Like the vast majority of Americans, these past few years, The Pink Flamingo has been dealing with a major financial crises, the worst in my life. No, I didn’t cause it. It was completely unanticipated and struck without warning – almost. Yes, there were warnings, but like so many other people in my position, I ignored those warnings. I am learning most of us do when we’re dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and the ruin of and disaster it causes in a person’s life.
The ruin it causes, the disasters that the disease often causes does not come from the disease, but from ignoring the disease. The disasters come from predators who are out there, preying on the elderly, the trusting, and those who have families who are choosing to ignore the symptoms of the disease and the societal problem of an entitled group of men and women who legally can get away with it.
Looking back on things, it is obvious that my father had symptoms of the disease nearly a decade ago – symptoms we ignored because he always lost thing. He had a tendency to take a short-cut when traveling. A ship’s navigator in the South Pacific during WWII, he can barely read a map at times. Unfortunately, the financial predators have a profile, and go for the kill. It has taken three years of detective work (on again and off again, of course) for his accountant to agree with me, that close to a million dollars has managed to disappear – without a trace. No, my father did not do it. we know who did. I can’t prove it because my trusting, honest father, who knew that a quarter of a million dollars had gone astray, sought out the very men and women who were scamming him, and asked for their help. He left all of his financial records with them, ignoring my pleas that he let me keep them.
That’s Alzheimer’s Disease.
It is the reason we must be diligent about our parents, and the elderly, not to allow them to be scammed. It has left me with a very bad taste in my mouth for the financial industry, for legalized theft. It has left me with new compassion for life’s little surprises. I will never again discuss able bodied welfare queens, complain about Social Security & Medicare, nor will I criticize anyone getting food assistance. Where I once was a huge supporter of community food banks, I now think they can also be used as a tool for degrading those in need.
I’ve learned that most people who are in need are not there because they want to be. They’re not there because of drugs, drinking, or lifestyles. Life happens, and it is not pretty. I’ve learned a few other lessons, none of which are all that welcome. The groups and individuals I’ve associated myself with all my life have proved to be the most disappointing, Those I thought were the last people I would want to associate with, turn out to be some of the nicest (generic as group) people I’ve ever met.
It was eye opening to learn that groups, individuals I trusted – politically – were nothing but lying sludge below pond scum. They have an agenda, protecting their own bank accounts, lying at will, not bothering to tell their fans, listeners, readers, etc. that they are bought and paid for whore of the hard libertarian, Randian, ultra wealthy right.
They have allowed themselves to be used, to not only betray what they believe, but perhaps even the country. In protecting their big pocketed sponsors and donors, they have become supporters and mouth-pieces of an agenda that is destroying our country
Democracy cannot survive in a plutocracy. It is as simple as that. Has the United States morphed into an Oligarchy or a Plutocracy? Bernie Sanders, who was once considered an evil socialist appears to have not been all that wrong about what is going on in this country. A couple years ago her wrote:
“...that an “upper-crust of extremely wealthy families are hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle-class which has made the United States the envy of the world. In its place they are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country.”…”
In an Oligarchy:
“… In his 2011 book Oligarchy, Jeffrey A. Winters defines oligarchy as “the politics of wealth defense by materially endowed actors.” In Winters’ definition, massive wealth is the key factor in identifying oligarchs. Throughout history, oligarchies have been tyrannical (relying on public obedience and/or oppression to exist) or relatively benign. Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy, but oligarchy is not always a rule by wealth, as oligarchs can simply be a privileged group, and do not have to be connected by bloodlines as in a monarchy…”
In a Plutocracy:
“… also known as plutonomy or plutarchy, is rule by the wealthy… Unlike systems such as democracy or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy and has no formal advocates. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense…”
The Pink Flamingo finds it highly ironic that figures the far right admires the most, like Winston Churchill and Alexis de Tocqueville have all warned against a plutocracy. A rather fascinating commentary on what is happening in this nation could be found in a blog post on Sodahead.
“…In it’s simplest form, Plutocracy is described as rule either directly or indirectly by the wealthy. Basically put, a wealthy person buying their way into political office or using their wealth to buy influence over elected or even non elected leaders (ie anyone with a position of authority).
I was talking with a retired British college professor last night who told me this is true yet it’s not so easy to label this way or people become confused like what we see with Americans attacking the 1% super wealthy. He explained to me that Plutocracy isn’t about wealth, but what you do with it and any level of wealth used to gain leverage over others or exploit the corrupt nature of another persons character deficiencies is Plutocracy….Men like Winston Churchill were outspoken opponents of Plutocracy and he did not limit his scorn to the wealthy or corporations as he understood that Plutocracy wasn’t the possession or control of wealth… but the abuse of wealth, the corruption and the power Plutocracy came to possess. …”
There is something terribly wrong with this nation and with the far libertarian right. There is nothing wrong with being libertarian. There is nothing wrong with being ultra wealthy. The Pink Flamingo aspires to being ultra wealthy on a somewhat daily basis. It is a nice fantasy. So is the idea of me wearing a size 2, and just about as practical. I don’t even mind admitting that I have libertarian tendencies.
FYI – The Pink Flamingo has been going through some funding issues that I can’t disclose right now, but if you want to hear someone wax irate and furious about mismanagement and pissing away the public trust, just give me a call. Otherwise, don’t come near me. It’s one thing to watch a bottom line and another thing to abuse public spending. Abuse of trust works both ways. Public institutions can be the most wasteful cesspools around.
Then again Randian libertarianism is the most heartless scenario since poor little Oliver Twist held out his empty bowl and asked for more. We are becoming a nation of oligarchs.
‘...The plutocrats’ compulsive denigration of the poor, the ill and the dispossessed is perhaps the most telling evidence of status obsession linked to insecurity that is at the core of their social personality. They find it necessary to stigmatize the latter as at best failures, at worst as moral degenerates – drug addicts, lazy, parasites, in part to highlight their superiority and in part to blur the human consequences of their rapacity. Behavior of this kind is the antithesis of what could be the cultivated image of the statesman of commerce – even though they pay a price in public esteem. They also pay in price in terms of the other aspect of their own self-image….”
Unfortunately, it is all about them – about making more, getting more, no matter who is hurt, destroyed in the process. And – people are being destroyed.
Want an example – watch for a crash in farm land prices.
There can be only one logical explanation attached to the far right stupidity when it comes to GOP Economic ‘ignorance’. They aren’t ignorant and are tanking our economy on purpose. No one can be so stupid, after watching the European economic model, to think that our economy is NOT going to suffer the effects of sequestration.
“...Thus far, federal employees are taking 22 furlough days without pay that equates to a 20% cut in pay, and those middle class Americans will stop buying cars, durable goods, and most likely lose their homes in order to afford food and shelter for their families. Besides the hundreds of thousands of teaching jobs lost during the past four years, school districts across America are shedding a hundred thousand more middle class teaching jobs as education takes a massive sequestration hit. In aviation, air traffic control towers at 149 executive and regional airports are being closed threatening air travel safety and eliminating the subsequent jobs servicing commercial airline traffic. Law enforcement and first responders, already at dangerously low levels, are taking another round of layoffs that not only threatens public safety, but takes living wage jobs out of the economy and pushes more Americans into anti-poverty assistance that has been ravaged before the sequester began just one month ago….”
Is the Koch Machine getting ready to crash farm based real estate? Makes sense to The Pink Flamingo, who has been watch them gobble up farms, ranches, and good farm land like Pacman. If they tell the world that a crash in land prices is coming, then they get richer, and impoverish the rest of us. They currently control a tremendous portion of the beef market. They are buying up water rights. With this move, or the announcement of this move, normal people should begin to worry. They are trying to take over the country, and are doing a darn good job of it.
“...Farmers have cash, and nowhere to invest it but farmland. Farmers largely ignore equities, as they tend to balance the inherent risk in farming by investing in what they perceive as less risky places. We aren’t dumb, however, and have figured out that it’s a losing game to invest in bonds or CDs at rates less than inflation while we’re in tax brackets we never even knew existed.
So, farmland prices are booming. Land prices in the heart of the Corn Belt have increased at a double-digit rate in six of the last seven years. According to Federal Reserve studies, farmland prices were up 15 percent last year in the most productive part of the Corn Belt, and 26 percent in the western Corn Belt and high plains. Closer to home, a neighbor planning his estate had an appraisal done in 2010 and again in late 2012. In that two-year period, the value of his farm had doubled. According to Iowa State economist Mike Duffy, Iowa land selling for $2,275 per acre a decade ago is now at $8,700 per acre. A farm recently sold in Iowa for $21,900 per acre.
Although much of the increase in land prices has been driven by well-financed farmers and outside investors (many paying a large portion of the purchase price in cash), there are disturbing trends occurring on farm balance sheets. The Kansas Farm Management Association reports that debt-to-equity ratios are highest in large farms, which have over a million dollars in sales. Although the debt-to-asset ratio is low even in the largest farms in Kansas, it’s higher than it was in 1979, shortly before the farmland crash of the eighties. As former home owners in Las Vegas and Southern California can attest, equity can melt away in a hurry. A debt-to-asset ratio of 30 percent can enter dangerous territory with a land price drop of 50 percent, which sounds like a lot, until you remember that is a price level last seen only 24 months ago in much of the Midwest.
We farmers should be more sophisticated than the average subprime borrower and more risk averse than startup investors in the 1990s. After all, we manage multi-million dollar businesses, and since the average age of farmers is near 60, most of us are survivors of the agricultural asset crash of the early 1980s. In 1981, the average price of farmland in Iowa was $2,147 per acre; by 1986, the average farm brought $787 an acre. That period was the formative experience of my farming career, and one I would not wish to repeat. According to a recent article in the USA Today, a third of Iowa’s farmers left the industry during that crash….”
This little eye opener was written by Blake Hurst, for the American Enterprise Institute, a Koch Machine organization. The Koch Machine, AFP, is also protesting that the Obama Administration wants credit loosened for home loans. Of course they don’t want the little people getting a break.
“...here is good news though, because every month there might be some part-time minimum wage jobs added, corporate profits will continue to soar, Wall Street will post record numbers, and for the next ten years, children will be hungry, seniors will be homeless, and the great American middle class will slip into oblivion. America’s best days are historical because instead of leadership and bold forward thinking, Republicans seized the initiative and led by following this country’s leading trading partner over an austerity cliff with willing assistance from debt and deficit reduction-mad Democrats who watched Europe fall into depression after recession and embraced the sentiment that “if you can’t beat em’ join em’,” and joined Republicans as they stopped leading and started following Europe over the economic cliff….”
The aquis1tion of vast wealth and power is a means to an end. How it is achieved doesn’t really matter. How many people are destroyed doesn’t really matter to those who approve of unbridled capitalism. All that matters is profit and capitalism.
Unfortunately, unbridled capitalism has nothing what so ever to do with democracy and freedom. That’s where the far right gets it wrong. Their brainwashed followers – and they are followers, not leaders, don’t comprehend that there is a difference between the two. They are like people watching an infomercial, wanting to buy into something that is too good to be true, but they can get a second product for the same price, if they order now.
The low information voters of life, they are quite childish in their politics. When you buy into the Randian and libertarian theories, it is like a political form of arrested development. They are fans, followers, the walmart shoppers of political ideology. Life’s losers, they are the fanny-pack wearers of politics. The lack the intellectual capacity to comprehend that the ideology they have embraced is nothing but socialism for the 0.1%.