"It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired." --Robert Heinlein

The Church of Reality




Table of Contents

Insights from Lost & Found

I wonder what I'll find out next!

This is Magger Frane's 'blog.


history, politics, etc.,

I wrote this on May 1, 2020 -- in many countries May 1 is celebrated as Labor Day -- today is Labor Day 2021 in the United States.

Before Wall Street (in NYC) became the location of a stock exchange, it hosted the city's first slave market.

And before that, Wall Street was named after the city wall Dutch settlers had built.

Why did the Dutch settlers need a wall for their young settlement? Two reasons -- to keep their slaves from easily escaping, and to keep vengeful aboriginal peoples from attacking them in retaliation for massacres and stealing their land.

Today Wall Street has become a metaphor for capitalism, but we should not forget the roots of this metaphor -- robbery, slavery, and genocide.


You may remember being taught that the Dutch purchased the island of Manhattan from its native inhabitants for the bargain sum of 60 Guilders. The basis for this tale is an internal, but transatlantic, letter between administrators employed by the Dutch West India Company -- a letter that purports to memorialize the purchase. The purpose of this letter was to set up an internationally binding Dutch legal claim for the island of Manhattan.

Less often told is that the supposed recipients of these 60 Guilders did not control the island, so were in no position to sell it. If the tale is true at all, it was set up as a legal sham. A two-sided fraud, in other words. As though the Dutch had purchased the Brooklyn Bridge three centuries later from a local con man, and then decided to settle on top of it, building a wall on either side.


Native Americans were not granted US citizenship until 1924, four hundred years after the first European explorer set eyes upon Manhattan, and three hundred years after the Dutch settled there. For the first 148 years of United States history, Native Americans were officially treated as foreigners within their own lands.


Is it an irony that the Dutch West India Company was treated as a person under the law centuries before Native Americans were treated as persons under the law?


Congress did not mandate voting rights irrespective of race until 1965.


Now that we have universal suffrage in the US, and slavery has long been abolished, has capitalism been reformed enough that its criminal origins can be ignored?

In other words, is the role of private capital now beneficial, or at least neutral, in its effects upon society?

There remain three big problems with capitalism today.

(1) Individuals are born into family units that have wildly disparate levels of wealth. We do not all start from the same point. This should be obvious, that we have a fundamental lack of fairness in birth position. One in six children in the US lives in poverty, according to official statistics, which are probably an underestimate (because the way we measure poverty hasn't been updated since the 1960s).

(2) The power of universal suffrage is blunted and coralled by political contributions, a legalized form of unlimited bribery. Reported political contributors make up less than 1% of the US adult population. The 2016 federal election cycle cost over $6 billion -- half of which was spent on advertising.

(3) Capitalism is destroying the global ecosystem via mass species extinction and pollution -- there are no enforceable international limits on the resources capital can extract from above and below the earth, or the pollution capital can emit as it does so.

These three problems interact and build upon each other. Wealth is not distributed fairly, those who have wealth control the political system to keep wealth from being distributed fairly, and those who have wealth use it to extract ever more wealth from a collapsing global ecosystem.

Now that we have rid ourselves of slavery and have extended universal suffrage -- what are we using our politics for?


Universal suffrage appears to drive capitalism forward.

It does so via the #1 variable that has accounted for national political outcomes since 1968 -- since universal suffrage was achieved in the US -- economic growth.

Half of the variance in vote outcomes is accounted for by GDP growth. If there was a recent recession, the President's party is fired.

Voters reward leaders who preside over the production of more stuff, regardless of whether that stuff is more or less equitably distributed. Voters just want more stuff.

But more stuff is destroying the global ecosystem.


If we are to avoid a global collapse in human civilization, as we destroy the global ecosystem upon which we surf, we will have to break ourselves of our desire for more stuff.

We'll have to willfully choose a lasting global economic depression, and then reward our leaders for delivering it, along with a more fair distribution of the remaining stuff.

I'm not sure how we get there from here.

The typical government didn't react to COVID-19 until people started dying in undeniable numbers. How are we going to react to the collapse of the global ecosystem before it begins to kill us in undeniable numbers? We seem not to care if it wipes out half of the non-human species. We, inside our own national borders, seem not to care if it devastates other countries in which other humans live.

I'm not sure how we get there from here. Universal suffrage isn't enough. We're still divided by arbitrary borders, and we don't give non-human species a say in how we're managing global resources.

If you aren't human, or if you aren't a citizen of the US, you may as well be a Native American in 1624. We American humans are going to engage in legal shams, that allow us to take your resources and then wipe you out, via the corporations we treat as legal persons, and the corporate stock we trade on Wall Street.


We (the 1%) haven't changed our methods. We (the 1%) haven't changed our goals. If anything has changed at all, the wealthier among us are a bit more concerned about appearances than they were 400 years ago. Let's not own other humans directly, let's allow other humans to vote, heh. It's OK, so long as we can buy their labor and their leaders with some of our made-up currency. We still get to keep 2/3 of their output for ourselves.

So long as we keep making more stuff, everybody's happy, even if we keep 2/3 of it for ourselves.

And history becomes our propaganda. The Arc of Justice continues moving forward, heh. The Arc of Plenty continues moving forward.


Jeff Bezos is worth $149 billion this morning.

as of this morning, Jeff Bezos is worth $201 billion.

[Previous entry: "I am not Stonewall"] [TOC] [Next entry: "pot calling kettle white"]


TERMS OF SERVICE: All the original contents of this web site are copyrighted by Magger Frane as of the date of publication. You expressly understand and agree that your use of this 'blog is at your sole risk. You expressly understand and agree that Magger Frane shall not be liable for any damages resulting from your use of this 'blog. Any dispute, controversy or difference arising out of, in relation to, or in connection with, the foregoing, which cannot be settled by mutual agreement, shall be ignored.

DISCLAIMER: Use of semi-advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement of Western Industrial Civilization (nor does it imply that I believe this technology was reverse-engineered at Roswell).