Sunday, July 29, 2007

Compensation without Limits & Corporate Sellouts by Louis Evan Palmer

A conflict of interest occurs whenever a person, or organization, stands to profit from something which belongs, in whole or in part, to someone other than that person, or organization, but over which they are a custodian, manager, regulator or in some other position of control or enablement.

Conflicts of interest are supposed to be declared and typically, one would excuse oneself from the decisions at hand. As we know, this often does not happen. Either the conflict is not known, or not admitted, or it is offered that the conflict is not important or can be set aside and not affect decision-making.

The daily headlines attest to the surfeit of skewed management decisions being made in companies of all sizes but especially in larger concerns. In many cases, the reason for poor and/or biased management decisions is the lure of huge payouts. In essence, a bribe. A glaring conflict of interest.

"Caldwell Securities Ltd." took out a advertisement in the Globe & Mail recently attributing the Canadian corporate sellout to managers who stand to receive spectacular bonuses and/or options by selling the company they manage to foreigners.

Enron used another technique called credit derivatives to juggle its numbers with the purpose of generating outrageously lucrative paydays for its executive.

The out-of-control hedge funds we now see are another example of ravenous compensation packages eating away at any inhibitions and logic. This has the whole financial system teetering on the brink of collapse.

Stock brokerages are another scene where obscene payouts are the norm. This drives launching as many IPOs as possible, stock & bond volatility, and the influx of new money from whatever sources. Witness the former head of the New York stock exchange traveling to Columbia to talk to their Chamber fo Commerce.

We must move towards limits on compensation. No one is that smart or lucky that they "earn" the tens of millions being paid out. This applies to everyone but, in particular, those in positions that affect thousands, tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions, of other people. Some appropriate multiple of the average corporate salary should do. If a few leave, who cares, there are plenty of clever people who can do the same job or better.

Compensation without Limits & Corporate Sellouts, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Caution! Genealogists at Work! by Louis Evan Palmer

Genealogy used to be the preserve of aristocrats, monarchists and other pretenders who sought to validate their claims to special status and, more importantly, to various lands, goods, services and loyalties. It ranked in importance with the recording of tax-related information.

Ironically, nowadays, these aristocrats often complain about entitlements for the commoners.

The creation of religions and tribes and nations expanded the scope of genealogy by giving people more reasons to tie themselves to various persons. These attachments waxed both good and bad depending on the ascendancy of the person, or group or ideology they represented.

People wanted to be related to aristocrats in Russia until the Communistic revolution when this became a death warrant. Similarly in France before and during the French revolution. Then proletarian roots became more important. Or, as some did, a person would renounce their aristocratic ancestors and what they stood for.

Some religions like Judaism and Mormonism place an emphasis on genealogy. Judaism because the religion, or its original form and more traditional branches, traced its roots by physical descent through the mother from its patriarch. Mormonism because they believe in offering salvation to all family members both dead and living but need to be able to name them in order to perform their ritual. Islam also places a premium on descent from the prophet which is reflected in the Shite offshoot.

Tribes around the world like the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan or the Zulus in Southern Africa place great value on lineage.

The whole area of descent from victimized groups is fraught with emotion and recrimination. Afro-Americans descended from slaves. Anglo-Americans descended from slave-owners. Descendants of persons who have come to be viewed as criminals or exploiters. Descendants of the dispossessed like the American Indian.

However, to focus on the major draw of genealogy apart from matters of justice and reparations, it seems that there is a deep persistant belief in a kind of magical inheritance such as would be described in Frazer's "The Golden Bough". We expect to acquire something we're bereft of whether it's status or insight or completion. In the case of medical or genetic conditions, we seek knowledge & potentially better health and longevity. In the case of famous or imfamous ancestors, people seek notoriety, some even revelling in having a murderer in their family tree rather than an ordinary peaceful person.

This exploration of genealogy doesn't touch on spiritual matters such as past lives or spiritual beings who we might be associated with. This is the regular physical genealogy.

The search for roots sometimes assumes the form of entertainment and fodder for parties and small conversation. People run a risk of being disappointed or shocked. They may not be prepared for what they find or able to assimilate the (typically unreliable) information they collect. Persons should ask themselves why they are searching. If they discover that one of their ancestors was the product of a rape, will that greatly disturb them? If they discover that one of their ancestors committed a terrible crime, would that upset them?

Unfortunately, many previous popular expressions of interest in genealogy have had negative consequences and been associated with dictatorial regimes or oppressive societies and cultures. This search embodies a belief, often unrecognized, in guilt or merit by association. It might be best left to scientists as they try to establish the pattern of descent for the whole of humanity raher than to try to raise one or the other branch above the others. You are what you are - for good or bad, your ancestors shouldn't matter. Extending that argument, perhaps estates should be taxed so that inheritances are reduced to some normal amount of income and possessions. We as a society want to get away from backward-looking "born" people to forward-looking "made" people.

The people and groups that are most "into" genealogy probably bear watching as genealogy's most faithful companions have traditionally been ideologues and extremists.

Caution! Genealogists at Work!, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Globe & Mail's John Ibbitson speaks for the Empire by Louis Evan Palmer

At one point in the not too distant past, Mr. Ibbitson looked into matters pertaining to Toronto and Ontario and seemed to be a progressive voice. Nowadays, he joins the Globe & Mail's coterie of right-wing apologists, and has also become a spokesman for the Bush Regime as in "Iraq: Hang on, Mr. Bush, for all our sakes". Maybe that's considered a graduation of sorts?

In this July 11th, 2007 article, Mr. Ibbitson argues that since the Iraqis are still fighting the thugs who have taken over their country, the thugs must remain lest the ignorant rabble fight amongst themselves and destroy what's left of their nation. The fact that most of the destruction has been carried out by the US is conveniently ignored.

If we move this essay back in time to world-war-II Poland, we can see the specious nature of his logic. The Poles formed something called the "Home Army" which engaged in many of the same anti-occupation activities now going on in Iraq. The Germans constantly referred to this "army" as hooligans, terrorists and thugs. Using Mr. Ibbitson's logic, we would first off state that Mr. Hitler must stay on in Poland otherwise the country will descend into anarchy. We would urge Mr. Hitler to "hang on" and we would avoid condemning "regime change" because that's another argument. Unlike the Americans in Iraq, the Germans are not doing their "regime change on the cheap" which Mr. Ibbitson strongly advises against.

To bolster his curious plea to Bush, Mr. Ibbitson calls on the judgement & insight of un-indicted war criminal Henry Kissinger who baldly states "precipitate withdrawal would produce ... a disaster". Presumably, Mr. Kissinger is not including America's hasty 1975 retreat from Saigon in the "disaster" category. Maybe because it was not entirely voluntary?

This is the same Mr. Ibbitson who claimed in another recent article that claims of blackmail against Mr. Libby by an American Congressman were "wild". It seems that Mr. Ibbitson is unaware of one the main currencies in Washington and other power centres. Then again, true apologists have notoriously selective memories and perceptions.

J. Edgar Hoover, a cross-dressing homosexual, ran a highly politicized national police agency that spied on countless Americans and interfered with their right to free assembly and belief yet his Agency never acknowledged the existence of the Mafia. In Mr. Ibbitson's world, the fact that the Mafia had compromising pictures of him was merely a coincidence.

Nowhere does Mr. Ibbtison seem to recognize that the American invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq are illegal; that America has to pull back from its attempted imposition of Empire; that the real debate is not about America dominating the Middle East or other regions of the world (like Bosnia of which he is approving) but America overextending itself into oblivion and tyranny.

For all our sakes, Mr. Ibbitson, don't hang on!

The Globe & Mail's John Ibbitson speaks for the Empire, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Copyrights, Royalties & Sharing by Louis Evan Palmer

A way around increasingly rigid copyright protection mechanisms or overdone policing efforts is to expand on the idea that Canada has used regarding taxing blank cassettes and tapes. We can keep tabs on how often a song or album is downloaded and pay out to the artists based on that up to a maximum.

This type of royalty acknowledges the new internet medium, its mobile adjuncts and the decentralization and commons philosophy while still rewarding the artists who create the works.

If successful, a regime of this type would lead to reciprocal agreements in other jurisdictions up to the stipulated maximum. Thus, as an example, a specific fee on internet connectivity would pay into a fund that would be used to pay out royalities to artists per time period per jurisdiction.

This compensation scheme may actually pay out more to artists than the traditional method. The other tremendous advantage of it is that it would encourage the growth of small groups and unknown artists while it reduces the already predatory monopolisitic power of the large record companies. We could see a spectacular burst of creativity and new artists with the income spread out more to newer, lesser known artists.

Copyrights, Royalties & Sharing, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Having a Say in How Taxes are Spent by Louis Evan Palmer

There are any number of ways to make our society more democratic - lowering the voting age is one, decentralizing and broadening the ownership and control of mass media is another. But one which would dwarf them in immediate full-spectrum impact is to give the taxpayer, the actual money-out-of-the-wallet taxpayer, a choice in how tax dollars are spent.

The government would still get to designate the tax-spend categories. It could recommend certain percentages. But, what a breath of fresh air if it has to be all laid out in clear terms - what is to be spent and why. Taxpayers would then be able to allocate their tax dollars according to what they want to have done and are willing to pay for.

There would obviously be a default selection which would correspond to the government's recommendation. There would also be a break-out of the main spend categories and sub-categories and individuals could allocate their tax dollars as they see fit and their conscience dictates. No more subversion and corruption or dithering by elected officials (where we can trust the elections and their results).

The government would be compelled to break-out certain big ticket items like defense. There would be line items for whatever war is ongoing. In Canada, there would be a line item for the war in Afghanistan and a suggested percentage. My guess is that the war would be quickly unfunded. If the US had line items for Afghanistan and Iraq, a similar unfunding would be likely.

The collection of taxes is done under threat of force because that's what states do and because we supposedly have a say through our elected representatives. Two things have made that inadequate: (1) our electoral system, associated mass media and elected representatives have become unresponsive (and unethical and hard-of-hearing, etc. etc.); (2) modern techniques and mature democracies are ready for the next step in free societies. That next step is choice in how tax money is spent.

If tax payers had a direct say, would we see enormous subsidies for agricorps and big business? Would we see alternate energy and environmental protection neglected? Would we see huge debts piled up to pay for wars of aggression? It's very doubtful.

There is no worry that the government would have the necessary funds to operate and to defend the country but it wouldn't be in the areas it has them now because where it's has them now is not where the populace wants it.

Having a Say in How Taxes are Spent, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Why is Canada in Afghanistan? by Louis Evan Palmer

In the simplest terms, Canada is there because the United States is there. It's a case of sticking together no matter what although this is way beyond your older brother taking the wrong turn and making you an hour late for a family function. This is a case of sticking together in the commission of a war of aggression and war crimes.

So the question then becomes, why is the United States in Afghanistan? They're there because their leadership decided on war with Afghanistan based on unproven allegations regarding an act of terrorism on US soil.

The terrorism act itself is under question because it's not clear how planes crashing into the WTC could cause them to collapse the way they did. If that's the case then even if the correct perpetrators have been identified, their act of violence did not cause all, or most of, the damage and loss of life.

To help prove their case, it would have been normal for the authorities to secure the crime scenes and collect and later closely examine the evidence; in New York the damaged buildings. But this was not the case, the NY debris was hauled away under strict security and sold as scrap to China and other countries. This is suspicious.

The perpetrators identified by the FBI have not been corroborated by any other non-US-government sources. In fact, as many as 7 of them have turned up alive in the Middle East. Despite this the FBI's list has not been revised. They don't show up on the passenger manifests and the airport videos seem to have missed many of them as well. To prove their case, it would be expected that the American authorities would have been secured all available video coverage and made it public to justify their allegations. This is not the case, videos have not been released, black boxes have been supposedly not found or were damaged and secreted away. Again, suspicious.

Therefore, we have unproven allegations as to the perpetrators which then focus on an alleged leader of the plot who is living in a cave in Afghanistan. There were allegations against the same leader to do with two explosions in Africa outside of American embassies which resulted in attacks in Sudan and Afghanistan. Again, the "proof" is mostly unsubstantiated allegations.

By way of comparison, a terrorist attack in Berlin in 1986 at a club which killed a score of people was blamed on Libya and used by President Reagan to justify bombing Triploi in an attempt to assassinate Gadhafi. A German television documentary presented compelling evidence that the Berlin night club bombing was actually an American/Israeli black operation. These false flag operations are more common than usually thought and rarely exposed in the mass media. We must be very skeptical of unproven claims as to who is responsible for a given criminal act. We accept less evidence for a war than we do for a prosecution against an ordinary citizen!

Another aspect of the 911 attacks is their likelihood of success. Prior to the attacks and based on past experience, any plane that diviated from its flight plan would be subject to a fighter plane(s) intercept. There were many such intercepts both before and after 911. Based on that, the chances of succeeding in a 911-style hijacking in North American skies were zero. They would have been intercepted. Except that there were several air attack simulations running on that very day. That is more than a coincidence. That is aiding and abetting. Regardless of anything else, the hijackers knew there would be no intercepts for a good part, if not all, of their flights. This also is suspicious. How would they have known? Was that information easily obtainable?

To completely solve this crime, authorities would have to identify the planners and who would benefit. If so, regarding who would benefit, why has the trading information as to who was profiting from unusually voluminous transactions in 911-affected stocks and other financial instruments been suppressed? This doesn't make sense. Do we want to fully solve these crimes or not?

The situation from September 12th to October 7th was deliberately emotion-laden and logic-toxic. When the mob that you've stirred up yourself is screaming for blood, you can't serve them reason. That is surely by design. You serve them war! Afghanistan 2001! Iraq 2003! TBA 2007?

Canada must withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible. While the Canadians, all arms, are doing a superb job and not shirking from difficult assignments and duties, this is a poisonous deeply-flawed mission. It shows that both the UN and NATO have become compromised.

Even if the allegations about Bin Laden and al Qaeda were true, an invasion and occupation of an entire country to get one or two ring-leaders is not justified or legal. The United States funded and supported BinLaden and all the foreign jihadists for more than ten years to lure the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan in 1979, to fight the Soviets during their occupation to the extent of providing them with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and to launch attacks into the Soviet Union itself.

a betrayal against one man and a few of his cohorts does not give grounds for an invasion and occupation. That it could be launched so quickly, in weeks, shows that it was planned, up-to-date and ready to go. Who knows, equipment may have even been pre-positioned!

In 1989 after the Soviets were forced to withdraw, the US was perfectly content to leave Afghanistan alone in its civil war. They and the rest should follow that same path in Afghanistan & Iraq now. Aid them as ethics and conscience should dictate but let them manage their own country.

Why is Canada in Afghanistan?, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Monday, July 02, 2007

The Satisfaction Trap by Louis Evan Palmer

Often enough, something that we consider "good" requires dedication & effort. From this, we easily draw the conclusion that dedication & effort is part of the "goodness" or part of the path that leads to it. Further to that, as part of our generalizing imperative, we then feel, to varying degrees, that if dedication & effort (& talent & training & adversity & perseverance, etc. etc.) are not in evidence then whatever it is that we've attained or acquired or conquered is not "good".

We expend so much effort, & lavish praise on those who expend it, on deciphering how things are built or how things interact that we never seem to get to the why. The why seems to be the more important objective but it's relegated to the "nice to have" category which never gets done.

It's a truism that if something is hard to acquire, we value it more. If it's difficult to learn, to do, to find, to accomplish, or discover, or realize then we feel more satisfaction, joy and attachment.

We order our priorities in service of that feeling of satisfaction & achievement which is so closely tied to the difficulty of attaining it. Is it a valid conclusion? It may "feel" more satisfying but is it in fact? Are we letting satisfaction become the barometer of worth regardless of whether that's valid in itself or whether why we are feeling "satisfied" is anything more than the feeling we get conquering various types of obstacles?

If we could, it would be better to have certitude than merely satisfaction. Not dogmatic certitude, phony book-riddled certitude or that blinded certainty which comes from constant propaganda delivered from an early age. But, to have the deep direct experience certitude which flows from overwhelming knowledge and understanding; to have a compelling & rivetting knowing. Certitude that comes from something deeper than feeling or accomplishment; that is not temporary; that is "satisfied" no matter what. Easy or difficult doesn't matter. Short, long, quick, slow - are irrelevant.

After all, is it difficult to look at a flower or a sunset?

The Satisfaction Trap, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ban Fireworks by Louis Evan Palmer

There are any number of vestiges of our past that we should stop perpetuating and the use of fireworks is one of them. It's a thrill we could do without both in terms of unnecessary cost and negative environmental impacts; fireworks are a relic from historic times smacking of aristocratic diversions and tributes to despotic monarchs.

Fireworks are a subtle celebration of militarism in that they derive from the explosives used by armies and, in many cases, serve to glorify the state at nationalistic spectacles. The trappings of an unthinking patrioticism adorn most firework displays. It's an atavistic urge that we usually suppress but it makes its way into the open during these volleys of colourful aerial explosions. It's similar to firing off cannons to salute a head of state or to the awe we might feel when certain types of ordinance are exploded. But, is that a good thing? Hasn't feeding that beast led to more grief than happiness?

Fireworks pollute the environment and scare & disrupt wildlife. Fireworks spread heavy metals and other pollutants into the atmosphere, waterways and surrounding land. Elements like radioactive barium and arsenic are part of the fireworks payload spread across the sky to drop on the land and water below or to be carried in the atmosphere to other locations.

The thunderous noise of fireworks scares the nearby wildlife especially when the fireworks occur during breeding seasons and there are a lot of young creatures about.

Fireworks result in thousands of people injuries, some serious: burns are the most prevalent, followed by the eyes.

It will be difficult in some areas to ban them because there is no doubt that fireworks are popular but then so were gladitorial games and dog-fighting.

Let's move onto to other better, safer, smarter ways to celebrate.

Ban Fireworks, The Way It Can Be, Louis Evan Palmer,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.