' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for 11 January, 2014    
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the column of lasting insignificance: January 11, 2014
by John Wilcock

“Together, US millionaire households now hold a mind-blowing $50 trillion in wealth, with an estimated $11trn of that hidden in offshore accounts…For $11trn you could create a million jobs at a salary of $50,000 a year each. For $11trn you could send 127 million people to college and provide health insurance to 206 million people. Or you could pay the salaries of seven million teachers and seven million police officers. Imagine how we could evolve society, for the benefit of everyone, if we seize the 11trn in offshore accounts.”
—David DeGraw on The New Feudalism in the New Statesman

DREAMS OF REVOLUTION are in the air again as probably has been the case since earliest times, ever since the gap between the haves and have-nots grew large enough to first stoke angry resentment. “Inequality should worry everyone, even the rich” says The Week, quoting the Washington Post’s Dan Balz’ appraisal that “the sentiment is widespread and that something is fundamentally wrong with the way that the benefits of the economic system are distributed”. But, of course, there couldn’t be an actual revolution here, could there? smirk the pundits. The authorities are too powerful, the masters of the universe too well established. History, however, has taught us to expect the unexpected, with changes unforeseen by smug elitists. It’s doubtful if it ever occurred to Marie Antionette that her plushly pampered lifestyle would ever come to an end.
    “The only thing that comes between the modern-day US aristocracy and an ‘off-with-their-heads’ uprising”, writes David DeGraw, who first coined the term one percent, “is the all-encompassing mainstream propaganda system, the most effective weapon of oppression humanity has ever known. They flood us with a relentless stream of superficial information. The more important something is, the less it is reported on”.

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis denounces “trickle- down” economics as an ideology that “expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power [which] has never been confirmed by the facts [and has led to] a globalization of indifference.”

DeGraw castigates the so-called House of “Representatives” for speeding up their own decline by blocking food stamps for millions of people “who are a missed meal away from taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches.” [He urges readers to join the 99% at evolvesociety.org—“an ad-free network that will not sell you out.]

The growing perception that the game is rigged should worry the wealthy said Frida Ghitis on CNN.com. A nation dogged by “a sense that unfairness permeates the system” is an unstable nation, “and nobody benefits from stability more than the wealthy”.

SOME VISITING STUDENTS from China have barely been in the country for two or three days when they buy themselves expensive cars in the $50,000 range. Bloomberg Businessweek explains that a high-end car such as a Mercedes or a Lexus is viewed as “an affordable status symbol” compared with back home where such cars can cost two or three times as much. Sid Krommenhoek, a rental company consultant, said that almost two-thirds of the 25,000 Chinese students interviewed last year were expecting to spend an affordable $40,000 annually on their education, not including the cost of cars. In the past two years, Chinese students in this country (of which there were 236,000) have spent $15.5bn in new and used cars nudging dealers into hiring Mandarin-speaking sales staff.

SHOOTING PIGS FROM HELICOPTERS didn’t turn out very well in Texas and not just because of the protests. Helicopters are so noisy the pigs soon learned to hide from them so now a pest-eradication firm, Louisiana Hog Control, has turned to drones whose lasers can spot the pigs warm bodies from 4,000 feet and point them out to hunters on the ground. Killing the beasts is necessary because the country’s six million feral pigs cause an estimated $1.5bn of damage each year to crops, lawns and wildlife.

“You know, I watch some people that have just become well known, and some that are getting more famous and I wish them luck. The worst thing is that it doesn’t last forever. Whether you’re an actor, a singer, someone that becomes famous in business, or whatever, you have to stop and think for a minute. Some people think they’re the only thing that’s happening, and you have to be very careful when you think you’re the best. Because there’s no such thing. Everybody’s dispensable. You’ve got to remind yourself of that. Be decent with people and try to do the right thing”.
—A modest Robert De Niro talking to Westways

CONJUGAL VISITS to prisoners in jail are believed by some authorities to “calm supposedly fiery passions” while others maintain that they help rehabilitation. Turkish prisons recently introduced them for the first time and in September Qatar’s Central Prison built villas in which wives and children can visit inmates. Costa Rica and Mexico have even allowed visits for homosexual inmates. But in America and Britain, reports the Economist, “policymakers look on them with distaste. Only five American states allow them and in Britain they are banned”.

“EXISTENCE IS RESISTANCE”, a sign sprawled across walls in some Israeli jails where five thousand Palestinians are imprisoned, hints at the fact that some prisoners have defied tight security to smuggle out their sperm. The New Internationalist, reporting that three women gave birth to these ‘prison babies’ last year with another 16 said to be pregnant, suggests that because of the restrictions on visits “it is likely that couples get help from families visiting other prisoners”.


Paul Krassner

Paul Krassner’s
Predictions for 2014

  • Hundred of thousands of jobs will be created as Unemployment Insurance clerks.

  • Campaign finance reform will finally become a reality as the result of a new law requiring all political contributors to remain anonymous.

  • In a moment of vulnerability, Pope Francis will blurt out from his balcony during a speech to a shocked crowd standing in Vatican Square, “After all, you know, I’m not infallible.”

  • A horde of angry apes will ransack the Board of Education in Texas for not allowing evolution to be taught.

  • The electoral college will be replaced by a system where voters will choose the polling firm they trust the most.

  • Show business celebrity vegetarian converts will include Lady Gaga, who will wear a dress made entirely of heirloom tomatoes, and Meatloaf, who will change his name to Tofuloaf.

  • Everybody except you will go viral for fifteen minutes

THE WILCOCK WEB: The armchair pundits, who never serve, are predicting once again that if we leave Afghanistan the Taliban will take over. So after 11 years, thousands of lives and billions of dollars we’re exactly where we began….“He who defends everything, defends nothing” declared Frederick the Great, back in the 18th century….....The long-hallowed principle of separating editorial and advertising (‘church vs. state’) is starting to crumble with Time’s edict that in future the former will coordinate with the latter…Hundreds of millions brought in by Somali piracy has enabled pirates to be paid from $35,000-75,000 per operation but they are fined for ‘bad behavior’…..Dutch police have trained rats to sniff out drugs and explosives…”We may be thwarting hackers with our passwords notes Will Durst, “but the first casuality is usually ourselves. Half our time is spent logging in.”….. A British company has developed the Morpher Helmet of tough polystyrene and nylon that can fold into a block that fits into a cyclists’s briefcase….Note also Maddak’s Morph Wheels, for wheelchairs, whose jointed rims and solid tires let them fold into half their regular height….And the first folding kayak is the 12-foot Oru which can be easily assembled in five minutes…..St. Louis (pop: 3m) celebrates its 250th anniversary this year…. the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, following its 100th anniversary last year, is featuring ten, huge watercolors interpreting the L.A. Aqueduct which is also celebrating its century….. “I’m afraid, based on my experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of National Security”, forecast Jim Garrison in 1968…..”Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed” says an NYT editorial, “Mr. (Edward) Snowden deserves better than a life of exile, fear and flightIt is time to offer (him) a plea bargain or some form of clemency”…. Researchers at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute claim First Crossword Puzzlethat eating an ounce of nuts every day led to a 20% lesser risk of dying….Happy New Year, Nigella, and may your show be a big success…..The crossword puzzle was invented 100 years ago last month by Arthur Wynne. I’ve still got the same attitude I had when I started” reminisced the much missed Robert Mitchum. “I haven’t changed anything except my underwear”…. ….Nature Neutroscience journal reported that a group of mice exposed to the smell of cherry blossoms showed signs of fear and unease. The mice were offspring of others who had been given mild shocks to their feet while smelling cherry blossoms. “Epigenic inheritance” is the way this curiously sadistic experiment was categorized… Whatever was voted the most annoying word for 5 years in a row…. “The revolution is a bridge that connects the past to the future. It is necessary, unpredictable, and inevitable.”—Ai Weiwei (1957– )


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