by Aaron McQuade
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Jenna Talackova has been officially listed among the sixty-two national finalists scheduled to compete in the upcoming Miss Universe Canada competition. The winner of the competition will go on to represent Canada at the Miss Universe 2012 pageant in December. As a transgender woman, Jenna was initially denied the opportunity to compete, but after working with GLAAD, the Miss Universe Organization reversed its decision, allowing Jenna back into the competition. The organization and its owner Donald Trump also announced policy changesthat will allow transgender women to compete.
The LGBT community has praised the Miss Universe organization for its decision. GLAAD President Herndon Graddick also commented on the change, saying, “Jenna and all of the LGBT advocates who have called for this change and spoken out in support of transgender women are to be commended. At a time when transgender people are still routinely denied equal opportunities in housing, employment and medical care, today’s decision is in line with the growing levels of public support for transgender people across the country.”
GLAAD congratulates Jenna on being a finalist for Miss Universe Canada, and thanks her for speaking out for transgender equality.
Not all transsexual/transgender women are ultra feminine.
Indeed, in what is almost a mirror of cradle women’s patterns, only a minority of women born trans fall into that category.
Often they are the models, the pageant contestants and women who gain notoriety.
While attacking cradle women for being “too feminine” is considered to be taboo according to feminist principles, that taboo does not protect women born trans who are deemed too feminine.
It isn’t the gate keepers who demand this.
One of my late friends was an ultra femme sister from the American South, exaggeratedly feminine in every way imaginable and then some. She floated down the street like a cloud of lavender perfume, she was an other worldly sort of feminine.
Yet she was genuine in that femininity even in a world where that doesn’t get you very far and where it brings constant disappointment.
She was a character out of a Tennessee William’s play or a Truman Capote novella.
Dr. Laub asked me for my evaluation of her when Stanford was deciding whether or not to do her SRS. She was one of two sisters, both of whom were very dear friends of mine he asked me about.
He was used to the sexualized manipulative femininity many transsexuals, myself included, used as part of our collection of survival tools.
But her ethereal femininity was novel.
I explained that part of it was cultural, the southern belle aspect,which would lead to my describing my friend in later years as the faded flower of the Confederacy. But that she was also a genuine hopeless romantic.
She wasn’t putting anyone on. Her behavior could just as easily be annoying as charming. It was just who she was and to deny her surgery because her femininity didn’t match up with the more worldly sexy femininity of some of us who came off as “California Girls” (even though I was from up state New York) would be wrong.
She got her surgery and lived much of her life in melancholia, as the real world could never match her romantic fantasies.
I was the cute casual sort of femme. Even in a black leather jacket.
I was described by my sisters as a natural beauty wonder, curvy naturally feminine body and cute without a whole lot of make-up. I aroused jealousy among my sisters.
In lesbian bars and at events I was femme without trying.
I also came off as ‘real’, something that is called into question these days in TS/TG circles as being a disreputable social construct.
I honestly don’t give a shit about what Germaine Greer, Sheila Jefferys or any other self appointed radical feminist says about transsexual and transgender people. Thinking they have something valid to say is like thinking the Christo-Nazis are right about LGBT/T people.
I’ll go one step further. Nothing they have to say is relevant.
Denigrating Sexy Feminine transsexual/transgender women is just another form of slut bashing that denies women the right to be feminine or for that matter trashy and slutty.
I won’t go into how TS/TG sisters who looked just like all the other Birkenstock, jeans and t-shirts dykes were trashed for deceiving real lesbians into going to bed with them.
Never mind TS/TG women can’t please certain factions of radical feminists with anything we do, short of suicide.
As another late friend of my who was an example of the surgically enhanced form of sexually manipulative femininity put it, “Every procedure except my sex change operation was developed for and is used on women from breast implants to facial sculpting.”
She was right. Transsexual and transgender women didn’t develop the form of femininity they are being chided for following. Why are they criticized for it when cradle women are not?
Unless we are seen as fake women and by extension fake humans we are entitled to the same presumption of naturalness as normborns.
We are after all your sisters and brothers. John Rechy said something to the effect that queers are the only minority that is born into the families of the oppressors. Well, TS/TG people were born into the same sets of gender indoctrination that non-trans folks were. We are just as much family as you are.
Are we supposed to be immune to the corporate brain washing/indoctrination of gender?
What it it isn’t about is pleasing gate keepers? (See Natalie Reed’s “Mandated Femininity”)
What if our femininity, including those who seem to buy into every Vogue advertiser’s version, of it is driven by the exact same insecurities. It might not be the world’s greatest thing for women, be they trans or non-trans to be so insecure that they would have hot wax poured on their pubes and then have them ripped out but there are people with advanced degrees in the art of psychologically manipulating people into buying that service.
It is bullshit to condemn the TS/TG woman for succumbing to that manipulation when you give non-trans women a pass.
There is a presumption regarding TS/TG women that since we had boy parts at birth we were socialized the same way men were. This is a variation on the exoticizing that attributes special insight into what really sexually pleases men because after all “you were a man.” Or the even more bizarre version “you were born a man.”
Well no… I was born transsexual, I grew up transsexual and when I finally came out it was a matter of just admitting something I had been abused my entire life for being.
When all that “socialization” stuff was going on I was wondering why they were trying to force the male version onto me. It felt like abuse.
I had to hide and be ashamed of and learn the socialization that felt right for me in secret.
When I was caught learning femininity I was verbally punished, threatened with commitment to a mental institution or being thrown out. Stuff that actually happened to friends of mine.
When I came out, a transsexual sister and a transgender sister were the people who gave me permission to be as girly girl as I wanted to be. To cut myself free from the shame. I was 22 at the time and that wasn’t too old to enjoy being like a teenage girl.
I went through my hot sexy babe phase, my groupie phase.
I don’t like puritans. Mostly they tend to be Stalinistic assholes, always ready to judge others as not meeting some sort of imaginary standard.
Emma Goldman supposedly never said the “If I can’t dance at the revolution, then it is not my revolution.” But among other things she was an advocate of free love.
What good is freedom, if it is only freedom to obey some form of puritanical standards laid down by the new dictator.
The who sang, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”
A lot of the extra feminine phase that many TS/TG women go through is due to their having the same insecurities as women raised from the cradle to have those insecurities. Some of it is probably hormonal. Both male to female and female to male transsexuals and transgender people get smacked into a second puberty when they go on hormones.
Cut them a little slack. Try to remember how you acted during your puberty.
Give them the benefit of the doubt they’ve lived their lives in shame and doubt prior to coming out. If they aren’t sure what is right it is because they are learning. They don’t need people emotionally beating up on them.
Before you judge some one look at their culture. Not just their ethnic or racial culture but the subcultures they are a part of. If they look like a hiphop artist and they are part of that culture then they shouldn’t be measured by upper class white suburban standards when it comes to deciding what is over the top. The same goes for Goth or Punk cultures. Just as my late friend who grew up in the south was shaped by her culture.
We are all individuals including TS/TG people. Everyone has the right to be their own person, even when being their own person means being ultra feminine.
Or for that matter when creating themselves becomes performance art.
Try to remember there are real people being beaten up emotionally by the attacks on transsexual and transgender femininity.
By Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan
May 12, 2012
Reposted with permission
On WMST-L (a large Women’s Studies Listserv with over 5,000 members from around the Globe) there has been a thread with quite a few responses about the so-called issue of “lesbian erasure.” Apparently, some radical lesbian feminists feel that their work and legacy has been erased and nobody wants to talk about their 1970s and 1980s tomes any more.
What this is REALLY about, of course, is hatred: hatred for trans women, hatred for sex workers, hatred for third wave feminists, and hatred for sex-positive and sex-radical feminists. We have, it seems, stolen their thunder, and they are very, very bitter about it. One of the transphobic and whorephobic ideologues to weigh in is Sheila “Joy” Jeffries. I always laugh when I hear/read the “joy” part, because there is absolutely nothing joyful about Sheila “Joy” Jeffreys:
“There are no women’s spaces for younger lesbians now. One result of the loss of lesbian feminism is the fact that we now have the phenomenon of lesbians being transgendered into a simulacrum of men, something that lesbian feminists would have, and why do they not still, have understood as violence against and the disappearance of lesbians. “
A little context: Jeffreys intentionally uses the term “transgenderED” even though the “ED” is clearly extraneous because she sees the term as analogous to “prostitutED” women. We are transgenderED into compliance with patriarchal gender norms by the male medical establishment and their handmaidens. Like sex workers, we have, of course, absolutely no agency of our own. We are tragic victims who both succumb to the big, bad patriarchy and collude with our own oppression by engaging in transactional sex or gender transition. While there have been a few people calling out her hatred and bigotry, there have also been multiple people defending it, which shows how much vitriol remains in feminism against transgender and transsexual women.
Sadly, my comments remains in “moderation” because I have been placed in “moderation” for many years now.* This was because I dared to speak up against another transphobe, Alice Dreger, when she publicly trashed me because of a CFP I put out on the site. Apparently, a free thinking trans woman is not allowed to have unfettered access to speak her mind, and thus I need to be muzzled. As others have pointed out, having your comments placed in “moderation” before, or if, they are published, is both censorious and has a tremendously chilling impact on freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of expression. This is especially egregious when it is done to oppressed minority groups, who have a long history of being silenced by white, cis feminists. I rarely contribute to WMSTL because of this punitive limbo land that forecloses the possibility of open dialogue and free exchange.
Here is my comment, for those who are interested in reading it:
“Often when I hear about purported lesbian (feminist) invisibility, it is really a coded way of attacking queer theory, transgenderism, sex-positive feminism and third wave feminism. There is a seeming resurgence of radical lesbian feminism on the Internet and in the Blogosphere, and much of it is devoted to inciting hatred against transgender women and sex workers, as well as third wave and pro-sex feminists, who are often derided as “fun fems.” Although often misleadingly termed “trans critical” it is really just anti-trans hatred and prejudice that deviates little from Jan Raymond’s 1979 hate screed The Transsexual Empire. So, if we are going to talk about the history of lesbian feminism, let us not forget the histories of virulent racism and exclusion, rabid anti-trans hatred, and rigid policing of women’s sexuality, among other serious problems. Queer is not a “milder word” but a revolutionary concept that exposes both hetero- and homonormativity and creates greater inclusion and flexibility through refusing exact definition, and opening up a space of radical possibility. As a Third Wave, Queer, Transgender Feminist, I have found these terms to be empowering and rich in their complexity, diversity and inclusiveness.”
One of the good things about wading through the attacks waged by “rad fems”, lesbian feminists, and other caught in a 1970s time-warp, is that it has greatly solidified my own subject position as a Third-Wave, Transgender Feminist who values sexual freedom and intersectional analyses. The anti-sex worker, anti-sexual freedom, anti-trans, and anti-butch/femme, anti-bisexual bigots who believe that gender is the basis of all forms of oppression and that “sex roles” are the most pervasive and systemic form of oppression is something I want to explicitly distance myself from. I think it is vital that Third Wave, Pro-Sex/Sex-Positive/Sex-Radical, Trans, and Queer Feminists continue to come out and proclaim their identities with pride as we continue to see assaults on our work and activism by those committed to a vision of totalitarian “feminism” or fauxminism. It is also vital that we also continue our intersectional work that brings in multiple identities and oppressions and not listen to those who would assert that this “waters down” feminism because of our attention to interlocking systems of domination.
One of the sad things about this issue is that Jeffreys and her ilk clearly see identity politics as a zero sum game: lesbians “lose out” because of the (specious) notion of trans or queer ascendancy. Identities, politics and cultures change; they are never static. Some will continue to assemble under the moniker “lesbian” and others will utilize different terms and differing ways of organizing community and activism. I do not believe that lesbian and trans should be in opposition to each other, nor can they be, since there are many folks who identify as both. However, the venom that is continuously pumped out from their side will only cause further polarization and factionalization. Until their trans-exterminationist rhetoric ceases once and for all, I will call them out and many other people will call them out. The “die cis scum” rhetoric that some are using now is directly caused by their hatred. Their efforts will continue to radicalize a new generation of trans-feminist theorists and activists. And how is that for some irony?
* UPDATE: The Moderator of WMST-L claims they never received my comment. I re-sent it and it was finally published on the Listserv. What I would really like to know is how long I will remain in “moderation” (it has been years) before I once again have unfettered access to the List.
Not all radical feminists are transphobes who make transbashing their core ideology. For too long loud mouthed bigots have been allowed to take center stage.
Regular readers of this blog have no doubt noticed I have a number of feminist blogs as part of my recommended links.
One of those is Twisty’s I Blame the Patriarchy, which is a radical feminist blog by a real radical feminist who sees more to feminism than beating up on TS/TG people.
Please go read the following post: Hugs, Twisty: Hey I know, let’s chuck some transgenderism chitchat at the wall and see what sticks!
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/us/politics/on-marriage-obama-tried-to-limit-risk.html
WASHINGTON — About two hours after declaring his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama gathered eight or so African-American ministers on a conference call to explain himself. He had struggled with the decision, he said, but had come to believe it was the right one.
The ministers, though, were not all as enthusiastic. A vocal few made it clear that the president’s stand on gay marriage might make it difficult for them to support his re-election.
“They were wrestling with their ability to get over his theological position,” said the Rev. Delman Coates, the pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., who was on the call.
In the end, Mr. Coates, who supports civil marriages for gay men and lesbians, said that most of the pastors, regardless of their views on this issue, agreed to “work aggressively” on behalf of the president’s campaign. But not everyone. “Gay marriage is contrary to their understanding of Scripture,” Mr. Coates said. “There are people who are really wrestling with this.”
In the hours following Mr. Obama’s politically charged announcement on Wednesday, the president and his team embarked on a quiet campaign to contain the possible damage among religious leaders and voters. He also reached out to one or more of the five spiritual leaders he calls regularly for religious guidance, and his aides contacted other religious figures who have been supportive in the past.
The damage-control effort underscored the anxiety among Mr. Obama’s advisers about the consequences of the president’s revised position just months before what is expected to be a tight re-election vote. While hailed by liberals and gay-rights leaders for making a historic breakthrough, Mr. Obama recognized that much of the country is uncomfortable with or opposed to same-sex marriage, including many in his own political coalition.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/14/euro-single-currency-greece
Financial markets are hastily making preparations for a Greek exit from the euro after a day of political and economic turmoil ended with Europe‘s policy elite admitting for the first time that it may prove impossible to keep the single currency intact.
With attempts in Athens to form a government after last week’s election looking increasingly doomed, European leaders abandoned their taboo on talking about the possibility that Greece might have to leave the euro.
Shares, oil, and the euro were all sold heavily on Monday in anticipation that anti-austerity parties would garner support in a second Greek election likely to be held next month, bringing the row between Greece and its European creditors to a climax.
Critical talks are scheduled to continue in Athens between all party leaders, although President Karolos Papoulias’s decision to prolong the negotiations came despite widespread signs the talks were heading towards collapse. He has until Thursday, when the Greek parliament reconvenes, to broker a deal.
The British chancellor, George Osborne warned that the prospect of Greece crashing out of the euro was damaging economies across Europe.
Uncertainty over the future of struggling eurozone nations was having a “real impact” on growth, he said.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/14/euro-single-currency-greece
By Chris Hedges
Posted on May 14, 2012
In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations”is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class. The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.
Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.
A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process—Gamer’s “patron-client” networks. It requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. We must accept the hollowness of electoral politics, the futility of our political theater, and we must destroy the corporate structure itself.
The danger the corporate state faces does not come from the poor. The poor, those Karl Marx dismissed as the Lumpenproletariat, do not mount revolutions, although they join them and often become cannon fodder. The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement. Artists without studios or theaters, teachers without classrooms, lawyers without clients, doctors without patients and journalists without newspapers descend economically. They become, as they mingle with the underclass, a bridge between the worlds of the elite and the oppressed. And they are the dynamite that triggers revolt.
This is why the Occupy movement frightens the corporate elite. What fosters revolution is not misery, but the gap between what people expect from their lives and what is offered. This is especially acute among the educated and the talented. They feel, with much justification, that they have been denied what they deserve. They set out to rectify this injustice. And the longer the injustice festers, the more radical they become.
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/colonized_by_corporations_20120514/
Whether or not what Mitt Romney did as a teenager matters now, the way some conservatives are defending him, you’d think homosexuals didn’t exist until Halston, Calvin Klein, and Liza were discovered dancing at Studio 54 circa 1978.
“For those to the premises more recently arrived, a quick primer on 1965, when this occurred,” wrote syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, responding to critics who’ve described Romney’s forcible cutting of the dyed-blond hair of a nonconforming student as anti-gay bullying. “Nobody knew who was or wasn’t ‘gay,’ a word that wasn’t yet in popular circulation as a noun and generally meant ‘merry.’ Homosexuality wasn’t on most high-school kids’ radar, period. If anything, Romney may not have liked Lauber’s ‘hippie’ locks, which is the more likely case given the era.”
Really? Check out the synopsis for the 1956 film by a much earlier Minnelli, Liza’s dad Vincente. Tea and Sympathy was adapted from the popular 1953 Broadway play of the same name, and Romney and his prep school buddies might as well have been acting out the plot: “Tom Robinson Lee, a 17-year old student at a boy’s prep school, is at odds with the other boys who like sports, talking about girls, and listening to pop music. Tom prefers classical music, reads books, can sew, goes to the theater, and generally seems to be more at ease in the company of women. The other boys torment him for his ‘unmanly’ qualities and call him ‘sister boy.'”
I don’t know what kind of sheltered life Kathleen Parker led, but homosexuality has been on high-school kids’ radars — particularly the radars of high-school boys — for as long as masculinity has been on their radars, which in Western culture would take us back to the ancient Greeks and the Roman gladiators, I imagine. But even if we don’t want to go back that far, suffice it to say that queer boys were defined in American culture surely since Oscar Wilde was carted off to prison for being a “sodomite” in 1895.
From World Socialist Web Site: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/may2012/spai-m14.shtml
By Alejandro López
14 May 2012
Hundreds of thousands of people took part in mass demonstrations in more than 80 cities and towns throughout Spain Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the eruption of the indignados or 15-M movement.
One year ago, thousands of youth occupied public squares in 162 towns and cities around Spain protesting unemployment, the corrupt political system and government austerity measures imposed by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE). Since then, conditions of life have only gotten worse.
In just the first three months of the year, 365,900 people lost their jobs. Unemployment now stands at 24.4 percent of the active population. Youth unemployment is at 50 percent, the highest figure of the 17 countries in the euro zone.
The current right-wing Popular Party (PP) government has so far imposed austerity measures totaling €50 billion (US$64 billion), a labour “reform” facilitating sackings and an increase in the VAT. Regional governments have continued the offensive against health care and education.
Last week the government announced the partial nationalization of the country’s fourth largest bank, which holds €32 billion in distressed property assets. It also declared an independent audit of all of Spain’s banks in an attempt to restore confidence and stave off a possible collapse.
Under these conditions, the government mobilized 2,000 riot police in Madrid alone to prevent protesters from setting up camps as they did last year.
Continue reading at: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/may2012/spai-m14.shtml
From Truth Out: http://truth-out.org/news/item/9120-persecution-is-not-a-right
By Vincent Warren
Monday, 14 May 2012
Religious liberty, to be exact, and nowhere is this claim more viciously – and absurdly – manifested than in the insistence by some US Christians that they are being oppressed when others try to keep them from bullying, discriminating against and sometimes literally hounding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to death. It is an astonishing claim in a nation where 85 percent of LGBT students report being verbally harassed and 40 percent report being physically harassed. Saying or doing anything to stem this epidemic, we are told, infringes on religious liberty.
The most recent incarnation of this argument has been in the uproar over Dan Savage’s (colorful, but factually unassailable) remarks on the highly selective use of the Bible to justify anti-gay bigotry, in response to which commentators have called the founder of the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project a bully. But the cry of “religious liberty!” has been getting louder for some time now. It is the go-to argument used by the right to object to anything it doesn’t like – from access to contraception to anti-bullying legislation. It’s an attempt to silence discussion, to define issues as outside the acceptable boundaries of debate and put them beyond the reach of ordinary democratic politics.
The most shocking expression of this argument, though, comes from Scott Lively, the US evangelical who has called the gay rights movement “an evil institution” that is spreading pornography, promiscuity and child molestation, and has traveled the world to export his solutions to this menace to any legislature that will listen. He has spent the last decade whipping up anti-gay hate in Uganda – and is now complaining that he has been unfairly targeted by Uganda’s beleaguered LGBT minority because they filed a lawsuit against him in March for his efforts to further strip away their rights. In a newsletter to supporters defending his actions in Uganda, he expresses outrage over the “lengths” that Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) would go “to punish one minor American pastor.”
Lively belittles the suit – brought under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to bring claims about crimes against humanity in a US court – as based on little more than “a tiny handful of relatively minor incidents of ‘persecution'” – surely another phrase that deserves to be added to the Orwellian lexicon. Amazingly enough, he enumerates some of these “relatively minor incidents” himself: the murder of SMUG leader David Kato in 2011, the break up by police of a gay rights conference in 2012, the 2008 arrest of three AIDS activists, the case of a transperson who was sexually abused by police in 2005, the shutdown of a radio station, the outing of Ugandan LGBT activists in newspapers (one of which ran their pictures under the heading “Hang Them”).
Continue reading at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/9120-persecution-is-not-a-right
From Counter-Currents: http://www.countercurrents.org/daly080512.htm
By Herman Daly
08 May, 2012
In yesteryear’s empty world capital was the limiting factor in economic growth.
But we now live in a full world.
Consider: What limits the annual fish catch — fishing boats (capital) or remaining fish in the sea (natural resources)? Clearly the latter. What limits barrels of crude oil extracted — drilling rigs and pumps (capital), or remaining accessible deposits of petroleum — or capacity of the atmosphere to absorb the CO2 from burning petroleum (both natural resources)? What limits production of cut timber — number of chain saws and lumber mills, or standing forests and their rate of growth? What limits irrigated agriculture — pumps and sprinklers, or aquifer recharge rates and river flow volumes? That should be enough to at least suggest that we live in a natural resource-constrained world, not a capital-constrained world.
Economic logic says to invest in and economize on the limiting factor. Economic logic has not changed; what has changed is the limiting factor. It is now natural resources, not capital, that we must economize on and invest in. Economists have not recognized this fundamental shift in the pattern of scarcity. Nobel Laureate in chemistry and underground economist, Frederick Soddy, predicted the shift eighty years ago. He argued that mankind ultimately lives on current sunshine, captured with the aid of plants, soil, and water. This fundamental permanent basis for life is temporarily supplemented by the release of trapped sunshine of Paleozoic summers that is being rapidly depleted to fuel what he called “the flamboyant age.” So addicted are we to this short-run subsidy that our technocrats advocate shutting out some of the incoming solar energy to make more thermal room for burning fossil fuels! These educated cretins are also busy chemically degrading the topsoil and polluting the water, while tinkering with the genetic basis of plants, all toward the purpose of maximizing short-run growth. As Wes Jackson says, agricultural plants now have genes selected by the Chicago Board of Trade, not by fitness to the ecosystem of surrounding organisms and geography.
What has kept economists from recognizing Soddy’s insight? An animus against dependence on nature, and a devotion to dominance. This basic attitude has been served by a theoretical commitment to factor substitutability and a neglect of complementarity by today’s neoclassical economists. In the absence of complementarity there can be no limiting factor — if capital and natural resources are substitutes in production then neither can be limiting — if one is in short supply you just substitute the other and continue producing. If they are complements both are necessary and the one in short supply is limiting.
Continue reading at: http://www.countercurrents.org/daly080512.htm
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/opinion/sunday/fables-of-wealth.html
By WILLIAM DERESIEWICZ
Published: May 12, 2012
THERE is an ongoing debate in this country about the rich: who they are, what their social role may be, whether they are good or bad. Well, consider the following. A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are “clinical psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an “unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.” (The proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study concluded that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.
The only thing that puzzles me about these claims is that anyone would find them surprising. Wall Street is capitalism in its purest form, and capitalism is predicated on bad behavior. This should hardly be news. The English writer Bernard Mandeville asserted as much nearly three centuries ago in a satirical-poem-cum-philosophical-treatise called “The Fable of the Bees.”
“Private Vices, Publick Benefits” read the book’s subtitle. A Machiavelli of the economic realm — a man who showed us as we are, not as we like to think we are — Mandeville argued that commercial society creates prosperity by harnessing our natural impulses: fraud, luxury and pride. By “pride” Mandeville meant vanity; by “luxury” he meant the desire for sensuous indulgence. These create demand, as every ad man knows. On the supply side, as we’d say, was fraud: “All Trades and Places knew some Cheat, / No Calling was without Deceit.”
In other words, Enron, BP, Goldman, Philip Morris, G.E., Merck, etc., etc. Accounting fraud, tax evasion, toxic dumping, product safety violations, bid rigging, overbilling, perjury. The Walmart bribery scandal, the News Corp. hacking scandal — just open up the business section on an average day. Shafting your workers, hurting your customers, destroying the land. Leaving the public to pick up the tab. These aren’t anomalies; this is how the system works: you get away with what you can and try to weasel out when you get caught.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/opinion/sunday/fables-of-wealth.html
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/14-4
According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), 230,000 more Americans in eight states suffered extreme cuts to federal unemployment benefits over the weekend. Now over 400,000 total people in 27 states have lost federal unemployment insurance due to Congressional cuts.
As unemployment rates remain near record highs, “A growing number of long-term unemployed workers are being left behind…Job openings are not taking the place of these cuts,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the NELP.
More than 100,000 people lost benefits in California alone, which maintains one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
More unemployment cuts lay ahead as another seven states will lose federal benefits by September bringing the total to 34 states facing reduced federal assistance.
If the other major federal unemployment insurance program – Emergency Unemployment Compensation – is allowed to expire at the end of this year, only a quarter of jobless Americans will be receiving unemployment insurance, according to NELP.
“We can’t pull the rug out from under the unemployed before the economy is fixed – and with 8.1 percent unemployment, we still have a long way to go,” Owens said.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/14-4