2012 R.I.P. God. Marlen Vargas Del Razo’s meditations on the Death of God.
I was baptized 5 times in 5 different churches by the time I was a teen. 5 times dipped into icy cold water. By the fifth time, in a small Baptist church in Toledo, I had pretty much decided the whole affair was ridiculous. The first baptism came as a child at the Catholic church when I was 6 years old.
I’m expanding a discussion with Youtube user, “minivanjack” regarding his video, “God, Money and Lies.” The video seems to be a rather boilerplate Alex Jones/Lew Rockwellian libertarian diatribe about the Federal Reserve, the Federal Government, the worthlessness of fiat money and how these three institutions are robbing us Americans our liberty and freedom (as if we possessed them in the first place). I’m sure thoughtful readers of this blog has heard this song and dance before and probably agree that the case presented in the video is fairly accurate.
But “minivanjack” does not like the Equal Money platform and is suspicious and distrustful of Democracy and presumably the democratic process. In the comments section of his video, “minivanjack” peppers his disdain for democracy as “mob rule” derisively ridiculing the concept by borrowing libertarian author James Bovard’s witticism of democracy being, “two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner. “Mob rule,” “minivanjack” said, adding, “Study some history, all your mistakes are there.”
In studying history extensively ever since grade school, I’ve read and understood a bit of it. Democracy has not acquitted itself well in historical terms (Neither has “liberty” or “freedom,” for that matter). The intellectual founders of Western Civilization, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were notoriously anti-democratic, preferring strong rulers to lead the common people who were too simple and ignorant to appreciate such lofty concepts as governing a state or themselves.
The Founding Fathers of the United States thought much along the same lines, despising the notion of “mob rule” of the people as much as their classical forebears. They were under no illusion how America would be ruled. “The people who own the country,” said Founding Father and first Chief Justice of the United States, John Jay, “ought to run it.” In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, the idea that the 1% controlling how the 99% lives has brought Jay’s throwaway line into public focus. Indeed, the people who do own the country do run it, but hasn’t always been this way in every country that has ever existed?
Leaving that aside for now, I turn to “minivanjack’s” comments about Equal Money after several EM proponents left their views on his videos. To say he wasn’t impressed about EM would be an understatement. When one poster remarked that he hadn’t fully studied Equal Money sufficiently, “minivanjack” shot back:
“I do know something about Equal Money, I read the web site. I did not attack Equal Money, I attacked the idea that my earnings would be taken and distributed by someone other than myself. I am advocating the right to keep what I earn and to earn what I wish to keep. If my earnings are snatched into some giant pot to be managed by some psychopath who aspires to do that, I will not bother to earn, and the redistribution model will collapse, as did the Soviet Union.”
“minivanjack” wasn’t finished. He added:
“Enforcement of “equal access”is called “redistribution”. How else can you enforce that “equal access”? Somebody besides the earner and rightful possessor is ENFORCING the presumed “ideal”distribution or “access” if that’s what you want to call it. You don’t seem to distinguish between the right to operate freely and the “right” for a person to receive a benefit paid for or created by another person, that benefit being transferred by force of policy, authority and regime.”
Which I saw as my entry point into the conversation. I pointed out:
The “right to operate freely” has historically been abused to cause a lot of human suffering in this world under colonial & neoliberal economic practices. This in itself is economic totalitarianism. All people are exploited by this neoliberal economic domination – it’s just that some slaves can afford to buy toys other slaves are forced to manufacture. Foxconn is a case in point why your thesis of “rights” and “freedom” is incoherent, ironic and self-deceptive.”
Foxconn has nothing to do with my comments or positions. You are throwing red herrings, and you are failing to explain how your system will force redistribution to create “equality”. Please explain the mechanism that will force the redistribution of resources, possessions and equity. You say people must “give”. Who forces them to do that?
“I used Foxconn as an example in how your comments about “the right to operate freely” within this capitalist system doesn’t make sense because such a thing isn’t even possible under current circumstances. One’s reality is contingent upon the ability to purchase survival from others. There’s no “freedom” within that at all no matter where you happen to fall within the enslavement spectrum, and that is the point I addressed.
“Believe it or not, working for Foxconn is a choice. We set our wages and working conditions by agreeing to them. We have freedom the moment we take it. Freedom cannot be given. Only benefits and privileges are given. Freedom must be taken.”
Looking back at this quote, I wonder if “minivanjack” would be happy exchanging places with a worker facing such “choices.” Me:
Working for Foxconn is a choice,” alright. So is exploiting crummy economic conditions of one segment of the human race so another may benefit. Choosing between starvation or exploitation is not a “choice” made “freely.” It is the response to the immediacy of survival, which one either “chooses” to temporarily forestall, or like a few Foxconn workers, leap to their deaths when nothing of life was left within them, You are trivializing great suffering. Shame on you.
I am not trivializing, you are missing my point. The more tyranny we suffer the more of us must oppose the tyranny. There are two enemies of justice, the tyrant and the willing slave of the tyrant. The tyrant alone can do nothing. EMS does not account for everyone’s obligation to resist tyranny. If people are exercising their responsibility to resist tyranny your ‘inequity” problem solves itself.
The Equal Money system is a democratic & economic government (One Person, One Vote) that is based on universal equality and respect for life. This is a post-capitalist government where money doesn’t buy power for an elite. EMS is the end of all elites, Economic Darwinism and political deception. People will no longer waste their lives working only for money. Basic needs will be provided by the State as the State (the People) will only exist to do what is best for all.
“What is best for all” ?! Last I checked “All” has never said what is best for it. That means that some “leader” will be deciding what is best for all. And that will also happen to be best for that “leader”. Democracy? I noticed you never responded to my definition of democracy. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner. Mob rule. Study some history, all your mistakes are there.
There’s a simple reason why ‘all’ hasn’t said what is best for it. All has been separated, divided, diverted and manipulated by forces that has operated under a program of self-interest and money. One day the people will wake up. We want them to do it before it is too late. Your fear of “tyranny” prevents you to see how One Person, One Vote is the most practical principle in dealing with issues that affect everyone. Sorry that makes you feel like a sheep among wolves.
“that makes you feel”?? You do love to invent things to suit yourself. That doesn’t “make me feel” anything. That is mob rule. The majority “ruling” and violating the rights of the minority and the individual. You will never get equity by letting people “vote” on anything. Control is control.
If you are going to have a society then you are going to have controls to regulate relationships between people. Are you advocating “anarchy”? Your apparent disdain for democracy and “tyranny” from “control” (I assume you mean “state control”) is very curious. This clip on the subject of fiat money seems directed to get people (as a group) to gain “control” over the situation and do something about it. So I don’t understand where you are coming from.
Controls to regulate relationships? No thank you, I can manage my own relationships. It is very clear that you don’t understand. There are other options besides mob rule (“democracy”) and anarchy. Obviously I a not suggesting anarchy. I am suggesting individual responsibility, honor and rights. “Controls” are for tyrants and slaves.
Fascinating. What do you get when a group of individuals relate responsibly and honorably with each other if not equality and justice? And what “rights” can one assert without being recognized by others?
You described a Republic of Individual Sovereigns there. So Equal Money relies on the good behavior of all members and has no central authority?
And at last we get to cleave to the real matter at hand. I should have picked up on this earlier, but it’s been many years since I flirted with libertarian perspectives from the inside, which at its heart is the libertarian claim that states one specific political philosophy is superior to all others and is the most conducive to human freedom. It is the same claim set in quasi-religious terms which states that America was founded by Great Men as a Constitutional Republic, not as a “democracy.”There is often the religious-type belief which accompanies this thesis that these Great Men fought for Freedom and Liberty. The truth is that this was the case, if one fulfilled the requirement of being a wealthy, white landowner.
Leaving aside all that for a moment, I was impressed by “minivanjack’s” final statement. Not just because it was the only comment he didn’t completely refute, object or sneer at, but because it offered a small point of agreement (at least that’s how I took it. It is more interesting to me to investigate points of possible agreements than endlessly arguing with someone. I’ve learned that most people will not give up a single point rather than question various things within their perspective. They’ve invested so much of themselves within them, haven’t they?
So here it was, a seeming agreement of an ideal situation between people, “a group of individuals relate responsibly and honorably with each other.” I call it Equality and Oneness through the Equal Money program while “minivanjack” sees it as a “Republic of Individual Sovereigns.”
To understand what a “Republic of Sovereign Individuals” implies, we have to understand the its definition. A “sovereign individual,” according to proponents of the “Sovereign Movement,” ”believes in rights and power for the individual.”
There’s your starting point. “Rights and powers for the individual.” But what do they mean by “rights?” According to various dictionaries you will get a multitude of answers, from “Conforming with or conformable to justice, law, or morality , or, “an abstract idea of that which is due to a person or governmental body by law or tradition or nature,” or, “something to which someone has a just claim.”
A “just claim?” The Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence famously asserted that:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Let’s give a close reading to this bit of baroque propaganda. The first two clauses of this statement we can let pass without comment, for we agree with them. What is the uniting factor in all human beings? It is that we all are born into this world needing the aid of others to survive infancy. In this truly all creatures are equal.
The third clause sails into a storm with no return, as it claims to know of a “Creator” who has “endowed” human beings with “certain, unalienable rights.” Since no “Creator” has ever been proven to exist except within the minds of believers, we have no choice than to regard this as a self-deceptive abstraction: a story (actually, a lie) fabricated by consciousness which demands a beginning to the story of Mankind. There was no “Creator” which gave men “rights,” (unless you can call the human ego,
“The Creator” which is much closer to the truth). Thus rights are an abstraction created by the minds of men. A right is a political abstraction that implies freedom from oppression committed by others. “Liberty” is another political abstraction. It implies a kind of self-authority not contingent upon the actions of others. These are the major planks in the platform of classical liberalism, which may have its beginning with John Locke, the great liberal propogandist and slave-trade profiteer. Locke regarded the individual sovereign as having:
” a right to decide what would become of himself and what he would do, and as having a right to reap the benefits of what he did.“
Nowhere in this lofty formulation of personal liberty does kidnapping, holding and selling fellow human beings enter into the equation. Apparently “unalienable rights” and the “pursuit of happiness” has never taken all into consideration, just those who can afford the ticket. Since Locke, celebrated by proponents of Natural Law, liberty and Republicanism as one of the putative fathers of classical liberalism was foremost a major investor in the Royal African Company, all he had to concern himself with was his own pursuit of happiness, which has to be nothing more than the pursuit of wealth through slave trading and installing a feudal arrangement through his drafting of the Constitutions of the Carolinas while composing liberal philosophies at his leisure. Africans and the indigenous people he helped enslave and disenfranchise were considered by Locke to be sub-humans to be regarded as cattle, as private property – with no “unalienable rights” to liberty and freedom at all.
As for the “pursuit of happiness,” this is something altogether different. This “right” is merely a truth-claim that human beings have a right to experience sensations of pleasure at any cost. This unfortunate externalization of the ego had been attempted to be elevated as a political principle of the ideal society being presented as “the greatest happiness for the greatest number,” by the Utilitarian proponents Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
Not that the Founding Fathers and the elites they represented were interested in the “greatest happiness for the greatest number,” they absolutely were not. They were bewitched by liberal notions of enlightened self-interest as the externalization of the ego, and this is the fatal flaw of liberalism, which pretends to consider human beings as agents of personal autonomy endowed with free choice. What we see clearly is that rights are not lofty, high-minded abstractions, but actually only privileges granted under certain conditions that must be bought and paid for.
And yet, people like “minivanjack” look forward to an ideal society where human beings relate responsibly and honorably with each other in equality and justice. He calls this a Republic of Sovereign Individuals. We call it the Equal Money System. It is our opinion that such future state cannot possibly manifest from so-called “free trade” capitalism, republicanism, democratic republicanism or socialism. Nothing that has been tried has ever worked to the benefit of all people. As Bernard Poolman has said,
“the only important issue while on earth is what is going on here on earth and whether what has been given is shared equal and one that all may make the best of the time they have on earth.” It is not about the “rights and powers” of the Individual that is at stake, but the future of this world where everyone arrives here in need and aid.
Money and the Individual
Money has been the Great In-equalizer of the Human Condition. There is where the ax must be laid at its root. Money is the most ubiquitous system of control ever devised by human beings. Money is an abstraction of a system of exchange. It is a symbol of power and authority. It is God. With it one has life and prosperity. Without it, death and poverty. The Individual is always the slave of Money. This is why neoliberals, anarcho-libertarians, conservatives, democrats, republicans, independents, socialists and communists make such a big deal about personal property and wealth. The individual’s relationship to money is the most important thing in the world to them. This is the major cause of madness within the human beings with access to money. The world is a fine place for these people, as money inoculates them from unpleasant and painful experiences and scenarios that may impede and retard their pursuit of happiness.
The Equality Equation
In the Equal Money System, there is a different focus and starting point; life, not abstractions as “power and rights.”As Sunette Spies remarked, “the only equation that works with life is the equality equation which, “equates the accumulation of what is best for all ’til all is part of one group within which each part is an equal in every way.”
Immanuel Kant, the German Idealist philosopher of the Enlightement Movement, devised a principle that behavior should be determined by duty, the categorical imperative. “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.” Here is where the Equality Equation becomes that living principle with these three points all other systems have known and bandied about, but always failed to establish:
1. Give to another that which you would like to receive. This is a fundamental basic human right, such as basic living requirements from birth till death. The basic living requirements of each person is pre-planned and the person is setup for life for what it is that they will require to live within the current trend of a particular era.
2. No person will work for money. Work is considered a pleasure to be performed voluntarily, people will participate according to their interest and because they understand it is a physical act of love to give to others. As Kahlil Gibran states: “Work is love made visible and as love is good and money is evil, working for money creates evil as the world demonstrates”.
3. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This statement describes the starting point and behaviour necessary to include all into all considerations and decisions made in the Equal Money System, to support ‘what is best for all’. Within this, we move from the starting point of equality and equal access for a life to be lived in dignity. We are creating this system wherein we all agree to give to each other what we require to live a satisfactory life. We apply this understanding to the raising of children, ensuring that we pass on the necessary tools of maintaining equality to those who determine the future of the system. 
In this the Individual is established through acts of self-responsibility, walking this process of transitioning into an equality system as individuals, not as a group among groups competing in a game of winner-takes-all, but for the inclusion of all of existence.
This is quite a challenge. People have been so brainwashed and enchanted by their own ego-based mindsets that very few can hear what we are saying at this point. People want to hold onto what they have and what they know. Many will complain that EM cannot be successful for many reasons. It sounds too much like a utopian pipe-dream. But as the current money system slowly but surely crumbles under its own weight of corruption and greed, and everyone loses everything they value, a true, workable alternative will be sought, and the principles of Equal Money will finally be established for the benefit of all, and not only those who can afford the price of the ticket.
 “right,” wordweb.com. Accessed Feb. 18, 2012;
 http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rights ”rights,” The Free Dictionary” accessed on Feb. 18,2012.
http://www.britannica.com/bps/dictionary?query=right “Right” Britannica Online, accessed on Feb. 18, 2012
 Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Morality
 “The Equal Money System, “Contributers, Destonian Wiki, http://wiki.destonians.com/Equal_Money_System
I am Not Happy with how they are made with the ground-up bones of human suffering! I’ve posted about Foxconn and Apple before here. And here comes the NY Times which recently published a series of investigative articles that brought (undoubtedly) unwanted publicity to Apple’s unfortunately named supplier, the now-infamous “Foxconn” corporation that manufactures iPhones and iPads nearly the same time when Apple reported its best earnings quarter ever.
In the article the Times reported the May 2010 explosion at a Foxconn plant that made iPad components which ultimately killed 4 workers and injured 18. Also reported was a later Foxconn plant explosion that left 137 workers injured while cleaning iPhone screens with a poisonous chemical. There has been other problems at other Foxconn plants as well.
Foxconn has long been subjected to many charges of using underage workers and endangering workers’ health with improper storage and disposal of hazardous material. The Times article reported some Foxconn workers standing for long stretches of time suffer from “swollen legs,” exhaustion, stress and living in cramped, prison – like “campuses.” In other reports workers claim to suffering disabilities like permanently losing the use of their hands as a result of endlessly repetitious tasks. Forced overtime pay is often “missing” from paychecks. Surveys of Foxconn workers suggest that over 72% work overtime hours which far exceed the legal maximum limits, some by 100 hours a month. 
While the Apple corporation set a record of billions of dollars in profit last quarter (more than any quarter by any corporation in history), attention was also drawn to the fact that workers in China labor under intolerably harsh conditions during six to seven days a week for an average of $1.42 an hour. The past two years have bedeviled Apple and Foxconn with reports of over a dozen workers (maybe more) committing suicides out of despair and hopelessness. The “Foxconn Suicides” has also deservedly tarnished the sexy gleam of the ultra-hip, tech savvy market who love their iPhones.
The reaction from this is beginning to take a more visceral form than ever before. Hackers have been busy with messing Foxconn’s internet data. Online petitions and demonstrations are gaining publicity through social networks. The ominous “B” word (for “boycott”) has been bandied about over the internet, which apparently led Apple’s CEO Tim Cook to complain publicly that Apple’s activities in China has actually benefited their Chinese workers by creating better working conditions within their supply chain operations. “The welfare of our employees is our top priority, and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and that their rights are fully protected.” Can you hear the violins? Cook stated, “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values.”
Whether this statement comes from a good place or not, we cannot know. But actions speak louder than words, and given the evidence, it seems that the lives of several hundred thousand unfortunate, mistreated Chinese workers do not compete well with Apple’s “values,” which seem to center around generating unlimited growth and billions of dollars in profit. In response to a rash of suicides where depressed, overworked workers leaped from the roofs to their deaths, Foxconn promised to raise pay raises and more important, installed anti – jumping “suicide nets” around its buildings.
The fact of the matter is this: these abuses (and they are “abusive” as these are working conditions no one in the developed world would tolerate for one second) do not prevent or dissuade thousands of migrant workers to apply for work at factories like Foxconn for these highly-coveted jobs. Foxconn claims that they could hire 3000 workers overnight, and given the thousands upon thousands who applied during their last employment drive, there is no reason to doubt it. But don’t look for any unionized or collective bargaining to aid these workers. Unions in China are controlled by the Communist Party, are usually operated as extensions of the management and elite. This is a telling irony that should alert those who equate equal money with Communism. Or within Communism itself, for that matter.
Let’s face it: the difference between slaves and these Foxconn workers is that slaves don’t get paid. That they are paid better than before, or that they are paid in line with similar jobs in China doesn’t change the essence of their servitude. Within every dimension and definition of the word, these human beings that waste their lives building electronic crap to entertain the elites of the world are slaves. And what makes slaves so valuable to Capitalism is that human slaves have only one precious quality to give: their lives. And such a valuable commodity will always be far cheaper to use, deplete and throw away than machines. This is why Steve Jobs sent the work to China in the first place. He knew he could make a killing using cheap, disposable labor to create relatively cheap electronics overseas. That’s the sum of “Apple’s Values.” Apple never wanted to create machines to do the work to create their products. It is estimated that Apple makes a cool 50 – 60% profit on each iPhone it sells.  iPads are even cheaper for Apple to make.  The only “value” Tim Cook’s company recognizes is that in order to make gimormous profits, it’s okay that life is so cheap to make that happen for him.
But let’s not place all the onus on Apple.Microsoft also uses the Foxcomm company to make components for its Xbox 360 consoles. As Arel Technology News reports:
“Earlier this year, Microsoft was forced to deal with reports that 150 people working on the Xbox 360 assembly line at the Foxconn Technology Park in Wuhan had threatened to commit mass suicide. Microsoft claimed that the suicide protest had to do with working conditions, and was related to staffing assignments and transfer policies.” 
A list of companies that use Foxconn reads like a Best Buy Ring of Honor:
Acer Inc. (Taiwan)
Amazon.com (United States)
Apple Inc. (United States)
Barnes & Noble (United States)
Cisco (United States)
Dell (United States)
EVGA Corporation (United States)
Hewlett-Packard (United States)
Intel (United States)
IBM (United States)
Microsoft (United States)
Motorola (United States)
Netgear (United States)
Samsung (South Korea)
Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)
Vizio (United States)
I’ll bet even money or better that anyone reading this uses a product from at least one of these companies, if not a half-dozen. Congratulations. You and I belong to a not so exclusive club: the Circle of Abuse of our Fellow Human Beings.
As you can imagine, there have been a ton of comments about all this bouncing on the internet. The comments within the various articles and responses have a binary cast. As many that seem to deplore the exploitation of the non-unionized Chinese workers by this quintessentially American corporation, logical justifications (and fallacies) rise up to excuse it. A small sampling:
“You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards,” said a current Apple executive. “And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.” – Excerpt: NY Times article In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad. Published: January 25, 2012
“I’ll tell you what. Let’s shut Apple down so the 600,000 people in China can all starve to death because there are no opportunities or market for their services at all.”
“Try subsistence farming in a rice paddy for awhile and see how it compares!”
“It’s barbaric. Ultimately the blame lies not with Apple and other electronics companies – but with us, the consumers. And ultimately we are the ones who must demand change.”
But here’s the takeaway point. Our greatest technological feats and triumphs often must depend on exploiting somebody’s misfortune. There is the neoliberal opinion that sweatshops are an “unsavory but necessary capitalist necessity.” They justify exploitation by claim ting hat there is little choice for the hapless migrant worker destined to travel from the countryside into the metropolises of China’s big cities. Who wants a future of boiling weeds or getting wet in a rice paddy all their adult lives? By the thousands they are lured into factories like Foxconn because they feel the need to support their families back in the country. One such person who became a Foxconn suicide left this note shortly before he leaped from a Foxconn rooftop to his death:
“I came to this company for money. [But then I realized], this is a waste of my life and my future. In the first step of my adult life, I took the wrong path. I’m lost.” , 
 Beijing Qingnian Bao (Beijing Youth Daily). 7 June 2010. Dissect Foxconn: respect “Made-in-China” human dignity [in Chinese].
 iSuppli. 28 June 2010. Apple rides high-margin hardware to competitive supremacy.
 Apple. 22 June 2010. Apple sells three million iPads in 80 days.
 Lu Xin, Foxconn employee, quoted in CCTV. 11 May 2010. Foxconn “seven consecutive jumps” incident. http://news.cntv.cn/society/20100511/104838.shtml [narrated in Mandarin, with Chinese subtitles].
 Chan, Jenny and Pun, Ngai, Suicide as Protest for the New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers: Foxconn, Global Capital, and the State. http://japanfocus.org/-Ngai-Pun/3408