Archive for December 14th, 2013

Equality, Innovation, Civilization Sustained

December 14, 2013

Civilization is technological, or is not. Civilization is progressive, or is not. Why? Because resources get exhausted: sustainability is always unsustainable.

Some will laugh, and point out at their new renewables: the sun, the wind, sea currents. However, all would die in a full run-away greenhouse we are pointing towards. (How that could be was exposed in some of my essays, long ago, and will be left as a question, to motivate the students! After all, that’s the way I used to teach math and, or, physics!)

We need bigger solutions. Or we will keep on sinking.

When God Humbled Plutocrats

When God Humbled Plutocrats

[Roman Emperor Henry IV left out in the cold on the left; head down on the right.]

Speaking of students, Krugman is progressing in his awareness of the socio-economic situation. So is Obama who made a confused discourse about inequality (in Obama befuddled brains, the solution to inequality is more free market, Obamacare style, as he reminds us in his incoherence… and then joins stupidity to insolence by asking us if we have a better solution; well all advanced countries, but for the USA, have a solution: public health care).

Obama is a piece of flotsam moved by the tsunami of plutocracy unchained. He mentioned innovation, correctly. However his administration has made strides against it. As always, in the name of the so-called tech giants (truly plotting monopolies). As nearly always, implemented reality is the opposite of Obama’s lenifying discourses.

Intellectual Property (IP) has been seriously gutted out for the little guys (aka the inventors) since 2008.

The Obama administration has engaged in a war against “trolls“, an ill-disguised campaign for the largest corporate actors (ignoring that IP is fungible, the very principle of patents and copyright).

The Federal Circuit came up with a weird decision, AGAINST “injunctive relief”.  Large corporations can infringe in peace.

Moreover the Supreme Court decided recently that large damages amounts are more difficult to prove. NOW, if a corporation infringes on a patent, “apportionment” has to be effected.

This is a three-pronged attack against innovation.

But the pawns march on. March of the drones, all lined up behind the drone-in-chief.

The best way to get to get to Greece or Zimbabwe, as a society, is through rising inequality. Because tremendous inequality is what characterizes these societies most. In turn, it generates other ills of an overwhelming nature.

Economic inequality, at some point transmogrifies and changes dimensions, becoming fiscal and then political inequality (as presently in the USA). In the next step, even the appearance of democracy erodes (see Bush versus Gore, when a correct recount in favor of the on with the most votes was… outlawed).

Aristocracy and fascism arose from economic inequality. This was known for 26 centuries, and acted up by the creators of Greek democracies and the Roman Republic, through redistribution of wealth, or out-lawing the rise of hyper wealth.

There was a law in Rome blocking great wealth; the non-respect of this law brought civil war between the People and the plutocrats; the plutocrats won… until the Franks took over, 650 years later.

If we go full paleolithic, we will worry about food on the table, and energy. Both are under threat. Human organizations have to rise to the challenge. The distinctions between public and private, when a crisis gets strong enough, are irrelevant (look at WWII when Britain and the USA adopted economic command and control).

As we are threatened by several crises, of never seen-before severity, which are already having an impact, the time may come to avoid the self-reflective reflector jargon about neo-Keynes, post counter-counter neo Hayekism, etc…

The economists have failed to understand that, inasmuch as too much central planning is bad, so is too little. Part of economic theory ought to address the part of the economy that is public, not just the “free”-market, for profit part.

We do need governmental projects, not just government money (especially not just money sent to private banks). If Inertia Confinement Thermonuclear Fusion could be made to work well enough, for example, all our energy problems would be solved.

Fusion break-even was just achieved at LLL national laboratory; the only other project that way, worldwide, is from the French government. That sort of huge project, with potential giant, civilization changing impact, is only made possible from the largest economic entities around, governments (or even union of governments, as with the LHC, and ITER; these are not just science projects, but economic enterprises of incalculable cost… literally). The stupid sequester had an impact on thermonuclear fusion: researchers were ordered not to even reveal the breakthrough they had achieved.

The fascist plutocratic Roman imperial government was adverse to real scientific innovation (as ideas threaten plutocracy).  However, its barbarians enemies caught up with Rome technologically on the battlefield. That resulted, not just into defeat on the battlefield, but in the permanent outright replacement of Roman Army by the Franks (after experimenting with the Goths, and even the Huns).

Contemplate the Chinese dictatorship trying the first soft landing on the Moon, Luna, in 37 years; contemplate the fact China can access space at this point… But the only way Americans or Europeans get to space is by paying mentally unstable KGB dictator Putin.

Another factor in the fall of the Greco-Roman world was the exhaustion of resources. This had started early on, when, for military reasons (building the Athenian anti-Persian War Navy), Athens had eradicated the forests of Attica (500 BCE). Seven centuries later, the crisis was major, and multi-dimensional.

By 1300 CE, a similar crisis was affecting Western Europe. Half of the population died in short order (even more did during the Dark Ages). Yet, this time, innovative solutions were enacted swiftly, and civilization barely missed a stride (although, soon, horrendous religious and plutocratic wars wrecked the West).

The powerful kept supporting the loftiest intellectual ventures (just the opposite of what happened in Rome, when fake, mediocre intellectuals were supported; mediocre intellectual advice is worse than none).

Innovation is not just a central to the economy, but to the survival of civilization. But to have innovation, one needs the People experience enough equality to push for it. Although it humbles me to admit this, the Christian Church, with its strong socialist tendency (thank you Jesus), limited plutocratization: after all, kings in good standing washed the feet of the poor.

Not just this, but the Church, whatever its insanities, was viewed as of unimpeachable advice, even by the mightiest.  That’s another safeguard that has ceased to exist. The rumor has it that Pope Francis, by taking strong positions against organized crime and hyper wealth, also known as plutocracy, is endangering his life.

Even in the darkest of the Middle Ages, this was inconceivable (forgetting the special case of Philippe Le Bel). Once a (German-Italian-) Roman emperor, Henry IV, was forced to humiliate himself on his knees waiting for three days and three nights, naked below a shirt, fasting, before the entrance gate of the Pope’s castle, while a blizzard raged in January 1077.

Nothing can humiliate our plutocrats as much nowadays. It’s in our hands.

Let’s make laws. Let’s make a worldwide register of all properties. Then we can tax the pirates and profiteers, let alone run of the mill, .01% plutocrats.

Representation without taxation is a bad joke plutocrats played not just on us, but on civilization itself.

Patrice Ayme

***

Note: China just made the first soft landing on the Moon in 37 years. Well, Obama is already there! OK, the Franco-American robot “Curiosity” on Mars is more sophisticated with its (French Thales) rock blasting laser. Yet, a warning: the Jade Rabbit is supposed to look for Helium 3 (a thermonuclear fuel).


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