Sunday, September 28, 2014

Poor Bill Gross denied severance pay. It's a cruel world.

F22: costs $68,000 an hour in the air
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

There was some sad news in the WSJ this weekend. It is much more important than the reports that mass killings are on the rise or as studies that show one person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. NBC News.  More important even than discovering that 26,000 to 45,000 Americans die each year due to the inefficiency of a for-profit health care system.

No my good friends.  This is tragic news that I am sure every hard working American will want to hear. Bill Gross, the bond investor and founder of the capital management firm Pimco has been driven out. Pimco Founder Abdicates After Co-Workers Threaten to Quit Over His Criticism.” the headline in the WSJ read this weekend.

I should first clarify that neither Gross, nor the misnamed “co-workers” are workers.  They live off the profit of capital.  They manage the wealth those who actually do work create and these individuals and their firms earn hundreds of millions of dollars for doing so.  It’s capital allocation and capital in this form as surplus value should be managed and allocated, but not by them.

There’s more to this tragic tale.  Gross who was earning more than $200 million a year at Pimco wasn’t given a severance package.  The gall of it; this country is turning communist, the poor guy is only worth about $2.5 billion.  Compare that to that scrooge and former mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg and his $20 billion net worth.  What’s next? Heath Care for everybody? Gross is hopping mad, "I've made you all rich…See how you do without me," he announced according to the Journal.

Forbes describes these social parasites as “self made men”.  Words are so important and Gross and his class not only own or control the means of manufacturing society’s needs, they own the means of producing society’s ideas as well, the media, the universities etc. So they choose their words carefully and make sure we adopt them.
Ellison, Gates, Buffet: Source of wealth-----workers unpaid labor time
What made me think about this was that I was talking to a guy the other day who is a financial advisor for a bank.  He’s a decent person, I am sure of that and I assume he has some degree in economics.  What is interesting about those who immerse themselves in mainstream economics or capitalist economics if you like, is that they have never or rarely read Marx’s economic views in their studies. 

As a retired public sector worker I get a decent pension by American standards. The likes of Gross and his class want to put a stop to such things and the public sector pensions are being blamed for the crisis of capitalism in the aftermath of its near collapse a few years ago only to be rescued by public funds and concessions in services and labor.  Prior to us it was the autoworkers but the 1% has tamed them and their union with the assistance of the union leadership at the highest levels.  Capitalism cannot allow workers to have an existence free from want and insecurity.  We must always be in a state of anxiety about the future, fearful of other workers who might take our jobs and means of feeding ourselves and our families.  We must always be in a position to compete as our lives do depend on it in a capitalist economy. The unemployed are there to remind us of this.

I am not ashamed of my pension and believe all workers should have a pension we can live on, wages we can live on.  We should be spending much less time at work and our communities should have all the needs that any civilized society requires; health care (even tiny Cuba has that in every community) housing, education, public transportation etc.  I think readers know what I mean.

My financial advisor’s response to such Utopian ideas was “Sure, we’ll all live like the Greeks then. That’s what happens when you live beyond your means.”  Who says that?  The Wall Street Journal, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and the likes of Bill Gross say it.  Their media says it. Their professors in the universities say it.  It is the ideology of the class that rules and it is lapped up especially by sections of the middle and lower middle class.

But it’s clearly not the case.  There are all sorts of historical data and statistics that would show that living high on the hog or being “profligate” to use a term the strategists of capital like to use, was the problem for Greece and many other countries.  It is not pensions here either.  The productivity of labor is so great we could all be working two or three days a week having more time to organize work, decide collectively what we need, how we produce it and when.

A small example of resources misplaced: I was watching late night TV a week ago and getting frustrated as I usually do at the constant ads interrupting my viewing. I noticed that they are already showing ads for Halloween candy and costumes and it’s not yet October.  Leaving aside the health factor with so much candy being eaten by the nations children, I wondered how much money nationally will be spent on TV advertising in the month up to Halloween.  I would guess in the hundreds of millions.  This is a small example of bad capital allocation and an unfortunate use of artist’s skills.

Then I read that the new air war in the Middle East, against yet another nebulous group of former CIA/Pentagon friends and acquaintances is likely to cost around $10 billion a year, possibly more. According to Sky News,  (Same ownership as the WSJ) “…the first night of air strikes against the IS group in Syria this week, the US launched 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles from ships at sea and deployed sophisticated F-22 Raptor fighter jets. Each missile costs about $1.5 million and the F-22 jets cost roughly $68,000 an hour to fly.”  This is small potatoes of course compared to Iraq and Afghanistan where the US supported Bin Laden and other religious fanatics. But that could change as Obama has warned, the fight against ISIS and whoever else will be a long-term project. Such warfare is also why we are seen as cowards by many of the innocent victims of this impersonal, computer warfare.

As I pointed out in a previous commentary, if one follows the trail of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and beyond, it will lead back to the USA.   And an interesting aspect of the new war from the anti-war president is that they get to test their new plane, the F22.  This has a huge cost attached to it and a huge expense for a weapon of mass destruction like the F22 is money thrown down the drain if not used.  A warplane is no good without a war.  As I quoted a former US official who said during the illegal bombing of Laos in a piece I wrote last week  “When asked to explain the U.S. bombing escalation, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Monteagle Stearns testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ‘well, we had all those planes sitting around and couldn't just let them stay there with nothing to do.’". There you have it; things have not changed.

As I write I recall reading some time back about the cost of the F22 and attempts to make it lighter and more efficient. If my memory serves me right I learned that there were 500 engineers working on that project.  What a waste of skill and labor power. That is another critical flaw in the capitalist system; the allocation of labor power along with capital is not planned, not rational.  It the anarchy of the market.

I confess I go on too long but I’ll end with this again. We must reject that there is no money in society. We must reject the idea that the way society is organized, the mode of production we call capitalism is the end of civilization, the only form of social organization there is.  We must reject the idea propagated by the 1%’s media that the Soviet Union (Stalinism) was socialism or communism. We must also reject the idea that that everyone hates us.  It is them that they hate, the folks responsible for US foreign policy and our actions in the world. This means we must purge from our own consciousness the ideology of the ruling class, what Christopher Hill in his great book chronicling the English Revolution called, the “Stop in the Mind”.

We must reject the ideology of the ruling class because, if stop for a moment to think about it, it doesn’t correspond to objective reality as we live it.

In short, we must think for ourselves.

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