Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Revisting "A Time To Kill"

So over the weekend there were numerous re-runs of the movie "A Time To Kill". For those unfamiliar with the movie the plot is basically a father enraged by the raping and attempted murder of his daughter kills the assailants on their way to an arraignment because he believes that justice will not be served. Why? He's black. His daughter is black. The perpetrators are white and this is set in Canton MS. A white, relatively liberal lawyer takes the case for beans and wins after appealing to the "common humanity" of the jury. There is much weeping, gnashing of teeth, klan rallies and Sandra Bullock flesh.

I really hadn't looked at this film in a critical manner before. On the surface it pulls all the right strings. What black person in their right mind would not sympathize with the father? He's guilty but we understand (*wink* *wink*). Well now being many years removed from the initial viewing, and a lot more mature, I think this movie really should be re-examined.

The one thing that anyone concerned with the equal application of justice should be concerned with in this movie. First and foremost was that Sam Jackson's character, Carl, was in fact guilty of pre-meditated murder. There was no defense to be made for him. The first problem with the flick is that Carl's supposed motive for killing the men is based on the fact that the result of some other case, not in that particular town, ended in an acquittal of the defendants to which everybody was "sure" that the accusers were guilty, though we are not told any of the specifics of that case. Of course this is important since the "devil" is in the details. For example the defense for the men who killed Emmett Till claimed that the body was not Emmett Till. Of course bodies can't talk and DNA evidence was nothing like it is today. Herein lies the important difference. This movie was not set in the past but rather in present day Canton MS. The legal shenanigans that occurred in Till's time don't happen now (unless of course you have a horrible lawyer). The movie has a scene where Sandra Bullock's character, Ellen, give Matthew McConaughey's character, Jake, a note on precedence on motions for change of venue. This is important because, it shows that the court was willing to follow "the law" in the face of proper arguments. This is important. Why didn't the movie wait until the end of the trial of the defendants to have Carl "flip out" ? Wouldn't it have been a stronger argument in favor of Carl's supposed insanity if he had to witness the defendants being acquitted or getting a very light sentence?

If the defendants were acquitted then the argument could be made that not only was Carl borderline insane when he found his daughter raped and left for dead, but the tipping point was when he had to watch the defendants go free (or get a light sentence).

After that huge whole I thought of the other not to subtle argument being offered: Carl, a stand in for black men, are unable to control their emotions and therefore should be excused for letting their base instincts take over. a Jury must be made to understand his rage. He's insane and we must understand that. Lest you think I'm being to hard on Carl we must take a wide look at the African world. All over Africa we have coups and rumors of coups. At it's core a coup is a decision by a group of people to operate outside of the rules and when a coup is successful it re-enforces the idea that one can get what one wants through force of arms. On the other side we have the abuse of power in Africa by many "leaders" the instigates coups.

Locally, how can we, on the one hand, be against gang violence and a culture of confrontation which is usually spawned by a warped sense of "justice" not much unlike that motivating Carl while on the other arguing that the ends justifies the means when the ends consist of that which "we", whoever we is, agree with? If we are to uphold the "proper" means of conflict resolution and issues of justice, then in A Time To Kill, we would have seen Carl receive a guilty verdict for committing murder AND perhaps a moral on the extended tragedy of violence.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ahhhh, Mayor Bloomberg.

Mayor Bloomberg of NYC recently weighed in on the immigration debate. I think all involved would do themselves a great service to pay close attention to a certain portion of his position:

2. Increase Lawful Opportunity. Baby boomers are starting to retire, America's birthrate continues to slow, and our visa quotas remain too low. As a result, we need more workers than we have, and that's exactly why so many people want to come here. In most cases, those here illegally are filling low-wage, low-skill jobs that Americans do not want. Recent studies put the lie to the old argument that immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans and significantly depress wages. Global economic forces are responsible for the declines in the real wages of unskilled workers and occur regardless of whether immigrants are present in a community. Moreover, any slight wage decline is more than offset by substantial increases in productivity.

First off, Mr Bloomberg failed to tell us which study or studies he was referring to, but here at Garvey's Ghost we have sited numerous studies that show Bloomberg to not know what he is talking about. But what Bloomberg does know and what workers all over the world will need to understand is this portion:

Global economic forces are responsible for the declines in the real wages of unskilled workers and occur regardless of whether immigrants are present in a community. Moreover, any slight wage decline is more than offset by substantial increases in productivity.

What are these "Global economic forces (tm)" that Bloomberg is talking about? Is this something like a hurricane? A flood? Earthquake perhaps? No far from being some "act of God" of which we cannot predict much less control, these global economic forces(tm) are the product of decisions made largely by small groups of people with more money than morals. These individuals have decreed that it makes sense to pay people in third world countries salaries that they probably don't pay their maids to produce products that they mark up by some secret profit formula and sell to Americans (and others) who gloat over the "good deal" they got.

Yes folks, the "global economic forces" in question are no more than people who eat and pass feces like you and me who have decided for "economic reasons" that reducing labor costs is the best means appease the god called "profit". But they want you to believe that the reason why certain jobs are going to certain places, or why certain people "immigrate" to other countries is due to some nebulous BEEO: Barely Explainable Economic Object. This BEEO as Bloomberg states is responsible for the declines in real wages of unskilled workers. Of course he didn't really have anything to say about semi-skilled labour or even skilled labour. Don't worry, he'll get to that at some later date. Maybe.

So Mr. Bloomberg wants us to believe that the BEEC is OK because "any slight wage decline is more than offset by substantial increases in productivity." Oh why thank you for clearing that up Mr. Bloomberg. If the wages of the working poor leaves them more poor, sorry, poorer, it's OK because the company has realized higher productivity. Hoooray company! This is what the business class, you know that very small percentage of the world population wants everyone to believe: Productivity is good for everyone. Well no, not really, productivity, especially in manufacturing increases the company income it does squat for the worker. The question is, and what needs to be confronted is the profit motive. Garveyism, which many people mistake for a capitalist ideology, had as a part of it's platform a cap on profits. While I'm sure its logistics would be hard to hammer out, this is not necessarily something that will kill companies. It simply puts the brakes on exploitative practices by businesses.

The NY Times Sunday Magazine recently ran an interview with Richard Rogers who has a company policy that the CEO cannot make more than 7 times the amount of the lowest paid employee. Clearly then this BEEO is determined by people who simply do not want to pay more to their workers. But they won't say that to you. Instead you'll be told about "global economic forces" that are responsible for lower wages and expected to believe it. Well what else should you expect from someone who calls striking workers thugs and criminals?

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

RE: Which Way for Black Labor

In the last edition of the online 'zine Black Commentator
The publishers gave their idea as to what black labor was to do in the face of corporate attacks. Unfortunately I believe that the publishers are being short sighted in their analysis and are too dependent upon appeals to "the government" or "political parties" to be agents of change. They quote William Lucy who states that black labor:

“must vigorously challenge these twin lies: that a low-wage economy is both good and necessary for America to regain its global economic power and that working families must accept a lower standard of living, while inept CEOs collect fat paychecks,” said Lucy. “We must change the economic thinking of national and local policy-makers if we intend to create a new economic order where social prosperity is shared by all.”

. “We are trying to shift to an economic approach,” said Lucy. “Both political parties need to respond to the Black community with an economic agenda, rather than competing to see who can do the best civil rights speech. We will begin to lay out the demand that both parties roll out some economic position” relevant to the African American condition.

I would respond by saying that while there are indeed "twin lies" we should not mistake it for some sort of patriotic concern for America. Rather the push to lower standards of livings for some while a small portion of the populance hoards a great deal of assets are hallmarks of the nationless corporation and persons who cares not for any particular place but rather in their assets. They would be more than willing to throw America the nation to the wolves should it suit their economic ends. It is this fact in itself that makes any discussion that centers on "American" communities or appeals to the American political system a waste of valuable time and energy. Garveyism informs us that economic prosperity comes to those who plan and execute a plan for it. It does not come by way or largess by those in power but rather comes from the self empowerment of the oppressed group. Such statements as:

“Both political parties need to respond to the Black community with an economic agenda, rather than competing to see who can do the best civil rights speech. We will begin to lay out the demand that both parties roll out some economic position” relevant to the African American condition Lead us right back to my long ago post containing choice wisdom from The Matrix Reloaded:

If you have nothing that "both political parties" want or need, exactly why should they listen to much less act on the demands of African-Americans?

So then the article goes on to critique the role of entrepreneurship:

“Among some Black political tendencies, the term ‘economic development’ is thought to be synonymous with individual entrepreneurship. That’s a very narrow definition of economic development, one that reduces most Blacks to the role of mere potential customers, who are expected to support individual Black businesspeople as if the survival of The Race depended on it.”

I don't think BC is opposed outright to entrepreneurship, as much as it is opposed to the lack of purpose or vision of said entrepreneurs. However; it would behoove the reader to understand that lack of business development within the black community and the lack of large scale commerce between disparate groups of black people is the source of our economic problems today. This is the very same message that both Marcus and Amy Garvey made well over 70 years ago and is even more relevant today.

BC makes the following statement:

Black unionists know full well the value of collective labor power, political power, and earning power. “There’s lots of potential earning power in our communities,” said the UFCW’s Willie Baker. “There’s a direct correlation between economic power for Black Americans and labor unions. When the UAW loses 200,000 jobs, there are large numbers of Blacks losing jobs. African Americans are the most severely impacted” – a fact brought home most starkly by U.S. Labor Department statistics that showed “55 percent (or 168,000) of the union jobs lost in 2004 were held by black workers, even though they represented only 13 percent of total union membership.” (See Dwight Kirk, BC, February 24, 2005.)

The decline in Black living standards cannot be reversed by Black entrepreneurialism that benefits only a few, and is itself often dependent on the earning power of Black working people. Economic development in Black America means, first and foremost, good jobs at good wages.

In my view, the fact that Black Americans, specifically those in the UAW and related unions, are dependent upon large white corporations for their livelihoods amounts to a new slave plantation system. If we remove the whips and chains, we essentially have the same thing: Large numbers of black people doing some sort of manual labor for a largely white run institutions that pay as little as they can to maintain the necessary human capital. Wasn't that the essence of slave labor? Garveyism is quite clear that wage labor for other people never gets the oppressed into positions of independence. Indeed I think this is the whole problem. There is a lot of energy spent discussing how to get "massa" to treat blacks better but rarely a discussion, much less any type of plan to get off "massas" plantation.

Let me address the issue of "Black entrepreneurialism " as quoted above. I agree with the overall sentiment but I think that it is way to simplified. I have been a vocal critique of the civil rights movements insistence on integration. Integration will be proven to be the biggest economic blow dealt to African Americans since slavery. This is not an endorsement of legal segregation but rather stating the fact that any group that seeks economic success clings to and services its own first and then branches out. If you walk around black neighborhoods you will note one of two things: either there are very few places offering goods and services or the goods and services are largely owned by or franchises of white businesses. Now take another walk in any largely Asian neighborhood and you're likely to see the opposite. walk through a Jewish neighborhood and you'll see the opposite. You'll notice a similar pattern in black neighborhoods with increasing "latino" populations as well.

The pattern is pretty clear you must establish a monopoly on goods and services rendered to your population. Thus whatever monies come in from wage workers stays in that community. These businesses also serve as primary means of employment for young people. Once these businesses are large and stable enough, they are able to exert pressure on local government on behalf of their customers who also happen to be their constituencies. In other words, business is much like a government representative in local government. If anything should illustrate this it would be the recent "immigration" rallies. Much of the economic support for these rallies came from businesses in these communities whether by direct contributions or by proxy (meaning donations to or other support of non-profit organizations).

I don't want to dwell on this point to long, but it must be understood that the future of black people, worldwide, is directly related to our ability to provide for and support ourselves wherever we are. Let's move on further into BC's commentary:

f there is to be economic change in Black America, it will come through mass political action, sustained by the massed capital and energies of the people. The new Movement will not be a mom-and-pop enterprise. Its objectives can only be achieved through the accumulation and exercise of political power.

I think BC should study the sequential equation


in which economic transformation (+e) of a society stands behind the political transformation of society(+p). In other words there will be no political power without economic power to back it up. Never has been, never will be, except in our sleep perhaps. Let me close with this:

“At one time Detroit had the highest paid Black workers in the country,” Willie Baker reminds us:

That is like saying: At one time Detroit had the best plantation. If black Detroiters took it for granted that they would be sitting pretty on the hill, flush with "Big Three" cash and did even consider much less plan for when the rug would get pulled out from under them, then who is to blame for that lack of planning and foresight? How long until negroes understand that slavery ended because it was no longer profitable? Why pay for maintenance of people that you could no longer import when you could simply pay them next to nothing and let them deal with maintaining themselves or die? it's the same situation except negroes think they are special because Mexicans are in the fields doing the picking.

I think BC has it's heart in the right place but I think they are stuck on the same things that failed us before. While I don't oppose moderate political maneuvers where relevant, I think that African-Americans place way too much emphasis on the political process and far to little time on the unglamorous work of institution building and maintenance (don't get me started on the state of HBCU's).

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Amy Jacques Garvey

I have prided myself on my particular take on Pan-Africanism in that I did not ascribe to the male centered ideas of Nationalism that have befallen a number of black organizations. In terms of organizing, since my first awakening days I have been one who believes that anyone who can do the job best should do the job. In an organization I was involved with at Tuskegee we made a very conscious effort to have an equal number of men and women on our decision making body and held all members up to the same standards. In practice I am sure I and others fell short of our aspirations but overall we did not fall into those traps.

As a Pan-Africanist in the vein of Marcus Garvey had admittedly short changed the role that his second wife, Amy Jacques Garvey, played in the UNIA. This I believe was a consequence of the scholarship I had read up to that point as well as my own fixation on Marcus Garvey himself. Having recently named a Scholarship after Amy Jacques Garvey for the work that I know she had done, I made it a point to dig further into her life and have come away with an even greater appreciation of Amy Jacques Garvey. In fact the information that I have come into contact has prompted the change in the header of this blog.

I have long known that the two volumes of The Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey would not have been possible if not for the tireless work of Amy. I have also long known of her strong positions on the active roll of women in the Pan-Africanist struggle and her unapologetic critique of black men who shirked their responsibilities to family and race. I also knew of the monetary sacrifices she made in order to support Mr. Garvey who, although a brilliant man in terms of his ideas on a united Africa, was, in my opinion a very bad manager of people and was no where as appreciative of his wife. But even more profound to me, as far as I had not known, was how the refinement of Pan-Africanism, indeed much of what I have called "Neo-Garveyism" is or was in fact already formulated by Amy Jacques Garvey herself. Indeed I would have to say that it is particularly chauvinistic to say that Garvey's Ghost is merely that of Marcus but indeed is the collective ideas of Garvey and his wife.

What perhaps was most profound about Amy Garvey to me was the basic class suicide she committed. While she did at times trade on her "brown" status she could have easily, easily decided to quite the Pan-Africanism game when she had her children and Marcus all but abandoned her in Jamaica. In the end, it was Amy, who was able to represent Garveyism on the Motherland and to directly influence people like Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikwe among others. It was she who reminded DuBois, after he came to his senses, that Pan-Africanism is a hands on, on the ground, about the people ideology rather than an intellectual endeavor.

It is too bad that Amy J was not given the place that she should have been given within the UNIA. Her organizational and interpersonal skills, which Garvey sorely lacked would have probably prevented the disastrous outcomes of the Black Star Line SteamShip Corporation. So much more could have been done had Amy J. been afforded her rightful place within the UNIA-ACL and there is much to be learned about the consequence of pushing women to the rear or the side on the way to a unified Africa.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Put my Data Where?

Since anyone in the US not living under a rock knows that the phone companies, except Quest, has been supplying user phone records to the Government under at best questionable reasoning the NY Times is running an advertisement for Sprint's Wireless Backup:

To save irritation for both absent-minded phone owners and their friends, Sprint has introduced Sprint Wireless Backup, which synchronizes the contact list on a phone with a copy on Sprint's servers. Software on the phone automatically uploads changes made on the handset, and if the original phone is lost or broken, a new phone can automatically download the data.

For two dollars a month not only can the US government get the records of the people you call, but perhaps the names and phone numbers of everyone else you have contacted or not contacted. Yes the government already has this information, but why would you voluntarily give more information up? It is stuff like this that leaves space for those in various positions of power to presume that the waiving of one's privacy is implicit in the use of certain services. Why not have a copy of your phone database on your computer a-la Apple's iSync and at least have your private phone book somewhere that still requires a warrant to get at. For now at least.

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Eminent Domain and Tax Incentives: Corporate take down of Government

Back on June 23, 2005 I wrote a piece covering the Supreme Court decision to back the government's ability to use eminent domain to seize private property of citizens to turn over to private industry. The flawed reasoning given by the majority court was:

just as government has the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire private property to clear slums or to build roads, bridges, airports and other facilities to benefit the public, it can sometimes do so for private developers if the latters' projects also serve a public good.

Justice O'Conner in opposition to the majority wrote:

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private property, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

She could not have been more correct. The Institute For Justice wrote the following:

In November 2000, the Mississippi legislature struck a deal with Nissan Motor Company to build a new auto plant in Canton, Mississippi. The State also granted the company more than $290 million in subsidies and tax breaks and approximately 1,300 acres of land. But apparently that wasn't enough for Nissan. In February 2001, the State exercised its awesome power of eminent domain—quietly granted by the Nissan legislation—to forcibly take the property of the Archies and transfer it to Nissan...

A state official overseeing the project admitted in The New York Times that the Archies' land was not necessary for the Nissan project, but that his office pursued the taking to save face for the State. On September 10, 2001, the Times quoted James C. Burns, Jr., the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, "It's not that Nissan is going to leave if we don't get that land. What's important is the message it would send to other companies if we are unable to do what we said we would do. If you make a promise to a company like Nissan, you have to be able to follow through."

So it was seen as "public good" to roll over private citizens and provide $230 million in subsidies and tax breaks as well as grab land not needed for the project. So we should ask ourselves what happened.

The Executive Intelligence Review has reported that Nissan has done absolutely nothing for the "public good" but has instead used the deal of the century to fatten it's coffers at the expense of low income and low skilled black folk.

" In its Canton, Miss. plant, Nissan has slashed wages to about 40% below what an union autoworker in one of the Big Three auto plants earns, and about 20% under the pay scale for Nissan workers in the company's Smyrna, Tenn. plant, some 300 miles distant. The average hourly wage in Canton is about $12 an hour, while the supplier industries for the plant are paying $9-11 per hour. These are poverty-level wages, for full-time, skilled industrial work.

For those of you with relatively higher incomes who may have forgotten what a 12/hour salary looks like; a 12/hour rate at a 40 hour week for 52 weeks is a gross income of $24,960. This is full time work. How, exactly is this "the public good"? But it gets worse. While predominantly black workers were being fed poverty level wages, Nissan realized massive profits:

" Under his anti-labor, "shareholder value" regime, Nissan's stock price tripled from 2000 to 2003. The Canton plant, begun in 2000, was part of the "revival."

So at least we know who got paid from all that labour. Now What about the State of MS that was so willing to throw their citizens under the bus?

The slave-labor-like conditions being enforced at Nissan's Canton plant are also severely impacting the State of Mississippi. When asked by EIR, what, if any, benefits the plant has brought to the state, which made a significant commitment to Nissan to have the plant located there, Evans was blunt: "You know, when the commitment was made, to do the Nissan plant, the initial investment was $300 million or so. And then they came back, and wanted another launch-pad, and we paid for another $64 million. And there were also other things that we paid for, as far as training, and set-up costs, and other things, and that come to around $400 million. That was the financial thing. Then, the tax breaks and the tax benefits, from the state, and from the county, and from the city of Canton, added as part of our normal economic package. And I think that folks calculated that at about $65-70,000 per job. That was the commitment that the state made to that Nissan project there."

But, those hopes were soon dashed, when the state realized that the wages at the plant were so low, that returns to the economy would be virtually nil. "To get its investment back," Evans explained, "in essence, was [the assumption] that [Nissan] would be paying workers $23 an hour. We calculated when we would get the money back. Now, if you're paying them $12 an hour, that means it's going to take you double the time to get it back, if you ever get it. And you have to examine: Is the commitment being kept? That's what the community wants ... and those are questions that the taxpayers are concerned with being answered."

In other words, workers making $24,000 per year, at best—barely above the official poverty level for a family of four—will not be paying much in the way of taxes, or have the discretionary income to spend in the local economy, as had been anticipated. Evans estimated that it would take at least 20 years for Mississippi to recover, in payroll taxes, its concessions to Nissan.

So MS effectively mortgaged 20 years of tax revenue to "get" Nissan. At the end of this deal there are no guarantees that Nissan will not decide to up and leave MS and call it "Down sizing." How long before Nissan starts to entice illegal immigrants from Mexico as other corporations do?

This very case is why I strongly opposed the Supreme Court decision back in June of last year.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

American Big Man Part VIII: The Higher The Monkey Climb

Is the more he expose.

So goes the common wisdom which was true when it was phrased as it is today. That the NSA has a record of almost any American who made a phone call should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The flagrant violation of the FISA laws by the Bush Administration did not come out of thin air. No. Instead I believe the FISA violations grew out of "lesser sins." IIn my mind the NSA tap is a classic example of power creep which began for us with the AUMF which authorized the president to use all appropriate and necessary force to capture and prevent another 9-11. What the Bush administration did was use the "War on Terror(tm)" to attempt to justify what the president sees as emergency powers. This is why we have the color coded threat chart which bounces between red and amber depending on what the president wants to authorize at the moment. See the problem with both FISA and Chapter 206 of Title 18 is the emergency provisions. In FISA the Administration can tap first and then offer reasoning after. in Title 18, relevant to the NSA we find:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, any investigative or law enforcement officer, specially designated by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the Associate Attorney General, any Assistant Attorney General, any acting Assistant Attorney General, or any Deputy Assistant Attorney General, or by the principal prosecuting attorney of any State or subdivision thereof acting pursuant to a statute of that State, who reasonably determines that—
(1) an emergency situation exists that involves—
(A) immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury to any person;
(B) conspiratorial activities characteristic of organized crime;
(C) an immediate threat to a national security interest; or
(D) an ongoing attack on a protected computer (as defined in section 1030) that constitutes a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment greater than one year;

that requires the installation and use of a pen register or a trap and trace device before an order authorizing such installation and use can, with due diligence, be obtained, and
(2) there are grounds upon which an order could be entered under this chapter to authorize such installation and use;
may have installed and use a pen register or trap and trace device if, within forty-eight hours after the installation has occurred, or begins to occur, an order approving the installation or use is issued in accordance with section 3123 of this title.
(b) In the absence of an authorizing order, such use shall immediately terminate when the information sought is obtained, when the application for the order is denied or when forty-eight hours have lapsed since the installation of the pen register or trap and trace device, whichever is earlier.
(c) The knowing installation or use by any investigative or law enforcement officer of a pen register or trap and trace device pursuant to subsection (a) without application for the authorizing order within forty-eight hours of the installation shall constitute a violation of this chapter.
(d) A provider of a wire or electronic service, landlord, custodian, or other person who furnished facilities or technical assistance pursuant to this section shall be reasonably compensated for such reasonable expenses incurred in providing such facilities and assistance.

Section 3123 states, in part:

§ 3123. Issuance of an order for a pen register or a trap and trace device
How Current is This?

(a) In General.—
(1) Attorney for the government.— Upon an application made under section 3122 (a)(1), the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or trap and trace device anywhere within the United States, if the court finds that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. The order, upon service of that order, shall apply to any person or entity providing wire or electronic communication service in the United States whose assistance may facilitate the execution of the order. Whenever such an order is served on any person or entity not specifically named in the order, upon request of such person or entity, the attorney for the Government or law enforcement or investigative officer that is serving the order shall provide written or electronic certification that the order applies to the person or entity being served.

So by making the "War on Terror" appear to be a case of ever impending death and destruction, the Administration claims that they can trap, trace and eavesdrop at will on any US person. The problem with all of this of course is the "criminal investigation" portion. The laws are pretty clear as to the fact that such investigations must be in support of criminal investigations. By obtaining the phone records of potentially millions of people (we are still finding out the details), the administration must, as I see it, show that these millions of people are subjects of criminal investigations AND must show probable cause. Dave Lindorf put the issue of probable cause front and center in his recent piece General Hayden's Constitutional Sedition
Rewriting the Fourth Amendment

Asked by Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder about the Fourth Amendment's standard of "probable cause" for issuance of a warrant for a police search, Gen. Hayden disputed the standard.

"No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure." Hayden said, trying to correct Landay.

"But it does say probable" Landay tried to interject.

"No, the amendment says unreasonable search and seizure," snapped Hayden.

Now the problem here is that the General, who was running the National Security Agency as it has been operating a secret program, just disclosed by USA Today, that monitors the phone calling records of virtually all phone customers of AT&T, Bell South and Verizon, is selectively quoting from the Fourth Amendment.

In fact, what the Fourth Amendment says is:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I would hazard to suppose that ones phone records qualifies as 'effects." But I could be wrong. The inherent privacy of phone records can be seen in the fact that if you are online you must enter verifiable information in order to get your information. Your bill is mailed to you enclosed in an envelope. It could easily have been mailed as a folded over piece of paper for all to see, but it is not. The claim is that the conversation is protected but not the number you called or the location of the person you are speaking with. I do not agree with this accessment. If one wished to have a public conversation one would use a phone in a public location and have the conversation in a manner that any and everyone can hear (as any number of cell phone users now do). People in their homes expect that the entire process of making a call, including the number dialed remains private in so far as is necessary to place the call. That is the customer has a social (and possibly legal) contact with his or her phone company that their use of the "network" is a private affair between the customer and the service provider. I'm sure the law doesn't see it that way hence my charge that we are seeing a snowball effect of erosion of privacy that started a long time ago. This is only becoming apparent because the monkey has climbed so high that the ugly bottom is exposed and the assumptions that many people had about what is and is not "private" is coming to light.

Of course we get the complimentary argument that following the laws in "this age of terrorism(tm)" would give away the hand of the government to the terrorists. Well my problem with this line of thinking is that if following the law would give the governments element of suprise away, then such a statement implies that the government already knows who the terrorists are and therefore already has them under survelliance, etc. If this is the case, then there is no need for massive data collection of persons "effects" who are not under any specific criminal investigation. If they do not know who the "terrorists" are then they are saying that the government considers all persons within the United States to be under criminal investigation until the "war on terror is won(tm)".


Anyone with half a brain, and has noticed how long "terrorism" has been occurring in the Middle East, would know that this circular argument will simply entrench unfettered power of the government into the personal lives of citizens. Ultimately I'm not as sure on the NSA front as to whether the collection of phone records constitutes an actual criminal act, but I still hold that the seemingly forgotten FISA violations are impeachable offenses and should be prosecuted.

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The Da Vinci Code: Who Cares?

So The Movie is out, or about to be and apparently many Christians are upset about the movie. There has ben calls for boycotts. Reports CNN:

Anger over "The Da Vinci Code," premiering Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival, escalated Tuesday as Christian groups from South Korea, Thailand, Greece and India planned boycotts, a hunger strike and attempts to block or shorten screenings.

The first thing that has struck me is the number of "cullud" folk up in arms over the religion that their colonizers failed to practice but none the less saw fit to impose on them. On the other hand It seems to me that this is Christendoms Cartoon Incident(tm) sans the burning and looting; a fact I am sure will be lorded over Muslims in the future.

It is good that the South Koreans were bright enough to rule against Christian groups seeking the secular government to effectively censor religious critique.

n South Korea, which has 13 million Protestants and 4.6 million Roman Catholics, a court ruled Tuesday that a Christian group's request for an injunction to block screenings lacked merit.

"As it is clear that the novel and movie are all fiction ... there is no probability that the movie can make viewers mistakenly believe the contents of the movie are facts," chief judge Song Jin-hyun said in his ruling.

WHile I applaud the decision I find the rationale behind it to be as faulty as the Brown V. Board of Ed decision. While the novel may be a work of fiction, some of the content therein, as I have heard since I haven't read the book and don't plan on doing so, is not fiction. It is these non-fictional parts that scare the Christian establishment. For example, any religious scholar knows that the "official" decision that Christ was God was made at the council of Nicea. This is a position rejected by Muslims possibly because Mohammed formed his religion in opposition to the now colonized "new judaism." If you ask the average lay-Christian about this they would look at you with a blank stare and may offer something along the lines of "the council only canonized the fact of Christ's Godnesss."


This particular gem:

The Christian Council of Korea, an umbrella group of 63 South Korean Protestant denominations, said it respected the ruling but would lead a boycott of the movie, which it said defiles the sanctity of Jesus Christ and distorts facts.

Struck me as funny given that the "Holy Book" of Christianity is a pack of distortions. Of course that particular fact is known by very few of those boycotting.

Then there is this fool:

In mostly Hindu India, which is also home to 18 million Roman Catholics, Joseph Dias, head of the Catholic Secular Forum, began a hunger strike in downtown Bombay and said other people were joining him.

"We want the movie to be banned," he said.

Well at the very least I can say that he believes what he believes. I'm sure if he dies some idiots will blame the government for it though.

At the end of the day, I really could care less about the film, the book or even the theory inhabiting both. Why people are all up in arms and shook up because someone said Jesus got some and settled down is beyond me. I think that Christians are having a hard time accepting the fact that they no longer have a lock on the historical Jesus or the history of Christianity. Like Martin Luther postings on the Catholic Church doors, the people are able to get into the history for themselves and are discovering things that many have kept from view. They are putting these ideas and information into the public sphere and the establishment is not happy. I cannot imagine what would happen if a popular movie came out exposing the African, specifically, Khemetic origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam complete with Jesus sitting at the feet of Gnostics sucking up ancient knowledge. That would be a book I'd read and a movie I would pay for.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Economic Self Interest

TCS daily has posted an article entitled Criminalizing Economic Self Interest in which Lee Harris supposes that government legislation to curb illegal immigration by punishing business is a waste of time because:

Similarly, the attempt to raise the wages for American labor by passing laws criminalizing the hiring of illegal laborers will end not in higher wages for Americans, but in lower wages for illegals, thereby creating a bigger gap between what the wages at which illegals are willing to work and the wages at which Americans are willing to work.

Here at Garvey's Ghost my position is on record as being opposed to illegal immigration mainly because of the impact on working class black folk. In a larger extent I oppose illegal immigration and even legal immigration to "first world" nations by skilled persons from "third world" or "developing" nations due to our concern with brain drain. I are also opposed to the rank "nativist" and "racist" attitude of those who would felonize a civil offense or the persons who provide humanitarian aid to those already here. I also believe that if existing laws against the hiring of illegal immigrants were enforced as well as an immediate repeal of among other things, CAFTA and NAFTA, the illegal immigration problem would "solve itself." The reader must understand that it is the interest of big business to encourage illegal immigration because it lowers their cost of labor. But let's focus on the article at hand, Mr Harris gives this example:

Around 1991, the State of Georgia passed a law that made it illegal to have window tint on your vehicle if the tint was too dark -- light tint was fine and legal, but the black tint was illegal. Unfortunately, many of the people who wish to have their cars tinted preferred to have the dark tint on them. Thus, window tinting companies were placed in a bind: They could either obey the new Georgia law and lose customers, or disobey the law and keep the customers who wanted the illegal tint...

But because the enforcement of the law was on a fairly hit-or-miss basis, and since it was aimed primarily at the drivers of the illegally tinted vehicles, the economic effect of the law on the window-tinting businesses themselves was utterly perverse. Those companies that obeyed the law to the letter were economically penalized by their very respect for the law, while those companies that flouted the law were economically rewarded by their lack of respect for the law.

First I want to point out that the author does not see fit to at least discuss the problem of businesses flouting the law. Indeed it is my opinion that the issue of business (and government) flouting various laws which is the problem. Having said that, we can move on to critique how Georgia enforced the law. Now personally, unless there is some safety issue for the driver, I don't think the state should be dictating what people cannot do to their property. I understand the law being an issue of police safety from those who may be armed inside a blacked out vehicle but I think there are other ways to deal with that.

The problem with Georgia's enforcement of the tint law and ultimately the immigration laws is the punishment. Why do most people pay their taxes? Most people pay their taxes because they are afraid of what the IRS will do to them if they do not. Simply put, the fear of having all your identifiable and accessible assets frozen as well as possible jail time keeps most tax-payers in line. In the case of the Georgia tint law, enforcement could have been as such:

1) Police identify a vehicle with "excessive" tint and ticket the vehicle with 30 days to have tint removed.
2) If the vehicle is caught a second time, a $1,000 fine would be levied. Now for most people that will be enough incentive to have the tint removed.
3) On the third offense, the vehicle is ticketed, towed and brought to a "de-tinting: facility where the windows are de-tinted (or replaced). the owner pays to have the vehicle returned and must pay all fees for the "de-tinting" of the window. The state may garnish wages to satisfy charges.

Such enforcement would dry up the pool of people who would "seek out" companies that flout the law because as Mr. Harris pointed out, the penalized customer would not be happy with thousands of dollars in fines over some tint. The risk far outweighs the benefit. However, Mr. Harris' argument is also based on the idea that punishing the "customer" or "immigrant" only makes life hard for the customer or immigrant and that business will continue to shirk the law so long as there is an economic incentive to do so. I agree. The proper "enforcement" of Georgia law would no doubt shrink the "illegal tinting" business because the customer would have a financial disincentive to "go illegal." In the case of immigration, the rewards of illegal immigration far outweigh the risk of doing so. Therefore it would be bad policy to simply pursue the "customer."

Let's go back to Harris' argument:

what prospect is there that it will be willing or able to enforce a law that applies to the vast multitude of small businesses that hire illegals: restaurants, construction firms, landscaping companies, just to name a few? Yes, examples can be made of a few big companies, but it defies credibility to suppose that the law will be rigorously applied to the thousand smaller businesses that hire illegal aliens -- and these businesses are perfectly aware of this fact. Their very smallness protects them...

As long as the final customers behave as economic actors, preferring to pay less than more for the same quality of service or product, there will be a market for those laborers who are willing to work for less, provided that they work as hard and as well as those who demand a higher wage. Pass all the laws you want; make as many examples as you please -- neither of these policies can hope to do more than to drive up the cost of those businesses that obey the law, while rewarding those that are willing to take the risk of disobeying it. In short, the end result will not be more Americans working at higher wages, but a flight of illegal immigrants from larger and more stable companies to smaller and less stable ones -- or, to put this another way, a flight from higher to lower wages.

We should note that Mr. Harris has now shifted the blame for the presence of Illegal immigrants on the American consumer. The citizen is at fault because he or she wishes to pay less for something. Therefore we have this 'race to the bottom" that many commentators discuss. Business have to cut costs here there and everywhere in order to "compete." Instead of increasing the ability of people to pay for various things the "market" has decided to simply drop the bottom out of prices. But let me get back to the "enforcement" argument. In the case of landscaping, why doesn't it ring a bell at the IRS if a landscaping company is taking in money that would take 6 people to earn, but only reports a single employee? News has it that the IRS is in fact looking more closely at small businesses because it appears that it is small businesses that account for a large percentage of tax fraud. I would ask a similar question regarding construction work. Perhaps there needs to be a big hiring push for forensic accountants. You simply cannot hide income like that in this day and age without someone knowing about it. Of course someone in the Social Security administration knows about it. They get fake SS withholdings all the time from various businesses.

Lets be straight here, if the government was serious about the law it would act that way. Like my example of how the state of Georgia could have really enforced it's window tinting rules, the government could do any number of things to businesses. I suggest that businesses caught hiring illegal immigrants be fined 1/2 the gross income of the company from the preceding tax year. On the second offense the business is simply shut down and it's owners face jail time. As Harris suggests, it would be impossible to check every business, but by making the consequences of being caught high enough the incentive is reduced.

Of course this very draconian policy can be applied to anything such as software piracy and P2P file sharing (which I suspect would piss off a lot of people). Having said that, we need to come to the understanding that profit is not everything. It is ultimately the dollar chasing and worshipping of the business class that has brought us this problem. If workers wages are rising then they can afford higher prices for certain goods, if such raises are justified. If does not cost as much in terms of machines and man hours to produce fruit then why shaft the worker? Because the "shareholder" must be fed his pound of flesh? If a Nike sneaker cost $2 to produce and maybe $5 to ship and sells for $200 then what exactly is the problem with paying the factory worker more? No, you don't make as much profit but money doesn't live, breath, eat, laugh, cry and take care of children. Money is only as good as the purpose for which it is used.

So what is our economic self interest? It is to deny global and small business cheap labor. It is to have real "free trade" that does not dump US goods onto the markets of "developing' countries thereby depressing local industry. It is the realization that our demand for "Walmart prices" creates Walmart wages for many millions of people around the world which ultimately leads to Walmart wages for everyone else (except Chelsea Clinton who apparently was deserving of a 6 figure salary right out of Oxford and who's previous job description was "first daughter").

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I'm alive

I know I haven't posted in a while, I'm doing a lot of reading. New posts will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dem A Tek We Fi Fool.

A couple of months back it was reported that the average saving rate of Americans was -.5%. That means that Americans were officially spending more than they earned. It was claimed that such numbers had not been seen since the Great Depression. With this in mind I spotted massive grains of salt about when I read that the economy was "roaring" in the New York Times online edition. Hidden in all the gushing about construction and spending was this:

The quarter ended on an upswing, as the data released yesterday showed. Personal spending rose 0.6 percent in March after rising 0.2 percent in February and 0.9 percent in January. The biggest jump was seen in services, up 0.7 percent, and durable goods, up 0.5 percent. Economists had expected spending to rise by 0.4 percent, according to a survey by Bloomberg News.

Personal incomes jumped 0.8 percent, with about half the increase, or $40.9 billion, coming from the federal government's new Medicare prescription drug plan; analysts had expected incomes to increase 0.4 percent. Wages, salaries and other forms of compensation increased by 0.5 percent.

Anyone see a problem here? If Americans have a saving rate of -.5% then what does that mean when we discuss "personal spending" rising .6%? Where is this money coming from? We've already determined that it isn't coming from earned income. Why are Americans spending more on services and durable goods?

Then we are struck by the next line stating that personal incomes rose .5% for those who are not "benefitting" from the government's Medicare prescription drug plan.

Sooooo let's do the math yah. The average American has a -.5% saving rate. The average american has had a .5% wage increase but has increased their spending by .6%. That means that the average American is still in the hole. How does that qualify for economic growth? Why isn't there any discussion of where the money for this "personal spending" is coming from and how it is going to be paid for (because the answer is that the spending is debt spending).

Now they must really think we are stupid if they want us to believe that the "economy" is growing. Growing for whom?

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Rush Limbaugh: A Model Of White Male Priviledge

Rush Limbaugh who, on his show made a point to rail against drug pushers and buyers has been arrested for drug possession.

Rush Limbaugh was arrested Friday on prescription drug fraud charges. The talk show host turned himself in to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Department, where he was booked on prescription drug fraud charges and released an hour later on $3,000 bail.

The arrest coincided with a settlement between Limbaugh and the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office in which Limbaugh was charged with a single count of "doctor shopping." As part of the settlement, Limbaugh agreed to continue seeking treatment for prescription drug abuse. He also agreed to pay $30,000 to offset the cost of the criminal investigation.

Now if ever there was an example of white male privilege this is it. Here on Garvey's Ghost we have noted the clear double standard that applies when it comes to drugs, race and wealth.

Kemba Smith, who committed no crime, but made the poor choice of getting involved with someone involved in the drug trade, was sentenced to 25 years in a federal penitentiary but got out after serving 6 years on account of clemency from President Clinton. So, just so we are all clear here. Kemba didn't use, acquire, handle or peddle any controled substances.

Rush Limbaugh gets released on $3,000 bail, will pay $30,000 and will get "treatment." Let's get it straight:

Florida authorities seized a heap of Limbaugh's medical records three years ago after learning that, in a period of six months, he had purchased about 2,000 pills prescribed by four different doctors. The fact that all of the prescriptions were filled at the same pharmacy apparently piqued state prosecutors' interest.

In the 'hood you are a "drug dealer" and "scum" for selling cocaine or weed. However, when sold by a white person with a Pharmacology degree, they are a doctor, care-giver and "prescription filler."

Rush doesn't go to "crack houses" he goes to the pharmacy.

Rush isn't a criminal because he gets high off of "designer" drugs, and not the "low class" crack.

Lets state it clear that it is illegal to get oxycotin without a valid prescription. It is illegal to prescribe controlled substances without a valid medical reason. No one takes 2,000 pills a month and the pharmacist who filled the prescription knew that it wasn't real. Some of these pharmacists will deny women birth control on "moral grounds" but apparently the selling massive amounts of Oxycotin for a good profit doesn't strike some pharamcists as immoral.

Rush Limbaugh is a crackhead of a different stripe. While I wholly support treatment, in this case I think Limbaugh should face his own judgement, no less than what was handed down to Kemba Smith: Jail time. But he wont because:

He's white
He's male.
and he's wealthy.