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The Mad Prophet is C Bryan Lavigne: writer, artist, musician and dedicated Anarcho-Syndicalist. He has written articles for YellowTimes.org and Open Source Politics, which can also be found in various other publications.

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Saturday, December 13, 2003

UN Debate On Human Cloning Postponed.

Bob Park:
All member nations agree on a treaty to prohibit cloning of human beings, but the United States leads a push to extend the ban to include therapeutic cloning of stem cells. Therapeutic cloning is regarded as a promising approach to research on treatment of diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's. The U.S. position is opposed by our most important allies and almost the entire world scientific community. It is backed by Costa Rica and the Catholic Church. At home, the Bush administration is at odds with 40 Nobel Prize winners, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, many scientific societies the AAAS.

Once again, we're [nearly] all alone trying to defend an indefensible position.

The Minimum Wage.

This post at Freespace drove me fucking crazy. I love Tim's Libertarian ass too death -- he's a good writer and has many intelligent posts on legal issues -- but daaaaaaamn!!!

I mean, come on, Milton Friedman is a fucking tool. How can anyone take him seriously when he says the minimum wage "[prevents workers] from offering to work for low wages as a means of inducing employers to give them on-the-job training"?

If anything, the minimum wage induces employers to train their workers because they'll get more for their money. You don't see a lot of sweatshop owners dispensing with much on-the-job training for their 30 cent an hour workforce, do ya? There's a reason for this, they don't need too. When you can pay someone slave-wages you don't need them to be skilled. Or healthy. Or safe. Or happy.

Then there's the ever maddening "[a store] will be forced to raise their prices to cover the increased costs of employing people." What a crock of shit. I've worked in a convenience store before, quite recently (and will probably be going back soon, I might add. I've also worked in skilled jobs -- telecommunications installation and engineering technician.) I had to deal with customers complaining about the fucking price hikes, but they always bought the fucking product. Stores raise their prices all the time for many different reasons, the lest of which is employee paychecks.

And Let me tell you, I was thankful that my nameless employer (big corporate fucker) was forced by law to pay me at least something close to a living wage (although I still ended up losing my apartment and having to move back into my family's house.)

See, people have to work, and employers will pay their employees as little as possible. Now, being a clerk may not be all that complicated, but you go work there for a year -- 40-60 hours a week, day in and day out, cleaning and stocking and waiting on people who think your scum for working there -- you do that and come back here and tell me you deserve no more than $15,000 a year at best. Work there your entire life and tell me that anyone who does isn't good enough for fifteen thousand dollars a year. Oh yeah, real advancement opportunities too, my manager worked for 7-11 her whole fucking life and made a couple grand more than me.

Not everyone can go to college and be lawyers and Nobel Prize winning economists. We deserve better than what we get for carrying the rest of you on our backs.

One last thing: Charities can't provide for the needy. All those charities that sprang up during the 19th century failed to do so. Failed miserably. Many people suffered. Many people died. Government welfare isn't all bread and roses, but it's better than the Starvation Army.

Speaking Of The "Hollywood Liberal Elite."

Where are these fuckers? If they have so much damn power, how come they don't hold powerful positions in the government? Why isn't the new Hollywood Governor of California a Liberal? Why was Actor turned President Ronald Reagan a Republican? How exactly do they excercise their power?

Now, I've read a lot of shit about the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and how it operates. Hip bone connected to the money bone connected to the propoganda bone type o' stuff. Have any conservatives documented the same kinds of structures on the left. (Well, I guess the ANSWER thing counts, but wasn't that brought out by a Liberal?) Have they shown how the "liberal elite" controls its empire? Do they have anything to back up their claims?

Just asking.

I Get Letters!

Sometimes, anyway.

MS writes:
I can't tell if you're one of those antiAmerican
Marxists or what--when you rant and rave the way you
do it's difficult to find the logical oppinions.
Dissention is quisententially American, but you
ranters go on and on as if your shit don't stink. It's
one thing to criticize the US, but to make assumptions
that the rest of the world is some form of utopian
playground is pure hysterical nonsense. Have you ever
asked yourself why is it the "worker" in the USA is
more patriotic and more antiSocialist than the
millioniare windbags in Hollywood? It's because the
rich run socialism way more than they run capitalism.
At least under capitalism, the "poor" have a shot at
being rich.

And my [lengthy] reply:

Thanks for the letter. It's always nice to know that I've affected someone enough to merit a letter. I'll clarify as much as I can here.

First off, I'm not a Marxist. As I say in my bio, I'm an anarcho-syndicalist. Anarchists are Libertarian Socialists -- we're opposed to the authority of the state as well as that of the capital structures (corporations and management who impose their authority over us.)

Marx was an idiot. I suggest you read Bakunin. Or try this essay from Infoshop.

That said, I am anti-American. America is just a State imposing it's will over other people. I oppose all states though, including those in the rest of the world. I have no idea where you got the impression that I think "the rest of the world is some form of utopian playground." Granted, there are some places that are better than others, and America is better than most (European imperialism -- including Russian and American -- among other things has left most of the world in ruins.)

Second, why does it matter that Hollywood is Leftist? Hollywood is a very small part of this country with very little influence in real politics (for example: the "hollywood liberal elite" came out against the Iraq war, and we both know how that turned out, don't we?) Their influence is far less than, say, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which -- to answer your question -- feeds propoganda to millions of people in this country.

(And if you don't believe me about News Corp, just check out this Knight Ridder story reporting on a PIPA study finding that Fox News viewers are, on average, dumber than everyone else.) [edit. -- This is a much better article on the "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War" study.]

Propoganda works. (Remember the WMD's? Most people don't. It's all about "liberation" now.)

And how, exactly, does the "hollywood liberal elite" control socialism anyway? Social Security, Medicare, Labor Protections (minimum wage, health and safety standards, workers comp, overtime pay,) public education -- these are all popular programs (but probably won't be by the time Mr. Murdoch and his friends get done with our minds.) And I hate to tell ya, there may be a lot of rich people in Hollywood, but they hardly account for all of the rich people in society, just ask all of Dubya's $2,000 supporters. (By contrast, Howard Dean's -- who I do not endorse -- average campaign contribution is $77. Boy, those liberal hollywood fuckers are cheapskates!)

Finally, I hate to break it to ya, but upward mobility (when "poor" people get rich) is pretty much a fairy tale. CSM reported on this earlier this year. I quote:

"[...] on average fully 60 percent of the income gap between any two people in one generation persists into the next generation."

So, kids with rich parents tend to stay rich and kids with poor parents tend to stay poor. Yeah, that sounds fair to me. Go capitalism!

(Now, that doesn't mean a poor kid can't grow up and make a bunch of money or even make a confortable living, it just means they usually don't. Why? Could it be that rich kids have an unfair advantage over poor kids? Hmmm...)

Oh, wait, one last thing: I'm not a "rich socialist." I'm not a part of the "liberal elite." I don't live in Hollywood. I've never even been to college. I grew up poor and, surprise, I'm still poor.

Thanks again for the letter. Feel free to write again. By the way, since I spent so much time writing this I'm gonna post it -- and your letter -- on my blog.

Peace and Good Health,
C Bryan Lavigne

UPDATE! - A Reply.

MS writes:
All I can say is, if it weren't for corporations
(which are merely made up of human beings, after all)
none of us would have computer technology or the
ability to afford to buy them.

And my reply:

That is quite ridiculous.

First of all, as you pointed out, corporations are not human beings and therefore cannot invent anything for themselves. The proper sentence would be: "If it weren't for the individuals who invented the computer technology we wouldn't have computers today." It has nothing to do with capitalism or corporations.

Secondly, computers grew out of the invention of the transistor for the US military (similarly, we have the government to thank for the internet and countless other modern inventions.) Corporations and free market capitalism had nothing to do with it.

Thirdly, you need to learn the meaning of the term "anti-capitalism." Words like "buy" and "afford" are terms used to describe circumstances in a capitalist society and have no meaning otherwise. It is because of capitalism that people cannot "afford" things.


UPDATE 2! - Oh, yet again. MS writes:
and I just saw Elvis walking down the street with

And I thought I was pretty clear in my e-mail. Oh, well. Anyway, here's my oh-so witty reply:
I think they have medications for your sort of condition.


Take Control Of Your Workplace!

Also via LMB (although I would have found it eventually,) we find this article from Infoshop reporting on the reconstruction of Iraqi oil facilities.... By the workers themselves!
Occupation Watch visited SOC workers in the North Rumeilla crude oil pumping station, drilling and gas company and discovered that workers had been carrying out reconstruction work independently, using their own worn tools, canibalised spare parts from old equipment and parts purchased form the local market. Ali Mohammad Jowad, an engineer working in the water injection section of the station told OW, 'We haven't seen any KBR [Haliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root] employee do any repair work whatsoever. They are not involved in any reconstruction in any way. KBR came and checked our equipment and promised to repair looted equipment but until this moment, nothing is repaired'.

Workers started autonomously reconstructing in June with cleaning and repairing what they could including water pumps and oil well safety gauges. 'During this preparing' recalls Ali Mohammad, 'We also considered that we need a place to rest and sleep so we built a place for ourselves to stay in too'. According to workers, Reconstruction is 40% of what it needs to be with regards to buildings and workers have rebuilt 50% of their equipment autonomously. 'KBR hasn't even seen our work, they've said Nothing about our repairs. All our work has been our own' says Ali Mohammad. Many of the same workers who rebuilt North Rumeilla following the devastation of the first gulf war 13 years ago also participated in reconstruction again this war-round.

Power to the people.

Oh! This Looks Like Fun!

RIAA Information Awareness Activism

Via LMB.

UK House Of Commons Debates The US Raid On The IFTU.

From the UK Parliament website (via Labour Start.)
Mr. Harry Barnes (North-East Derbyshire) (Lab): Has my right hon. Friend seen early-day motion 250,

[That this House notes with alarm the raid by the US occupying forces, using armoured cars and soldiers, on the temporary headquarters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions in Baghdad on the morning of Saturday 6th December in which eight leading trade union officials were arrested; is further disturbed to hear that US soldiers ransacked and destroyed the federation's possessions, including banners and posters condemning acts of terror, and smashed windows, without reason or explanation; notes that the new independent trade union movement in Iraq opposed Saddam Hussein's regime, and opposes terrorism by remnants of that regime and others; and calls upon the British Government to make urgent representations to the US Administration to discover why this raid took place and seek a swift apology and compensation for this appalling incident.]?

The Foreign Office has always taken a progressive line on trade unions and has encouraged and facilitated their development in Iraq. On 27 November in the House, the Foreign Secretary promised to encourage the Americans to take a similar line, yet on 6 December, United States forces smashed into the offices of the trade unions and arrested eight of their officials, an act which has been condemned by bodies such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions. May we have a statement from the Foreign Secretary, saying what responses he got to representations that he made about trade unionism, and what his response is to what the Americans have done?

Mr. Hain: I agree with my hon. Friend that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office always, under a Labour Government, takes a progressive line on trade unions. We have no information about an incident at the temporary headquarters of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, although we understand that United States forces conducted a raid on the morning of 6 December in Baghdad, which resulted in the recovery of a significant quantity of arms and ammunition and the arrest of eight suspected fedayeen, two of whom now face murder charges.

As I reported earlier, all 8 men detained by the US in the raid on the IFTU were released the next day. No weapons were found. Why is Mr. Hain trying to link these incidents?

Only 20 MPs signed motion 250.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Recommended Reading.

thoughts on the eve of the apocalypse

Lots of interesting things over there today.

The Fight To Save Overtime Goes On.

Shrub's omnibus spending bill failed to pass in the Senate due to its lack of overtime protections. More Info.

There Aren't Words For This.....

Actually, there are two words for this -- War Crimes. Big words. Capital letters.

Thanks to Iggi at Genfoods for pointing this one out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Schwarzedumbass Talks About Breaking His Biggest Campaign Promise.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune:
In what may prove a dramatic reversal of a key campaign promise, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday he is considering suspending Proposition 98, the landmark school funding guarantee.


Proposition 98 was passed by voters statewide in 1988. It mandates that public schools -- kindergarten through 12th grade and community colleges – receive about 40 percent of the state's revenues.

Okay, so the guys a lying bastard -- this is not surprising to anyone with half a brain who wasn't brainwashed by the corporate media blitz.

I wonder when they're gonna start the next recall campaign. And will Schwarzedumbass endorse it? Haha.

(Link via Uggabugga.)

Holy Shit!!!

A readable column by Andrew Sullivan! And in the Washington Post no less. Kee-riced. The end times are near.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, it's about Gay Marriage -- which is probably why my head didn't explode.

Marxism Vs. Anarchism.

An interesting read. Lengthy though.

Chomsky Interview.

You have to be pretty dumb not to notice that the countries that were praised in Bush's speech for their progress towards democracy [Algeria, Morocco, Yemen] were the ones that are following orders and the ones that were condemned were the ones that aren't following orders. This is completely independent of any steps towards democracy, human rights and so on.


Love 'im or hate 'im: The man is right about a whole lot o' things.

UPDATE! - Jeff of Speedkill points out this recent Chomsky interview. Thanks, Jeff.

Oppression In A Nutshell.

On Saturday, Dec 6th, dozens of US troops raided the headquarters of the IFTU in Baghdad. Eight leaders of the IFTU were arrested. Documents were seized. Windows were broken. Banners were torn down. Property was destroyed.

"So, what is the IFTU?" you ask. "Is this a dangerous terrorist organization or a Ba'athist resistence group?"

I.F.T.U. The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions.

The eight people arrested were later released unharmed. Some of the posters that were torn down, it's worth noting, were anti-terrorist in nature.

This kind of intimidation is uncalled for. It goes against the very [second] reason we are supposedly in Iraq. Send pResident McDictator a message.


Sunday, December 07, 2003

You Should Keep That Holiday Cheer In Check.

How much is your kids smile worth to you?
Workers at Kin Ki Industrial, a leading Chinese toy maker, make a decent salary, rarely work nights or weekends and often "hang out along the street, play Ping-Pong and watch TV."

They all have work contracts, pensions and medical benefits. The factory canteen offers tasty food. The dormitories are comfortable.

These are the official working conditions at Kin Ki as they are described on paper — crib sheets — handed to workers just before inspections.

Those occur when big American clients, like the Ohio company that uses Kin Ki to produce the iconic toy Etch A Sketch, visit to make sure that the factory has good labor standards.

Real-world Kin Ki employees, mostly teenage migrants from internal provinces, say they work many more hours and earn about 40 percent less than the company claims. They sleep head-to-toe in tiny rooms. They staged two strikes recently demanding they get paid closer to the legal minimum wage.

Most do not have pensions, medical insurance or work contracts. The company's crib sheet recommends if inspectors press to see such documents, workers should "intentionally waste time and then say they can't find them," according to company memos provided to The New York Times by employees.

After first saying that Kin Ki strictly abides by all Chinese labor laws, Johnson Tao, a senior executive with the privately owned company, acknowledged that Kin Ki's wages and benefits fell short of legal levels and vowed to address the issue soon.

He said that the memos might have reflected attempts by factory managers to deceive inspectors, but that such behavior "did not have the support of senior management."

Link (via Confined Space.)

According to the US Government, 80% of toys sold in America are made in China.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Harsh, But True.

"Civil unions aren't equality, any more than separate water fountains are equality." -- Ampersand

The idea of "Marriage and Civil Unions" really is just a rehash of "Seperate But Equal." I'm surprised the anti-Gay Rights people didn't come up with this one themselves.

The War Is Over, Yet Children Still Die.

News reports from places occupied by the US are sounding more and more like news reports coming out of the territories occupied by Israel:

9 children and their uncle were killed by US bombs today. They were shooting at one guy. They missed.
"The boys were playing marbles," said one man, thrusting forward a gnarled hand with three chipped glass marbles he had picked up the from the dust. Seven boys, ages 8 to 12, were playing marbles in front of a house, and two girls ages 9 and 10 were fetching water from the stream alongside when the planes struck at 10:45 a.m.

Their rockets made 30 to 40 small craters in the ground around where the children died. The young man, their uncle, rushed toward the stream after the first plane struck and was cut down beside them, his mother said.

They target one guy and kill 10 innocent people instead. The safety of civilians is obviously of great concern.