Archive for February, 2013

Pluto’s Cosmic Impact

February 27, 2013

Abstract: There is a real, serious impact threat, from small asteroids, and, much worse, long period comets. Yet our great leaders are not too interested, because they prefer the world population as they will it to be: ignorant, despondent and impotent. Cutting science budgets in the guise of austerity helps. So they are busy cutting: austerity for humanity, and anything that makes the honor of mankind, wealth for those who lead us towards oblivion.

A world unwilling of solving problems to the point of being incapable to do so, is perfect for those who profit from the established order, and yearn for divinizing celebrities and more exploitative stagnation rather than real progress and empowerment of the commons.

Far Away Meteor’s Fireball: 27 Kilometers High (90,000 ft)


The comet problem is a case in point. It’s perfectly solvable. But it is left unsolved as a paradigm that unemployment is better than all and any alternative, including cosmic catastrophes. The ways of Pluto are subtle, and vicious.

Don’t ask for whom austerity tolls, it tolls for thee, and any science, wisdom or knowledge you may want to acquire. Admire the celebrities: they are the best lives you will ever get.
***

In less than four years, two nuclear explosion sized asteroid impacts were observed over continental plates. One was more than four times the power of the Hiroshima bomb (Sulawesi in Indonesia, 2009), the other was 33 times Hiroshima (Urals, 2013). So much for the notion that these things are rare and innocuous events. Just above land, I know of four explosions of city killers in 105 years.

(There have been eyewitnesses of major explosions at sea, too; a scientific debate is ongoing about whether there was a truly giant, country killer impact south of New Zealand, 5 centuries ago.)

Only 1,500 people were hospitalized by the shock waves of the Ural meteor, because as luck had it, the meteor was on a grazing trajectory when it collided with the atmospheric wall. It streaked through the wall sideways for 32.5 seconds before experiencing three explosions. The first one, and strongest, happened 27 kilometers above the Urals, 60 kilometers south of the center of a city habitated by one million people.

If the asteroid had been a minute late, on the same trajectory, Tokyo may have been hit. If the meteor had been 30 seconds ahead, on the same trajectory Moscow, moving at 30 kilometers per second, would have caught up with the meteor. In either case, the damage on the ground would have been considerable, and massively lethal.

Why? Because the angles of entry would have been much sharper in either case than they were above the Urals. So the asteroid would have delivered its 500 kilotons, 33 times Hiroshima, much lower. Low enough for either capital to have been partly disintegrated.

For those who want to have a good laugh, zombie style, let them be appraised of the following fascinating twist. The deliriously clever Soviets had installed an automatic nuclear retaliation system (“Dead Hand”) in case Moscow had been destroyed by surprise by the vile capitalists. (Western Strategic Submarines could have hit Moscow in three minutes, hence the hair trigger paranoia.)

“Dead Hand”, also known as “Perimeter” , worked by detecting flashes and seismic waves, and then firing nuclear tipped rockets automatically. The Russians have been coy about whether the system is still in use. May be that is why Putin was so ashen faced when speaking about the Ural meteor. Putin may have been told of my little computation above: 30 seconds or so later, and the meteor may have released 500 kilotons above the Kremlin.

When the folly of men insults the might of heavens, fireworks are guaranteed…

The debate about space impactors has been deflected towards the wrong problem, the obviously silly red herring, the problem one should not worry about, the non dangerous problem. That’s indeed the case when an asteroid CAN be deflected.

Deflection, per se, means one has decades to do it. Thus it is not an emergency, by definition. Why to assume celestial mechanics and happenstance will be that accommodating? Is the Solar System a restaurant where one makes reservations when one feels like it? Of course not. Thus asteroid deflection is the wrong problem. Asteroid deflection is a bit like worrying about being eaten by a shark while skiing out of bounds. What needs to be addressed is a different problem, impactor interception & destruction.

Why so much talk about deflection, when annihilation of the offender should be the focus? Why so much denial? Why change the conversation from a clear and present danger, to talk about a red herring?

The real danger is long period comets: they are huge, unpredictable, undetected, and the warning would come only with months to spare.

So why don’t we talk about them?

Is this blatant denial related to other difficulties we are experiencing, such as the Greater Depression, the Asphyxiation of the Biosphere with man-made greenhouse gases, the Waning of democracy, the Blossoming of Plutocracy? Yes to all.

The refusal to solve the space impactor problem is a baby example of the mood that enables the rule of plutocracy rather than the rule of reason for all.

One avoids to talk about the cosmic difficulty at hand to avoid a mood that plutocracy finds politically dangerous: solving problems and one can, you know, before we know it, solve the problem of rogue finance, corrupting fossil fuel industry, etc …. As NASA put it in 2012:
“For non-technical reasons, nuclear explosions would likely be a last resort, but IT IS ALSO THE MOST POWERFUL TECHNIQUE…
The nuclear option would be usable for objects up to a few kilometers in diameter.”

Nobody Can Resist Me

Nobody Can Resist Me


So what are we waiting for? Well we are waiting for plutocracy to keep on impacting our world ever more deeply. That’s what the plutocrats want. They want to deeply impact civilization with the sheer glory of their rule.

As I write this the threats of austerity cuts are already affecting the science budgets in the USA by more than 5% (from the looming “sequester”, which has already forced scientific agencies to implement thousands of cuts). In the European Union, scientific cuts are turning into a massacre.

Indeed, in the European Union, the cuts to the scientific budgets are in excess of an unbelievable 13%. Another victory for Kanzler Merkel and the very wealthy heir, David Cameron! Instead of cutting science, why don’t the politicians put a 93% tax on multi-millionaires, to finance science and education?

Putting a 93% tax on the wealthiest is what Republican president Eisenhower did to reimburse the World war Two debt. So why not? Why to throw the baby, but not the dirty bath? Answer: because the politicians would lose the friends that will make them so incredibly rich tomorrow. Politics would not be a lucrative career anymore.

This is a point Beppe Grillo is making in Italy, and now he has 18% of the Italian Parliament to show for it.
OK, Eisenhower taxed the wealthy when Lincoln’s party was really republican, instead of being thoroughly plutocratic, as it is now. In Eisenhower’s time, millions of citizens of the USA could go to the most advanced schools, for free. Including Medical School. Somebody will a normal job could feed a family and provides it with a roof without excessive debt (now a couple can barely do that with 2 jobs and excessive debt, as long as oil is not too expensive).

The mood the careerists such as Cameron, Merkel and the so called Republicans in the USA, want to avoid absolutely, is the mood of solving the problems at hand, with the technology at hand.

Indeed such a mood could impact hard plutocracy itself. Plutocracy is an even mightier threat for civilization than any comet. Any comet could be dispatched with a 200 Megatons thermonuclear bomb, should be act swiftly. In other words, disposing of a comet would be a technological project much easier to implement than getting rid of plutocracy. Why? Common people would understand that something four kilometers across at 40 kilometers per second would affect them adversely.

Yet, common people have been hypnotized into believing that plutocracy is their best friend. It’s their new religion. They salivate when beautiful people show up on the screen. they live through them. They don’t feel like the lobsters they are, slowly cooked for dinner.

Solving problems is a very bad habit for a society to have, when it wants plutocracy to rule. Because plutocracy itself is a problem. The worst chronic problem. So one may fear that plutocracy itself would be solved, by problem solvers… As it was under the Roman republic, for five centuries.

Roman emperors, the “Princeps”, those “First men in Rome” who stole power from the republic, were fully aware of this. So they avoided solving problems scrupulously. One could make a curve of problems solved by the Roman state, and see that it goes down to basically zero once the fascist empire started to rule in full.

A society that makes a habit of solving problems will solve excessive plutocracy first. because only the intelligence of the People is freed from celebrity cult, and starts to contemplate the universe at large. That is why one observes that highly innovative societies were also highly revolutionary socially, and cut down to size their own plutocracy. First.

For example the golden age of Greece was preceded by massive, well, drastic, revolutions, starting with the draconian Draco himself in Athens (around 622 BCE) Sparta would later free Athens from tyranny). And of course Solon in Athens, probably inspired by Draco.

During the French revolution, in 1792, as plutocratic armies invaded the country from all direction, the Polytechnique and other engineering schools were founded. The idea was to defend the homeland of human rights supreme with smarts. Immediately new explosives were invented at Polytechnique, and put to good use at Valmy, a few miles from Paris, to stop the Prussian Duke of Brunswick, who had promised to do to the Parisians what Hitler would do to the Jews, nearly two centuries later (tradition, tradition…)

Thus the Beatles were wrong when they sang hypocritically against revolution… (While racking the cash, and rubbing against the plutocratic order; Mc Carney married the Kodak heiress…) The revolutionary spirit infects all dimensions, once it’s allowed to grow in one of them.

During World War Two, the USA functioned pretty much as an equalitarian republic. Old French revolutionaries, ancient republican Romans, 22 centuries ago, Athenians 25 centuries ago, would have recognized the spirit immediately: out of the many, one, liberty, equality, fraternity… And plenty of ideas. The US navy in the Pacific, or the scientists involved in the atomic bomb project were pretty much self governing bodies, guided by truth.

Solving problems leads to an obsession with truth. Thus, if one wants to avoid the truth, one better stick to avoiding problems, and the solutions they bring. Thus the Roman emperors discouraged paradigm changing technology. As the mood of changing what could be changed could prove contagious, and thus threaten the order they ruled over, they astutely felt.

In the case of the threat of a space impactor, the solution is obvious. It calls for maximal, but existing, technology. The interception of the offensive object with a thermonuclear bomb is only rocket science, not Quantum science. It’s nothing off the shelf.

But to decide to do what can be done, and could do it efficiently, would recognize the preponderance of the metaprinciple that establishing an order of more or less vital priorities and taking care of high ranking priorities ought to rule over economic considerations.

It is this (meta)psychological subtlety that holds back Spaceguard.

After the Ural meteor’s strike, the Russian Prime Minister called for constructing Spaceguard. This would be intolerable to the world financiers and profiteers: if one used economic power for something useful, would not the world of finance supreme look irrelevant? Where would the spirit of enterprise stop? With finance’s heads on spikes?

Better to stick to the usefully childish, such as the muscle bound Princess of the USA (see the note about the meaning of the word “Princess”) giving a “best movie” award to still another motion picture glorifying wars of the USA in the Middle of Eurasia.

Such movies are much useful, to the plutocratic order. Hollywood seems to have a factory churning them out, and the Main Stream Media (“60 Minutes”, say) re-iterate the message.

Such movies, with their partial view of history, insure that We The People of the USA learn what a continual pain the Middle Easterners have been directing towards the USA, ever since they have oil, and have to be continually encourage to fork it all over to Wall Street.

Iran is particularly insensitive that way, as the USA worked hard changing the government there after the Iranian People voted for the wrong guy (Mossadegh) in the early 1950s. Then the USA installed by a real Shahanshah (“King of Kings”) with the help of its friend of the CIA, Khomeini. It’s good to be reminded of all this, and celebrate the “greatest country on Earth” (Shall we give it the title of Country of Countries?).

So never mind comets, asteroids, H bombs and heady stuff. Celebrities is where it’s at. Muscle and glitter. Now Sandberg, the Facebook woman, before that the Google woman, and before that, for more than a decade, the Larry Summers/Financial derivatives woman, since he got to meet her as an undergraduate when he was president of plutocratic Harvard, is coming out with a book to teach women how to succeed. I guess, that’s done the old fashion way, by meeting the right guys and accumulating that way a “stellar resume“.

They sleep, thus they rule, and they are even sleeping at the wheel.

Those who rule know how to take care of what’s important in the universe: the awe that become them. Let the universe take heed.
***
Patrice Ayme
***
Note: Ms Obama is given the title of ‘First Lady’. Yet, as anybody who knows Latin will testify, this is exactly what “Princess” means! It’s wonderful to discover that aristocracy is as American as motherhood.

Fragile Earth Syndrome

February 19, 2013

Abstract: The Earth is already all too close from being getting all too hot, from its astronomical position at the interior edge of the Sun’s Habitable Zone.

The Greeks viewed Gaia, the Earth, as the Mother Goddess from whom all other gods sprang. Yet, discoveries they made later showed that this metaphysics was misleading. In truth, habitable planets, far from being all powerful, are confined to narrow zones around their stars (and these zones move, and are under continual threat, as I describe below):

Sun Like Stars Are Most Hospitable.


Vertically the masses, going up, the unit being the mass of the sun; as stars gets bigger, they get hotter, thus they change color, covering the entire black-body spectrum, from brown dwarves to blinding ultra violet hot “Blue Stragglers”.

Horizontally, the distance from the star; the graph gives only a rough idea of the notion of Habitable Zone; in truth the whole point of this essay is that Earth is at the edge of Sol’s Habitable Zone, within 1% of boiling; Habitable Zones narrow as the stars get smaller, and get much larger, far out, around bigger stars.

The life of Earth on the edge has got more dicey in the last 400 million years. Thus the risk of hyper warming is greater than in the Carboniferous Era. By pumping into the atmosphere the equivalent of 100 million tons of CO2, every single day, we are, literally, playing with fire. (A first counter-measure would be to outlaw, through regulations, those gases that warm up the air a lot, and are not indispensable; for example leaks in the pipelines of the USA allow 4% of the CH4 to escape!)
***

The two close calls by large space rocks were a reminder that this is a serious, not particularly friendly universe. Something to meditate carefully.

Those who play apprentice sorcerers with the climate and planetary ecology should pay attention.

For reasons having to do with the periodic table, the frequency of elements and the chemical characteristics of carbon, namely its ability to form many liaisons, it seems likely that life in the universe will have to resemble life on Earth. That is being water, carbon and oxygen based. (Believing that life does not have to be carbon-centric may sound cute, but it’s unreal.)

Thus the habitable zone is the zone around a star where it is neither to hot, nor too cold, and a planet can support water.

Not all stars can have an habitable zone: the greater the mass of a star, the more fiercely it burns. A star with five times the mass of the sun will typically have 625 times the luminosity of the sun.

Why? In small stars, the part of the core hot and dense enough to sustain thermonuclear fusion is relatively small. In large stars, it becomes enormous, and embraces much more of the thermonuclear fuel tank.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

For Stars, Mass Is Everything.

Thus, the larger the mass, the shorter the lifespan of the entire system orbiting the star. A star with 60 solar masses will shine only 3 million years before running out of hydrogen. At that point it will run hotter and hotter as it burns heavier elements until it explodes as a super nova. A star of five solar masses will live longer, but still only 100 million years or so. Long enough to make it a tourist destination, not long enough to evolve life (all the more as the habitable zone will migrate out fast, as the stellar furnace gets hotter, fast).

Even a star with only 50% larger mass than the Sun will live only three billion years. On Earth, after that duration, the first oxygen making organisms were appearing, and the atmosphere was going to change completely, from reducing to oxidizing. That would bring the “Snowball Earth” episodes, 600 million years ago, or so, when most of the planet froze, before enough CO2 could be generated to reach the appropriate greenhouse effect.

Clearly, for evolving advanced life, more than a billion years is needed. Thus planets with indigenous life will be restricted to red and yellow dwarves (the sun is one of the latter, with an estimated lifespan of ten billion years before turning ephemerally into a red giant).

The 2012 sci-fi (silly) movie “Battleship” has it right on that point: most of the habitability is found cuddling next to red dwarf stars, so that aliens would be blinded by our sunlight is likely. This also means that life out there has a good probability to have evolved in what, for us, would be rather dim circumstances. Indeed most stars are red dwarves and those are the longest living stars, easily going on for 15 billion years (they use their thermonuclear fuel conservatively).

Some red dwarves could have evolved life, in our Milky Way galaxy, when our sun, a mighty yellow dwarf, did not exist yet. Such stars, with their habitable planets, could still be around.

Being in the habitable zone is necessary for life, but it’s not sufficient.

For example, any planet orbiting too close to its star will lock its orbital rotation and its diurnal rotation (as the Moon has with the Earth). Thus the planet will have one side too hot for life, and the other too cold.

That means that when red dwarves become too small, their habitable zones, get too close, and would-be habitable planet lock down. (Venus, although 100 million kilometers from the Sun is nearly locked: it rotate on itself slower than it does around the Sun.)

The Earth is totally exceptional. She is endowed with a huge satellite that stabilizes her inclination on the orbital plane (Mars’ inclination on the elliptic varies wildly, causing wildly fluctuating super-seasons). This resulting, constant and mild inclination allows the poles to not get too cold, and the tropics, not too warm: it spreads the goodness of sunlight around.

Earth is also a mighty nuclear reactor, providing with the shield of a powerful magnetosphere (Venus does not have any, so its upper atmosphere is scorched by the solar wind), and plate tectonic (allowing for a complex recycling mechanism involving CO2 and long term climate stability).

The present, sort of official, habitability zone theory is 20 years old. It showed that Earth was within 5% of receiving too much warmth from her star. What has been found by the latest study is even more disturbing: Earth is within 1%, 1.5 million kilometers of inhabitability (5 times the Earth-Moon distance).

Earth is, astronomically, at risk of getting too hot, and of suffering a run-away greenhouse, as Venus did.

Long ago, Venus may have been in the habitable zone. However, general main sequence star theory, and observation, show that the Sun has warmed up. Its power output has increased by at least 25% since it got started. So the habitable zone in the Solar System has been slowly moving outward.

Why did the Earth cool over the last 100 million years, if the sun is slowly warming up? It probably has to do with non linear effects related to the geometry of the continents: the continents migrated north, and shallow tropical seas disappeared. The migration of land towards the north augmented the albedo of the Earth (as land stays frozen in summer more easily than sea, ice and snow keep reflecting more sunlight back to space, even then; that’s the core of the two centuries old glaciation theory).

So, as Earth should have warmed up, by a miracle, a sun shade, the glaciated North, was put in place, just in time!

Not all the coolness is due to ice and snow. Earth, before very recent human interference, had long been endowed with a cool climate. It seems that clouds make the difference (the effects clouds bring are too complex to be taken into account in computer programs of habitability at this point).
It’s a double edged sword. Water vapor may bring more clouds, but it is also a mighty greenhouse gas.

Still the point remains that all the objective data show that, our planet is not far, astronomically speaking, from a runaway greenhouse. By keeping on pumping a witches’ brew of greenhouse warming gases in the atmosphere, we are, literally playing with fire. Every day we add nearly 100 million tons, in CO2 alone, in our apparent urge to mimic Venus.

Pumping 450 million years of carbon into the air all of a sudden is not smart: Earth has had plate tectonics from the start, so much of this carbon was sequestered. Now we are freeing huge quantities of it… and in a geological, and biological, snap.

All other things being equal, the Earth is closer to inhabitability through warming than it was 400 million years ago (when the CO2 was very high). Having the same CO2 in the air as in the Carboniferous Era would result in a warmer planet.
To make things worse, there are no plausible technological fixes to too much CO2 in the atmosphere (with existing science and technology; and contrarily to disinformation from the fossil carbon burning fanatics).

In between the high- and low-mass stars lie stars similar to our own Sun. They make up about 15% percent of the stars in the galaxy. Such stars have reasonably-broad Habitable Zones, do not suffer from hard UV irradiation, have lifetimes of the order of 10 billion years. They are the best candidates for harboring planets with indigenous life.

Intriguingly, the three stars of the Alpha Centauri system may harbor life. The system is made of two main yellow dwarves, one slightly bigger, one slightly smaller than the sun. They come as close to each other as Saturn is from the Sun (not close enough to affect each other Habitable Zones directly).

A planet was just detected, grazing the .9 solar mass Alpha Centauri B. (We have the means to find out if the system supports life, but NASA and the Congress of the USA, shut down the projects, in an apparent fit of obscurantist anti-science rage; one of them called the Terrestrial Planet Finder; Alpha Centauri would be reachable with nuclear propulsion.)

The stability of orbits (hence of the Habitable Zones) in the Alpha Centauri system has been debated. Many a stellar system has been found where giant planets have progressively swept the entire system. And we are always one giant comet away from extinction. That could happen in 6 months. And we don’t know, because we are apparently not interested to find out. (Although the mightiest nuke could solve that problem, that would require some preparations.)

Life exists in the cosmos, everywhere, but it’s fragile. Everywhere. Including on so far invincible fortress Earth. Invincible, but still so fragile.

3,000 years after the Greeks elaborated their mythology, we find out that, contrarily to what they guessed, Earth is far from the mother of all what is divine. There are greater powers out there… The worst of them being, potentially, ourselves.

As a star goes up the main sequence, its Habitability Zone moves out. So we should be careful to think we can reconstitute the conditions of the Carboniferous Era, by pumping as much CO2 in the air as there was then, and prosper.

Everything indicates that we will punch straight trough.
***
Patrice Ayme

Indebted To Lies

February 12, 2013

LIVING IN DENIAL ABOUT DEBT A PLUTOCRACY MAKES:
Abstract: Too many illusions governing, and a civilization dissolution guaranteed. A vast conspiracy extending from the financial right to the self conscious “liberal” elite, including the honorable conscientious liberal, Paul Krugman, claims that there is not that much of a debt problem in the USA.

Yet, a careful examination of the numbers and concepts involved shows that the esteemed pundits who howl urbi et orbi that there is no debt problem, coolly propose to steal Medicare and the Social Security Trust Fund.

This is pretty typical of the eerie manipulations that the powers that be engage in. Official progressives living in mansions end up in total solidarity with the plutocracy. One shudders at the possibilities.

Servicing Our Lords

Servicing Our Lords


Servicing too much debt is servicing plutocracy too much, and denial is its prophet.
***

UNDERESTIMATING DEBT IS AN ECONOMIC DRAG:
Why did the presidency of Obama bring only change that we can’t see? Bush has been gone more than 4 years. Yet, the giant tax loopholes for the hyper rich are still in place (including “carry interest“!).

Not to worry, say many of the self proclaimed liberals and progressives opinion makers. In their latest tactic, they claim that there is no debt problem in the USA. They observe contently that interest rates have never been so low, that the deficit has disappeared from places such as the state of California, and that Obama’s reforms have been the “f… big deal“, as the robust Biden said, and Krugman confirmed.

What that self satisfied elite omits is that interest rates are low because the economy is not recovering. In a self amplifying loop, total debt (also called “leverage”), so easy to acquire with low interest, so stifling to serve later, is obviously a factor.

Because debt is accompanied with interest, too much debt means too much interest paid. At the limit, the debtor owns nothing, the debtor pays interest all day long, and the debtor becomes a serf.
***

WHEN DEBT EXPLODES INTO SLAVERY:
Servitude from debt did not just happen in the Middle Ages. And it does not just happen to individuals.

In 2011 and 2012 Italy’s real economy was doing rather well: a bigger industrial sector than Great Britain, and no PRIMARY deficit (the USA primary deficit is 7% of GDP). Yet, Italy was engulfed in a catastrophic debt crisis.

How come? International investors asked for unsustainable interest to renew Italian debt.
Why they got in that mood, pouncing on Italy instead of Britain, say, is very complicated; but one of the factors is the madness of crowds; another, of course, is that the plutocracy has had a multi-generational conflict with France, and the Eurozone, or even the EU, is viewed as a dangerously French amplification machine.

During that crisis, Italian deficit (that is how much debt is added each year) came to be caused entirely by added interest on very old debt. (Total Italian debt was 121% of GDP when the interest rates charged to that country exploded.)

Greece went through something similar, just way worse (some Hellenic interest rates went above 100%).
Long ago, I advocated that Greece should default. This is what was done, in the end, because there was no other choice (although the default involved most of the governmental debt, Greece still owes hundreds of billions of euros, something that will have to be reduced further).

The European debt crisis abated in the second part of 2012 thanks to three factors. The most important factor was that unambiguous signals were given that France and Germany would do whatever it took to preserve the European banking system.

Thus the European Central Bank (ECB) was given a green light to stretch its mandate, and resort to USA style “Quantitative Easing” (QE). (The Europeans use another term than “QE”, in the hope that one does not feel they are just Americans infeodated to private finance as the government of the USA is!) QE consisted into sending a trillion euros to private banks, in the hope that they will show a profit. In the USA, QE has given to the banks more than 8 trillion dollars (about half of the yearly GDP). (See note on liabilities.)

The other cause of the abatement of the European debt crisis has been a ferocious crack down on deficits. Italy has no primary deficit, Germany has no deficit whatsoever. Even France is breaking hard to try to bring her deficit around 3% in 2013. Spain’s unemployment, now at 26%, keeps climbing, but the government helps ever less (after years of a delirious construction binge).

As Europe imports much of its energy, the climb of the euro, a consequence of these healthier finances, is viewed positively (it forces European industry to excell, a ball Switzerland and Germany got rolling, to great success.)
***

WHEN DEBT CUTS INTO THE BONE:
Many countries are overdoing the austerity: Germany has no deficit, but it’s interior demand has long been very weak, as it rested on the likes of Greek and Iberian madness. Now the German economy is contracting. In Great Britain, savage cuts are proving self defeating: the deficit is still above 7%, the country is rolling again in recession, with long term GDP numbers worse than in the depression of the 1930s.

David Cameron, an extremely rich scion, Britain’s chief, thinks smart to duplicate the degeneracy that afflicts the USA, ever since Reagan imposed Voodoo economics. Thanks to Cameron, it can cost 10,000 euros to attend public university in the UK. Such cuts, should they stick, guarantee that the historical strength of the West, intellectual power, will sink in England, as surely as the Titanic.

California does not have a deficit, Paul Krugman boasted. Sure. Because of horrendous cuts, through the muscles, into the bones. Say in education: the, supposedly public, University of California charges California residents more than $12,000 in tuition, about a quarter of the median USA family income. Another sneaky deficit fighting measure is to let children enter primary school a year later. Meanwhile health costs considerably more to the public, thanks to genial Obamacare.

No more education, no more health, while Paul Krugman, self proclaimed “conscience of a liberal”, extols California as an example. The hyper rich have something to celebrate, many of the richest of the elite still pays no taxes, thanks to loopholes that the media never talks about (while the working stiff pays nearly as much tax as in France, without any of the free stuff there).
***

LET’S LIE ABOUT FEDERAL DEBT: WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Paul Krugman, much of the New York Times and much of the official left, claim that there is no debt problem in the USA: the debt is only 73% of GDP (less than France or even Germany). This chorus has recently been joined by the Congress Budget Office (CBO) and the Wall Street Journal.

And yet… The debt ceiling has been broken through. The ceiling was at 16,4 TRILLION. Total debt is now crossing $16.5 trillion. The USA GDP is around 15 trillion. Thus the debt is 111% of GDP, as the IMF says, it’s not 73% as many democrats claim.

USA Debt/GDP Worse Than During WWII

USA Debt/GDP Worse Than During WWII

(The green line above depicts what would have happened if Reagan had balanced his budget instead of practicing the Voodoo Economics that debt did not matter.)

If one tried to point to that fact, the 111% debt, the New York Times censorship bureau was long in the habit to find such news unfit to print, and would censor them immediately. They did this to me, dozens of times. I amused myself seeing the liberally correct establishment crack down on this apparently anti-liberal notion. the real extent of the debt. Another trick was to publish unfavorable comments informing me that I “did not know what I was talking about”, and should “do [my] homework“.

The Economist, apparently recognized that there was something good in this conspiracy to underestimate the debt. So it nebulously recognized that the debt was “actually 25%” higher than 73%. That is 100% of GDP.
But, as I said, the total USA debt is above 111% of GDP, and growing by 1% every two months. Not exactly a viable proposition. Those who deny this are, on the face of it, just sycophants of the present economic-financial system. As it is, the USA cannot apply to the European Union, on financial grounds alone. Ironical.

Debt is not computed in the same way in Europe and the USA. First, one has to distinguish “gross” public debt and net public debt. Net public debt subtracts fiscal assets (cash, bonds, shares) owned by the government.

When Europeans talk about the debt their states owe, they talk about the gross debt. That makes a huge difference due to the many assets owned by European states.

The French government could argue French debt is not that bad, because it owns shares in Renault, EADS, etc. The Greek government is busy selling various assets it owns to reduce its debt (countless islands, etc.).

But this is not the mentality ruling the bean counters in the USA. There those who want to under-estimate the debt of the government of the USA, far from being rigorous as the Europeans, go to the opposite extreme. They do NOT take into account the money borrowed FROM Medicare and the Social Security “Trust” Fund. Those who want to underestimate the debt of the USA do not count government bonds owned by the Social Security Fund since it is seen as one arm of government having a claim on another arm of the government.

This sleight of hand reduces the debt/GDP of the USA from 111% down to 73%. In other words, according to this subterfuge, the government general fund does not have to reimburse the five trillion dollars it owes to Medicare and Social Security. Paul Krugman and many at the New York Times and the CBO find this conscientious and liberal.
***

LITTLE DEBT, IF WE STEAL SOCIAL SECURITY & MEDICARE:
The debt situation shows that many of the many prominent American liberals are actually not liberal at all. They just play one on TV. Because the most important message they have about the Federal debt of the USA is that, the money owed to Medicare and the Social Security TRUST Fund is actually ZERO.

It’s cool with the New York Times, Krugman and company, if the government stole five trillion dollars to We The People. How conscientious and liberal is that?

But why should we be surprised? Did not the same crowd embrace Obamacare’ public subsidies to private healthcare plutocrats?

Some say that there is no danger. They assume that government bonds will stay as worthy in the future as they are now. Yet this will happen if, and only if the Greater Depression we are in extends indefinitely. If the economy happens to improve significantly, there is no way that the present bonds, with their extremely low returns, would interest investors. So the bonds would lose most of their value.

As the money those bonds used to represent would still be due to Medicare and Social Security, it could either be stolen outright, from The People, or it could be raised from taxing The People once again, for the same thing as they taxed for, before.

Hence ignoring the part of public debt held by the… public, through public institutions is sustainable, if, and only if, the economy keeps on sinking. How progressive.
***

TAX FREE RIDERS, TAX CARBON, SPURN UNPRODUCTIVE DEBT, EMBRACE JOBS:
So? Are the loud progressives dominating the media actually regressive? Would that be, by any chance, entangled with their membership in the plutocracy serving oligarchy?

By underestimating the debt problem, the problem of the present economy can keep on being underestimated. A huge deficit can insure that money can keep on been thrown at the People. And that the free riders will keep on riding for free.

Whereas what we The People need, to be fully satisfied, is jobs. Jobs don’t just bring money, but empowerment, pride, satisfy the instinct of utility, mental, and physical activity. A society where People work is fully human, a society where People don’t work, is not.

By realizing how severe the crisis is, jobs can be brought over to bear on the peoblem. Just to make sustainable energies work, millions of jobs have to be created.

Because those jobs would be profitable by definition, they are worth getting indebted for.

Take for example power lines. Power lines are needed because sustainable energy tends to jump around in space and time; lots somewhere sometimes, and then somewhere else, another time. Germany has wind in the north, sun in the south. Washington State has much hydro power in early summer, and not enough power lines to get it out. Much power line work is needed all over.

Windmills work. Especially the latest types, offshore. A problem, though, is that the wind does not blow all the time, or when needed. The same problem affects solar energy. Power lines cannot solve it all. But dams can remedy the rest.

In the case of offshore wind, the solution is obvious: artificial, multibillion dollars islands, to turbine up water in artificial reservoirs, when demand is slack. To build all these islands will surely be a lot of work.

Mandated weatherization of homes and buildings is another obvious target (that is done in some European countries such as France, but not in the USA, where the Obama administration just gave subsidies to weatherize one million homes; a completely different activity, as it redistribute taxpayer money, instead of leveraging private economic activity… without using any taxpayer money).

So here we are: face the debt problem. It’s enormous. Debt ought not to be used for everyday expense, but only for worthy investments, as used to be the case.

And if there is too much debt, the solution is not crushing taxes on salaried people (top tax margin in California is 52%, although the truly hyper rich still pays nought, as they are not salaried…) Nor is the solution savage cuts. Instead the tax system ought to be overhauled: make the richest individuals and corporations pay tax, and make the richest economic activity pay tax too (for example financial transactions ought to pay tax, like all other transactions do; 11 countries of the Eurozone have decided to do so.

Another obvious revenue generator is a worldwide carbon tax. If the USA cooperated with the European Union there, instead of opposing it ridiculously, the tax would become reality so fast it would have a positive economic effect right away. Verily the least carbon burners can do is to pay for the damage they are causing to the biosphere.
***

SERVICING CAPITAL IS LESS IMPORTANT THAN SERVICING NATURE:
On the most macroscopic scale, debt services the most wealthy persons, those who have the capital. That’s OK, civilization needs capital. For worthy investments. It’s not OK, when it gets out of control, and debt becomes a way of life.

By insisting that Federal debt of the USA is only 73% of GDP, one lives in denial. One more denial in a web of illusions. Too many illusions governing, and a civilization dissolution guaranteed.

At this point, we can emulate the immense Khmer empire around 1300 CE. We can refuse to change so long, that we cannot change when we are forced to. With one million inhabitants, the capital, Angkor, was perhaps the world’s largest city, larger than China’s Hangzhou. However, the Khmer devastated their ecology, precisely by doing as we do now: using up all the carbon around. That deforestation caused a massive drought, combined with intense floods, and the combination killed the capital of Angkor.

Maybe the Khmer were paralyzed by the debt they were servicing, and, certainly, they were paralyzed by the plutocracy that they were servicing.
What they needed to do was to repair the giant reservoirs they depended upon, that were fillong up by debris from the floods. And stop the deforestation. And they needed to do this in timely manner, when they still had the power. They waited too long, weakened, and were invaded.

The Maya also waited too long in a huge ecological crisis they contributed to, along the same lines. So it was with Sumer: deforestation, drought, salination, biblical (literally!) flood…

Rome went through something similar, long enough to debate the problem. However, the plutocracy barred the way to go further than that.

It’s always the same pattern: not working hard on the ecological problems, when they could still be solved, because one is paralyzed by a self obsessed plutocracy.

Why underestimate the debt difficulties of the USA, while maximizing bad rhetoric about those of Europe? Is there a pro-American cult out there? Not really. It is more a cult of capital, and underestimating the debt one owes to capital is part of it.
***
Patrice Ayme
***

Note on liabilities: Liabilities are more general than debt. Although this is too arcane to deal with here, QE extends the liabilities of the central banks, and one can view it as augmenting considerably, maybe 50%, German or French debt… But of this no one never talks. For example although USA debt is nearly $17 trillion, all the liabilities of the government of the USA go beyond $62 trillion…

Where Did Money Go?

February 5, 2013
Plutocracy Rising

Plutocracy Rising

This graph says it all. Yet, I showed it to a PhD in physics, who told me it was not understandable “because the axes are not labelled“. I was floored. After I pointed out that all the information needed was on the graph, my friend got very upset. (Yes, surprisingly, I still have a friend or two.)

Thanks to the clash with that friend, I realized that, although this sort of graphs, where two, or more, data streams are compared for relative change, are common in economics and finance, it’s not the case in physics!

So let me be very explicit for the plebs, educated ot not, out there: the picture above shows that, although productivity, that is, basically, GDP, kept on climbing, since 1980, those producing the augmentation of the GDP, the workers, did not see payments commensurate to that augmentation they caused. Money was produced, but it did not go to the average compensation.

How to interpret this graph then? The graph says that people at the top have been making all the supplementary riches produced ever since president Reagan came to power to implement the notion that the rich created the world. And that they would create some more of the world, if only they got even richer. That is, if only the wealthy got more of the world for themselves to keep, they would make more of it.

Strange mathematics, weird economics. Hey, nobody said that Reagan was an intellectual!

Money circulates, Reagan, his goons and clowns correctly argued. Right. So it had got to come back, somehow, the goons gloated. Right, money comes back. Owned by others. How does it come back?

Well by having the plebs, the rabble, the commons down below, those who serve the Rich and make the world worthy and beautiful for the Rich, BORROW BACK the money who had been stolen from them, when productivity was stolen from them.

Thus, thanks to Mr. Reagan tweaking of society and the tax code, most of the population was forced to borrow money instead of earning it.

An example is education: by making, de facto, public universities private, Reagan and the plutocratic sycophants who succeeded him, forced the student of the USA to borrow ever more. Now the total student debt, in the USA, is around a trillion dollars. An argument I know the Obamas understand (because they lived through it).

But there are other examples: by dismantling the public federal psychiatric system, Reagan decreased public spending, while allowing the crazies to roam the streets (that the plutocrats don’t mind, as they live in gated communities!).
Then, of course, Nixon had already created the Health Maintenance Organization system, a public financing of the for profit health care (something reminiscent of Obamacare).

This is the exact same mechanism that created the European Feudal system. By 600 CE, everybody was a Frank. By 658 CE, the slave trade was outlawed in the Imperium Francorum, slavery became irrelevant. Soon all and any religious establishment was forced to provide all and any child with secular education.

By 800 CE, Charlemagne, who lived very modestly for such a great emperor, pushed further for universal education. Although Charlemagne was the most warring emperor known until then, he was surrounded by top philosophers, some of them even from the British Isles, and that made him one of the most progressive emperors, in 5,000 years of historical civilization. This situation of deliberate progressivism perdured for at least two generations, until the reign of Charles the Bald.

So how come, if the Frankish empire, for centuries strived towards equality, five centuries after Charlemagne, Europe had turned into a monstrous plutocracy, with so called “aristocrats” all over, and the commons, equal in the eyes of the law, often treated worse than dogs?

Borrowing. Massive borrowing.

Frankish Europe had fallen into one conceptual trap, while simultaneously invaded by savages from all over. So Frankish Europe had plenty of excuses. The trap was European disunion. The savages, the Islamist Terrorists, the Vikings and the Mongols (“Avars”) attacked, attracted by the riches of Europe: after 800 CE, per head, Europe was the richest, and, consecutive to over-democratization, was not as well defended as its riches called for.

The reaction was to develop a military-industrial system centered around hyper trained, heavily armored knights, the sort no other country had, the sort that had devastated the fleeing Muslims after Poitiers (732 CE) and crushed light Muslim cavalry at Narbonne (737 CE). Militarily, it worked: Frankish knights were unstoppable: they rolled back the Muslims over the entire Mediterranean, and put an end to Constantinople’s independent Roman power (1204 CE). They were so unstoppable, that even the Huns, after suffering heavy losses in Hungary, decided to leave Francia alone, and made military alliances instead with the Franks in the Middle East (fall of Damascus, and Baghdad).

Thus the rise of plutocracy in the European Middle Ages happened for a very good reason: when one confronts unfathomable evil, as invaded Europe did, invaded on three fronts, one does better with a bigger Pluto on one’s side. Still the Franks of Clovis would have disagreed: although they had consented to give Clovis the powers of a Roman imperator (something crucial to destroy the Goths at the battle of Vouille’, 507 CE, for example), they drew the line of the Gini index (the inequality index) at that point.

Right now, there is no reason to call onto Hades, Pluto, Satan and a satanic organization of society. Historical examples, all the way back to Pharaonic Egypt, Crete, Classical Greece, and Rome, let alone the Franks themselves, show that an equalitarian republic is the most militarily capable society. (So why did the Franks develop an aristocracy centered on heavy cavalry, starting in 732 CE? Well, emergency. Charles Martel knew the Arabs of the Damascus Caliphate were going to be back, and he set up an enormous cavalry in 5 years.)

However, right now the West is militarily dominant (thanks to heavy taxes in a couple of countries, including, first of all, the USA and France). Thus there is no existential excuse for what is going on today.

All what is going today is a pure plutocratic effect, when the rich have got so rich that they can buy the republic. Fortunately, we are still at a point where the plutocratic effect can be rolled back.

Eleven countries of the European Union, following France and including Germany, have just passed a financial transaction tax (all other transactions are taxed, so why not the financial ones? All the more since the financiers are the richest!).

Now, miracle of miracles, Obama seems to have unchained himself. A bit. The Justice department is suing Standard and Poors (the rating agency owned by Warren the big Buffet plutocrat) for fraud in its ratings. OK, it’s only a civil lawsuit, not a criminal one.

When Django got unchained, he fired big bad guns on big, bad guys. Now Obama is unchained, look at him, firing his water pistol. *Sigh*.

So where did all the money go? To the rich, their mansions, their private jets, their guarded communities, their bodyguards. How is it coming back? By paying feudal servitude to the lords, same as 1,000 years ago.

Where is money not going? It is not going to true health, education, science. Some will scoff: nothing new under the sun, plutocracy comes and goes.

Yes, right, plutocracy has come and gone, like an evil tide, in 5,000 years of epistolary civilization. Civilizations rose, degenerated into plutocracy, and other civilizations, younger, cleaner, more democratic, gobbled them up.

However, this time is different. We are in a situation similar to Rome, just way worse.

We desperately need more science to get out of the predicament we are plunging the biosphere into.

Instead this morning I got a message from the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) saying:
“It seems inevitable that there will be reductions in federal spending, but will these cuts be allocated in a way that devastates science research and education, threatens future economic growth, and erodes America’s competitiveness in the world?”

Well, if it were just a question of letting the USA sink, that would be only just desserts. But actually the fate of the biosphere is at stake.

All of this because the wealthiest of the wealthy are splurging, while starving the rest.
***
Patrice Ayme

Lincoln, CO2, Oblabla, etc.

February 3, 2013

REALITY HAS AN ANTI-AMERICAN BIAS:
I don’t know much about Lincoln or the Secession War. Although I confess that I certainly know more that American college graduates. While I admit that this is nothing glorious, it’s enough to say plenty, in a grand American tradition of knowing it all, that I will denigrate, later in this essay.

Propelled by the momentum acquired by watching the excellent “Django Unchained”, I went on with doing my duty, and watching “Lincoln”. This movie frenzy started with “Life of Pi” watched with my three year old daughter. She is familiar with natural food procurement processes unfolding in nature documentaries. So she did not mind that the tiger killed the hyena. What scared her more were the waves, a healthy fear to have.

No Dark Side, No Humanity. A Paradox.

I heard that Obama liked the “Life of Pi”, while he did not like as much the Spielberg movie, “Lincoln”. I could guess why: “Lincoln” the movie had got to be boring for those not anxious to boast that they are intellectually inclined. The movies reminded me of a shallow version of one of my own essays, spread over three hours.

The movie depicts the last 4 months or so in Lincoln’s life. The Confederacy is running out of steam and men. The Civil War is finishing, but the mass dying on the battlefields is in no way abating. A butchery without compare in the history of the West. Lincoln is trying to use the momentum of his re-election and battlefield victories to abolish slavery. (As it was, slavery was finally outlawed after Lincoln’s assassination, in December 1865.)

Contemporary citizens of the USA can only find that picture uncomfortable. Is that all what the great USA was about? Buying people? what sort of city on the hill was that? what sort of example for humanity? And it was a scandal not being able to buy people anymore? Was slavery the greatest cause worth dying for?

The movies is thus somewhat anti-American, as it shows too much reality, the incredible trash that political life was in the USA at the time. OK, sorry about discriminating against that particular period. it’s still trashy today, one could even say trashier than ever. After all, courtesans in Washington are trying to kill the planet.

I saw a picture of Obama shooting a gun today (OK, that was an appropriate gun, so gigantic it was not conducive to mass shooting). Apparently to show he still loved guns, in spite of all the little children dying, pierced with bullets. Is this was the presidential moral fiber has come down to? Salute the shooting of the children by the shooting of the guns? Should have Lincoln tried to seduce his opposition too? Will I have dreams of Lincoln passing by, pulled by with powerful black men chained to his chariot, he whips softly?

If Obama had been in the White House instead of Lincoln, in 1865, would he have had photographers immortalize him, whipping up a slave, to show to the slave lobby that he, Obama loved slaves too?

Obama could point out that gun totting Americans shooting down gun totting Americans is not as big a problem as Americans buying Americans. Right. Especially in Washington: is it not the essence of the place?

However Americans shooting down their own families (according to statistics, that’s the most marking activities of those with guns) is only a psychological hook: something very small, very hard, with lots of consequences.

If Americans are obsessive about shooting other Americans, should we be surprised that they don’t mind thinking exactly what they masters told them to think, and shooting the biosphere down too? Something about the rage inside rather that the speech outside. A complementary principle. obama is often too subtle by half, and gets played instead of being the one playing.

Strictly from statistics, the USA is the only developed country where most of the war dead happened during a Civil War (the losses were close to one million, the latest scholarship shows: about 3% of the population).

***

HIS DARK SIDE WAS BIGGER THAN YOURS:
“Lincoln” the movies, shows that Lincoln, the president, had to buy his way out of slavery. Lincoln used whatever it took. Big difference with the not-doing-anything-much president.

Obama and his plutocratic demoncratic Congress (yes: demon-cratic) did not put much pressure on banks, health providers and corporations. According to Obama, these problems do not compare with slavery.

But Obama is wrong. Slavery was a joke. A very very very bad joke, but still a joke. They might as well have sold human meat at the market. Actually that’s what they did. But it went against the flow of civilization. The Romans themselves would have been shocked by American racism. American slavery was that weird. That full of hatred and greed.

The problem with the present atmospheric crisis is that it is doing judo with civilization; it’s using the very momentum of civilization, to trip it. The present crisis goes with the flow, and was never seen before.

The worst scandal being the USA-led total absence of any serious efforts to stop the climate catastrophe.

In all these things Obama did not exert presidential powers, contrarily to what many of his predecessors did, and Lincoln did, first of all. Obama was opposed within his own party on cap and trade, and, instead of threatening to destroy his opponents, small hurtful piece by small hurtful piece, he made clear he did not want to fight.

A commander in chief who can’t fight? A commander in chief who thinks it is wiser to not engage in battle? What a bizarre notion. It’s the symptom of someone who did not read the job’s description.

I suspect that Obama, who tries to ride Lincoln as he were a horse, has reason to feel diminished by the 16th president. Obama goes around writing on official documents, that he is black. And Obama went all out to kill Bin Laden. And Obama went all too much out ordering extrajudicial killings and drone madness. True. But all this is Mickey Mouse style Dark Side.

The real, the glorious Dark Side is about shock and awe, not popularity, but fear, and justice. The real Dark Side, the useful Dark Side, the honorable Dark Side, is about doing what is necessary for the highest moral purposes. All has, always will be.

Obama’s Mickey Mouse Dark Side is a smokescreen that should not fool those who are real tough. When he had to be really tough with financiers, corporations, the fossil fuel lobbies, gun lobby, military (Afghanistan), and the for profit health care lobby Obama just meowed, and purred.

In other words, when Obama had to be real tough to the modern slave masters, he just folded. Lincoln did not fold. That’s why he has a big statue in Washington standing in a silent judgment on those of his successors who just aspire to free rent, girls, bodyguards, and lots of money, a la Bill Clinton, the president of the Degenerate State of America.

(Or Utterly Stupid America? It’s Clinton and his minions who empowered financiers, by diverting most money creation towards financial derivatives, and the likes of Enron. To this day, the fact that the Demoncratic Party is full of Romneys escapes the little minds.)

Lincoln had to use the Dark Side, for the triumph of goodness, big time, because George Washington had not had the moral courage to do his job. Lincoln went, well, all out. This is mentioned in the movies during an exchange Lincoln has with the commander of the US Army Ulysses Grant (himself president later).
***

SLAVERY IS NOT EASY TO QUIT:
Lincoln, as president, using his considerable war powers, had made an Emancipation Declaration, January 1, 1863. It freed the slaves over which the Union had no power (!)

The Emancipation was not a law passed by Congress. But by Lincoln’s personal “war powers” as a modern Caesar.

Caesar himself indeed used similar war powers during the Roman civil war, as Consul, and, or, elected Dictator; that’s where this is all coming from, through the Franks, and, in particular, through Consul Clovis who had to knock some sense in his Franks, that, from now on, the fascist Roman model of war would rule (incident of the Vase de Soisson!).

As Lincoln explains in the movie, that Emancipation Declaration was full of contradiction, because it recognized slaves as property confiscated from the enemy. Except Lincoln did not want to recognize the South’s rebels as enemy, as that would recognize them as an independent nation. Nor did Lincoln want to recognize slaves as property, because, when the war was over, logically the owners would be able to recover their property.

So Lincoln wanted to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the USA, which recognized explicitly that people could not be owned, or forced to work, except if they had been convicted of a crime through due process. In other words, no more slavery.

Some claimed that the amendment would entice the Confederacy to fight to the bitter end. But that was nothing the military could not fix. The bitter end was at hand, thanks to Sherman’s March to the Sea. The best way to handle terrorists is to destroy them, as president Hollande pointed out, in connection with Mali.

The various quandaries encountered in abrogating slavery were nothing new. Bathilde, an English slave, escaped an abusive plutocrat, who had her recaptured. But she caught the eye of the Prince, who bought her, freed her, married her, and engrossed her. Then he became king and promptly died.

The Franks, as all Germans, had arisen, long ago as independent farmers, and hated slavery. However they encountered Greco-Roman civilization, more advanced in many ways, but also pervaded by fascism, slavery and militarism. The Germans learned from their Roman masters, but both their implementation of fascism and slavery was unenthusiastic. However the Gallo-Roman aristocracy had become entangled with the Christian Church, who claimed to be very good, although Christ never said (supposing he really said anything at all), against slavery.

But there it was, a queen of the Franks, who had been a rebellious slave, a few years before. Her government and the regency council agreed to do away with slavery. But Bathilde had it less easy than Lincoln: there was no civil war with enslaving rebels. Bathilde’s government could not just expropriate bishops. Bishops, being scions of the plutocracy, had often armies of slaves.

So Bathilde had to be subtle. She outlawed SLAVE TRADING within the Merovingian empire. That was as good as outlawing the slave trade outright. That was in 658 CE.
This prohibition was later extended to the even more gigantic Carolingian empire that surfaced within a generation. (That Venice made lots of money trading non Frankish slaves with the Islamists is irrelevant, except in that it created a conceptual pattern that would allow to authorize slavery in the colonies.)

Fast forward 1207 years, it’s 1865, and the USA, institutionally, militarily and historically a Franco-British colony, is trying to finally outlaw slavery, as Lafayette had urged relentlessly his good friend George Washington to do. Lafayette was a French military man, and he knew all too well what a monstrosity slavery was.

All over Europe, but for the vast areas controlled by the Muslim Turks, and the wilds of Russia, thanks to Bathilde, slavery was unlawful.

Lafayette entreaties were unsuccessful. Washington congratulated his friend about his humanity, but obstinately refused to do anything positive. Jefferson (3rd president and a babble box) was pretty much the same.

Arrives Lincoln. Lincoln, you see, is courageous. Instead of going around with armies of bodyguards, he goes around pretty much unprotected.
President Hollande made a visite éclaire to Timbuktu, 5 days after the sacred city fell to the French Guerre Éclaire. (Contrarily to Anglo-Saxon-Wall Street French bashing legend, it’s French generals who invented the concept of Blitzkrieg, and cleverly published it, in 1932, teaching Nazis something!).

Hollande’s visit was courageous. So did Lincoln’s 15 battlefield visits during the Civil War, oceans of bodies still writhing on the ground, a general holding a pistol cocked up, just behind him, lest one of the Confederate soldiers was not completely dead.

Armies of bodyguards is no new trick. One of Caesar’s generals used to always go around with such an army, Caesar contemptfully observed in his memoirs. The fact that the underling survived (with wounds) an assassination attempt, did not impress Caesar very much.

Caesar himself refused even the accompaniment of Marc Anthony, a superlative special force brute, to go to the Senate, although he had been warned of an assassination plot that day. What was Caesar’s point? Well, he did not run a dictatorship, he governed with the approbation of the Populus (funny for someone who had made himself “dictator for life”, but the word “dictator” became pejorative only after Caesar’s assassination!). In the Senate, pierced by dozens of knife wounds, Caesar found out that he did not govern with the assent of the plutocrats.

Lincoln did not run a dictatorship, either. He wanted to make that very clear. At the battle of Appomatox, the army of the chief of the Confederate Army, Lee was surrounded on three sides. After 700 casualties, Lee surrendered. 29,000 Confederate soldiers were paroled. Lincoln wanted, and had ordered, generalized forgiveness.

Caesar and Lincoln died, when they were still on the verge of attempting great things (Caesar by putting an end to the Persian-German problem in one stroke, Abraham Lincoln by freeing colored people from all those other chains that still held them, such as no right to vote, or no right to marry out of their “race”, etc.)
***

THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW SHOULD LEARN, INSTEAD OF BARKING OUT ORDERS:
Are there lessons, within Lincoln wondrous adventure, to be drawn for the world today?

Something striking about the USA, is the tendency to give lessons to everybody, as if the USA invented civilization. Now, OK, slavery was still lawful in Turkey in 1865. But there was no slavery in most states, worldwide. In 1865. The USA was a glaring exception. Can one be that primitive, and still give lessons about how to live, as the USA does to the planet, year after year? Yes, sure, Jihadists do that every day.

What is striking, in the politics of the USA is the absence of towering intellectual figures dominating the debate. No Montaigne, no Montesquieu, no Voltaire, there. Instead, mongrels are disputing in front an electorate of the gullible what god wanted, while filling up their pockets.
In Antiquity, even a fascist philosopher such as Aristotle had to make excuses to justify slavery. He knew he had to. That was from a tiny city, Athens. In the gigantic USA of 1865, no philosopher dominates the landscape, except, well, for the philosopher president, Lincoln himself. A philosopher among mice is still a philosopher, I guess.

Aristotle whined they, his kind, the slave masters, had no machines, so they needed slaves. However that means Aristotle had the concept of machine. Aristotle knew that there were machines… The Greeks had just made no effort to develop them, and the Romans were going to become even more lazy.

Because there were machines: slavery just looked more convenient, thus machines were not deployed.
***

IT’S WORSE TO ENSLAVE THE PLANET THAN TO ENSLAVE MAN:
Just like now. But now is worse. Combining the oxygen we breathe with 450 million years of poisonous, flammable rocks and rotten fluids, looks more convenient to the monsters who lead us to oblivion, than deploying the new energy sources we have at the ready. While there is still time.

Slavery was convenient, until Bathilde outlawed it. Then there was no choice. The machines that had been waiting in the wings were deployed., and animals were bioengineered. It took Papin 1,000 years more to introduce a perfectly functioning steam boat, but Papin’s steam engine was the logical evolution of centuries of metal works and engineering. The Cathedrals could be constructed only because of hydraulic hammers, to bend the enormous steel girders.

In another gloomy perspective Dr. Chu, the Energy Secretary a Nobel Prize winner in physics resigned. Under Chu a form of Cobertism was practiced: encouraging some industries by direct financing, That’s one pillar, but, to make something a stable sustainable switch, two more pillars were needed: making fossil fuels pay for their true cost (in other words a carbon tax, thus making better energy sustainable), and massive fundamental research.
Quoting Michelangelo, Chu said: “‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.'”
President Washington obstinately refused to see that slavery was a mortal moral danger. He had set his mark too low. Similarly, when Obama, as the biosphere faces the worst crisis in 65 million years, informs us that problems in the USA are not as severe as in Lincoln’s times, he sets his eyes too low, somewhere by his feet.
Chu pointed out that burning fossils and their gases is economically viable in some sense: “Our ability to find and extract fossil fuels continues to improve, and economically recoverable reser-voirs around the world are likely to keep pace with the rising demand for decades. As the saying goes, the Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones; we transitioned to better solutions.”
Our ability to find and kill innocent victims continues to improve, too. But that does not mean we should do it. The Slave Age in the USA did not end because it ran out of slaves, but because a better solution was imposed onto the slave masters, by force. Lincoln was force. Slavery was outlawed.

Combining all our oxygen with fossilized carbon should also be outlawed. An Emancipation Declaration of oxygen, using war powers, should be made.

Chu used the old tried and true: “There is an ancient Native American saying: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” A few short decades later, we don’t want our children to ask, “What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?””

The Natives did not inherit the air from their ancestors, either. Air is the fundamental human right, a right that cannot be let to expire for a minute.

So it’s not just about the poorest and the unborn. There is much more than that. It’s about us, too. Why did Lincoln destroy slavery? Lincoln destroyed slavery, not because he was “black”, and not to save his children (one of his sons died in the unCivil War).

No, much more simply, Lincoln destroyed slavery because Lincoln was a good man and he found slavery abhorrent.

Show me what you hate, and I will tell you how good you are.

It’s worse to enslave the planet than to enslave man. Make a note of it. Too bad there is no Lincoln around today to save the planet, but only the greedy to lead the needy.
***
Patrice Ayme