney Gets a Heart Transplant

     It's true.  Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who says that waterboarding isn't all that bad, lied to Congress and the American people dozens of time to get America into highly profitable (for his former company) wars, and shot his hunting partner in the face, has received a heart transplant.  (link)
     I hope that doctors are keeping his former heart on ice for future use.  If I ever need a heart transplant, I'd like Dick Cheney's heart.  I would like a heart that hasn't been used yet.

When is a Government not a Government? (Part 1 of 2)

     Maybe you’ve heard when a ship is not a ship: when it’s afloat (a float). Maybe you’ve heard when a door is not a door: when it’s ajar (a jar). So when is a government not a government? A government is not a government when it no longer has legitimacy.
     No, that’s not funny; it’s a fact of life. Unlike a ship or a door, government is not an objective reality.  It's a social reality;  government exists only when people agree that it exists.
     I've often pondered this issue and issues related to it, and I’ve found no clear answers to my questions. As far as I know, no one has.
     I am now revisiting the question because of three things that occurred within 48 hours of each other: 1.) I read an article that gave examples of regimes with superior weapons collapsing when confronted by peaceful resistance; (link) 2.) The television movie of the week was about a tyrannical regime that fell to a mob of unarmed protesters; the gist of the movie was that people can be killed, but ideas can not be killed (video) (There's plenty of violence for moviegoers who look for cheap thrills, but non-violent resistance carried the day.); 3.) and, I read in this morning’s paper about tens of thousands of Israelis and Iranians forging a bond of trans-national friendship over the Internet.  (link)
     Before going any further into this, let’s explore the paradox of government and how people try to resolve that paradox.  We need government although there is no philosophical justification for it. Let’s look at two forms of government—democracies and republics—and explore this classic paradox.
      (Little needs to be said of authoritarian rule and monarchies. Authoritarianism is based on the notion that authority comes from brute force. Monarchism is based on the notion that authority and wisdom result from genetic inbreeding unless the inbreeding is done by poor people.  A casual glance at the British "royal" family is enough to disprove that assumption.)

     Democracy is based on two easily disproven assumptions: that the majority is always wiser than the minority, and that individuals have no rights. We know from experience that every reform was once a minority opinion, and that most reforms were once unpopular opinions. As for the latter assumption, if individuals have no rights, by what right do various individuals come together to form a government?
     Even if we somehow answer these objections, we’re still left with one more. Let’s suppose everyone in society unanimously agreed to form a certain government in a certain way. Why should the next generation be bound by decisions they had no part in making?
     Most Western governments, including the United States government, try to resolve that dilemma by forming republics. Republics are based on the notion that some rights are so basic that neither governments nor majorities have any right to violate them. Minorities consent to being ruled by the majority on the condition that each person’s rights are safeguarded.
     The establishment of a republic is not a philosophical justification for government. It is simply a conditional accommodation for government, based on need.
     Machiavelli points out that everyone who has power was conditionally granted that power by someone. Either he received the power from the people, or from his peers, or from higher up.   Whence he received his power determines where his base of power is, and that base must be kept secure if he is to keep his power.
     On the other hand, regardless of who granted that power to the ruler, that ruler will be in a more secure position if he gains and holds the approval of the people. Approval from the people will give the ruler a stronger hand with his peers and higher ups; but approval from the peers or higher ups will not give him as much advantage in dealing with the people.
     There are three ways a ruler can gain power. From the most secure to the least secure, they are as follows: through merit, through strength (especially violence), and through the unmerited favor of higher ups. The first is most likely to gain the favor of the people; the last “must fear everyone at all times,” including those who appointed him. George Washington and Sun Yat-sen were examples of the first. Pontius Pilate, George W. Bush, and Leung Chun-ying (Beijing's puppet ruler of Hong Kong) are examples of the last. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were no sign of public approval for Bush, since both elections were stolen through illegal counting of the ballots. (link)
     I should stress here that there’s no such thing as one-man rule. What we call an autocrat is actually the public face for an oligarchy.
     Without the approval of the people, not even the most violent regime is secure. In fact, the opposite is true. The more violence is used against the people, the less legitimacy the government receives from the people. Violence, then, weakens the hand of government and strengthens the hand of peaceful resisters.
     Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King knew that, and they used that principle with powerful effect. The Solidarity movement in Poland knew it, and so does Aung San Suu Kyi. Regardless of what you may think of them, they really knew how to use the power of truth and ideas against lies and violence.
     When someone wrote to Thomas Jefferson accusing him of not having enough confidence in the nation’s leaders, Jefferson wrote back, “Confidence is, everywhere, the parents of despotism. Let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.” Sadly, our leaders are no longer bound from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
     According to one tally, America has gone to war over 50 times since World War II, and not one of these wars was legally declared. Most were wars of conquest.  Roughly 30 times, the American government has  attacked other countries either to prop up an unpopular regime or to overthrow a popularly elected government. Closer to home, Wall Street banksters have defrauded the American people out of more than 100,000 homes and $14 trillion, and they ridicule their own investors. Obama made matters worse by appointing dozens of Wall Street executives and foreign agents to run his administration.
     In 2008, voters hoped for change from the criminality of the George W. Bush (actually Dick Cheney) administration. What they got was almost exactly the same policies we’d had under Cheney/Bush. Even those policies were expanded to make them worse.
     America is not alone in suffering from criminal usurpation. It has happened in many other countries, and the people are resisting—peacefully. In the second part of this two-part series, I’ll describe their means of resistance.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How I Faked Obama's Short-form Birth Certificate

     Over the past couple of years, copies of Barack Obama’s alleged Certificate of Live Birth (COLB) have circulated the Internet. At the least, mucho gigabytes of bandwidth have been used attempting to prove that it was a fake, and to explain—in their not-so-humble opinions—just how it was faked. Usually, they use such highly technical language that my eyes glaze over with each attempt to understand their explanations.
     As far as I know, no one—until now—has attempted to duplicate the Obama team’s alleged fakery. In the image below (click image for enlargement), you will see a fake COLB, supposedly proving that “Barack Hussean O’Bama” was born in the town of Colonia, Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia, on April Fools Day 2012. If you compare this image to the second image, you’ll see that my version of the COLB was Photoshopped from the form that Obama claims is legitimate.
My fake Obama COLB:
(Click image for enlargement.)
Obama's fake COLB:
(Click image for enlargement.)
     After completing the fake, I examined it and was surprised to see that my lettering was better done than the lettering in the original. If you save the images to your computer and zoom in on the print in Obama’s version, you’ll see that some of the letters have white spaces where white spaces shouldn’t be. The words I added to my version of it don’t have that problem.
     I used Photoshop CS3, which is an older version of Photoshop. I copied part of the background, in a rectangular shape, and layered it over the original lettering. Then I reduced the opacity of the new layer so that I could see the lettering.
     To add my version of the words, I clicked the type tool and used an Arial font. For most of the lettering I was faking, the 9-point and 10-point lettering were perfect matches. In some of the lettering at the top, when I went to 12-point font, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still pretty close.
     Once I got the lettering in place, I returned the layer (matching the background pattern) opacity back to 100% and used the "select" tool to single out only that part of the layer that the lettering would cover. I then clicked “select inverse” and deleted all parts of the layer that were not covered by the lettering. Then I flattened the image.
     As for the official seal of Yap State, I found the seal on the Wikipedia page, saved it and moved it to the fake COLB. I increased the size so that it was similar to the seal of Hawaii, moved it into place, and reduced the opacity by half so that I could see the seal of Hawaii and the seal of Yap State at the same time. Using the same process I had used for the lettering, I put the background pattern in front of the Hawaii state seal, removed the white from the Yap State seal, and improved the seal’s contrast and brightness/darkness balance. Then I flattened the image.
     People who believe in the validity of Obama’s version of the COLB have suggested that it would have been extremely difficult to fake it. They also suggest that a high degree of computer savvy must have been involved; and that, if it’s a fake, it must have taken a long time to accomplish a fake as convincing as the one Obama has presented to us. They’re wrong on all three counts.
     Anyone who knows me knows how little I know about computers. I’ve been using the same Photoshop program for about ten years and still use the same basic functions that I used ten years ago. I believe that most teenagers know more about computers and computer programs than I do.
     As for time, it took me less than an hour to fake “O’bama’s” Certificate of Live Birth. If a lao-ko-ko (old fogey) such as I can do it that easily, how hard can it be for someone with the resources of the presidency behind him?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dhimmitude! What the Word Means and What It Should Mean for Us

     Two years ago, I was blissfully ignorant of the word dhimmitude. Then I opened my email and read a message breathlessly telling me that, if I didn’t act upon it by preventing the growth of the Muslim population, Western Civilization was doomed. Since I was never told specifically what I had to do to keep Muslims from procreating (throw cold water on them, perhaps?), I suppose Western Civilization is doomed. (Another word comes to mind: Dhammitall!)
     From time to time, I continue to receive messages from panic-stricken people in a Kevin McCarthy mode about Muslims out to get us all. (See video below.)  Recently I decided to look into the word. 
     Before I consulted Internet sources, I used my linguistic talents, along with the excited message I’d received, to figure out what I could.
     The suffix –tude at the end of the word indicates that it’s a noun of Western origin. Hmm, I had been told that it was a Muslim word. (I’ll bet you didn’t know that Muslim was even a language.) This indicated to me that dhimmitude, which is often spelled with an exclamation point, is not a word Muslims use but one that certain non-Muslims use about Muslims.

     I should say something about the diacritical mark. Many words that come into English from foreign words have odd little marks called diacritical marks. Some examples are the tilde in the word señor, the cedilla in the word façade, or the acute accent in the word élan. Some words, such as resume (or résumé), may be spelled with or without the diacritical mark. I suppose dhimmitude (or dhimmitude!) is another example; but I must say that the exclamation point is the strangest diacritical mark I’ve ever seen.
     The word dhimmitude was coined by two Lebanese politicians—neither of them Muslims—attempting to transform fear and hatred into votes in 1982. The suggestion was that Muslims wanted to subordinate the majority Christian population to Muslim control.  Since one of these two demagogues was murdered, it appears that they succeeded in stirring up hatred, though not with the result they had intended.
     A writer calling herself Bat Ye'or took the ball and ran with it. In a book review, Prof. James E. Biechler wrote of her, "Perhaps the single most significant contribution of the author is her definition and development of the concept of 'dhimmitude.'” (link)  That definition, simply put, is that dhimmitude is the system by which Muslims control non-Muslims. (Note the emotionally loaded word control.)
     Bat Ye’or isn’t her real name any more than Batman is Bruce Wayne’s real name; and, unlike Batman, she doesn't wear black underwear over her face. Her real name is Gisèle Littman (link)  Many converts to Islam display their change of religion by adopting Middle Eastern-sounding names. If that’s what Bat Ye’or was thinking, she was a bit unclear on the concept.
     Thus we have it that the person most responsible for our understanding of the word dhimmitude was someone who devoted her life to writing books bashing Muslims. Yet we’re told that dhimmitude is a—(ahem!)—Muslim word.
     The word dhimmi is an Arabic word that is used by Muslims. Its basic meaning is, “protected ones.” It refers to a system by which the religious and cultural freedoms of non-Muslims are protected in predominantly Muslim societies.
     A word of caution is necessary here. There are at least six branches of Islam: five are Sunni and one is Shiite.  They’re as different from one another as Catholics, Baptists, Quakers, Amish, Pentecostals, and Mormons. While we can make certain general statements, we can expect occasional variatons.
     According to Muslim concepts of dhimmi, non-Muslims (known as dhimmis) may, for example, consume pork or alcohol, but not in public. Dhimmis are also excused from other obligations to which Muslims are held, but they’re equal under the laws of property, contract, and other obligations. Dhimmis are exempt from paying taxes, but they do have to make payments in lieu of taxes. In some countries, these payments are called tribute; in others they’re called contributions, charity, or something else. The essential difference between payments from Muslims and payments from dhimmis lies in what the payments are called.
     While non-Muslims during the Middle Ages generally were subject to the same military duties as Muslims, they weren’t required to participate in religious wars.  Thus, when the crusaders invaded Palestine, Christians and other non-Muslims were not required to participate in the defense of the Holy Land.
     A few centuries earlier, after the Roman Empire fell, and Muslims assumed control over Palestine, Jews living there tended to see this change as a “change for the better.” Because Jews were given greater protection under Muslim rule than under Christian rule in Europe, many Jews moved to Palestine.
     Just as those of us in the West have a concept of a republic—that each person, however much in the minority he may be, has rights that must be protected within society—Muslims have this concept of dhimmi, which is based on a similar idea. For more information on this concept, click here
     Today, Jews are found living throughout the Middle East. For example, Iran has one of the world’s largest Jewish populations.  In the Middle East, Iran's Jewish population is second only to that of Israel, the latter of which is mostly of Central European rather than those of Abrahamic origin more commonly found in Iran. Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews are reserved seats in the Iranian Majlis (Parliament). (link)  
     It’s worth noting that, Sharia banking is preferred to Western-style banking because the Koran, the Bible, and the Torah forbid usury. In Sharia banking, the banker invests rather than loans; thus, the banker doesn’t make money unless the client—known in the West as the “borrower” or the “Muppet” (video and video)—makes money. Derivatives are forbidden under Sharia banking. A similar arrangement is available for private borrowers. I haven’t heard of even one predominantly Muslim country to suffer the toxic, Goldman Sachs-style banking scandals that have rocked the entire Western world since 2007.  
     I’m certainly glad that the Internet trolls and Islamophobes got me interested enough to learn about Islam for myself. Without really intending to do so, they caused me to gain much more respect for the Muslims than I’d previously had.  I hope you have as well.
    While researching for this article, I ran across some video clips that should serve as a lessons for us all.  In the first, Christians in Egypt form a protective ring around Muslim worshipers.   
      In the next, Egyptian Muslims form a protective ring around Coptic Christian worshipers.  (I'm sorry.  Some technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading videos today.  Click the link below.)
     In the United States, a Muslim is injured coming to the aid of a Jewish stranger who is attacked by ten alleged "Christians."  (Same as before.  Please click the link.)  (here)
     Now, I wish someone would coin a word to describe the system of “control” under which Americans currently live. We pay our taxes to Wall Street, fight wars for Israel, depend on the corporate-owned media for our news, and look to Monsanto for our daily bread.  There has to be a better way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

America Hasn't had a Legally Elected President in this Century

     Imagine the best and wised person you have ever known on Earth.  Now imagine that this person suddenly came into possession of a magic box that gave him the power to change the course of history at will.  How long do you think it would be before this person became completely corrupted by this power?
     Now imagine that a magic box of this sort fell into the hands of someone who has been caught lying time and again.  Imagine that this person has been caught in criminal fraud and who had paid millions of dollars to settle accusations out of court.  Imagine also that he claimed the right to keep absolute secrecy about anything he did with the box.  Do the words "menace to society" come to mind?
     There's not a doubt in my mind that the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were stolen, mainly by the means of the "magic box" I've just mentioned.  The magic box in question is electronic voting programs, which election officials are forbidden to investigate.  They have some power to investigate the results of votes but not how the votes are tabulated.
     Without my usual comments, I'm posting here, in nine parts, the video Hacking Democracy for your viewing.  If you're pretty short on time, I suggest you go to part 8 and take it from there.
     Part 1 of 9:
     Part 2 of 9:
     Part 3 of 9:
     (Take a good look at the weasel they interview on this clip.  He has a face only Lindsey Graham could love.)
     Part 4 of 9:
   Part 5 of 9:
     Part 6 of 9:
     (In this clip, investigators show that Florida election officials violated voting laws.  While this, by itself, doesn't prove fraud, it shows a lack of respect for legal accountability to the voters.)
     Part 7 of 9:
     (When a recount is demanded, Florida election officials fall back on a law allowing only 3% of the votes, randomly selected, to be recounted.  Under this law, if irregularities are detected, only then can the other 97% be investigated.  The catch was, election officials defined the meaning of the word random.  They were, in fact, selected from precincts in which no irregularities were detected.
     Part 8 of 9:
     (The face you see below is that of an election official in a neighboring Florida county.  He is instrumental in helping the protagonists uncover the means by which voting fraud is taking place.  The weasel I mentioned earlier swore before a hearing that there was no executable program on Diebold's memory cards.)
    Part 9 of 9:
     With the help of a computer geek and the aforementioned Florida election official, we are shown how easy it is to steal an election without any trace of fraud.  They convincingly show that the weasel lied both about the executable program and its potential.
     Even after Diebold's duplicity was revealed to Ohio officials (the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio), Ohio spent millions of dollars on Diebold equipment.
     During the nineteenth century, courageous newspaper reporters reported that the Tammany Hall political machine headed by "Boss" Tweed was stealing a million dollars a day from the city of New York.  When confronted with the evidence and asked if it were true, Tweed supposedly said, "Even if it is, what are you going to do about it?"  New Yorkers found their cajones and sent Tweed and his gang to prison.
     It appears that, in our generation,  the votes of a hundred million Americans are being stolen. Our future is being stolen from us.  We must take "Boss" Tweed's words as a challenge: "What are you going to do about it?"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Foreign Aid is a Money Laundering Scam for Banks and Major Corporations (Part 2 of 2 Parts)

(To read part 1, click here.)
     Several decades ago, a youthful idealist said to me, “Many allowances are made for the illusions of youth, but few are made for the disillusionment of old age.” Now that I’m older, I believe that the idealist spoke better than he knew. There’s no conflict between idealism and disillusionment. Idealism has more practical value once the matrix of illusion is shattered.
     The ultimate idealist and the ultimate realist are one and the same. He sees the world both as it really is and as it can be and should be.
     In the first part of this series, I detailed instances of massive and systemic waste and fraud in foreign aid programs. There are only two explanations for this problem: Either the world’s brightest economic experts have committed the same blunders over and over again throughout the world for more than sixty years, or massive waste and fraud were deliberately built into the system. The latter explanation is more credible.
     Here's how the  foreign aid scam works:
    Billions of dollars are borrowed in the taxpayers' name, supposedly to help needy people overseas. Little or none of it is sent to needy people anywhere. It's sent to foreign governments, whose corrupt leaders use the power of distribution to prop up their rule. By agreement with the "donor" government, most or all of it is used to buy goods and services from U.S. corporations such as the military industrial complex. Of course, the borrowed money has to be repaid to the banksters who had created it out of thin air. It's not paid by the recipient government or by the corporations; it's repaid by the American taxpayerswith interest paid over so many years that it amounts to several times the value of the loan, and the American people never get out of debt.
     In college, I learned by way of a textbook called The Myth of Aid, that much “foreign aid” is entirely unneeded by the “recipient” country. For example, during the Cold War, the United States built a highway in Turkey, all the way to the Russian Soviet border. The highway was used almost exclusively by the U.S. military.
     On another occasion—also several decades ago—I read a memorable defense of U.S. foreign aid. The writer pointed out that America “benefits” from foreign aid because the supplies “donated” to recipient countries are bought from American factories. At the time, it had not yet dawned on me what this really meant: that the money had been borrowed from banks in the taxpayers’ name and transferred to corporations, after much of it had been spilled abroad.
     In case you’re wondering, the Marshall Plan was modeled along these lines. After Germany and much of Europe was thoroughly bombed to rubble, American corporations profited from rebuilding Europe.
     America’s current “foreign aid” policy in Iraq is a clever refinement of the Marshall Plan. In the Middle East and West Asia, countries are bombed to rubble and rebuilt at the same time. It’s a self-perpetuating means of soaking taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars and calling it compassion.
     The documentary Iraq for Sale details how both war and foreign aid is a self-perpetuating scam.
     For genuine foreign aid, corporations do have legitimate interests. So do governments, and so do non-governmental organizations. Rather than shock doctrine, disaster capitalism, or embezzlement by gangster government, I propose a strategic fit among the legitimate interests of corporations, recipient societies, and concepts of social and environmental responsibility (CSR) as defined by non-governmental organizations.
     There is probably nothing new about my model for foreign aid. It’s based on Harvard business scholar Michael Porter’s view of CSR. Business, society, and the environment are not mutual enemies. They all need one another. Rather than a zero-sum game in which CSR is measured by each giving up something to achieve an artificial “balance” of needs, Porter posits a win-win model for CSR.
     The Nestle Corporation is well known for some of the evil things they’ve done in third world countries, but Porter cites one case in which Nestle did something right. It’s a model for others to follow.
     In one cattle area of Central Africa, milk cows were unhealthy, refrigeration was virtually non-existent, and transportation was difficult. As a result, milk was of lower quality than it might otherwise have been, and a third of it was spoiled on the way to market.
Nestle provided veterinary services and refrigeration, and they improved roads. As a consequence, dairy farmers produced higher quality milk, more of which was fresh when it reached buyers, and farmers’ profits significantly increased. Nestle, in turn, had reliable sources for high-quality milk.
     In short, Nestle fit its business model (in this case) to business needs, societal needs, and CSR concepts. A business model that is purely “charitable” would likely have been an unsustainable waste of corporate resources. A business model that failed to take societal needs into account (such as tricking new mothers into using Nestle’s milk until the mothers’ breast milk had dried up) would have generated a public backlash.  (See Michael Porter and Mark Kramer's article "Strategy and Society: The Strategic Link between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility.")
     Between the farm and the fork, half the food in the world goes to waste. Either it’s ruined by weather or war, or it fails to reach the market in edible condition, or it’s ruined or thrown away before it reaches the consumer. As a result of this waste, a third of the world goes to bed hungry each night.
     The causes are manifold, so I don’t presume that strategic fit will solve all the problems of hunger and other needs. I do suggest, though, that a strategic fit of business needs, societal and environmental needs, and CSR concepts—if they are effectively monitored—can be a far more effective foreign aid program than the more familiar model of shock doctrine and disaster capitalism.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Foreign Aid is a Money Laundering Scam for Banks and Major Corporations (Part 1 of 2 parts)

     The term foreign aid has been defined as “poor people in rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries."  That’s only part of the story. The rest of the story is that foreign aid, by and large, is a money laundering scheme. If the money were taken directly from the taxpayers and handed to the bankers and corporations, there would be as big a protest, or bigger, as the one in 2008.
     I have been asked to write an article about this, and to provide links. The trouble is that my most important information came to me long before the existence of the Internet. To make matters more difficult, at the time I learned these things, I was so uncritically accepting of the official view of how the world works that I didn’t see the significance of the information.
     Nonetheless, if what I’m saying was true then and is still true, the Internet must have some evidence of it, at least as far as current events are concerned. Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll cite some current problems in foreign aid programs in several countries and with the World Bank.
     In part two of this two-part series, I’ll try to tie all this information into a single package. I think you’ll find that the problems of waste and fraud are not “flaws” in the system; that they are, in fact, the way the system is designed to work. Bear in mind that, before you can decide whether a program is efficient, you have to have a clear understanding of what the program is intended to do.
     Here is a sampling of what I found:
    Between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2010, a whopping 63% of Australian foreign aid contracts went to corporations, and 22% went to individuals. Only 12% went to governmental and non-governmental development bodies. Measured by the value of the contracts, 84% went to corporations, 3% went to individuals, and only 11% went to governmental and non-governmental development bodies. (link) 
     While the fat cat recipients of Australian foreign aid are well known, just what is done with the money is less well known. The World Bank, which receives $450 billion a year (presumably Australian dollars) from Australian taxpayers, has come under fire for its perceived lack of transparency in how it handles the money and why so much of the money is going to corporations. (link) 
     In the United States, fully two thirds of “foreign aid” is actually military aid. Prior to George W. Bush’s second term of office, the State Department was the primary dispenser of U.S. foreign aid. Since then, the Pentagon has handled the lion’s share of “foreign aid.”
     If you think you voted for “hope” and “change” in 2008, don’t look for hope or change in the U.S. foreign aid budget. Like almost everything else about the Bush presidency, the militarization of “foreign aid” has continued through Obama’s term of office. (link)
     Don’t get the idea that the Pentagon’s interest in foreign aid has anything to do with assisting needy foreigners in Pakistan and other trouble spots. The only assistance the Pentagon is noted for giving people in other countries lies in helping them to find out if there really is life after death.
     Let’s not forget how the bankers profit from the foreign aid scam. In Chapter Three of The Economic Rape of America, Frederick Mann points out that money and value are not the same thing. Bankers create paper “money” out of thin air, loan it to governments and other entities, which then have to pay it back with money that has value because it’s the product of labor.
     For a 30-year mortgage at 10%, the borrower pays back 336% of the money he borrows. The principle, which was created from nothing, returns to nothing; but the remaining 226% (interest), which has value, is transferred from the general economy to the banker.
     Now consider how much interest the taxpayer pays on a loan that is never fully repaid. This is addressed in Chapter Three: “The Federal Reserve Bankers.” (link)  To download the whole book, The Economic Rape of America, (free for personal use only), click here
     Apart from the military industrial complex scams, there are two kinds of foreign aid: loans and grants. In the hands of corrupt governments, both tend to generate governmental corruption. Loans tend to generate both dependency and corruption. As one example, Zaire’s leader Mobutu See Seko is estimated to have stolen $5 billion dollars in aid money. Almost immediately after negotiating a reduction in interest payments, he “leased a Concorde to fly his daughter to her wedding on the Ivory Coast.” Sam Amsterdam indicates that this level of corruption is commonplace. (link) 
     As I looked for illustrations to use in this post, I found credible accusations that the Burmese (a.k.a. Myanmar) military dictatorship is pocketing tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid for disaster victims.  This aid was intended to be used for the relief of people who had lost everything in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.  Never underestimate the ghoulishness of corrupt dictators.    (link)
     Much of the waste in foreign aid seems deliberate, and it benefits no one other than the corporations that supply unneeded products. In one program, a factory was built for the construction of glass windows in a country in which most houses didn’t have windows. The factory never became operational because it had no access to electricity. The finding of one study was that much foreign aid, as I suggested earlier, is designed to “stabilize” regimes that are friendly to the donor governments. (link) 
     I first became aware of foreign aid problems over thirty-seven years ago, when I took a college interim course based on a book called The Myth of Aid. As I accepted it all at face value, foreign aid programs throughout the world seemed random and chaotic.
     Just as youth seems wasted on the young, I wonder if idealism may also be wasted on the young. Following the wise advice to “question authority” is self defeating when we seek and accept answers from the same authority figures.
     In the second part of this series, I base my answers on observable facts and not on the conclusions spoon fed to us by the authority figures we should be questioning.
(To read part 2, click here.)