The Weiner Component #95 – The Ferguson, Missouri Fiasco

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, a 6’3” Black youth eighteen years of age who had recently graduated from high school was stopped while walking in the street by a patrolling police officer in an official vehicle. He was unarmed but shot six times, with one bullet entering the top of his head, and killed. Another bullet was removed from the wall of a nearby house. There may have been other rounds fired.

The police officer, Darren Wilson by name, wrote up no report on the shooting, presumably on the advice of his attorney. He is currently on administrative leave with pay awaiting the outcome of this occurrence. Even though he has made no official statement about the shooting over $234,000 has been collected for his defense.

A report was issued about a week later, because it was demanded by the Freedom of Information Act, which had been put out by the Ferguson Police Department stating that a homicide had been committed on August 9th without stating who had been shot or who did the shooting.

A Grand Jury which meets once a week has been empowered to hear the evidence about the killing. Presumably Wilson has been invited to testify before this group. To my knowledge this is an unheard of event since he is the one being investigated.

The Ferguson police captain in his initial statement gave out no information about the shooting but stated that Brown was suspected of stealing cigars at a convenience store. When asked by a reporter if this had anything to do with the shooting he answered emphatically that it did not.

The next day some unknown individual, presumably on the police force, stated that evidence of marijuana was found in the autopsy. This was neither confirmed nor denied. It would seem that the police position is to support their man without finding our why the police officer emptied his revolver into an eighteen year old teenager.

I was somehow reminded of the United States in the 1950s when we were in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Dwight David Eisenhower was president and John Foster Dulles was his Secretary of State. Dulles’ policy with the Soviet Union was one he called “Brinksmanship.” Whenever the Soviet Union did something the U.S. did not like he would threaten to drop an atomic bomb in order to solve the problem. Unfortunately the use of an atomic bomb was too much force for a minor infraction.

At the time a Las Vegas bookie would have given very low odds against the U.S. getting involved with W.W.III. Hollywood made films dealing with the world after an atomic war. Fortunately there was no atomic war. We came close at times, particularly in the early 1960s with the Cuban Missile Crisis but there was never a hot war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. We may not now be friends with Russia or approve of everything she does but we are not about to go to war with that nation. Somehow all problems were eventually solved diplomatically; war is not an option.

Why did police officer Darren Wilson kill Michael Brown? Had he been around in the 1950s and acted as precipitously the world would not today be as it is.

From what we know Brown had been jay-walking in the street? Did the policeman say something overly sarcastic to him and did Brown respond in an overly negative fashion to him? Did the White police officer feel he was being disrespected by a Black who was far down the pecking order from him? Was the effect of this to put the officer into an emotional rage and did he draw his pistol and leave the car at this point emptying his gun into the teenager who had raised his hands in surrender? Would he have done as much with a white youngster? If it had been a Black policeman and a White youngster would the officer been put on administrative leave with pay? The issue here is totally crazy. Would a defense fund been contributed to a Black police officer?

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Ferguson is a former “Sundown Town” with a population that is 63% Black. What does this mean?

When I was in the military, stationed at an installation, near Aiken, South Caroling in the mid-1950s I remember going to town in the evenings and seeing elderly Blacks walking in the street. While it was no longer necessary this had been required prior to W.W.II and the Civil Rights Movement. The elderly Blacks still did it from force of habit or remembered fear.

A “sundown town” did not even do this; the place was closed to all Blacks after sundown. No Blacks were allowed out on the streets at that time.

This is the tradition in Ferguson of which, no doubt, all its Black citizens are cognizant.

There are in the city three Black police officers on the Ferguson police force. The overwhelming majority is White. The White police chief, by his actions, does not seem particularly sensitive to his community or overly bright.

The killing brought out the citizens of Ferguson who continued protesting and marching throughout the day and night. The police were present during that night and others with military gear and weapons so that they could keep order. They used canned smoke and tear gas upon crowds that were not disorderly. They claimed that shots had been fired and Molotov Cocktails had been thrown. Fortunately for them the bullets were so badly aimed that they did not hit anyone and the Molotov Cocktails also did no damage. The probability is that both of these claims were a fiction by the police to justify their behavior.

The governor of the state took the policing of the city away from the local police and gave it to the Highway Patrol which was headed by a Black man and brought sanity to the situation. However the protests still continue and tear gas and smoke were again used in the city.

What is the point of all this? In addition to the murder of Michael Brown and wanting justice for his death, against what is the purpose of the protest?

What is the value of a Black life against that of a White person? Statistically one of every three Black males will spend some time incarcerated. Is this because they are criminally bent or because a basic prejudice and fear exists against Black males. Statistically they are just as innocent or guilty as White males. Slavery may have ended in 1865 with the 15th Amendment to the Constitution but the feelings it engendered are still with us. Isn’t it time the United States became a country where all its population is treated equally?

 

The Weiner Component #12 – Money Makes The World Go Round

money

In the Broadway musical “Cabaret” there is a song that the Master of Ceremonies sings called, “Money Makes The World Go Round.”  The musical number emphasizes the importance of money in pre-Nazi Germany.  Did it really?  Is this concept true?

When World War Two broke out in 1939 the European nations at first paid for their purchases from the United States in paper currency, then in gold bullion.  After the Allied nations had run out of money the Roosevelt Administration came up with the idea of “Lend Lease,” which actually was a way of freely supplying these nations with war materials.  Where did the U.S. get the money to pay for these goods and services?  They printed it.  The effect was to get the country out of the last dregs of the Great Depression and help stop the Nazi advance.  After December 1941 the U.S. became directly involved in W.W.II and “Lend Lease” continued.  We became the “Arsenal of Democracy,” supplying the needs of all the nations fighting Germany, Japan, and Italy.  How did the U.S. pay for this?  Simple.  They printed the money.

Did the European and Asian nations we helped ever pay us back for the value of the goods they had gotten from us in the war?  The answer, of course, is not in money but in helping to defeat the Axis Powers.

What was the result of W.W.II?  The U.S. and all the nations involved emerged after the war as more prosperous than they had been before the fighting.

Could the war have been avoided?  The answer is, yes; if the nations involved had been able to accept the reality of the money supply.

From 1933 on, first the United States and then gradually the rest of the industrial nations took gold out of their money while maintaining the fiction that there was a gold supply behind the dollar, pound, lira, or whatever.  In 1933, the Roosevelt Administration collected all the gold coins from its citizens.  This had been the money supply up to that point; they melted it down into large blocks and buried it in places like Fort Knox.  Gold certificates were issued which, supposedly, maintained the value of the money.  This was a fiction.  There was no way anyone could get gold for his money.  We were, on a practical basis, off the gold standard.  The United States doubled its money supply by raising the value of gold from $16 dollars an ounce to $32 an ounce.  Among other things this paid for Roosevelt’s New Deal.  It helped lessen the ordeals of the Great Depression but did not end its effects in the U.S. where the money supply had dropped to less than one fifth of where it had been before the crash.  The effects of W.W.II brought the money supply well beyond where it had ever been before the Great Depression.  There had never been enough gold available to maintain that level of the money supply.  The Federal Government was then on a paper economy, with the paper being freely issued.

After W.W.II the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the GI Bill, sending a whole generation of veterans either to college or funding them in new business areas.  A few years later the Secretary of State came out with the European Recovery Act, The Marshall Plan, which helped war torn nations recover from the effects of W.W.II.  We spent 71/2 billion dollars on that.  It was a checkbook to these nations that allowed them to spend the money mostly in the United States buying the goods and materials they needed to recover from the war.  Where did all this money come from?  Obviously the government printed and issued it.

President Ronald Reagan, who believed that the Soviet Union was better armed than the United States and started a massive arms build-up in the U.S., which included, among many other things, his “Star Wars” program, where we would be able to shoot and explode oncoming missiles from outer space, raised the debt ceiling eleven times during his two administrations.  He even threatened to veto every bill coming out of Congress if they did not pass bills raising the debt limits.  Of course we can always congratulate Reagan on his adeptness in bankrupting the Soviet Union when they tried to keep up with us in the armaments race.

Again, where did all this money come from?  It simply came into existence when Congress passed its continual new debt ceilings, which were then signed by the president into law.

How did we pay for all these jumps in funding?  The economies grew and they just became part of the natural flow of money through the economy, the jumps in money were absorbed by the economic growth and rising standards of living within the society.  In essence we grew out of our debt and it became non-noticeable.

Toward the end of 2008 there was an economic implosion of the money supply in most of the industrial nations.  This began in the United States with the Real Estate Crash that threatened to totally decimate the money supply within the nation.  Virtually all the major banks were on the point of collapse.  If they had been allowed to crash then the money supply within the country would have been reduced to a slow dribble.  There would have been a resulting depression that would have made the one in 1929 look like a weekend disruption.  Unemployment would have probably dropped to at least fifty percent; every industry would have been affected; the amount of business failures would have been unimaginable.  The entire economy would have come to a halt.

Presidents Bush and later President Obama poured multibillions of dollars into the banks and the economy.  The depression was averted; the rapid falling rate of unemployment was gradually reversed and slowly rose from that point on.  It has remained high but is still slowly contracting.  Will the country eventually be able to create enough jobs to satisfy everyone who wants to work?  An interesting question!  Only the future will determine an answer to that question.

If we go back to the title of this article we can ask, does money make the world go round?  And obviously since it is the means of exchange the answer is, yes.

What does this mean?  In order to live in our sophisticated societies we must have a mean of exchange for the goods and services we need and desire.  And that is money.  It is in the form of a different currency for each individual nation.  It is printed on paper and has no real intrinsic value except that attributed to it by the government of each particular nation and what it can be traded for in other nations.

Gold and silver coins could be used as an international means of exchange; but they are both too expensive and there certainly are not enough of either metal to supply the exchange needs of all the nations on this planet.  Consequently every nation is stuck with paper currency, which has no real value except that assigned to it.

Money then is the tool that allows for all exchanges of goods and services.  It is issued in each nation by the government of that particular country.  The amount in immediate circulation is determined by various forces within each society, which in most cases do not really work together.  These are the central government, the financial institutions, people, companies, and institutions using credit.  In the United States it was the banks issuing credit based upon real estate until 2008 that allowed for a phenomenal expansion of the national money supply.

The point here is that it was “bank created valueless money” that allowed for industrial expansion in that nation for over thirty years.  Money is “the tail that waves the dog.”  The overall public sees it as being the true object of value.  Wealth, in reality is the goods and services produced; money allows them to be exchanged from producers to consumers.

In essence money does make the world go round.  Its shortage in a society causes recession, unemployment, and hard times for the bulk of the population.  The market for goods and services disappears because people cannot afford to buy what they need and want.  An excess of it in circulation brings about rapid inflation because not enough goods and services can be produced to equal the money supply.  Again intense human hardship will occur as prices soar and currency rapidly decreases in value.

What is the answer to these problems?  There has to be a more realistic distribution of the money supply and the government has to have much more control of the amount of money, at any one time, in circulation.

Another important factor to consider is that the amount of goods and services produced is dependent upon them being consumed, used.  Consumption of goods and services are as important as the production of those items.  In order to have and maintain full employment and full production people must have enough money to buy and consume those goods and services produced.

This can be engendered in either of two ways.

(1) An inordinately fair system of taxation that allows for a fair distribution of the national income without any privileged groups within the society.

(2) By developing both a negative income tax and an honest graduated income tax the Federal Government would set a minimum level of income for every man, woman, and child within the country.  If the person or family unit did not earn that amount then it would be supplied by the Federal Government.  Income taxes would begin at a reasonable level above that amount for everyone on a graduated level with the percentage of the tax rising as individual incomes rise.

This process would most fairly distribute the national income and allow for the highest level of productivity and consumption.  It would also benefit every segment of society by enlarging the Gross Domestic Product to its possible maximum for each fiscal year.  The upper one percent would earn, even with this system of taxation, greater profits than they are currently since the GDP would be considerably larger.  There would be no poverty or homelessness in the nation.  Everyone would have a better attitude toward themselves and everyone else.  The National Debt would shrink and eventually disappear.  Priorities could be aimed toward scientific research and clean energy.  Everyone would be secure and be able to make real choices for themselves.  That would be both real freedom and a decent minimum standard of living for everyone in the nation..

And best of all the Federal Government would control the money supply, which makes the world go round.  It could keep it going at a successful rate.

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