John McClaughry’s painful diatribe on climate change, titled “Freedoms,” made me fully realize how precious freedom of speech really is. There are limits however, when it comes to shouting fire erroneously in a crowded movie theater, and in my opinion, featuring speeches in a Klan rally. In Mr. McClaughry’s case, I believe he comes fairly close to the limit. For example, by citing Dr. Roy Spencer, he has cited somebody who is defined as very controversial, has been referred to as someone who has propagated “long wrong bunk” since 1989, and has been quoted as follows: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.” Dr. John Christy has been Dr. Spencer’s collaborator since 1989, in conflict with 95 percent of eminent climatologists.
I find “freedom” has become a dog whistle for part of what can be called a logical syllogism of Mr. McClaughry’s extreme view of American democracy. It goes like this: “American democracy” = “unfettered freedom and liberty” = “religious capitalism” = “survival of the fittest.” In the extreme, this belief can be encapsulated by the current usage of “personhood”, which would make both Charles Darwin and George Orwell wince. In right-wing jargon, personhood refers to both unborn fetuses and corporations, encompassing the waterfront of possible scenarios for “The Hunger Games”.
So who benefits from extreme survival of the fittest — the wealthy and clever intellectuals come to mind, but more insidious is a group of people who in another context are known as “sociopaths” or “psychopaths” — those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Both groups are defined as lacking the capability for conscience, shame, guilt, regret, empathy, or a valid moral compass. Without these characteristics, you can do just about anything, creating a very unlevel playing field. There is a difference between the two: a sociopath doesn’t care about the effect his/her actions has on others, and frequently shares a comorbid diagnosis with narcissism. A psychopath actually enjoys destroying lives, and is frequently associated with sadism.
Recently Bernie Sanders hosted the ambassador from Denmark who described a system and worldview diametrically opposed to our model of capitalism on steroids. Both systems have components of the other: in Denmark, capitalism works in harmony with the primary system of socialism. Socialism in the United States currently is used, but only as it applies to corporations, Wall Street, and the very rich.
Being real, the United States will never come close to having a system like Denmark’s in my lifetime. There is a third way, which is unknown to most of the population, however, which is closely being looked at in Vermont. It involves the formation of a state bank, modeled after the successful prototype in North Dakota, hardly a bastion of left-wing radicalism, which has existed since 1918. Although it went through the usual trials and tribulations, it receives nearly unanimous acceptance and approval in North Dakota nowadays in that no other state escaped the worst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the recent Great Recession better than North Dakota.
Sen. Anthony Pollina introduced a bill in the latest legislative session, SB55, to look into the formation of a Vermont state bank more closely, and the effort is being spearheaded by Gwen Hallsmith. The academic backdrop for this is the excellent book by Ellen Brown, “Web of Debt.”
What is unknown to most people is that almost the entire money supply is created by the Federal Reserve (“the Fed”), and the largest multinational banks through loans — the exception being metal coins comprising about 1/10000th of the money supply. Revenues and profit mainly consist of interest which is “earned” by the banks, hedge funds, and international bond holders.
The better way is for government to create or at least control the money supply, as is currently done in North Dakota, in a handful of other countries, and even was done in the United States at its inception, and during the Civil War. Before proceeding, it is necessary to clear up another misconception.
Although the Fed was created by the federal government, it is aligned much more closely by statute and reality to its client banks, rather than the federal government.
Aligning the Fed to the federal government more closely would be a first step in a national solution. On a local level, why the Bank of North Dakota has been so successful is that it aligns itself with the needs of the communities in North Dakota, and the associated community banks. The revenue and profits received in this system go back to the state and community banks, which are then committed to local needs such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, health care, education, and small business assistance — instead of profits for multinational banks, hedge funds, and international bond holders.
This is truly a system which everybody can love, except for the current predatory beneficiaries. It has been said that this could minimize and possibly even eventually eliminate the need for taxation, since revenues and profit would automatically funnel to government. While such a system is more than meets the eye — with careful planning, diligent outreach and feedback to stakeholders, and precise execution — it is a concept very doable, which could reap enormous benefits, not the least of which would be better harmony among groups with different ideologies.
Mitch Goldfarb lives in Montpelier.MORE IN Commentary
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