I Swear Allegiance to
Paladins? Go Anywhere, Do Anything?
Libertarianism is rejected by the modern left which preaches individualism but practices collectivism.
- Karl Hess
Source: keyvisa.com by Nick Chavez
Asset No 9, assigned to patrol the Hamptons [the Hamptons are on Long Island in New York], reports that King Kullen, an all-and-sundries market of some size and note in Bridgehampton, is decorated with "help wanted" signs. When the woman behind the counter was asked if the labour situation was as tight as the recruitment posters suggested, she said no, it really wasn't. She told No.9 that the store had no trouble hiring help, but that they had a lot of trouble keeping the help once hired because the customers were so rude.
Asset No 9, who considers herself something of a social critic, observed that the store in Southampton, a gilded community still dominated by the trust funded WASP-ocrats, doesn't have trouble keeping its clerks. This, she opined, is because the WASP-ocrats, whose proclivities for strong drink are too well known to need dilating on, send their cooks and housemen to do the shopping. This, No 9 asserts, stands in sharp contrast to the braying misbehavior of the dot-com millionaires in some of the other towns who are, seemingly, so corrosively impolite that they have no cooks and housemen to do shopping for them.
The same Asset also sends intelligence of the conversion of a nearby cornfield, zoned agricultural, into a polo pitch. Polo, it appears, has been defined as a form of farming and therefore a conforming use. This, our operative says, was accomplished by one legal stratagem or another, but perhaps the definitions of the zoning laws were not too distorted by the lawyers, since, our Asset further reports, that most characteristic agricultural byproduct, horseshit, litters the field, to the distress of nearby residential noses.
So there in a small incident we see what is also happening all around us, namely the demolition of law as a useful tool of governance by lawyers acting on behalf of the hungry, money-starved rich. (Among the rich, of course, are the lawyers themselves, who have used the class-action suit as their ticket into the plutocracy.) We have reached the point where there is no law that stands if one or more rich persons want to hire lawyers to peck away at it until it is a worthless, tumble-down shambles. A new law may be like a set of perfect teeth: white, even, sharp, hard. Then come the lawyers, pitting them, rotting them, breaking down the once-hard enamel, turning the strength of teeth to disintegrating mush. After the lawyers have had their way with them, they wiggle to the touch, smell foul to nose and are repulsive to the eye.
A good example of a set of pearly whites that the lawyers have turned into impacted, putrefying snaggles are the inheritance laws, The "death tax," the Republicans call it - but for the truly rich, there are no inheritance taxes, no death tax. They bequeath their money with the same unrestricted freedom enjoyed by Commodore Vanderbilt 150 years ago.
The rich are destroying the inheritance laws in much the same way that they destroyed the banking laws. You violate some part of the law, then send in the lawyers to get the part of the law you've violated invalidated because some heretofore unknown and undiscovered constitutional right, reserved for the very rich, has been trampled upon in this section of the tax code. After the first breach or violation, other rich people do the same until that part of the law has been nullified. Next comes a great hue and cry set off by various foundations and think tanks and other propaganda channels, financed thanks to other loopholes in the tax laws all to the effect that the law is just a patchwork of nonsense and contradiction and ought, in the name of reason and sound government, to be abolished.
That is more or less what happened to the banking laws and will happen to any part of the US Code or the state code or the municipal code which the golden grandees take exception to, either for business reason for simple personal indulgence.
The mass-media ownership laws are currently being turned into hash. The assaults on them have been going on for many years, but they may be said to have begun with Rupert Murdoch's transparently business-motivated naturalisation as an American citizen in order to comply with the legal technicalities in the broadcast-ownership laws. That, needless to say, was but the first cavity in that set of teeth.
To become a citizen, Mr Murdoch had to swear allegiance to the United States. Here is the man, born to wealth in Australia, who moves his base of operation to the United Kingdom, and then, when his ceaselessly expanding appetite for riches makes it convenient, switches over to the United States. At the least, this is a bindlestift who doesn't qualify as a member of the huddled masses.
He might better be categorised as a member of what the old-time Commies used to call a "cosmopolite," which in their dictionary meant an international operator, without loyalty or ties of patriotism to any nation or ideal, who coursed the world looking for the main chance. Given Mr Murdoch's track record, if things got tough here in the US of A, how long would it be before Old Rupert was sneaking for the exit, whispering to himself, "I'm outta here." This guy's going to fight for his country? Hell, he's had so many countries, he wouldn't know which one was his.
I suppose that, having so few attachments to any people or community, a man like Mr Murdoch makes for a very good globalist. A globalist is a person who will go anywhere, do anything any way it can be done, regardless of consequences here, there or everywhere, for a dollar, yen or euro. As long as it's convertible currency, a Murdochian type will reach out his or her mitts to grab it.
Cosmopolites are ideally suited to coming in and tearing down a society's laws, be they zoning ordinances interfering with their polo matches or antitrust statutes designed to stop the development of competition-free playing fields, as exemplified by the airline industry. Do, please, keep in mind that the levelest of playing fields is the space on which only one team plays.) The cosmopolite or vagabond global-business practitioner, having no ties of affection or anything else to a community or a nation, only has a pretend interest m any place's long-term well-being. When things go bad there, the cosmopolite goes elsewhere.
Mr Murdoch is a foreigner born 10,000 miles away, but we have raised a full crop of American-born cosmopolites who're on the television every night expounding globalism, making their demands that we change our laws for their supranational needs. They tell us how good it's going to be for us, but have you noticed that their demands on us to change this law or that regulation - or to tolerate such-and-such pain - are always specific, while their promises to us are always vague?
No evidence presents itself to show that the American-born cosmopolite has one crumb more affection for his or her native land than a conniving self-insinuator like Mr Murdoch. They are both committed to a vision of a lawless world made fair for them and impossible for the rest of us. The ties of place, of memory, of shared history, of community do live in the cosmopolite breast. A token of this is cosmopolite philanthropy - or of its widely noticed absence. Charity in America is dependent upon small givers because, I am beginning to suspect, the plutocosmopolites have so little interest or affection for a community or a place, they have little reason to donate time or money or energy or anything else to it. Cosmopolite doctrine holds that whenever they make money, they create wealth and jobs for everybody else - and if that's not enough for you, go fuck yourselves, you non-entrepreneurial proles.
This is not the first time the question of divided loyalty has arisen in the United States. It did during the Revolutionary War, when the pro-British Americans were sent packing, and it has popped up again and again ever since. At various times the Irish, the Japanese, the Jews, the Germans, the Communists, the Italians, the Copperheads, the Catholics have been suspected and publicly pilloried for divided loyalties, for having a higher allegiance to another power or interests. With Revolutionary War loyalists, the Communists and the Copperheads, the accusations were true, so it is a mistake to presume betrayal won't happen again.
The political and social situation of the global, corporate, cosmopolite businessperson is entirely new and different. These people publicly toast of their loyalty to a supranational world network which dwarfs every nation. They advertise that they intend to knock all national boundaries flat. They proclaim revolution all the time, literally using the word in their advertising. They tell us repeatedly that they are citizens of a new world, and those of us who won't release our grasp on older ideals will be crushed by the history that the cosmopolites are making. They have, they repeat and repeat, forged our future for us.
Think of the last century, and of the men who stood on the balconies of the past. History teaches us to listen to men and women who glory in the power lust and brutal promises of near-future change.
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 23 August 2000
And Now for the Global Poor
Meatpacking and the Making of Immigration Policy
by Molly Ivins
Austin - Immigration policy is one of those subjects, like taxes, that really is complicated, and it's a disservice to simplify it, no matter which side you're on. President Bush's new plan to offer amnesty to 3 million illegal Mexican workers has both an upside and a downside. It would probably work better if it were part of an overall immigration reform program.
The upside is that it would help the illegal workers already here who have no rights and are consequently exploited to a degree that would make your jaw drop. All Americans should read the current issue of Mother Jones, which has a stunning article on conditions in the meatpacking industry: "The Most Dangerous Job in America."
"In some American slaughterhouses, more than three-quarters of the workers are not native English speakers," reports Eric Schlosser. Although injures in the industry are notoriously underreported, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than one-quarter of America's meatpackers suffered a job-related injury or illness in 1999. The workers are injured and then discarded by their companies in one of the most shameless and repulsive systems imaginable.
To use Upton Sinclair's approach in The Jungle, what happens to all those severed fingers, severed hands and severed arms if, as Schlosser reports, "the chain never stops," no matter who gets hurt or how badly? This article is truly "must-read" for anyone in a policy-making position.
The exploitation of illegals after they are here creates curious political bedfellows. The nativist, Pat Buchanan wing of the Republicans comes up against the business wing of the party. Put your money on the business end. Entire industries - especially agriculture, restaurants and those that need service workers - now depend on illegal workers. At one time we were supposed to have solved this problem by putting heavy penalties on employers for hiring illegals, but as you can imagine, that was quickly gone. Amnesty for 3 million Mexican workers also helps Karl Rove in his dedicated pursuit of the Hispanic vote, dovetailing nicely with business interests.
Meanwhile, the labor unions, which once opposed immigration on the theory that it cost Americans jobs, have been having some success organising illegal workers. Unions that concentrate on workers at the bottom end of the pay scale, like the Service Employees International Union (SIEU), have been especially effective. It is crucial that these workers be legalised and unionised if they are not to become a permanent serf class. There are already alarming reports on the future of working-class Hispanics to find much social mobility in this country.
The downside to the proposed amnesty is that it isn't fair and will in all likelihood cause a rush of illegals at the border. There are approximately 3 million more illegal Hispanic workers in this country who aren't Mexicans, most of them from Central American countries. Nor is the program fair to the lines of people in other countries who wait patiently for permission to immigrate legally. In addition, past amnesty programs have caused radical increases in illegal immigration on the US-Mexican border. Expanding visa programs seems a sensible compromise.
Americans are mostly ambivalent about Mexican immigration. Sometimes it is portrayed as dread menace, a sea of brown feet moving north, imposing nothing but a staggering burden on us (medical care, education, welfare - poor us, think of the taxes). Other times we recognise the more complicated truth that much of our economy, not to mention our comforts and luxuries, rests on the brown backs of exploited illegal workers who do, in fact, pay taxes.
As many experts have pointed out, the only real solution is the economic development of Mexico. As long as we are a rich nation bordering on a poor one, we're going to have this problem. Desperate Africans are now literally swimming into Spain.
Meanwhile, many of our institutions are drowning as well. The federal court system is swamped. From 1994 to 2000, border drug prosecutions doubled and immigration cases increased 7-fold. The five federal court districts on the borders of California, Arizona and Texas handle 27% of all federal criminal filings. That's just 6% of the judicial districts with more than a quarter of the work.
Those who benefit most from the current mess are American employers. At least one part of the answer is to put agricultural workers under the aegis of the National Labor Relations Act, which would at least allow them to get the minimum wage.
The old labor argument was that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. Now "taking jobs Americans don't want" has become a commonplace of immigration discussion. The reason that Americans don't want them is because they pay so little. According to Schlosser, "Thirty years ago, meatpacking was one of the highest-paid industrial jobs in the United States, with one of the lowest turnover rates."
In the 1960s, employers broke the unions and brought in Mexican workers, and wages fell by as much as 50%. Today meatpacking is one of the nation's lowest-paid industrial jobs, with one of the highest turnover rates. Nativists, meet the unions.
Molly Ivins is a Texas-based columnist who writes for Creators Syndicate (her column appears on Thursdays and Sundays) 5777 W Century Boulevard, Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Source: The Star-Ledger Friday 20 July 2001
While New Zealand doesn't exactly "border" on any nation, nevertheless, the problems are similar.
Expat Lifestyles Inflated by Qatar's Hot Air
by Mark Morley
Expatriate life in Qatar is interesting and challenging, but what of the expats themselves?
As an expatriate living in Qatar for the past 16 months, I have traversed a learning curve as rugged and demanding as it has been fascinating. This tiny Gulf State - a former British protectorate which gained independence in 1973 - has emerged as an unlikely geo-strategic playmaker. Qatar's visionary leadership has elevated international diplomacy to an art form but then when you have something the world sorely needs, your power will far exceed your diminutive stature.
That power is derived from hot air - gas actually, and to be precise, liquid natural gas. It has such vast quantities that Qatar is on track to becoming the world's largest exporter of LNG with patrons queuing round the block and the UK qualifying for premier customer status. The boom has helped to fund prestige projects such as the Doha's Khalifa Stadium. As Qatar booms, its relationship with the UK blossoms - Prince Andrew, and the former prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair have all paid visits this year and the Qatari prime minister was recently greeted at Nunber 10. Qatar now plays host to regiments of British expats, accompanied of course by the ubiquitous veterans from Australia and New Zealand.
On arrival, I was told by a long-time resident, "Don't expect Dubai." That outrider of the UAE's economic miracle is barely an hour away, a triumph of raw consumerism and bare-faced chutzpah. Qatar itself lacks nothing by way of ambition having recently tabled a credible though ultimately unsuccessful Olympic bid. The powerful Qatar sovereign fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, prowls the world's markets eyeing opportunities for big-ticket investment opportunities to diversify its impressive portfolio.
Certainly, then, expatriate life is interesting and challenging, but what of the expats themselves?
Well, Graham Greene, that often acid observer of Brits abroad would have found enough material here to pen a trilogy, or two. I fear he may have turned his sharpened pencil more deftly than I, to reflect the notion that expats can be a damnably unpleasant lot. As a recent arrival, I offer only a closely observed snap shot, nor am I blind to the attractions.
Solid, mid-range professionals arriving to work in Qatar, fresh from the commuter hell of the 6:30 Guildford to Waterloo red-eye, are instantly feted as "world-class" experts in one thing or another. Able to swap respectable, middling careers for gratis 6-bedroom villas, 4x4 leviathans, large tax-free salaries and domestic staff, the temptation to consider oneself important proves irresistible to some. The sudden elevation elicits a variety of responses, none stranger than those of some educated, middle-class, hitherto "professional career women". Women, who at home quite rightly demand equality in the work place, find themselves content to embrace the notion of a considerably more leisurely existence. The whiff of burning bras is less intrusive here than the aroma of pampered flesh, tanning poolside among the colonies of ladies who lunch.
Witnessing this sudden sense of entitlement in otherwise decent folk is shocking, but, where it finds true form, is in the conduct of expat offspring. Among expat communities, tales regaling the exploits of self-styled expat brats are legendary. These are children who, either born into an expat life or introduced to it at a young age, develop a definitive understanding of the master-servant dynamic and an even clearer grasp of their place in the matrix. Such children regard the obedient presence of domestic staff as a normal part of life. To such children it is acceptable to publicly chastise pathetically grateful domestics in a high-handed, Dickensian manner on the basis that they owe their presence in the country to the employing family.
The low-paid compound security guards, fresh from the poorer parts of Asia, dare not intervene as children lark about late at night in the compound. Both parties know that the guard is powerless to meaningfully chastise or enforce quiet without risking a disgruntled adolescent complaining to his bosses, and, as a result, possible deportation.
It must be a little like winning the lottery or unexpectedly being elected to high office - that instant infusion of self-importance that threatens even the best of intentions and the most earnest of hearts. The delicious irony is that many of the longer-term British expats return from trips back to the UK expressing horror at what they characterise as the growing lack of respect in the old country.
In fairness, many expats do lead quiet, productive lives. Many do work to bridge the gap between the low-paid labourers, labelled "blue boiler suits" and the privileged white-collar crowd; some are active in outreach and charitable work.
There is little doubt that the expat life offers rewarding opportunities; I welcome some aspects, while others leave me cold. It can be seriously frustrating, operating in a land where the service sector speaks very broken English at best and completing even basic tasks can be a major operation. It is true that these frustrations do little to inspire an egalitarian approach, but that is the point; frustrations are relative and those confronted by expats pale in comparison with those faced by the poor, illiterate, non-Anglophone workers in this country.
Experiencing life within a foreign culture is something to be encouraged. This pioneering spirit has been a vital strand of British life, one which has contributed to many good things, enriching our knowledge and contributions to the world, but sometimes at the cost of encouraging a delusional sense of our place in it. I am sure it is the bold rather than the brilliant who find their way to this life. Of course, there are exceptions, and I speak only generally. Yet reflecting on the behaviour of some of my fellow expats, I am puzzled; so many hitherto public-spirited types, grasp the opportunity to reinvent themselves, take on the trappings of elitism, forgetting perhaps that innovation rather than raw power is cherished in the modern world - something the British, famous for originality and, above all, courtesy and fair play, should know only too well.
Source: telegraph.co.uk 12 August 2008
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