Children of the corn
Expanded from the 11-26-2006 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Last Sunday, I remarked about America eating its seed corn. Some argue that this country has done no more than exploit the abundant natural resources we stole from the continent's previous inhabitants.

Back in the 1980s, MIT economist Lester Thurow noted that we also invested in public education which allowed us to grow into a progressive nation. Spreading the wealth works.

Examples abound of other societies blessed with great resources but have gone nowhere. The banana republics of the third world provide many examples both past and present.

We may be well on our way to becoming a very large banana republic in the not too distant future. Again, history is shot through with examples which we ignore at our peril. Once natural resources are depleted, great warrior nations fall.

Any anthropology text will instruct that a society only advances when it becomes complex enough that it can divide the work of the community into specialization. The Native Americans of the Pacific northwest are a good example. Blessed with an abundance of natural resources, they had evolved an impressive social structure well before President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to begin the ruination of their world.

A series of wars changed America both for better and worse. The greatest single benefit from the blood of more than two centuries of warfare was that it gave us a chance, an opportunity which is now slipping away.

The Civil War made us a nation. Soldiers who had never traveled far from home got a look at the rest of the continent. The need to compute artillery trajectories in WWII resulted in the computers which run the world today.

A wise man once said that democracy without education becomes tyranny without mitigation. The people of the British colonies were in a unique position to experiment in a representative democracy which has somehow survived to its currently shaky state.

The GI Bill passed after the second world war gave us arguably the best educated citizenry in the history of the world. (Too bad it provided college only for guys.)

Since then, we have pretty much perverted our promise. We worship the free market as God. Any poor lout who does not agree will find his government overthrown by our demigods of the gun.

Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
      RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

"Our long national nightmare is over."
Did I say that a dozen years ago?
CORY FARLEY, RGJ, 11-10-2006

BARBANO: Nevada's newly-hiked minimum wage is nowhere near enough
Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006

Oregon State U. minimum wage deflator

The economy of the United States of America peaked in the year of national pique, 1968. If the minimum wage had been indexed to inflation starting then, it would stand at $9.12 an hour today.

Spreading the wealth works. In the 1950s and 1960s [1], we had a progressive tax structure which taxed both corporations and individuals in proportion to their actual income. Today, many corporations pay no tax at all while the Social Security and income tax burdens are largely borne by lower and middle income earners – which explains the dwindling of the middle class and its resultant anger directed at the wrong scapegoats – usually people with brown skin.

Vietnam ruined this country as it sent the majority of us on a long economic downward spiral as well as destroying our faith in our government. All Dubya is doing is finishing the job.

Military spending has always been an extremely inefficient way to spread the wealth and no longer works. There is plenty of money for the needs of both this nation and the world if we would only spend it wisely. Instead, our national government squanders our wealth and our children on war. Local governments catch the virus and thus we see Sparks and Reno giving tax money to corporations that don't need it while parks, roads, police, fire protection – and especially our schools – all starve.

Today's quandary on the sands of Araby is no more than a metaphor for the nation's future: either we turn away from the cruel ethics of the military-industrial complex and start taking care of people instead of plunder, or we go down.

The choice is ours. The last bag of popcorn is popping.

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. A couple of weeks ago, the Reno News & Review termed me as either the dean or grandfather of Reno bloggers. (What's that thing, sonny – you call it what – a keyboard?)

There's a downside to managing a lot of websites and last Friday went over the top as I got about 10,000 pieces of spam in just a couple of hours. Great Basin Internet's spam assassin caught most of them, but several hundred nonetheless got through.

I normally review the sender and subject line of each item before I nuke it, but 10 grand worth of spam would take almost a day to manually sort. I usually get between 500 and a thousand a day, which is manageable. In such a smaller morass earlier last week, I found three legit e-mails from readers. But slogging through ten grand would fry both my psyche and my eyeballs. So anyone who recently sent something, please resubmit with just a brief description and I'll sweep for it before I nuke all the mystery meat over the next few days. Filters will most often identify a legit e-mail as spam if it contains a large block of text forwarded from somewhere else, so avoid big forwards.

Sorry to be so picky, but when nuking spam becomes a full time job because a few greedy swine in Russia and Nigeria have figured out a way to swindle gullible Americans, we all suffer.

If we'll swallow Dubya's endless line of lies (he never said "stay the course" so we should stop playing tapes of the president saying just that), I don't blame the spammers for farming the patsies of the popcorn patch.

Be well. Raise hell.


1. Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the search engine and sweep for "Barlett."

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006, Free registration may be required

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

...and more ammo

The sands of time do not affect the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish"; Look Magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
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Copyright © 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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