Daily Archive: October 25, 2012

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Cartnoon

I live, again.  Originally posted July 25, 2011.

Double or Mutton

On This Day In History October 25

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 25 is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 67 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1774, the First Continental Congress sends a respectful petition to King George III to inform his majesty that if it had not been for the acts of oppression forced upon the colonies by the British Parliament, the American people would be standing behind British rule.

Despite the anger that the American public felt towards the United Kingdom after the British Parliament established the Coercive Acts, called the Intolerable Acts by the colonists, Congress was still willing to assert its loyalty to the king. In return for this loyalty, Congress asked the king to address and resolve the specific grievances of the colonies. The petition, written by Continental Congressman John Dickinson, laid out what Congress felt was undo oppression of the colonies by the British Parliament. Their grievances mainly had to do with the Coercive Acts, a series of four acts that were established to punish colonists and to restore order in Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party..

Passage of the Acts

In Boston, Massachusetts, the Sons of Liberty protested against Parliament’s passage of the Tea Act in 1773 by throwing tons of taxed tea into Boston Harbor, an act that came to be known as the Boston Tea Party. News of the event reached England in January 1774. Parliament responded with a series of acts that were intended to punish Boston for this illegal destruction of private property, restore British authority in Massachusetts, and otherwise reform colonial government in America.

On April 22, 1774, Prime Minister Lord North defended the program in the House of Commons, saying:

The Americans have tarred and feathered your subjects, plundered your merchants, burnt your ships, denied all obedience to your laws and authority; yet so clement and so long forbearing has our conduct been that it is incumbent on us now to take a different course. Whatever may be the consequences, we must risk something; if we do not, all is over.

The Boston Port Act, the first of the acts passed in response to the Boston Tea Party, closed the port of Boston until the East India Company had been repaid for the destroyed tea and until the king was satisfied that order had been restored. Colonists objected that the Port Act punished all of Boston rather than just the individuals who had destroyed the tea, and that they were being punished without having been given an opportunity to testify in their own defense.

The Massachusetts Government Act provoked even more outrage than the Port Act because it unilaterally altered the government of Massachusetts to bring it under control of the British government. Under the terms of the Government Act, almost all positions in the colonial government were to be appointed by the governor or the king. The act also severely limited the activities of town meetings in Massachusetts. Colonists outside Massachusetts feared that their governments could now also be changed by the legislative fiat of Parliament.

The Administration of Justice Act allowed the governor to move trials of accused royal officials to another colony or even to Great Britain if he believed the official could not get a fair trial in Massachusetts. Although the act stipulated that witnesses would be paid for their travel expenses, in practice few colonists could afford to leave their work and cross the ocean to testify in a trial. George Washington called this the “Murder Act” because he believed that it allowed British officials to harass Americans and then escape justice. Some colonists believed the act was unnecessary because British soldiers had been given a fair trial following the Boston Massacre in 1770, with future Founding Father John Adams representing the Defense.

The Quartering Act applied to all of the colonies, and sought to create a more effective method of housing British troops in America. In a previous act, the colonies had been required to provide housing for soldiers, but colonial legislatures had been uncooperative in doing so. The new Quartering Act allowed a governor to house soldiers in other buildings if suitable quarters were not provided. While many sources claim that the Quartering Act allowed troops to be billeted in occupied private homes, historian David Ammerman’s 1974 study claimed that this is a myth, and that the act only permitted troops to be quartered in unoccupied buildings. Although many colonists found the Quartering Act objectionable, it generated the least protest of the Coercive Acts.

The Quebec Act was a piece of legislation unrelated to the events in Boston, but the timing of its passage led colonists to believe that it was part of the program to punish them. The act enlarged the boundaries of what was then the colony of “Canada” (roughly consisting of today’s Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario as well as the Great Lakes’ American watershed), removed references to the Protestant faith in the oath of allegiance, and guaranteed free practice of the Roman Catholic faith. The Quebec Act offended a variety of interest groups in the British colonies. Land speculators and settlers objected to the transfer of western lands previously claimed by the colonies to a non-representative government. Many feared the establishment of Catholicism in Quebec, and that the French Canadians were being courted to help oppress British Americans.

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Art Glass 54

Late Night Karaoke

Plutocracy: “The Remains of the Old USA”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Plutocrats Want to Own Your Vote

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winsap

The new Gilded Age is roaring down on us — an un-caged tiger on a rampage. Walk out to the street in front of our office here in Manhattan, look to the right and you can see the symbol of it: a fancy new skyscraper going up two blocks away. When finished, this high rise among high rises will tower a thousand feet, the tallest residential building in the city.

The New York Times has dubbed it “the global billionaires’ club” — and for good reason. At least of two of the apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each. Others, more modest, range in price from $45 million to more than $50 million. The mega-rich have been buying these places “looking for a place to stash their cash,” a realtor from Sotheby’s explained to the Times. “A lot of what is happening,” she said, “… is about wealth preservation.”

Simultaneously, the powers-that-be have just awarded Donald Trump the right to run a golf course in the Bronx, which taxpayers are spending at least $97 million to build — what “amounts to a public subsidy,” says the indignant city comptroller, “for a luxury golf course.” Good grief — a handout to the plutocrat’s plutocrat.

This, in a city where economic inequality rivals that of a third-world country. Of America’s 25 largest cities, New York is now the most unequal. The median income for the bottom 20 percent last year was less than $9,000, while the top one percent of New Yorkers has an average annual income of $2.2 million. [..]

It’s snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, emailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first the Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses in company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a bloc. Now, the Gilded Age is back , with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy — the remains of the ol’ USA.

Bill Moyers: Power & Privileges of the One Percent

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of Rolling Stone, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, joined Bill Moyers for a discussion on how the super wealthy use their increasing wealth to fund political candidates who will serve their interests.

Example: Goldman Sachs, which gave more money than any other major American corporation to Barack Obama in 2008, is switching alliances this year; their employees have given $900,000 both to Mitt Romney’s campaign and to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Why? Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform. [..]

“We have this community of rich people who genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and they should get every advantage and break,” Taibbi tells Bill. “Whereas everybody else is a parasite and they’re living off of them”

Freeland adds, “You know, 2008 is not so long ago, and already, the anti-regulation chorus is so strong. How dare they have the gall to actually argue that too much regulation of American financial services is what is killing the economy?”

Ms. Freeland also penned an interesting article at Huffington Post on the problems of plutocrats in the late nineteenth century and how it compares with today’s plutocracy problem:

Henry George is the most famous American popular economist you’ve never heard of, a 19th century cross between Michael Lewis, Howard Dean and Ron Paul. Progress and Poverty, George’s most important book, sold three million copies and was translated into German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew and Mandarin. During his lifetime, George was probably the third best-known American, eclipsed only by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. He was admired by the foreign luminaries of the age, too — Leo Tolstoy, Sun-Yat Sen and Albert Einstein, who wrote that “men like Henry George are unfortunately rare. One cannot image a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice.” George Bernard Shaw described his own thinking about the political economy as a continuation of the ideas of George, whom he had once heard deliver a speech. [..]

What George found most mysterious about the economic consequences of the industrial revolution was that its failure to deliver economic prosperity was not uniform — instead it had created a winner-take-all society: “Some get an infinitely better and easier living, but others find it hard to get a living at all. The ‘tramp’ comes with the locomotives, and almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of ‘material progress’ as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses and magnificent churches. Upon streets lighted with gas and patrolled by uniformed policeman, beggars wait for the passer-by, and in the shadow of college, and library, and museum, are gathering the more hideous Huns and fiercer Vandals of whom Macaulay prophesied.”

George’s diagnosis was beguilingly simple — the fruits of innovation weren’t widely shared because they were going to the landlords. This was a very American indictment of industrial capitalism: at a time when Marx was responding to Europe’s version of progress and poverty with a wholesale denunciation of private property, George was an enthusiastic supporter of industry, free trade and a limited role for government. His culprits were the rentier rich, the landowners who profited hugely from industrialization and urbanization, but did not contribute to it. [..]

America today urgently needs a 21st century Henry George — a thinker who embraces the wealth-creating power of capitalism, but squarely faces the inequity of its current manifestation. That kind of thinking is missing on the right, which is still relying on Reagan-era trickle-down economics and hopes complaints about income inequality can be silenced with accusations of class war. But the left isn’t doing much better either, preferring nostalgia for the high-wage, medium-skill manufacturing jobs of the post-war era and China-bashing to a serious and original effort to figure out how to make 21st century capitalism work for the middle class. [..]

We are living in an era of comparably tumultuous economic change. The great challenge of our time is to devise the new social and political institutions we need to make the new economy work for everyone. So far, that is a historic task neither party is taking on with enough energy, honesty or originality.

My Little Town 20121024: The Day I Met Allen Ginsberg

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This recollection is from a bit later in life rather than in childhood.  I was in graduate school at The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and I am guessing that this happened around 1983, give or take a year of so.  The former Mrs. Translator had not yet had our first child, so the time sounds about right.

At the time The University of Arkansas was pretty much a run of the mill public university with a couple of notable exceptions:  the Chemistry Department and the English Department.  Those were recognized at outstanding at a national level and I am honored to have been part of the Chemistry Department.  Both of these departments were part of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.