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Turn that frown upside-down!

OR

How to take a historic bust and turn it into the greatest boom the world has ever seen

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

- Albert Einstein

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Prologue:

U.S. industrial output posts biggest fall in 34 years Oct 16, 2008

World May Be Lucky to Get Worst Recession Since 1983 (Update2) By Rich Miller Oct. 13, 2008

Charlie Brooker on the end of the world as we know it guardian.co.uk, Monday October 13 2008

Recession? Depression? How Deep, How Far and What Can Be Done? A survey of what some of the best thinkers believe we're facing in the coming months and years -- and the best ways to prevent complete disaster. By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted October 11, 2008.

In plain English: The best way for Congress to pull America out of the financial toilet-- and why they won't do it

Bush Leaving Next President Record Federal Budget Deficit ANDREW TAYLOR | July 28, 2008

No President Has Ever Handed Off A Greater Mess To His Successor By MARC McDONALD August 07, 2008

"No matter who is elected in November, it will take years to repair this damage."

-- Feeding the Beast In order to weaken federal agencies, the Bush administration has expanded them to the point of collapse by Christopher Moraff, In These Times Monday 18 August 2008

What can we do to save ourselves? Where do we even begin?

Lots of folks are simply throwing up their hands in regards to the current crisis. At a loss for what to do. Or even where to begin.

In many ways the current pickle is considered not only to be starkly different from anything we've faced before-- but maybe impossible to solve in any old-fashioned (or conservative) manner.

Why Traditional Recession Tactics Are Doomed To Fail This Time Boardrooms need to recognize that the macro crisis requires decision makers to confront fundamental transformation on three levels, argues Umair Haque October 21, 2008

"This tri-flow worked as long as everyone believed that American consumers could finance their debt. But here's the problem: At the same time Americans were borrowing, their real wages were falling-and not just for the least educated. By BusinessWeek's calculations, real weekly earnings for college grads without an advanced degree have dropped every year since 2002. You can't pay back rising debt with falling wages; something had to give."

-- Mandel: It's Not a Crisis of Confidence The real problem with the economy is that long accepted patterns of cross-border technology transfer, trade, and finance are simply unsustainable By Michael Mandel; October 28, 2008

"America's economic troubles will rapidly accumulate if the dollar loses its reserve currency role. To protect the dollar and the Treasury's credit standing, the US needs to curtail its foreign borrowing by reducing its budget deficit. It can do this by halting its gratuitous wars and slashing its unnecessary military spending which exceeds that of the rest of the world combined. The empire has run out of resources, and the 700 overseas bases must be closed."

"Cutting the budget deficit by halting pointless wars and unnecessary military spending and reducing the trade deficit by bringing jobs back to America are simple tasks compared to confronting inflationary depression."

-- America's economic crisis is beyond the reach of traditional solutions By Paul Craig Roberts Online Journal Contributing Writer Nov 14, 2008

This time, we literally ARE all in this together.

As I've said elsewhere, I believe the rest of the world will do almost anything to prevent the US from going off an economic cliff: we're simply too big a chunk of the world economy: we'd drag lots of other nations down with us.

So the very best way to prevent a worldwide depression may well be to prevent a depression in America.

The biggest danger might be that US politicians, their rich backers, and corporate CEOs won't be willing to do what it takes to fix the problem domestically. Like finally ramping down from the near-continuous virtual war-footing we've been on since nearly World War II, and cutting our out-of-control military, intelligence, and security spending down to per capita scales comparable to all other nations of the world, and dumping our massive ongoing subsidies for the rich (both direct and indirect).

Doing those things alone could likely balance our books almost overnight. With the by-product of lots of previously powerful people going to jail, as such changes helped to reveal their crimes. And quite a few parasitic big corporations which could never make it without those military subsidies would go under, too. Thereby freeing up their assets to be put to better and more productive use by others.

That being said, even in a best case scenario I expect times to get hard. I've lived through at least two or three recessions I guess, and they were no fun at all. On the plus side, when you're poor to start with (and stay that way) you maybe don't notice the difference as much as other folks might. But even a slight turning of the screws is never welcome for a mentally healthy person.

On the brighter side, there's at least a few things we could do to perhaps accelerate a turnaround, and use the strength of our present economic tidal wave against it-- in sort of a metaphorical martial arts move. Especially since the excesses of our political and corporate elite across such a wide swath of our economy have now made as one the coffers of both private and public parties.

That is, saving money for the public should be just as valuable now as private savings-- or private profits.

Well, such savings will actually be better than private profits. As anyone familiar with household budgeting or sound business practices will agree. For saving money is usually far easier and less risky than trying to earn a profit with it.

So our top priority should most likely go to saving the public money, with only our second being to help expand private profit-making opportunities in the economy.

So what's some ways to save money in the very worst of times while simultaneously bolstering our national (and even global) prosperity?

Other developed countries boosted their national security, reduced poverty, and saved $billions by switching to universal healthcare.

And the best universal healthcare plans among other countries have proven themselves to save enormous sums of money over the sort of private patch-work system from which the US suffers today. So you could actually solve not just one or two but a multitude of problems at once by enacting the proper type of universal system in America: of which only two benefits would be substantially improving the nation's health, and effectively providing an enormous stimulus package to the entire country, at the grass roots level.

This one move would also enhance national security by making it tougher for bio-weapons OR natural epidemics to get very far among the populace. And improve national economic competitiveness-- not simply from having healthier workers (and so fewer sick days taken, and reduced health costs in the long run) than otherwise-- but also relieving US business from the burden of providing healthcare. Something they currently suffer a disadvantage about now, compared to companies in nations already possessing universal healthcare (which consists of almost every other country on the planet comparable to us in technology, education, productivity, and wealth).

Another thing universal healthcare would offer is a new ramp up out of poverty. It'd be like a substantial pay raise for the poor, as well as a very welcome boost to feelings of safety and security for all citizens.

America's Largest RN Organization Says: If We Can Nationalize Banks, Why Not Healthcare? October 9, 2008

Detroit isn't dead yet As Washington clashes over a Big Three bailout, it's ignoring the best cure to the automakers' ills: Universal healthcare. By Edward McClelland Nov. 26, 2008

Winners and losers

It would be a win-win-win for everyone! Except possibly for a tiny number of already wealthy folks (who might get demoted from super rich to plain rich by this change), the thousands of accountants and lawyers currently employed by health insurance companies to figure out how to squeeze ever higher premiums out of customers for ever less healthcare, and the vast multitude of official criminals who today make a living off scamming desperate millions with completely empty promises of health insurance and fraudulent miracle cures.

But of course all these losers to such a revolutionary development will fight it for all they're worth, with measures like hard-hitting political ads on TV, radio, and the internet.

And especially with their premiere mouthpiece: Fox News.

But the plain truth is, we cannot afford to keep up all these parasites any longer. Our fellow developed countries stopped paying them years ago. Why is it we alone still do?

Small is beautiful (and more competitive and reliable)

Another thing we can do is take a brand new and very fresh lesson to heart: that of particular institutions or companies being "too big to fail".

Excuse me? Isn't the answer to this one glaringly obvious? Heck, you can even look up the answer in a history book!

It's an open book test, for God's sakes!

They figured this out way back in Theodore Roosevelt's day, people!

Make it illegal for companies to get too big to fail.

That is, make them split up into multiple independent entities once they reach a certain size. Otherwise you risk catastrophes which may be beyond your power to fix-- like today's market crash and financial meltdown.

Having a size limit on companies would also make for better market competition-- and so more innovation-- and so lower prices for consumers in a great many cases.

It would also make for more jobs-- and higher wages for workers (check it out: when companies do the reverse of this in mergers, related jobs and wages usually shrink).

But maybe best of all, it would greatly reduce the possibility of catastrophic failures in any particular market.

The World's Banks Could Prove Too Big to Fail - or to Rescue By FLOYD NORRIS Published: October 10, 2008

If They're Too Big To Fail, They're Too Big Period by Robert Reich; October 21, 2008

Winners and losers

The winners and losers category here would basically be the same as for universal healthcare: almost all regular folks would win, while a few rich people, and various criminals, would lose.

See how easy that was?

Executive pay: let them make all they want (so long as it's linked to pay company-wide).

Oh-- that outrageous executive pay thing so many people are fighting mad over? Some say there should be caps, some say there shouldn't? Here's how to fix that, so that not only do execs and boards face no maximum pay ceilings, but everyone else in a given company will like the solution, too.

Just say maximum executive pay can never be more than 18 times or so the pay of the lowest-paid employee in the same company-- worldwide.

I.e.: In the case of a U.S. company having employees both in America and Pakistan-- with perhaps the Pakistan employee making the least of all-- the CEO of that company could never make more than 18 times what the Pakistani employee was making.

Of course, such a rule would pretty much make outsourcing jobs to third world nations solely for the purpose of paying lower worker wages a losing proposition for CEOS, wouldn't it?

If corporate execs are truly as smart as they claim to be (and we can continue to depend upon their personal greed) then the entire world of workers will soon be prospering as never before under this plan. Either via straight-forward raises, profit-sharing, promotions enabled by intensified company-sponsored educational and training efforts, or other venues.

This rule might also help reinforce the 'small is beautiful' angle on company size. That is, execs might be more prone to split up a company that's getting too big, in order to have better control over their own pay via the ratios mentioned before. And less prone to shifting jobs overseas for the exclusive purpose of reducing worker pay.

Winners and losers:

Again, just about everyone would come out winners here; about the only losers I can think of would be the type of scoundrels who prospered in the previous system while bankrupting their companies and screwing their workers and customers too in the process.

Super-charge competition, quality, innovation, and entrepreneurship for free

Want more? How about even more competition-- and still lower prices-- along with much, much higher quality products and services than we usually get today? PLUS a whole new avenue for self-employment and entrepreneurship the likes of which the world has never seen before?

That one's still easier!

All you have to do is change the law so that only government edicts or free market forces-- not corporate execs-- can arbitrarily remove a given technology or platform from the market from now on. That is, ban planned obsolescence.

Specifically:

"...whenever a company officially stops selling and/or supporting a given product or computer program, it must hand over the designs, specifications, code, and all documentation related to the past and present building, manufacture, and maintenance of that product or program to the open source knowledge pool, where anyone with the desire and capability may then continue maintaining, manufacturing, updating, and improving that product or computer program into perpetuity-- with the added rule that all subsequent innovations to the product or code will themselves forever remain within the open source pool for access to and by all.

This public availability of past technology and ideas also eventually makes for an excellent and growing database of easily searched prior art, helping force new patent applications to be truly original and innovative, rather than simply attempts to claim ownership of common ideas whose origins have been obscured by bankrupt companies, forgotten individuals, forced obsolescence, brief-lived fads, out-of-date databases, and other flaws of human historical record.

This new rule greatly intensifies market competition, choice, and innovation, while cutting prices for consumers and thus raising living standards for all. It also widens and deepens the choices available for the poor and the young, as it allows for much longer useful lives for both hardware and software of many types. It creates vast new entrepreneurial opportunities in the servicing of such products, as well as allows individual human knowledge and experience to remain viable for much longer than they might otherwise in the marketplace. For example, vacuum tubes. Note that not only did it turn out that vacuum tubes did not become obsolete for all uses in the 1960s, but they even turned out to be important for cutting edge research after 2000.

Open sourcing this knowledge also provides all of human civilization with an extra layer of technological redundancy and security in case of catastrophic technological failures or even major natural disasters. How so? Allowing obsolete tech to continue on in an open knowledge base and in commercial products and services greatly increases the diversity of the world technological base, as well as insuring that at least some portions remain perpetually de-centralized. Thus, it becomes increasingly difficult for any conceivable natural disaster, tech failure, war, sabotage, or terrorist attack to bring about a substantial global failure in the net and other technological devices upon which humanity increasingly depends. I.e., imagine the difficulty involved in creating a single virus which could do significant damage to such a wide gamut of software architectures and applications as implied by an open source knowledge pool. By contrast, in 2000, so much of humanity was limited to a single, closed, proprietary architecture (Microsoft Windows), that successful and costly attacks of many sorts were routine in computing and networking affairs.

Plus, even in worst case scenarios, the world's increased tech diversity due to the open source knowledge pool offers multiple starting points from which to rebuild and regenerate the infrastructure if necessary."

-- Intellectual property and business competition reforms in the 21st century

Winners and losers:

Once more, 99 plus percent of folks would be winners here. For only undead entities (legal corporations) and various high ranking executives of same would lose: lose power, influence, and sizeable fractions of their future potential fortunes.

Of course, under the new system, any executives who truly excelled at running a business would still make out like bandits: but they'd most likely be bandits doing good rather than evil (transformed from Al Capones to Robin Hoods).

Let the sun shine in: and the truth shall set you free

Making decisions based on erroneous information usually makes for bad decisions. And bad decisions lead to things like the stock market crash of 2008.

Want to make better decisions? Then purify your information sources. Bad information is like bad water: it can make you sick, or even kill you.

We don't put up with bad water in the developed nations today. But we do, surprisingly, tolerate bad information. Or even zero information (secrecy). Then we're blind-sided by things like the financial crisis of 2008.

"More generally, the notion that secrecy supports security is inherently flawed. Whenever you see an organization claiming that design secrecy is necessary for security - in ID cards, in voting machines, in airport security - it invariably means that its security is lousy and it has no choice but to hide it."

"This court ruling encourages companies to build security properly rather than relying on shoddy design and secrecy, and discourages them from promising security based on their ability to threaten researchers."

-- Hacking Mifare Transport Cards by Bruce Schneier August 7, 2008

Why being open about security makes us all safer in the long run by Bruce Schneier; guardian.co.uk, Thursday August 7 2008

Again, it wouldn't be all that difficult to change this. To make it criminal for anyone to knowingly give out false or grossly misleading information as news or fact.

I'm not talking trampling freedom of speech here. Opinions, gossip, innuendo, etc., could still be spread as far and wide as people wanted to take them.

But knowingly telling outright lies couldn't be labeled as news or fact though major media outlets without substantial legal liability.

I believe we'd all be astounded by the difference we'd see in news, science, and historical presentations after such a change. And commercial and political advertising, too.

It'd be a whole different world; a much better world!

And since far fewer lies could be told without severe repercussions, businesses would be forced to work harder to please their customers, and politicians would have to work harder to please their voters.

Education would actually become easier in some ways, as time no longer had to be wasted teaching children (and even college students) how to navigate the rampant lies of advertising and politics such as we've put up with to this point.

A similar limitation on lying and deception could be administered to the internet as a whole too, of course-- though that would require a wildly different procedure from mainstream media sources. And likely require a credibility grading or ranking system of some sort, which was protected from undue influence by people or organizations seeking to game the system for their own ends.

And while we're at it, let's force our government to roll back the whole lying-with-statistics scam they've built up over decades in their own Enron-style accounting, to make them release true inflation and unemployment figures, rather than the cooked-to-death numbers they do today.

Like other aspects of the truth, knowing the real rates of inflation and unemployment would help both voters and business make vastly better decisions for not only their own lives (and livelihoods), but the country as a whole as well.

How Many People are Unemployed? No One Knows by Zachary Karabell; August 1, 2008

Wash. Times inflated Bush's approval ratings, falsely portrayed unemployment rate under Bush Aug 7, 2008

"I'm ashamed to say that there were folks even in the medical department who said, Over my dead body will American civilians see this,"

-- New Textbook for Surgeons in the Battlefield Makes It Past the Army's Censors - NYTimes.com By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. Published: August 5, 2008

"It is hurting Fed credibility to say that we are trying to keep inflation low and stable, but at the same time we are not counting some of the prices that are going up at the most rapid pace,"

-- CORRECTED - Fed's Bullard says bank's credibility on line Jul 3, 2008

Government Inflation Data Does Not Match Reality May 15, 2008 - 05:57 PM By: Gary_Dorsch

No Inflation If You Don't Eat or Drive May 14th, 2008 | By Contrarian Profits

Washington's Great "No Inflation" Hoax May 8, 2008 Kevin Phillips

What is the real rate of inflation???

The great inflation cover-up If the price of dinner is pinching us, why don't the CPI numbers acknowledge it? By Elizabeth Spiers April 3, 2008

"Today's financial services sector...is a grasping, gargantuan combination of banks, stockbrokers, insurancemen, loan sharks, credit-card issuers, hedge fund speculators, securitization mavens and mortgage operators. Over the last five years, financial services has reached a swollen 20-21% of U.S. GDP -- the largest sector of the private economy."

"...the two most important underpinnings of financialization lay in the rise of public and private debt as a mainstay of American culture and economics and the perpetual liquidity and bail-out support of the Federal Reserve Board under Alan Greenspan. During Greenspan's 1987-2005 tenure, the sum of public and private debt in the United States quadrupled from just over $10 trillion to $43 trillion. Finance became the industry that was not allowed to fail but was permitted to enlarge and metastasize its behavior almost at will. Regulation was minimal. Favoritism was omnipresent."

"...phony Washington statistics and warped market measurements make it doubly hard to tell. The federal Consumer Price Index is already regarded by many Americans as a con job, and the press periodically quotes investors who state their belief that current U.S. inflation is really 6 to 9 percent a year, not the 2-4 percent the government alleges. I agree. On top of which, because the value of the dollar has dropped so far, the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the end of March was not really 12,200, a number barely up from its 11,700 peak in 2000. If you measure the Dow in Swiss francs or euros, two strong currencies, it has already lost some forty percent of its 2000 value. Too many Americans live in a dream-world of economic misinformation."

-- The Destructive Rise of Big Finance by Kevin Phillips; Posted March 31, 2008

US Inflation Understated in Official Statistics - Prices are the Cart, Money Supply is the Horse Oct 19, 2007 By: Peter_Schiff

There's No Inflation (If You Ignore Facts)

What Official Unemployment Numbers Tell Us…And Don't Tell Us By Justin Gardner December 7th, 2008

"The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent...More significantly, the unemployment rate does not include those too discouraged to look for work any longer or those working fewer hours than they would like. Add those people to the roster of the unemployed, and the rate hit a record 12.5 percent in November, up 1.5 percentage points since September. "

-- U.S. Loses 533,000 Jobs in Biggest Drop Since 1974 By LOUIS UCHITELLE, EDMUND L. ANDREWS and STEPHEN LABATON Published: December 5, 2008

The Great Inflation Fraud Why does the government pretend prices aren't rising?

CPI's Lie on Household Inflation Doesn't Wash John F. Wasik

"He relates, "In 1983, the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] was faced with an awkward dilemma. If it continued to include the cost of housing in the Consumer Price Index, the CPI would reflect an inflation rate of 15%, thereby making the country's economy look like a banana republic. Worse, since investors and bond traders have historically demanded a 2% real return after inflation, that would mean that bond and money market yields could climb as high as 17%."

Yikes! What to do, what to do, what to do whattodowhattodo? "The BLS's solution was as simple as it was shocking: exclude the cost of housing as a component in the CPI, and substitute a so-called 'Owner Equivalent Rent' component based on what a homeowner might 'rent' his house for." Hahaha! The government resorts to lying! "Wow! Why didn't we think of this before?" they are heard to ask among themselves.

Fortunately for the government, it worked. "The result of this statistical sleight of hand was immediate and gratifying," Mr Hardaway writes, "for the reported inflation index quickly dropped to 2%", down from the real, and horrifying, 15% which was due "in part" to the drop in rents caused by speculators wanting to "offset their holding costs by renting out their homes while their prices skyrocketed, thereby flooding the market with rentals that pushed down the cost of renting a house or apartment." Hahaha!

You can almost hear the contempt in his voice when he says, "While the BLS was correct in assuming that this statistical ruse would fool the average citizen into believing that inflation was only 2% (and therefore be willing to accept a meager 4% return on his bank savings), what is remarkable is that the ruse also fooled the bond traders, and apparently continues to do so, leading analyst Peter Schiff to describe these supposed savvy bond traders as the 'hormonal teenagers of the capital markets'."

-- Subprime meltdown finally affects beer drinkers

Inflation is eating US wage gains

Note that politicians and their wonks have pulled every trick in the book to hide true inflation rates for decades now. For it's the easiest way by far to make everything look better on paper, and to deflate statistical justifications for economic dissent and clamor for change. Fudge that single number, and you change the outcomes of all sorts of economic analysis formulas in a way which benefits the rich and status quo, while squeezing the poor and middle-class ever tighter. The official rates fed to the news media are likely only a fourth to a fifth the actual rate-- in their most accurate moments! So everything about inflation is usually, as Scripting News' Dave Winer might put it, 'even worse than it appears'.

Another place where we could use some more discipline would be in intelligence estimates of other countries' military spending.

Project for a new cold war A new report that overstates China's nuclear capabilities and intentions shows that US neocons haven't gone away by Robert Farley; guardian.co.uk, Monday December 1 2008

It's well established that US and other western intelligence agencies have over-estimated and exaggerated the military budgets and capacities of nations like Russia and China and others for decades. So whatever figures we citizens have for such things may be overblown by anywhere from 30- 60%.

But let's go ahead and accept these wild-eyed figures as truth for a moment. And figure that any nation whose military budget was set to be equal to that of Russia and China combined would be seriously well-armed. And then recast our own (USA's) military budget to that enormous figure: $192 billion per year.

Oops! Turns out we'd have to CUT our current budget by 63%(!) to match the most outrageous and exaggerated estimates our intelligence agencies give for those two countries (you know: the same guys who said Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?)

2008 military budgets:

USA $711 billion
China $122 billion
Russia $ 70 billion

-- World Military Spending By Anup Shah; Saturday, March 01, 2008

Just call it the USS George W. Bush. They only had to spend $5 billion plus to figure out it was a warship which couldn't fight in wars. Not even wars of near 70 years ago (WWII).

"...the world's most expensive surface warship can't properly defend itself or other ships from an extremely widespread threat."

"the Navy has been delivering a lunchbag of bullshit to Congress regarding surface combatants for three years."

-- Stealth Destroyer is Largely Defenseless, Admiral Says

"The United States is projected to spend more on defense in FY 2009 than the next 45 highest spending countries combined, yet a push by conservatives and the military, backed by arms companies, is trying to lock the defense budget at 4% of GDP."

-- You And What 44 Other Armies? By Cernig Friday Nov 21, 2008

How The Pentagon Bankrupts America 25 Nov 2008

Rice adviser: 'The biggest stupid idea was to invade Iraq in the first place.'»

Pull the Plug on the War State

NAKED EVIL: Pentagon Wants $450 Billion Increase Over Next Five Years

Terrorism Funds May Let Brass Fly in Style Luxury Pods for Air Force Debated The US Has 761 Military Bases Across the Planet, and We Simply Never Talk About It

Military Industrial Complex: Even Worse than We Thought

The Military-Industrial Complex: It's Much Later Than You Think

25%+ of all Pentagon money is unaccounted for

'America's Outrageous War Economy!' Pentagon can't find $2.3 trillion, wasting trillions on 'national defense'

Making the military-industrial complex serve us, rather than we serving it-- just as Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower recommended.

Cutting our budget to be merely likely larger than the actual budgets of Russia and China combined would save us at least $519 billion a year! That's over half a trillion dollars! Every year! And we'd still possess the power to fight both countries simultaneously if necessary. And handily whip them too, if our technology is truly as superior as we like to claim.

But keep in mind we'd still possess too the vast surplus of military gear and weaponry we've built up over decades with our insane levels of spending there.

We'd still possess the vast hardware buildup from the $trillions we've spent in past years, atop any annual budget from this point on. Of weapons designed to overcome a rival 21st century superpower which hasn't existed in reality since around 1991 (the USSR).

We have supremely expensive stealth war tech running out our ass, designed to overwhelm....defenses which don't exist yet: Darth Vader war machines.

So it'd take years or maybe even decades for opponents to catch up to our Darth Vader era weaponry, even if they pursued it all-out, practically bankrupting themselves in the process (like we did to get here)-- while we simply stood pat.

But it's unlikely anyone will even try to duplicate our own foolhardiness in that field. So our edge against Darth Vader will likely continue for quite some time to come. Even if we cancel all further research and development in related areas entirely (which you know we won't).

But our Darth Vader type armaments are merely the frosting. The cake would be our budget matching that of Russia and China combined (or our own CIA's wildly exaggerated estimate of their budgets).

But wait! There's more good news! If we did this same trick in regards to our intelligence and many other security-related programs-- that is, made them roughly the equivalent of the combined Russia/China budgets for similar agencies-- we'd save still more hundreds of billions of dollars a year!

Is It Time to Abolish the CIA? Submitted by Bob Fertik on August 1, 2008

And viola! We'll have in one fell swoop lopped off a huge chunk of future debt and related interest payments. And thereby greatly enhanced our national security-- by making our economy more solvent.

Winners and losers from these moves? Much the same as in the previous cases, only on a grander scale: winners would include almost everybody on the entire planet, both American and not. The list of major losers would consist of primarily a few super-rich folks who'd lose one or two $billions each-- and a whole lot of criminals and terrorists. How so the criminals and terrorists? Well, at present our insanely bloated military and intelligence budgets allow for all sorts of shady dealing to go on which do little more than siphon off tax-payer money in ways which can't be tracked at all. Or, to put it simply, into the pockets of crooks. By severely scaling down those budgets, we'll take away lots of hiding places for such nefarious activities.

As for the terrorists...well, the best weapons for terrorists usually come from the existing military armaments of nations-- including our own. For example: it wouldn't be possible for terrorists to ever threaten anyone with a nuclear weapon if world militaries had never invented or built them in the first place. Indeed, if a terrorist nuke (not a plain dirty bomb; even street kids can build those) ever does go off in America or elsewhere, it'll most likely be a warhead originally built for the US or Russian military. Or based on designs or materials stolen from such entities.

So if we stop developing and building such crazy stuff, the terrorists lose one humongous chunk of their future terror potential. The same goes for advanced bio-weapons, nano-technology weapons, and nerve gases, too.

Want to save still more billions, even as you kill off Al Qaeda once and for all? That's easy! Call off the war on terror, which has up to now only played into the hands of the worst terrorists (and despotic governments) worldwide.

To destroy Al Qaeda, we must end the war on terror: Rand Corporation Posted by Cory Doctorow, July 29, 2008

"Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group's capabilities..."

"Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism."

-- U.S. Should Rethink "War On Terrorism" Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida July 29, 2008; OFFICE OF MEDIA RELATIONS 703-413-1100 x5117 and 310-451-6913 media@rand.org

"We must not delude ourselves about the nature of the terrorist threat to our country. We must not take fright at the specter our leaders have exaggerated. In fact, we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are. The writer was a member of the CIA's Clandestine Service for 23 years and retired in March 2007 as deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats."

-- Overstating Our Fears By Glenn L. Carle Sunday, July 13, 2008; Page B07

In 2004 and possibly earlier, bin Laden boasted of how easily he was luring the US into bankruptcy.

Anyone examining US headlines of late 2008 might easily conclude that the Bush Administration delivered to bin Laden more success in bringing down America than the terrorist ever thought possible.

Bin Laden: Goal is to bankrupt U.S.; 2004

"Militarily, the most helpful - or least harmful - thing the West can do is to withdraw all troops from the entire Middle East, and from South Asia to boot. That's the bottom line I got from a conversation with celebrated British foreign correspondent Robert Fisk a couple of weeks ago. Pulling out the military doesn't imply reducing or downgrading cultural, social, or economic relations; in fact, it would be helpful if those kinds of relations were strengthened, and getting the troops out would likely lead to such strengthening. But the longer the West keeps troops in the Middle East, the more insurgents/jihadists/disgruntled opponents it will create."

-- Coffee With Robert Fisk by Alan Bock; October 20, 2008

Need to save even more money? Then abolish the insane war on drugs, which only makes drug lords richer, breaks the 8th Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment, and gives violent criminals an easy out of overfilled prisons as they are released to make room for pot smokers.

Budget cutting? Take a hatchet to the war on drugs Every year we throw away billions on a failed program to punish addicts -- an approach both candidates should know doesn't work. By Joe Conason; Oct. 20, 2008

"America's alcohol prohibition lasted 13 years, filled the country's prisons, inspired contempt for the law among millions, bred corruption and produced Al Capone. What it did not do was keep Americans from drinking.

America's marijuana prohibition drew into its 72nd year this month. It has created a huge underground industry catering to users, helped the U.S. prison population balloon into the world's largest, and diverted the resources of American law enforcement. What it has not done is keep Americans from using marijuana.

On the contrary. Since 1937, the year marijuana was outlawed, its use in the United States has gone up by 4,000 percent, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based lobby group which advocates regulating the drug similar to alcohol. A recent World Health Organization study of marijuana use in 17 countries placed Americans at the top of the list.

The 1920-1933 prohibition on the sale, production and transportation of alcohol is now seen as a dismal failure of social engineering. Will the prohibition on marijuana ever be seen in a similar light?"

-- America's never-ending prohibition By Bernd Debusmann; Aug 6, 2008

This is the U.S. on drugs Only cops and crooks have benefited from $2.5 trillion spent fighting trafficking. By David W. Fleming and James P. Gray July 5, 2008

U.S. war on drugs has failed, report says By Tracy Wilkinson November 27, 2008

Drug War Casualty Statistical Graphs

Let's End Drug Prohibition Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption. By ETHAN A. NADELMANN DECEMBER 5, 2008

A Brief List of People Who Have Smoked Marijuana

The Drug War In a Nutshell

"Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. His definition fits America's war on drugs, a multi-billion dollar, four-decade exercise in futility."

"In the 20s and 30s, we had Al Capone and his gangsters getting rich and shooting up our streets," said Nelson, who spent a 32-year government career fighting drugs in the U.S. and Latin America. "Today we have criminal gangs, cartels, Taliban and al-Qaeda profiting from the prohibition of drug sales and wreaking havoc all over the world. The correlation is obvious."

The before-and-after sequence is so obvious that the U.S. Congress passed a resolution in September noting that the 1933 repeal of alcohol prohibition had replaced a "dramatic increase" in organized crime with "a transparent and accountable system of distribution and sales" that generated billions of dollars in tax revenues and boosted the sick economy."

"The budgetary impact of legalizing drugs would be enormous, according to a study prepared to coincide with the 75th anniversary of prohibition's end by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron. He estimates that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy — $44.1 billion through savings on law enforcement and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenues from regulated sales."

-- Einstein, insanity and the war on drugs By: Bernd Debusmann December 3rd, 2008

"The prohibition of drugs is perhaps the most disastrous policy currently pursued by the US government. It hands a vast industry to armed criminal gangs, who proceed to kill at least excess 10,000 citizens a year to protect their patches. It exports this programme of mass slaughter to Mexico, Colombia and beyond. It has been a key factor in reviving the Taliban in Afghanistan. It squanders tens of billions of dollars on prisons at home, ensuring that one in 31 adults in the US now in prison or on supervised release at any one time. And it has destroyed an entire generation of black men, who are now more likely to go to prison for drug offences than to go to university.

And for what? Prohibition doesn't stop people using drugs. Between 1972 and 1978, eleven US states decriminalized marijuana possession. So did hundreds of thousands of people rush out to smoke the now-legal weed? The National Research Council found that it had no effect on the number of dope-smokers. None. The people who had always liked it carried on; the people who didn't felt no sudden urge to start."

"When Levine penetrated to the very top of la Mafia Cruenza, one of the biggest drug-dealing gangs in the world, he learned, as he puts it, "that not only did they not fear our war on drugs, they actually counted on it... On one undercover tape-recorded conversation, a top cartel chief, Jorge Roman, expressed his gratitude for the drug war, calling it 'a sham put on the American tax-payer' that was 'actually good for business'." He was right -- prohibition is the dealer's friend. They depend on it. They thrive on it, just as Al Capone thrived on alcohol prohibition. When Levine recounted these comments to his boss -- the officer in command of the paramilitary operation attacking South America -- he replied, "Yeah, we know [the police and military battles against drug gangs] don't work, but we sold the plan up and down the Potomac."

Yet virtually no politicians are exposing this scandal. A rare and heroic exception is Jim Webb, Senator for Virginia. In his brilliant new book Born Fighting, he says "the hugely expensive antidrug campaigns we are waging around the world are basically futile." He even goes further, and exposes how this intersects with racism to create a monstrous injustice. The ACLU found in 2006 that although the races use drugs at the same rate, black Americans -- who comprise 12 percent of the population -- make up 74 percent of all drug offenders sentenced to prison."

-- Should Barack Obama or Cindy McCain really be in prison? That's the mad logic of the 'War on Drugs'. So why the silence? found online around Aug 10 2008

So what do you say? Would you like a much better life? Or do you want to keep things like they are today? It's literally up you.

More references:

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

- Albert Einstein

-- "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Google Search

What to Do By Paul Krugman Volume 55, Number 20 · December 18, 2008

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