Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buffalo Story Re-posted for an Odd Reason.

I'm posting this story agian, not as a summer re-run but because of all my posts, this one seems to be accumulating spam. I'm not sure why, how, or for what reason because a majority of it seems to be in Chinese. I'm deleting the original to see what will happen next.

In my last post, I identified four broad categories of financially poor individuals. This time, I’d like to concentrate on those that have little money because they have little use for money. This group generally consists of communities that are mostly self-sufficient and barter among themselves. Whether ancient or modern, technologically simple or complex, large or small, this factor is a common thread. Money becomes another commodity in these cultures, not the one-and-only means of exchange. This subculture is less susceptible to threat and coercion, and is therefore seen as a competitor, or threat, to any hierarchy seeking complete control of the general population.

In 1800, most of the land West of the Mississippi River was considered “Indian Territory”. France and Spain had a claim on it, but those governments hadn’t done much with the real estate. Meanwhile, the fledgling United States had begun a steady push westward of Native American tribes and nations. This was done by treaties obtained by any means. That there was never any intention of honoring any of these treaties is easily demonstrated. In 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. In 1804, a treaty ceding all Fox and Sac land East of the Mississippi River, and Some areas West of that line was signed and enacted. That the four signers had no authority to broker this deal was immaterial.

"Quashquame, Pashepaho, Ouchequaka and Hashequarhiqua were sent by the Sacs to St. Louis to try and free a prisoner who had killed an American. The Sac tradition was to see if the Americans would release their friend. They were willing to pay for the person killed, thus covering the blood and satisfying the relations of the murdered man. Upon return Quashquame and party came up and gave us the following account of their mission: On our arrival at St. Louis we met our American father and explained to him our business, urging the release of our friend. The American chief told us he wanted land. We agreed to give him some on the west side of the Mississippi, likewise more on the Illinois side opposite Jeffreon. When the business was all arranged we expected to have our friend released to come home with us. About the time we were ready to start our brother was let out of the prison. He started and ran a short distance when he was SHOT DEAD! This was all they could remember of what had been said and done. It subsequently appeared that they had been drunk the greater part of the time while at St. Louis. This was all myself and nation knew of the treaty of 1804. It has since been explained to me. I found by that treaty, that all of the country east of the Mississippi, and south of Jeffreon was ceded to the United States for one thousand dollars a year. I will leave it to the people of the United States to say whether our nation was properly represented in this treaty? Or whether we received a fair compensation for the extent of country ceded by these four individuals?" - Autobiography of Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, or Black Hawk. J. B. Patterson, 1882.

One year later, in 1805, the US signed a treaty with a different group of tribes establishing the boundary of US and Indian Territories in the middle of what is now Ohio. The point is, there was never any attempt to create a uniform boundary, and enforcement of the terms of any of these treaties was one-sided. Through the 1800s several Nations had treaties granting hunting rights in the Great Plains. As long as there was large herds of bison, the Native American population could sustain a lifestyle largely independent of Western-style banking and commerce.

“Bison herds, so vast that they could be 50 miles wide and take 5 days to pass a fixed point. This species had such a broad distribution that in 1612 they were observed grazing along the Potomac at the site that would become our nation's Capitol.” Bird

By 1900, the bison were almost extinct. This was not accidental. The herds were destroyed simply because they were free for the taking. It is hard for me to sell you a side of beef if you can walk out your front door and shoot a bison. If you are, for example, part of the Sioux Nation, and I take away your means of supporting yourself, I can then force you onto reservations where you become part of the lowest tier of my Western hierarchical pyramid, the Charity Cases. Church leaders can hold you up as a shining example of “the heathen” that needs to be “saved”, and the “savage” that needs to be “schooled”. All kinds of money will change hands as people are convinced that you have to be matriculated. You can escape the wastelands and lands of zero opportunity where you have been barracked, but the only way out is through the levels of the Western Culture Pyramid, all nice and neat. The bison had to go for other reasons too. The railroad had been given vast rights of way across the plains. The idea was to sell off land to settlers and create towns that would, in turn, create demand for the services of the railroad. Never mind that it wasn’t vacant land, it wasn’t owned either, and free land cannot be taxed. Bankers cannot underwrite mortgages on public land. The whole thing had to be chained up, fenced off, and the bison had to go. Killing them for food wasn’t fast enough, so a fad was created for Buffalo Robes. Anybody who was anybody, or who wanted to be mistaken for anybody, had to have one. Then too, the animals could be shot for the sport of it, and left to rot. And that’s the story of how one group of independent people were subdued and forced into place in the Nuevo-Feudal system that is the modern Western corporate-capitalist hierarchy. It’s also the story of how one example of the bounty of the Americas was systematically destroyed to make sure that someone, somewhere, would have to pay the going rate for almost every meal consumed. Why am I telling this story? Because there are modern trends that suggest that we are all being herded into reservations, so to speak. All who aren’t doing the herding that is.

Relative to our ability in the US to live without total dependency on the multiply-taxed monetary system:

In 1497, John Cabot returned [from his voyage to the New World] with stories of the Grand Banks, where cod appeared so thick that a person "could walk across their backs." That news opened the North West Atlantic fishery, which helped feed the world for centuries to come. – Historica Minutes

The entire Eastern Seaboard has been practically fished out. It is maintained in this near-exhausted state by the enlightened indifference of the respective governments that will not discourage factory fishing that destroys habitat. This course of action ultimately ruins small, independent fishermen that can no longer make a living. Meanwhile, as long as the corporate factory boats can cover their costs, they scoop up what remains and destroy the competition at the same time. Now the independent fishermen must work for the corporation, or move on. Either way, his earning power is diminished. Small farming communities often lived with minimal cash outlay by trading goods and services among themselves. Today, the small farmer has been practically wiped out in many places in the country. The truck farms are now growing condos, or they have been chained together in huge corporate combines. This did not help:

“Bartering occurs when you exchange goods or services without exchanging money. An example of bartering is a plumber doing repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged must be included in the income of both parties.” - IRS Topic 420, and part of the Tax Code.

I can’t find the actual tax code entry, but I seem to remember that this was either amended, or came into greater enforcement during the late 1970s. With this alteration in the Code, the government is not just taxing the use of money, but actually taxing labor, demanding a share of what would otherwise be even exchanges of value.

In other news:

“The EPA recently announced one in three lakes and 25 percent of rivers are polluted by mercury and other harmful substances. So much so that the government issued a warning to children and pregnant women that serious health problems can come from eating too much fish. The warning level is the highest ever reported by the EPA, partly as a result of more measures taken to monitor for mercury. A 2003 survey found contamination evident in 14 million acres of lakes and 850,000 miles of rivers, the latter being up by 65 percent since 2002. The EPA said the warning does not apply to grocery stores and restaurant fish because such a small percentage of it is caught from inland bodies of water. The problem also is not associated with deep-sea fish” – USA Today August 25, 2004

If you want a meal in this country, these days you must buy it or beg for it. Either way, welcome to your planned existence. The photo was taken in 1870. It is a mountain of bison skulls. I found it here.

Original Comments:

concerned citizen said...
Would you stop! I'm having a hard time being my cheerful optimistic self reading this... & could you explain Nuevo-Feudal system?I have a germ of an idea that keeps running through my mind. It's the idea that the Law meant to protect us is the Law that will ultimately oppress us. Where can i find literature about that?
9:06 AM

breakerslion said...
Explaining what I mean by Nuevo-Feudalism is turning into my next post. Sorry, but you'll have to wait.Law has always had an opressive component. This comes about primarily when we let someone else decide what "for your protection" means. Did the White people of the South really need the "protection" that the Jim Crow laws bestowed on them?I recently saw a rerun of a South Park episode where "The scene in which Randy Marsh craps out his mouth has been edited for your protection." Three similar scenes were likewise replaced by a similar placard. Somebody decided that I had to be protected from the sight of a cartoon turd coming out the mouth of a cartoon. What a sad, stupid world we live in. Meanwhile, in Darfur... real life-threatening problems!
5:26 PM

concerned citizen said...
i wasn't thinking about literature like South Park, gee wizz! More Machiavelli type stuff.
7:14 PM

angelsdepart said...
The fact that we are being herded concerns me. Even if you are aware of it, what can you really do about it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If You Believe In Prayer

I have a question for you. The “Jesus Wallet” is from a marketing campaign described on PopCult Magazine here. Basically, it’s a scam. I think only the most brain-blasted believer would not agree that the perpetrator of this demand for cash is a religious predator. Here’s the question. If the recipient of this mess really believes, and is sincere in their prayer, why won’t it work? Sure, the sender is a scoundrel, but that has nothing to do with the nature of the poor fools who are praying, and the relative merit of their petition for relief. Is the whole thing tainted by the Reverend’s cooties or something? These are good, desperate people who are going to fall for this crap, so what is your explanation for a god that would let this happen? If the supplicants are worthy, I can’t see any reason why this is not a perfectly legitimate prayer, regardless of the inventor. The point of origin is what should count, right? So, when it doesn’t work, does one admit that prayer is worthless, or does one just say, “they’re not doing the magic incantation right?”

The only thing more useless than prayer are the people who promote it.

Missing Woman Found Trapped in Car

There was an intense search by the State Police, and presumably volunteers. The search was narrowed down by computer forensics tracking her cell phone use to a particular tower. She was air-lifted by helicopter to the hospital, where she is being treated for severe dehydration and renal failure. It will take the best that medical science has to offer to pull her through. After all this high-tech, human effort, what did the husband say on the news?

“Thank you Jesus!”

Were I part of the rescue effort, or any of the professionals that trained them, I would say under my breath, “You’re welcome, asshole!”

Monday, August 25, 2008

12th Foundation Falsehood of Creationism

Your God is a made-up, absent, alpha-male analog intended to be the unassailable apex of a religious hierarchy.

THIS is awesome!

Hat tip to:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stuck (again)

I've been stuck on two writing projects that are not developing the way I want them to. One is personal and requires solitude that I don't have. The other is what was going to be my next post for the past two weeks. I just can't find the time right now to wrestle with the fine points for the post. I'm giving up on it and moving on. Here's the thumbnail, if anyone cares.

Title: Poison.

Have you ever been exposed to a person or persons that just didn't seem to like you and you don't know why? Maybe you reminded them of someone, maybe your attempts to be friendly were viewed with paranoid suspicion. Maybe you just didn't smell right, or they had some kind of ethnic or racial prejudice, or thought you did by virtue of your ethnicity. Maybe they have prejudices against your particular lifestyle, or condemned you for something that happened when you were kids. Whatever the reason, you just didn't seem to hit it off for some reason you can't pinpoint. If you're like me, this is painful and confusing. You try very hard to overlook the snubs and remain friendly, but nothing changes.

I've had a few of these experiences, and one in particular has been gnawing at me lately. I see this guy a couple of times a year in a summer vacation spot. I've known him since I was six, and he was about 15. He works hard, and has wide experience in carpentry, plumbing, etc., etc., etc. He is loved by his family, and well-liked by his friends, and I have nothing but respect for him. We just don't get along. I can think of several reasons for him to judge me harshly. I was a kid who kind of drifted, there was the drug scene, and other incidents in my life I'm not proud of. I was almost 30 before I figured out I wasn't a kid anymore. He's a devout Catholic and I'm the atheist product of a divorced Protestant family. I'm a non-Christian married to a non-Christian. He's the patriarch of a large family of children and grandchildren, and I have no kids. We have never discussed religion. If it works for him, I'm not going to give him any shit about it unless he tries to evangelize me or something, which he won't.

We don't have a lot in common, except some friends. I don't expect to be invited to any of his barbecues, I just don't like being treated like I'm something nasty he picked up on his shoe. I want to be judged for who I am, not who I was, or who I'm not, or some ancient slight between our two families.

It occurred to me that there is a large number of people for whom he makes the summer more enjoyable, or at least leaves unaffected. To me, he is a sour note in an otherwise pleasant experience. He is poison. I would alter my feelings about him if I could, to the point where I couldn't care less. The problem is, that we are likely to continue to interact, and I do have respect for him and for his lifestyle, religion aside. I could ask him in so many words what particular bug he has up his ass where I’m concerned, but I don’t think I would get a straight answer. Knowing him as I do, I think he would maintain that he had no problem with me, and then continue to treat me as if he did. He just wouldn’t want to discuss it with me.

This is where the post refuses to gel. I did not want to make it all about me, or this quasi-asshole of a guy. Thinking about this made me realize that it’s really easy to ruin someone’s day without meaning to, or even realizing that you have done so. We have become, at least on a part-time basis, a nation of thin-skinned assholes. I will remember this next time I’m tempted to scream obscenities out the window at a driver that might feel stupid enough already. I really don’t do that as often as some, but once is enough.