Friday, September 30, 2016

The Inca Trail

The “Land of the Four Corners,”

Capitalism is a buying and selling society in which the human ability to work is bought and sold and results in the capitalist firms that employ them appropriating a surplus from their work, a surplus which takes a monetary form and most of which is re-invested as more capital. A society which exploited the producers but where the surplus extracted from them did not take this form would still be an exploitative class society but not capitalism.

it is possible to have a moneyless class society with a state. The Inca Empire is one such example. Yet they were one of the biggest and most powerful military empire in South America. The Incas were master builders and land planners, capable of extremely sophisticated mountain agriculture - and building cities to match. Incan society was so rich that it could afford to have hundreds of people who specialized in planning the agricultural uses of newly-conquered areas. They built terraced farms on the mountainsides whose crops - from potatoes and maize to peanuts and squash - were carefully chosen to thrive in the average temperatures for different altitudes. They also farmed trees to keep the thin topsoil in good condition. Incan architects were equally talented, designing and raising enormous pyramids, irrigating with sophisticated waterworks such as those found at Tipon, and creating enormous temples like Pachacamac along with mountain retreats like Machu Picchu. In terms of square miles, we're probably talking something like 300,000 sq miles (775,000 sq km),” he said, with a population as high as 12 million people. To support this empire, a system of roads stretched for almost 25,000 miles (roughly 40,000 km), about three times the diameter of the Earth. The road and aqueduct systems the Spanish encountered in the Andes were superior to those in Europe. Inca cities were as large as those of Europe, but more orderly and by all accounts much cleaner and more pleasant places in which to live.

And yet, despite all their productivity, the Incas managed without money or marketplaces.

The Inca Empire did trade with outside cultures to a limited extent, but internally they didn't have any trade and no currency at all. With only a few exceptions found in coastal polities incorporated into the empire, there was no trading class in Inca society, and the development of individual wealth acquired through commerce was not possible . . . A few products deemed essential by the Incas could not be produced locally and had to be imported. In these cases several strategies were employed, such as establishing colonies in specific production zones for particular commodities and permitting long-distance trade. People "paid" taxes in labor and got "paid" in return with food, clothing, etc. The caste system was not to be questioned; fact was fact – the Incan, an incarnation of the sun was leader and no one could bat an eye at their air-tight rationale. The nobility were at the top of the social totem pole, marked by constantly-enlarged ear holes filled with gold, jewels,

The production, distribution, and use of commodities were centrally controlled by the Inca government. Each citizen of the empire was issued the necessities of life out of the state storehouses, including food, tools, raw materials, and clothing, and needed to purchase nothing. With no shops or markets, there was no need for a standard currency or money, and there was nowhere to spend money or purchase or trade for necessities.

The Incas had a centrally planned economy, perhaps the most successful ever seen. Its success was in the efficient management of labor and the administration of resources they collected as tribute. Collective labor was the base for economic productivity and for the creation of social wealth in the Inca society. By working together people in the ayllu created such wealth that the Spanish were astonished with what they encountered. Every citizen was required to contribute with his labor and refusal or laziness was punishable with the death penalty. Labor was divided according to region, agriculture would be centralized in the most productive regions, ceramic production, road building, textile and other skills according to ayllus. The government collected all the surplus after local needs were met and distributed it where it was needed. In exchange for their work citizens had free clothing, food, health care and education. The Incas did not use money, in fact they did not need it. Their economy was so efficiently planned that every citizen had their basic needs met

The Inca economy was not based on a money system, and it did not have commerce (the buying and selling of goods, especially on a large scale) or free trade. The government made sure that everyone had enough land or goods to survive, and it managed the exchange of goods between faraway regions. There were no merchants acting on their own behalf. The government promised to take care of the old and the sick, using the large supply of surplus goods produced by mit'a labor. In times of famine, the government storehouses were opened to the public so that no one would starve. Instead of money, the Incas invested mit'a labor: They directed terracing and irrigation projects that enabled peasants to grow more food. Once surplus food was stored away, some of the people were able to quit farming and pursue other activities.

The “most unusual aspect of the Inca economy was the lack of a market system and money,” writes McEwan, with only a few exceptions there were no traders in the Inca Empire. “Each citizen of the empire was issued the necessities of life out of the state storehouses, including food, tools, raw materials, and clothing, and needed to purchase nothing.” There were no shops or markets, McEwan notes and, as such, “there was no need for a standard currency or money, and there was nowhere to spend money or purchase or trade for necessities.”

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The War Industry

The government possesses a dedicated arms export department called the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO). Within the new Department for International Trade it has more staff than all other sector-specific teams combined.

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesman, Andrew Smith said it is “effectively a voice for arms companies at the heart of power.”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Where to live?

To see which areas of the world have physical conditions that could theoretically accommodate an extra billion people sustainably, we overlaid maps of seven variables from The Atlas of Global Conservation7. We ruled out regions with extreme or high water stress; other arid areas; tundra and ice; centres with species unique to a region; and regions with population densities that exceed 100 people per square kilometre, namely much of Europe, the Middle East, India and China and the western United States.

That leaves large areas of South America; parts of southern Canada and the northern and eastern United States; south-central Africa; parts of Asia north of the Himalayas and from the Black Sea to north China; and scattered parts of Oceania (see 'Habitable zones'). Some moist tropical areas could support crops such as cacao, coffee, oil palm, rice and maize (corn). But development should be prohibited in biodiversity hotspots such as Borneo, northern Queensland in Australia and parts of the Amazon basin.

Society must think globally, plan regionally, then act locally.

looming doom?

A study looking ahead to 2070 found that climate change was occurring thousands of times faster than the ability of crops to adapt.

Wheat, rice, maize, rye, barley, and sorghum are all edible grasses that yield nutritious grains. In many parts of the world and throughout history, wheat or rice famines have led to widespread starvation.
The research, published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, looked at the ability of 236 grass species to adapt to new climatic niches — the local environments on which they depend for survival.
Faced with rapid climate change, species wedded to a particular niche can survive if they move to another region where conditions are more suitable, or evolve to fit in with their altered surroundings.
The scientists found that the predicted rate of climate change was typically 5,000 times faster than the estimated speed at which grasses could adapt to new niches. Moving to more favourable geographical locations was not an option for a lot of grass species because of the limits to their seed dispersal and obstacles such as mountain ranges or human settlements.

While the research cannot predict what might happen to world food supplies as a result, the authors warn of “troubling implications”.

The Roma Segregation

In Eastern Europe, modern ghettos are the legacy of both “communism” and capitalism predominantly populated by Roma. Anti-Roma prejudice, however, is even more endemic in the region than racism in the United States.

In May the European Commission announced that it will be launching an infringement procedure against Hungary for on-going discrimination against Roma children in schools. The European Commission decision is designed help break generations of injustice in the country once and for all, said a coalition of human rights organisations today. The European Roma Rights Centre and Amnesty International, provided extensive evidence of how Romani children face persistent discrimination and segregation in the Hungarian education system.

In Slovakia, school districts are gerrymandered to keep Roma children separate, and where that’s been impossible, administrators separate out Roma by floor within schools.

In Romania and Bulgaria, many Roma children don’t receive any education at all. The crisis is severe in Bulgaria, and it is even more severe for the Roma community, because the Roma have no land, no property. A lot of them are not educated and lack qualifications. They can’t start up their own businesses. They’re not competitive in the labour market.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

God Save the Workingman (poem)

God save the workman's right
From Mammon's sordid might,
        And Birth's pretence.
Confound the tricky rule,
Of foreign courtly tool,
Give us from Freedom's School
        The men of sense.

Forced as a boon to ask
For labour's daily task
        From purse-proud knaves;
Not ours the land we till,
Not ours the stores we fill
Living and dying still
        Beggars and slaves.

We toil at loam and spade,
And still the more we made,
        The less we gain;
For you the profits keep,
And you the surplus heap,
Till all our age can reap,
        Is want and pain.

Our poverty's your wealth,
Our sickness is your health,
        Our death your life;
Your shops in poison deal,
Banks forge, and statesmen steal,
And rots the commonweal,

With bloodstain'd despots' shame,
You link our country's name,
        And aid their crime;
God! hear thy people pray,
If there's no other way,
Give us one Glorious day
        Of Cromwell's time.

But if the Lord of Life
Will turn you hearts from strife,
        To clasp our hand,
And bid oppression cease;
The brotherhood and peace,
In Freedom's safe increase,
        Shall bless our land.

Ernest Jones, Chartist 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

map of millionaires

1. The United States is home to the most billionaires in the world, and they acquired their wealth in a nearly even split on the spectrum. As it stands, 32.1 % of the prosperous are company founders, 28.9 % inherited the cash, and 26.8 % are involved in the financial sector. The exceptions are the executives (8.4%) and those who are connected through political resources (3.8%). According to HowMuch, this is probably due to the U.S. gov’s hands-off strategy when it comes to business.

2. Europe is fairly diverse, too. A huge number of billionaires in Germany came into their wealth through inheritance (64.7 %), but about a quarter of them are company founders. It’s similar in France, with 51.2 % having inherited their goods, while 37.2 % run businesses.

3. China’s billionaires are mainly self-made. In the world’s second-largest economy, the map indicates there’s a serious opportunity for growth in business. Almost half of the billionaires are company founders, while 25% are executives. Furthermore, the number of Chinese billionaires has increased quickly.

4. Many South American billionaires are heirs to the fortune. Nearly half of Brazil’s billionaires inherited their money, and that trend prevails in Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela too.

5. Not one billionaire in Russia inherited his or her fortune. On the other hand, Russian billionaires mainly came into their cash mainly by means of political and resource-related ventures (64%).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Are you a Christian?


 1. You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the bible, Christianity and church history, but still call yourself a Christian.

 2. You define 0.001% a high sucess rate, when it comes to answering prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works, and you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of God.

 3. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around the floor, "speaking in tongues," may be all the evidence you need.

 4. You believe that the entire population of this planet, with the exception of those who share your belief (though, excluding those in rival sects) will spend eternity in an infinite hell of suffering. Yet you consider your religion, the most tolerant and loving.

5. You are willing to spend your life looking for loopholes in the scientifically established age of the Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by pre-historic tribesmen sitting in their tents and suggesting that the Earth is a few generations old.

6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about Gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who came to give birth to a man-god, who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

7.  Your face turns purple when you hear the atrocities attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch, when hearing about God/Jehovah, slaughtering all the babies in Egypt, in "Exodus" and ordering the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and animals.

8.  You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Trinity god.

9.  You feel insulted and dehumanised when scientists say that people evolved from lesser life forms, but you have no problem believing we were created from dirt.

10.  You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of your god.

Mutual Aid (video)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The New Poor

The “new poor” tend to live in households where there is someone in work. Only a third of children below the government’s absolute poverty line now live in a workless household – two thirds of those classified as poor are poor despite the fact that at least one of their parents is in work.

In key respects middle income families with children now more closely resemble poor families than in the past. Half are now renters rather than owner occupiers and, while poorer families have become less reliant on benefits as employment has risen, middle- income households with children now get 30% of their income from benefits and tax credits, up from 22% 20 years ago. Mothers’ earnings are increasingly important for households with children. For middle-income children the fraction of household income coming from women’s earnings rose from less than a fifth in 1994–95 to more than a quarter in 2014–15; and it doubled from 7% to 15% for the poorest fifth.

Europe is sinking into a protracted period of deepening poverty, mass unemployment, social exclusion, greater inequality, and collective despair as a result of austerity policies adopted in response to the debt and currency crisis of the past four years, according to an extensive study from the Red Cross. Mass unemployment – especially among the young, 120 million Europeans living in or at risk of poverty – increased waves of illegal immigration clashing with rising xenophobia in the host countries, growing risks of social unrest and political instability estimated to be two to three times higher than most other parts of the world, greater levels of insecurity among the traditional middle classes – all combine to make a European future more uncertain than at any time in the postwar era. "Many from the middle class have spiralled down to poverty…” it said. European Union official figures report that 24% of its non-poor population (122m citizens) are currently at risk of descending into poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were either at risk of income poverty (their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold), severely materially deprived and/or living in households with low work rates.

A study by the German Institute for Economic Research in 2013 found that 40 percent of income inequality in Germany could be explained by family background.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

There is hope

When researchers started looking at whether countries could expand their populations and economies without using up more of the Earth's limited natural resources, they expected the answer to be “no”. But their findings suggest it can be done. A set of maps released this week show that people’s impact on the environment has been rising at a rate slower than that of economic and population growth. 
While the world's population grew 23 percent and its economy 153 percent between 1993 and 2009, the global footprint of humans grew only 9 percent, calculated a team of researchers from the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Queensland, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and six other universities.
Oscar Venter of the University of Northern British Columbia, the lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, called the results "encouraging...It means we are becoming more efficient in how we use natural resources," he said.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

An empty catch?

Most Scottish fishermen voted in favor of Brexit arguing it would give them greater control over fishing rights. However, that may have been all wishful thinking.

Europe's largest white fish market is in Peterhead. Last year sales in Peterhead totalled some £180 million (215 million euros, $240 million). 2016 is on course to be even busier. Nevertheless, fishing here has been in decline for decades. An estimated 450 vessels fished out of the tight, granite-hewn port when the UK joined the EU in 1975, now that figure is around 100. Many in Peterhead blame the European Union for their industry's decline. Most Scottish fishermen supported Brexit. After decades of EU rule, they want much greater control over fishing. Trawlerman Jimmy Buchan has spent more than four decades fishing from Peterhead. During that time, he says, the Common Fisheries Policy has given foreign fleets unfettered access to Scottish waters, decimating the local fishing industry. For Buchan, Brexit "is a great opportunity we have long waited for."

But this will come at a price. Since 2007, Scotland's fishing industry has received £77 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Later this year, a £49 million redevelopment of Peterhead port will begin, partly funded by the European Union.

Saturday, September 03, 2016


With future generations facing ecological catastrophe within decades, some believe that the best thing they can do for their offspring is not to have them at all. In Ireland one in five women, either by choice or circumstance, will never become mothers. Birthrates have plummeted in Greece. Marked declines in fertility rates have been measured since 2009 across most of Europe, the US and Australia.

Children born in 2016 will still be in their early 30s by midcentury and likely by then to be facing their own decisions about parenthood. For those paying attention to environmental science 2050 has a deeply ominous ring. Carbon-dioxide levels will by then have more than doubled since preindustrial times, on current trends, locking in dangerous climate change for millenniums. And acidification, pollution and overfishing are on track to have rendered much of the world’s oceans almost lifeless in the same timeframe.

Too much food

America’s cheese surplus had reached a 30-year high while dairy producers’ revenue had declined by 35 percent in the last two years.

To reduce milk supply in 1985, the government paid farmers $1.5 billion to slaughter their cows. In 2016 the U.S. Department of Agriculture moved to help dairy farmers once again by spending $20 million to get 11 million pounds of excess cheese off the market, sending it to food banks.