Archive for the ‘Oligarchy’ Category

via Bill Gates vs. freedom

Bill Gates Versus Freedom-You DO NOT Want To Skip Reading This…You NEED To Know What It Is Warning You About
By Jon Rappoport 03/06/18: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/bill-gates-vs-freedom/ OR: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3571

“Under the surface of this global civilization, a great and secret war is taking place.

The two opponents hold different conceptions of Reality.

On one side, those who claim that humans operate purely on the basis of stimulus-response, like machines; on the other side, those who believe there is a gigantic thing called freedom.

Phase One of the war is already over.

The stimulus-response people have won.

In Phase Two, people are waking up to the far-reaching and devastating consequences of the Pavlovian program.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

“From the moment the first leader of the first clan in human history took charge, he busied himself with this question:

‘What can I say and do that will make my people react the way I want them to.’

He was the first Pavlov.

He was the first psychologist, the first propagandist, the first mind-control boss.

His was the first little empire.

Since then, only the means and methods have changed.” (The Underground, Jon Rappoport)

A thought-form is a picture-plus concept in the mind that tends to guide behavior.

A dominant thought-form in Earth civilization today is: universal rule through gigantic, highly organized structures; e.g., mega-corporations that owe no allegiance to any nation.

Imagine a few thousand such corporations with interlocking boards and directorates; colluding with super-regional governments and their honeycombed bureaucracies; combined with regional armies, intelligence agencies and technological elites; hooked to a global surveillance operation; in control of media; cooperating with the largest organized religions on Earth.

Imagine all this as essentially one organization—and you see the thought-form in its wide-screen version.

Top-down as top-down has never been before.

Functions and compartments defined and specialized at every level, and coordinated in order to carry out policy decisions.

As to why such a thought-form should come to dominate human affairs, the simplest explanation is: because it works.

But beneath that answer, for those who can see, there is much, much more.

Individuals come to think that “effective” and “instrumental” and “efficient” are more important than any other issues.

Keep building, keep expanding, keep consolidating gains—and above all else, keep organizing.

Such notions and thought-forms replace life itself.

The Machine has come to the fore.

All questions are now about how the individual sees himself fitting into the structure and function of The Machine.

Are human beings becoming social constructs?

Populations are undergoing a quiet revolution.

We can cite some of the reasons: television; education; job training and employment requirements; the Surveillance State; government organizations who follow a “zero tolerance” policy; inundation with advertising.

Yes, it’s all geared to produce people who are artificial constructs.

And this is just the beginning.

There are a number of companies (see, for example, affectiva.com) who are dedicated to measuring “audience response” to ads and other public messages.

I’m talking about electronic measuring.

The use of bracelets, for instance, that record students’ emotional responses to teachers in classrooms, in real time. (Bill Gates shoveled grant money into several of these studies.)

Then there is facial recognition geared to the task of revealing how people are reacting when they sit at their computers.

Push-pull, ring the bell, watch the dog drool for his food.

Stimulus-response.

It’s not much of a stretch to envision, up the road a few years, whole populations more than willing to volunteer for this kind of mass experimentation.

But further than that, we could see society itself embrace, culturally, the ongoing measurement of stimuli and responses.

“Yes, I want to live like this. I want to be inside the system.

I want to be analyzed.

I want to be evaluated.

I want to accept the results.

I want to be part of the new culture.

Put bracelets on me.

Measure my eye movements, my throat twitches that indicate what I’m thinking, and my brain waves.

Going to a movie should include the experience of wearing electrodes that record my second-to-second reactions to what’s happening on the screen.

I like that.

I look forward to it…”

In such a culture, “Surveillance State” would take on a whole new dimension.

“Sir, I want to report a malfunction in my television set.

I notice the monitoring equipment that tracks my responses to programs has gone on the blink.

I want it reattached as soon as possible.

Can you fix it remotely, or do you need to send a repair person out to the house?

I’ll be here all day…”

People will take pride in their ongoing role as social constructs, just as they now take pride in owning a quality brand of car.

The thought process behind this, in so far as any thought at all takes place, goes something like:

“If I’m really a bundle of responses to stimuli and nothing more, then I want to be inside a system that champions that fact and records it…I don’t want to be left out in the cold.”

Here is a sample school situation of the near future: for six months, Mr. Jones, the teacher, has been videotaped, moment by moment, as he instructs his class in English.

All the students have been wearing electronic bracelets, and their real time emotional responses (interest, boredom, aversion) have also been recorded.

A team of specialists has analyzed the six months of video, matching it up, second by second, to the students’ responses.

The teacher is called in for a conference.

“Mr. Jones, we now know what you’re doing that works and what you’re doing that doesn’t work.

We know exactly what students are positively reacting to, and what bores them.

Therefore, we’re going to put you into a re-ed seminar, where you’ll learn precisely how to teach your classes from now on, to maximize your effectiveness.

We’ll show you how to move your hands, what tone of voice to use, how to stand, when to make eye contact, and so on…”

Mr. Jones is now a quacking duck.

He will be trained how to quack “for the greater good.”

He is now a machine toy.

Whatever is left of his passion, his intelligence, his free will, his spontaneous insights, his drive to make students actually understand what they’re learning…all subordinated for the sake of supposed efficiency.

Think this is an extreme fantasy?

See the Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2012, “Biosensors to monitor students’ attentiveness”:

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an ‘engagement pedometer.’

Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.”

“The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms this fall [2012].”

“The biometric bracelets, produced by a Massachusetts startup company, Affectiva Inc, send a small current across the skin and then measure subtle changes in electrical charges as the sympathetic nervous system responds to stimuli.

The wireless devices have been used in pilot tests to gauge consumers’ emotional response to advertising.”

“Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.”

“Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, ‘only get us so far,’ said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation.

To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, ‘we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments’ such as the biosensors.”

“The Gates Foundation has spent two years videotaping 20,000 classroom lessons and breaking them down, minute by minute, to analyze how each teacher presents material and how those techniques affect student test scores.”

“Clemson received about $500,000 in Gates funding.

Another $620,000 will support an MIT scientist, John Gabrieli, who aims to develop a scale to measure degrees of student engagement by comparing biosensor data to functional MRI brain scans [!] (using college students as subjects).”

When you boil it down, the world-view represented here has nothing to do with “caring about students.”

It has everything to do with the Pavlovian view of humans as biological machines.

What input yields what response?

How can people be shaped into predictable constructs?

As far as Gates is concerned, the underlying theme, as always, is: control.

In this new world, the process of thinking and comparing and independently judging, and the freedom to make individual choices…well, for whatever that was worth, we can’t encourage it for a whole society.

It’s too unpredictable.

We don’t have time for that sort of thing.

No, we have to achieve reduction.

We have to seek out lowest common denominators.

This is what universal surveillance is all about; the observation of those denominators and the variances from them—the outlying and therefore dangerous departures from the norm.

“Well, we’ve tracked Mr. Jones’ classroom for a year now, and we’ve collated all the measurements of reactions from the students.

It was a wonderful study.

But we did notice one thing.

All the students showed similar patterns of reactions over time…except two students.

We couldn’t fit them into the algorithms.

They seemed to be responding oppositely.

It was almost as if they were intentionally defecting from the group.

This signals some kind of disorder.

We need a name for it.

Is it Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or is it new?

We recommend attaching electrodes to those two students’ skulls, so we can get a better readout of their brain activity in real time.”

You see, everything must be analyzed on the basis of stimulus response.

Those two students are suffering from a brain problem.

They must be.

Because if they aren’t, if they have the ability to choose and decide how to respond, then they have free will, and that can’t be measured.

Much deeper, that also suggests an X-factor in humans, wherein the flow of chemicals and atoms and quarks and mesons and photons don’t tell the whole story.

The rest of the story would imply the existence of something that is…non-material…above and beyond push-pull cause and effect.

The gatekeepers of this world are obsessed with ruling that out.

They guard Reality itself, which is to say, their conception of Reality.

They are willing to spend untold amounts of money to make that Pavlovian conception universally accepted and universally loved.

Because they own that conception.

They are the self-appointed title holders.

They are the kings of that domain.

I feel obligated to inform them that their domain is much, much smaller than they think it is.

And in the fullness of time, which is very long, the domain is going to fall and crack and collapse and disintegrate.

And all their horses and all their men won’t be able to put it back together.

Eventually, a man like Bill Gates will be forgotten.

He’ll be a small footnote on a dusty page in a crumbling book in a dark room on a remote island.

A morbid venal fool who chased, for a brief moment, fool’s gold.

There is an irreducible thing.

It’s called freedom.

It is native to every individual.

Sometimes it rears its head in the middle of the night, and the dreamer awakes.

And he asks himself: what is my freedom for?

And then he begins a voyage that no device can record, measure, or analyze.

If he pursues it long enough, it takes him out of the labyrinth.

Pavlov wrote:

“Mankind will possess incalculable advantages and extraordinary control over human behavior when the scientific investigator will be able to subject his fellow men to the same external analysis he would employ for any natural object…”

Basically, Pavlov was promoting the idea that whatever an individual perceives and feels about his own experience is a confused mess and an obstruction.

Rather, the individual should ignore all that tripe, and instead, allow himself to be a “natural object,” see himself as a clean and simple response mechanism, as planned inputs cause him to behave in various ways.

In other words, then he will have no life.

Bill Gates and other elite planners are working toward this end.

When Ray Kurzweil talks about hooking brains up to super-computers, he is envisioning a process of downloading that goes beyond choice.

Somehow, automatically, the brain and the individual (he apparently believes they are the same thing) will receive inputs that translate into knowledge and even talent.

This is another fatuous version of Pavlov.

In Brave New World, Huxley wrote:

“Hot tunnels alternated with cool tunnels.

Coolness was wedded to discomfort in the form of hard X-rays.

By the time they were decanted the embryos had a horror of cold.

They were predestined to emigrate to the tropics, to be miner[s] and acetate silk spinners and steel workers.

Later on their minds would be made to endorse the judgment of their bodies.

‘We condition them to thrive on heat’, concluded Mr. Foster.

‘Our colleagues upstairs will teach them to love it’.”

Stimulus-response.

If researchers developed this technology, who could doubt that elite planners would push it forward?

It would be the culmination of their dream.

The freedom of the individual, his innate capacity to make wide-ranging choices, is the monkey wrench in the program.

It is anti-stimulus-response.

This is why you would have to search far and wide to find, in one school, anywhere, on any level, a course that examines and promotes individual freedom.

It is anathema to the plan.

It is the silver bullet for the vampire.

Freedom comes from Within the individual, not from Without.

On the level of political control, freedom emerged and broke through during centuries of struggle.

Now, and in the future, every individual carries that torch.

So it is incumbent on the individual to understand the scope and meaning and power of his own freedom, and to decide for himself what his freedom is FOR.

What will he choose to launch from that great space?

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via Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich

Time To Make Life Hard For The Rich 03/01/18
Posted By Luther Blissett By Hamilton Nolan: Splinter: https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/03/01/time-to-make-life-hard-for-the-rich/ Or: https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3562

It is time for polite, respectable, rational people to start saying what has become painfully obvious: It is time to stop respecting the rich, and start stealing from them. In earnest.

Inequality is eating America alive. It has been growing for decades.

To say that “the American dream is dead” is no longer a poetic exaggeration—it is an accurate description of 40 years of wage stagnation and declining economic mobility that has produced a generation that cannot expect to live better than their parents did.

Not because of devastating war or plague, but because of a very specific set of rules governing a very specific economic system that encourages the accumulation of great wealth among a tiny portion of the population, to the detriment of the vast majority of people.

Our political and business leaders have chosen to embrace a system that favors capital over labor.

A system in which the more you already have, the more you make, and the less you have, the harder it is to build wealth.

It is a system designed to increase inequality.

It is functioning exactly as designed. And now, it is about to get worse.

How long are people supposed to tolerate being smacked in the face?

By the rich?

Who already have more than enough?

It is not as though the fact that inequality is a crisis is a fact that snuck up on anyone.

Economists have seen the trend for decades, and the general public has been well aware of it since at least the financial crisis.

Obama called it “the defining challenge of our time.”

Thomas Piketty became a rock star by writing a very dry book about it.

It’s not an underground thing.

It is well known and well understood by the people in control of the institutions with the power to change it.

The response to this dire situation by the Republican Party, which a wholly owned subsidiary of the American capital-holding class, has been to pass a tax bill that will horribly exacerbate economic inequality in this country.

It is a considered decision to make a bad situation worse.

It is a deliberate choice—during a time when the rich already have too much—to take from the poor in order to give the rich (including members of Congress and the President) more.

That is not a metaphor.

That is the reality.

That is what the Republican party is about to accomplish on behalf of the donor class, calling it “middle class tax relief” in the face of mathematical proof to the contrary.

Even to my cynical ass, the sheer fuck you-ness of this action towards the majority of the country is breathtaking.

This is not just a failure to solve a severe problem; it is the expenditure of vast amounts of political capital to make the severe problem worse so that a tiny handful of people will get wealthier than anyone needs to be.

Ideally, in a democracy, elected leaders reflecting the interests of the people would pass taxes and regulations to reverse the growing inequality here.

For that to happen, we would need to end gerrymandering and reform campaign finance and probably abolish the Senate and the Electoral College, and that’s just for starters.

It is not imminent, in other words.

Our broken political system, which is designed to reward money with political power, is actually moving in the opposite direction of a solution.

Who is suffering because of this?

Most Americans.

Certainly the bottom 50% are acutely suffering—money that would have been in their paychecks has been instead funneled upwards into the pockets of the rich.

Every desperate family that has found themselves coming up short for rent or food or medicine, every American who has downgraded her dreams and aspirations because they became financially implausible, has been directly harmed by the political and economic class war perpetuated by the rich, even if they cannot see the perpetrators with their own eyes.

I think that people have been more than patient in the face of this slow-moving crisis.

In 2009, when the markets crashed and millions were laid off, nobody rioted and kidnapped the financiers and burned their homes.

The outcome of that lack of direct action is the situation we find ourselves in today.

Violence against people is morally wrong and a bad way to solve problems.

But capital is different.

One thing that would help to create the political environment conducive to solving the inequality problem would be to make the cost of accumulating all that capital too high to be worth it.

In other words, to create a downside to being too rich.

I have personally stood in a room full of hedge fund titans and billionaire investors warning one another explicitly that inequality must be addressed lest the U.S. become a place like Latin America, where rich people are forced to live behind walls, surrounded by armed guards, because of the very real risks from the rage of the poor.

Rich people in this country do not want to live like that.

If they see that they must stop being so greedy in order to enjoy their own freedom, they will stop being so greedy.

Those conditions have to be created by people who want justice.

Our situation is absurd.

Not since the Gilded Age has it been more clear that a few people have too much.

Furthermore, the people with too much are investing in political clout to give themselves more.

It’s just wrong.

If the government won’t help, we have to help ourselves.

Sticking up a billionaire on the street for $100 is not going to do it.

But one can imagine other ways that angry Americans might express their dissatisfaction with our current division of wealth:

A large-scale online attack against the holdings of the very rich; yachts sunk in harbors; unoccupied vacation homes in the Hamptons mysteriously burned to the ground.

Sotheby’s auctions swarmed by vandals, Art Basel attacked by spraypaint-wielding mobs, protests on the doorsteps of right-wing think tanks, venomous words directed at millionaires as they dine in fancy restaurants.

People have a right to life and safety, but property does not.

A life spent screwing the little people so that you can acquire lots of stuff loses its allure when you know that all that stuff will be smashed to pieces by angry little people.

It is not hard to put together a list of those who should be targeted—Forbes publishes it every year.

Likewise, public campaign finance records give us a pretty good idea of exactly who is funding the politicians who are perpetuating this economic war on behalf of the rich.

It is nice to imagine a grand, well-targeted computer hack that would neatly transfer billions of dollars out of the accounts of, say, the Walton family and into a charity account that would disburse the money to the poor in untraceable ways.

That seems far-fetched.

Realistically, what people can do now is to start thinking about ways to make it uncomfortable to be too rich.

Socially uncomfortable and otherwise.

When the accumulation of great wealth ceases to be a praiseworthy endeavor and instead becomes viewed as a sick, greedy pastime whose only reward is the hatred of your fellow citizens and the inability to live comfortably without fear of your excessive property being destroyed, rich people will rethink their goals.

Until then, inequality will keep rising, and everything, for most people, will continue to slowly, slowly get worse.

via Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village

Freedom Is a Myth: We Are All Prisoners of the Police State’s Panopticon Village [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/16/freedom-is-a-myth-we-are-all-prisoners-of-the-police-states-panopticon-village/]
Posted By Luther Blissett By John W. Whitehead: The Rutherford Institute 02/16/18

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.”— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in Great Britain 50 years ago, The Prisoner—a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka”—confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned, monitored by militarized drones, and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village.

The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two.

“I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.”

Still, he refuses to give up.

“Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unfunny, unsettling Groundhog’s Day that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body.

Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower.

Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government—i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be—and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing.

The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.”

And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors.

It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984—where “you had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized”—has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minute, sidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programs, police body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp—the panopticon prison—the Village—in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants.

They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed.

Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more.

Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function.

That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end.

No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Even now, the Trump Administration is working to make some of the National Security Agency’s vast spying powers permanent.

In fact, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pushing for Congress to permanently renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows government snoops to warrantlessly comb through and harvest vast quantities of our communications.

And just like that, we’re back in the Village, our escape plans foiled, our future bleak.

Except this is no surprise ending: for those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior, we never stopped being prisoners.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up.

Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual.

The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think.

Think for yourself.

Be an individual.

As McGoohan commented in 1968:

“At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom.

As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are all prisoners of our own mind.

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us.

And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized.

Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.

What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.

Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared we would become a captive audience.

Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture.

Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble-puppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us.

Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

You want to be free?

Break out of the circle.

via Corporate giant Unilever demands crackdown on oppositional Internet content

Corporate Giant Unilever Demands Crackdown On Oppositional Internet Content
Posted 02/15/18 By Luther Blissett By Will Morrow: WSWS.org [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/02/15/corporate-giant-unilever-demands-crackdown-on-oppositional-internet-content/; https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3541%5D

The drive to censor the Internet took another step this week with a public statement by Keith Weed, the chief marketing officer for the London-based multinational Unilever, threatening to withdraw advertising from social media platforms if they fail to suppress “toxic content.”

Weed reportedly told an annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in Palm Desert, California that the company “will not invest in platforms or environments” that “create divisions in society, and promote anger or hate.”

He added, “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”

Excerpts of Weed’s remarks—the most explicit of their kind from a major corporate executive—were leaked to several media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

They were immediately featured on NBC News and other major American news outlets on Sunday.

The Journal’s report was accompanied by an interview with Weed.

The coordinated release was designed to escalate the propaganda offensive by the Democratic Party and US intelligence agencies, together with the corporate media, for Internet censorship.

The fraudulent premise for this assault on freedom of speech, both in the US and across Europe, is the claim that political opposition and social tensions are the product not of poverty, inequality and policies of austerity and militarism, but of “fake news” spread by Russia through social media.

Weed’s statements preceded yesterday’s US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, which witnessed a series of hysterical denunciations of Russia by politicians and intelligence agents.

The Democratic vice-chairman of the committee, Mark Warner of Virginia, declared that Russia “utilized our social media platforms to push and spread misinformation at an unprecedented scale.”

Facebook responded to Weed’s threats by declaring, “We fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.”

The Journal stated that Unilever “has already held discussions” with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon “to share ideas about what each can do to improve.”

Weed absurdly framed his demand for censorship, made on behalf of a multibillion-dollar global corporation, as the expression of popular anger over the supposed spread of “fake news.”

He referred to research showing a decline in trust in social media and a “perceived lack of focus” in the form of “illegal, unethical and extremist behavior and material on” social media platforms.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, he claimed to be articulating the concerns of consumers over “fake news” and “Russians influencing the US election.”

In reality, the intervention by Unilever—a consumer products behemoth with a market capitalization of $157 billion and annual revenues of $65 billion, more than the gross domestic product of many countries—only highlights the economic and political forces driving the censorship campaign: an alliance of the military/intelligence apparatus, giant technology firms and the corporate-financial oligarchy.

Unilever’s annual marketing outlays of nearly $9 billion place it in the top five companies in that category globally.

It owns dozens of brands used by some 2.5 billion people around the world, including Dove soap, Rexona deodorant and food products Cornetto, Magnum and Lipton.

Weed’s statements amount to a declaration that Unilever will use this economic power to filter what the world’s population can and cannot read online.

This is in line with a long and reactionary tradition.

Large advertisers played a significant role in enforcing the McCarthyite witch hunt of socialist and left-wing figures in the US during the late 1940s and 1950s. General Motors, DuPont, Reynolds Tobacco and other major companies were backers of the notorious anticommunist periodical Counterattack, which published names of suspected communist sympathizers and forced the removal of targeted performers and critical content from programs they sponsored.

In one of many such cases, the blacklisted Jean Muir was dropped from the television show “The Aldrich Family” after General Foods, the program’s sponsor, told NBC it would not sponsor programs featuring “controversial persons.”

In another development, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet), told a Code Media conference in Los Angeles that Facebook “should get back to baby pictures and sharing.”

The statement is a reference to Facebook’s announcement last month that it is deprioritizing news content on its News Feed in favor of “personal moments.”

The change is one of a number of recent measures to prevent Facebook users from accessing news and analysis outside of officially sanctioned corporate outlets.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday released a government-developed application that uses machine-learning algorithms to automatically detect ISIS-related content in videos so that it can be censored.

The BBC wrote that the tool was seen by the government as a way to demonstrate that its “demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable.”

Rudd stated, “The technology is there. There are tools out there that can do exactly what we’re asking for,” i.e., identifying and censoring video content. The new application will be provided free of charge to smaller video hosting companies, and the government will consider making its use legally mandatory.

The Washington Post, which along with the New York Times has been at the forefront of the censorship campaign, linked the UK government’s announcement to the intervention of Unilever, writing that it came “amid mounting pressure on social media companies to do more to remove extremist content from their platforms.”

via The mandate to overthrow mainstream news

The Mandate To Overthrow Mainstream News
By Jon Rappoport 0/12/18 https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/the-mandate-to-overthrow-mainstream-news/

Pick just one global issue—vaccination.

There is an elite movement underway to install universal shots for everyone, and the voices of major media are relentless and brutal in demanding this, while attacking those who know something is terribly wrong and harmful in the program.

The media are voices of, yes, anti-science.

They do what they do best—fake it.

On a grand scale.

They are the lunatics, leading generations to their toxic doom.

They are urging humankind over a cliff.

They are the Final Solution to health—as in: destroying it.

Take the issue of expanding the number of shots given in a short period of time.

NO proper studies have been done to assess the safety/danger of injecting children and adults with multiple toxins, such as aluminum, mercury, and formaldehyde.

Any reasonable human would insist that such studies be done, prior to increasing the toxic load on the body.

The media conveniently overlook and ignore this obvious necessity.

At what point does their blindness pass from being depraved indifference to active participation in a universal crime?

We are long past that point.

And still, the media pretend they are “the friends of humanity.”

That attitude has always been the tactic of tyrants.

“Take this poison. It is life-affirming and life-giving.”

That pose is sufficient to warrant a mandate: overthrow mainstream news.

Expose it, gut it, shine a light on its liars and fakers.

Don’t let up.

Don’t give up.

Media leaders and apparatchiks have sold their souls to the vaccine cartel.

They are the faceless bureaucrats of a death machine.

Recognize them for who they are.

Depict them for who they are.

Men and women with blood on their hands.

No amount of posturing and primping and claims of authority will change that.

The media say—“experts at the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization assure us…”

More posturing.

The experts are trained liars.

They are no more qualified to offer advice than monkeys living in trees.

You could say the entire explosion of independent media is based on one insight: why should we believe the so-called experts?

From that flow thousands of discoveries.

In my 35 years of working as a reporter, I’ve seen the faces of mainstream journalists who have left the fold.

I’ve seen those ugly and self-entitled faces riven with decay come back to life.

I’ve seen the deep guilt and grief lift in a new dawn.

I’ve seen those men and women pick up the sword of truth, finally, and turn into heralds of a new era.

You want magic?

This is magic.

This is the turning of the tide.

—No longer playing defense. Instead, going on the attack—

For several of these reporters, the turning point was the 14-year smallpox eradication campaign waged in Africa, with a highly dangerous and destructive vaccine even “the experts” were nervous about.

The experts knew the vaccine, given to people whose immune systems were already compromised, would cause smallpox and death—and they knew many of the 100 million vaccinations in Africa were given to people whose immune systems were, in fact, already teetering on the edge of oblivion.

The reporters also knew that, after the World Health Organization celebrated the eradication of smallpox in Africa, the searing truth came out in a secret meeting in Geneva.

The vaccine must never be used again.

It was causing smallpox.

One reporter told me, “There was no coming back from that. Once I found out what happened, I had to get out of the news business.”

He “went independent.”

Some years ago, a reporter told me no amount of “negative information” would ever convince him to stop defending vaccination.

I wrote to him:

“Someday, up the line, it’s going to hit you like a ton of bricks.

You’re going to listen to the people who really know—the mothers who watch their health happy babies fold up and leave the world after getting a shot.

You’re going to experience something you never thought possible.

And yet, in contrast to the mothers, it will be nothing.

You’ll feel like a fish yanked out of the water and forced to breathe air.

One thing will save you.

The truth.

Pick it up.

Use it…”

Share this:

By Jon Jeter 02/02/18 [https://www.mintpressnews.com/its-not-the-dow-stupid-underpaid-workforce-imperils-us-and-global-economies/237090/]  https://wordpress.com/post/randrewohge.wordpress.com/3530

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe — all but eradicating inflation, and radically devaluing work relative to capital.

NEW YORK — “It’s Not a Roar,” read the first-edition headline for the New York Times business article published January 27, “but the Global Economy is Finally Making Noise.”

A death rattle, perhaps?

Try as they may, the mainstream media simply cannot prepare for public viewing the gaping wound to the head that murdered the U.S. economy.

Never mind the Dow, the Fed Funds rate, or Apple’s latest earnings report, the cause of death is really quite simple: work is underpaid.

If we are to raise the economy from the dead, the American worker needs a raise.

For all intents and purposes, when adjustment is made for inflation, workers in the private sector haven’t had a pay increase in nearly 30 years.

That’s not just a problem for wage-earners who find they have too much month left at the end of their paycheck, but for an entire global economy that depends on consumer demand in the U.S.

With our paychecks shrinking, the workforce in the U.S. has resorted to borrowing more and more money — to buy a new car, fix a broken tooth, or finance the kids’ college education — to make up for the loss in buying power. Such forced borrowing, at the interest rates typically charged by lenders, only deepens the consumer cash crunch.

Poor & Getting Poorer

Said Jane, who raises chickens with her husband at their central Texas ranch: “Everyone I know is poor and getting poorer.”

As we struggle to pay down the mountains of credit-card debt, monthly insurance premiums, car loans, or skyrocketing utility bills, we spend less and less on new stuff.

Rosa Luxemburg called this cycle “underconsumption;” more modern economists call it debt deflation.

What it all means is that Laura of New Jersey makes very few new purchases these days.

The monthly premiums on the state exchange she, her husband and two sons enrolled in increased last month from $1,750 to $2,350.

Well actually, that’s not quite true. It would’ve cost that much had she and her husband continued with the same plan but, with college tuition for their second son bearing down on them, they decided to downgrade to a less expensive plan, which costs only $2,000 a month.

And that’s only for catastrophic coverage; they have a $6,000 deductible — and, even when coverage does kick in, it only pays for half their health care costs.

“So we send our kids to the doctor,” Laura told MintPress. But she and her husband “do not go.”

When her oldest son went off to college four years ago, he was fortunate enough to receive scholarships that paid about half of the $50,000 annual bill, leaving Laura and her husband to foot the rest.

Her youngest son starts college in the fall, and they are looking at adding possibly another $60,000 in annual expenses.

“Most of our woes came from the economic crash of 2008,” she said, when her husband lost his job in publishing.

“We just never recovered.”

Only creditors have. Since onerous debts triggered the 2008 meltdown, households, businesses and governments have merely borrowed 43.8 trillion more dollars, Sonja Gibbs, Senior Director of Global Capital Markets for the Institute for International Finance, told MintPress.

Happy Days Are Here Again-For Whom?

The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets have joined President Trump in his State of the Union Speech in cuing up “Happy Days are Here Again” because their high-rolling advertisers and constituents are heavily invested in restoring consumer confidence — if not income levels — and encouraging more shopping sprees to grease the wheels of a dried-up demand economy.

The contradiction is that the mainstream media have consistently been a cheerleader of the very policies that have robbed American consumers of their buying power.

Despite their proclamations to the contrary, the country has never recovered from the financial ruin of 2008 that was triggered by the collapse of an overpriced real estate market.

It is true, as the Obama Administration claimed, that many banks had become “too big to fail,” although he failed to mention that that development was the result of laissez-faire government enforcement of antitrust and anti-monopoly regulations.

But rather than force banks to accept a “haircut” or write down the loans on their balance sheets to help jumpstart consumer spending, Obama’s Treasury department did just the opposite — effectively pouring gasoline on a fire by loaning the banks billions in low-interest loans to re-inflate the asset bubble that popped in 2008.

The result is the best-of-times, worst-of-times quality that characterizes the relationship between the country’s wealthiest 1 percent and everyone else, with stock market indexes — and poverty rates — at or near historic highs.

The Plutocrats Rearrange The Financial Universe

What’s important to note is that the dispossession of workers in the U.S. is a man-made catastrophe, and is the culmination of the plutocrats’ concerted 45-year effort to undo the stagflation crisis of 1973, and, if possible, ensure that it never happened again.

At the heart of the crisis was inflation, caused by pay hikes for the U.S. workforce, that was running as high as nine percent year-over-year at that time.

Workers, generally, don’t mind moderate levels of inflation because they have more cash in their pockets — and indeed, poverty levels in 1973 were at an all-time low.

Conversely, creditors consider inflation a type of financial fraud in which they loan a borrower $100 but get only $95 back.

“It is clear to me,” David Rockefeller wrote in 1971 to his fellow Chase Manhattan board members, “that the entire structure of our society is being challenged.”

As many labor historians — most notably, Kim Phillips-Fein – have documented, today’s savage inequalities are rooted in that epoch when labor unions were strong, factories were humming, oil prices high, and wages were causing inflation to climb.

Over a period of 40 years, capitalists like Rockefeller, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have completely rearranged the financial universe, all but eradicating inflation, which hasn’t increased by more than 3 percent annually in nearly 30 years.

But, as theorists as diverse as Hegel and Luxemburg have noted, this reversal of fortune is a case of Wall Street biting its nose to spite its face.

As the Marxist economist Richard Wolff notes in describing Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, an employer reflexively moves to pay his workers as little as possible, and yet his prosperity is wholly dependent on workers earning enough money to buy his products and services.

With workers’ buying-power in decline, big business has had to resort to smoke-and-mirrors to generate profits.

Stock prices for companies such as Apple, for example, aren’t skyrocketing because of robust sales, but because the company is borrowing money at low-interest rates to repurchase its own stock and drive up the price.

One Great Economic House Of Cards

In his latest book, The End of Normal, University of Texas Economics Professor James Galbraith — the son of the great Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith — asserts that the 2008 crisis wasn’t just part of a normal macroeconomic cycle but the culmination of a political economy that lost its way beginning in the 1980s. Galbraith told MarketWatch last month:

I think there are really major changes in the structure of the economy going forward.

The share of business investment has been quite low, share of construction has been very low, and that means the economy is being driven increasingly by the consumer.

The consumer is dependent upon the access to debt, auto loans, consumer loans and student loans.

Those things will build up over time until such time as there is a crack and households decide that they no longer wish to access the credit — at which point this phase of the expansion will end.”

It might, in fact, be time to ask the New York Times the question that a reporter for Fortune Magazine, Bethany McClean asked Enron’s Chief Financial Officer in March of 2001.

Suspecting that the now-discredited energy-services firm was cooking its books, McClean — according to the 2005 documentary on Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room — asked the chief financial officer in a telephone call a question he could not answer, setting in motion a chain of events that revealed that the whole enterprise was a house of cards:

“How exactly does Enron make its money?”

via Financial Tyranny: ‘We the People’ Are the New Permanent Underclass in America

Posted By Luther Blissett 01/22/18 [https://desultoryheroics.com/2018/01/22/financial-tyranny-we-the-people-are-the-new-permanent-underclass-in-america/]

By John W. Whitehead-The Rutherford Institute

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” ― Frédéric Bastiat, French Economist

Americans can no longer afford to get sick and there’s a reason why.

That’s because a growing number of Americans are struggling to stretch their dollars far enough to pay their bills, get out of debt and ensure that if and when an illness arises, it doesn’t bankrupt them. [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]

This is a reality that no amount of partisan political bickering can deny.

Many Americans can no longer afford health insurance, drug costs or hospital bills.

They can’t afford to pay rising healthcare premiums, out-of-pocket deductibles and prescription drug bills.

They can’t afford to live, and now they can’t afford to get sick or die, either.
[https://www.thenation.com/article/the-devastating-process-of-dying-in-america-without-insurance/]

To be clear, my definition of “affordable healthcare” is different from the government’s.

To the government, you can “afford” to pay for healthcare if your income falls above the poverty line.
That takes no account of rising taxes, the cost of living, the cost to clothe and feed a household, the cost of transportation and communication and education, or any of the other line items that add up to a life worth living.

As Helaine Olen points out in The Atlantic [https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/medical-bills/530679/]:

“Just because a person is insured, it doesn’t mean he or she can actually afford their doctor, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other medical bills. The point of insurance is to protect patients’ finances from the costs of everything from hospitalizations to prescription drugs, but out-of-pocket spending for people even with employer-provided health insurance has increased by more than 50 percent since 2010.”

For too many Americans, achieving any kind of quality of life has become a choice between putting food on the table and paying one’s bills or health care coverage.
It’s a gamble any way you look at it, and the medical community is not helping.

Healthcare costs are rising, driven by a medical, insurance and pharmaceutical industry that are getting rich off the sick and dying.
[https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/us/health-insurance-affordable-care-act.html]

Indeed, Americans currently pay $3.4 trillion a year for medical care.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

We spent more than $10,000 per person on health care in 2016.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/heres-how-much-the-average-american-spends-on-health-care.html]

Those attempting to shop for health insurance coverage right now are understandably experiencing sticker shock with premiums set to rise 34% in 2018.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/25/most-popular-obamacare-plans-cost-average-of-34-percent-more-for-2018.html]

It’s estimated that costs may rise as high as $15,000 by 2023.

As Bloomberg reports [https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-19/rising-health-insurance-costs-blunt-employees-paycheck-gains]:

“Rising health-care costs are eating up the wage gains won by American workers, who are being asked by their employers to pick up more of the heftier tab… The cost of buying health coverage at work has increased faster than wages and inflation for years, pressuring household budgets.”

Appallingly, Americans spend more than any developed country on healthcare and have less to show for it.
[https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/08/us-health-care-spending-is-high-results-arenot-so-good.html]

We don’t live as long, we have higher infant mortality rates, we have fewer hospital and physician visits, and the quality of our healthcare is generally worse.

We also pay astronomical amounts for prescription drugs, compared to other countries.

Whether or not you’re insured through an employer, the healthcare marketplace, a government-subsidized program such as Medicare or Medicaid, or have no health coverage whatsoever, it’s still “we the consumers” who have to pay to subsidize the bill whenever anyone gets sick in this country.

And that bill is a whopper.

While Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) may have made health insurance more accessible to greater numbers of individuals, it has failed to make healthcare any more affordable.

Why?

As journalist Laurie Meisler concludes: “One big reason U.S. health care costs are so high: pharmaceutical spending. The U.S. spends more per capita on prescription medicines and over-the-counter products than any other country.” [https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-health-care-spending/]

One investigative journalist spent seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, drug companies, and medical equipment manufacturers.

His findings confirmed what we’ve known all along: health care in America is just another way of making corporations rich at consumer expense. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

An examination of an itemized hospital bill (only available upon request) revealed an amazing amount of price gouging. [https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/wildly-overinflated-hospital-costs/]

Tylenol, which you can buy for less than $10 for a bottle, was charged to the patient at a rate of $15 per pill, for a total of $345 for a hospital stay.

$8 for a plastic bag to hold the patient’s personal items and another $8 for a box of Kleenex.

$23 for a single alcohol swab.

$53 per pair for non-sterile gloves (adding up to $5,141 for the entire hospital stay).

$10 for plastic cup in which to take one’s medicine.

$93 for the use of an overhead light during a surgical procedure.

$39 each time you want to hold your newborn baby.
[http://mbamedical.com/10-rediculously-overpriced-hospital-charges/]

And $800 for a sterile water IV bag that costs about a dollar to make.

This is clearly not a problem that can be remedied by partisan politics.

The so-called Affordable Care Act pushed through by the Obama administration is proving to be anything but affordable for anyone over the poverty line. [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/09/feds-obamacare-site-does-biggest-business-yet-while-half-people-can-pay-0/847903001/]

And the Trump administration’s “fixes” promise to be no better.

Indeed, for too many Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle just to get by, the tax penalty for not having health insurance will actually be cheaper than trying to find affordable coverage that actually pays for care. [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/27/us/obamacare-affordable-care-act-tax-penalties.html]

This is how the middle classes, who fuel the nation’s economy and fund the government’s programs, get screwed repeatedly.

When almost 60% of Americans are so financially strapped that they don’t have even $500 in savings [http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/12/pf/americans-lack-of-savings/index.html] and nothing whatsoever put away for retirement, and yet they are being forced to pay for government programs that do little to enhance their lives, we’re not living the American dream. [https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/13/heres-how-many-americans-have-nothing-at-all-saved-for-retirement.html]

We’re living a financial nightmare.

We have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used, but that doesn’t prevent the government from fleecing us at every turn and forcing us to pay for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.

We have no real say, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow.

George Harrison, who died 16 years ago this month, summed up this outrageous state of affairs in his song Taxman:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

In other words, in the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than indentured servants and sources of revenue.

If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.

Consider:

The government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.

Government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.

And the IRS insists on getting the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.

It wasn’t always this way, of course.

Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property. [https://fee.org/articles/john-locke-natural-rights-to-life-liberty-and-property/]

It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War.

As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]

Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894.

Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived.

Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.

On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. [https://www.npr.org/2010/12/08/131913228/A-History-Of-Income-Tax]

Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.

It’s all gone downhill from there.

Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.
[http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/09/business/supreme-court-ruling-supports-tax-protester.html]

Irwin A. Schiff was one of the nation’s most vocal tax protesters.

He spent a good portion of his life arguing that the income tax was unconstitutional.

He paid the price for his resistance, too:

Schiff served three separate prison terms (more than 10 years in all) over his refusal to pay taxes.

He died at the age of 87 serving a 14-year prison term.

As constitutional activist Robert L. Schulz noted in Schiff’s obituary [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/business/yourtaxes/irwin-schiff-fervent-opponent-of-federal-income-taxes-dies-at-87.html]:

“In a society where there is so much fear of government, and in particular of the I.R.S., [Schiff] was probably the most influential educator regarding the illegal and unconstitutional operation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s very hard to speak to power, but he did, and he paid a very heavy price.”

It’s still hard to speak to power, and those who do are still paying a very heavy price.

All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.

The national debt is $20 trillion and growing.
[http://www.usdebtclock.org/]

The amount this country owes is now greater than its gross national product (all the products and services produced in one year by labor and property supplied by the citizens). [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

We’re paying more than $270 billion just in interest on that debt annually. [http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/17/5-facts-about-the-national-debt-what-you-should-know/]

And the top two foreign countries who “own” our debt are China and Japan.

To top it all off, all of those wars the U.S. is so eager to fight abroad are being waged with borrowed funds.

As The Atlantic reports: [https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/cost-wars-iraq-afghanistan/499007/]:

“For 15 years now, the United States has been putting these wars on a credit card… U.S. leaders are essentially bankrolling the wars with debt, in the form of purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds by U.S.-based entities like pension funds and state and local governments, and by countries like China and Japan.”

If Americans managed their personal finances the way the government mismanages the nation’s finances, we’d all be in debtors’ prison by now.

Still, the government remains unrepentant, unfazed and undeterred in its money grabs.

While we’re struggling to get by, and making tough decisions about how to spend what little money actually makes it into our pockets after the federal, state and local governments take their share (this doesn’t include the stealth taxes imposed through tolls, fines and other fiscal penalties), the police state is spending our hard-earned tax dollars to further entrench its powers and entrap its citizens.

For instance, American taxpayers have been forced to shell out $5.6 trillion since 9/11 for the military industrial complex’s costly, endless so-called “war on terrorism.” [http://www.newsweek.com/how-many-trillions-war-has-cost-us-taxpayer-911-attacks-705041]

That translates to roughly $23,000 per taxpayer to wage wars abroad, occupy foreign countries, provide financial aid to foreign allies, and fill the pockets of defense contractors and grease the hands of corrupt foreign dignitaries.

Mind you, that staggering $6 trillion is only a portion of what the Pentagon spends on America’s military empire.

That price tag keeps growing, too. [http://www.futurity.org/post-911-costs-of-war-1602682/]

The 16-year war in Afghanistan, which now stands as the longest [http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/21/news/economy/war-costs-afghanistan/index.html]and one of the most expensive [https://theconversation.com/iraq-and-afghanistan-the-us-6-trillion-bill-for-americas-longest-war-is-unpaid-78241]wars in U.S. history, is about to get even longer and more costly, thanks to President Trump’s promise to send more troops over. [https://www.vox.com/world/2017/9/19/16227730/trump-afghanistan-3000-troops-mattis]

In this way, the military industrial complex will get even richer, and the American taxpayer will be forced to shell out even more funds for programs that do little to enhance our lives, ensure our happiness and well-being, or secure our freedoms.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower warned in a 1953 speech:
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense.
[http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/ike_chance_for_peace.html]

Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

This is still no way of life.

Yet it’s not just the government’s endless wars that are bleeding us dry.

We’re also being forced to shell out money for surveillance systems to track our movements, money to further militarize our already militarized police, money to allow the government to raid our homes and bank accounts, money to fund schools where our kids learn nothing about freedom and everything about how to comply, and on and on.

Are you getting the picture yet?

The government isn’t taking our money to make our lives better.

Just take a look at the nation’s failing infrastructure, and you’ll see how little is being spent on programs that advance the common good.

We’re being robbed blind so the governmental elite can get richer.

This is nothing less than financial tyranny.

“We the people” have become the new, permanent underclass in America.

It’s tempting to say that there’s little we can do about it, except that’s not quite accurate.

There are a few things we can do (demand transparency, reject cronyism and graft, insist on fair pricing and honest accounting methods, call a halt to incentive-driven government programs that prioritize profits over people), but it will require that “we the people” stop playing politics and stand united against the politicians and corporate interests who have turned our government and economy into a pay-to-play exercise in fascism.

We’ve become so invested in identity politics that label us based on our political leanings that we’ve lost sight of the one label that unites us: we’re all Americans.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the powers-that-be want to pit us against one another. [https://www.amazon.com/Battlefield-America-War-American-People/dp/1590793099]

They want us to adopt an “us versus them” mindset that keeps us powerless and divided.

Trust me, the only “us versus them” that matters anymore is “we the people” against the police state.
We’re all in the same boat, folks, and there’s only one real life preserver: that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution starts with those three powerful words:

“We the people.”
The message is this: there is power in our numbers.

That remains our greatest strength in the face of a governmental elite that continues to ride roughshod over the populace.

It remains our greatest defense against a government that has claimed for itself unlimited power over the purse (taxpayer funds) and the sword (military might).

As Patrick Henry declared in the last speech before his death:

“United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions … or … exhaust [our strength] in civil commotions and intestine wars.”

This holds true whether you’re talking about health care, war spending, or the American police state.