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Author Topic: Key Historical Events ...THAT YOU MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF  (Read 81 times)

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Welcome to the Sober Thinking Forum.

This is the continuation of the Renewable Revolution Forum, with the same categories and boards arrangement. In order to provide topic thread continuity, this post will be duplicated in frequently viewed topic threads along with selected posts from that topic at the Renewable Revolution Forum. I will gradually, as time permits, copy pertinent articles posted there, update them, and post them here for your convenience.

I have no intention of closing the Renewable Revolution Forum, so any links you have to posts, articles and graphics there are valid for the time being. Nevertheless, I advise you to 🦉 copy and save any posts, articles and graphics that you wish to preserve for posting somewhere else on the internet. I am 75 years old. As long as my spirit hasn't permanently left my body, the Sober Thinking Forum will be kept open.   

Although guests are encouraged to post and become members, this forum is mostly a library reference of important historical information and timeless articles that you are encouraged to pass on, with or without attribution.

In addition, relevant recent news will be posted almost daily, so be sure to 🧐 stop by often.

I have changed the title and the front page background graphic for two reasons:

1. My purpose, nearly a decade ago, of convincing most reality based people everywhere that human civilization, in order to stop and reverse (i.e getting back to 350 PPM of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide is sine qua non) the multiple extinctions causing biosphere degradation (i.e. the Sixth Mass Extinction Event now upon us), must VERY rapidly transition away from Hydrocarbon Energy Sources to Renewable Energy Sources, has been largely achieved. I have been one small voice among many that have made it clear that clean energy must be made available to everyone, not just the wealthy, if we are to survive Catastrophic Climate Change.

2. Celebrated social theorist and geographer David Harvey asked, "Is there a way to capture what (to the detriment of human civilization) is going on now"?

My answer: YES.

It's the SOCIAL DARWINISM, stupid!

"In human society, the amount of inequity is directly proportional to the amount of iniquity." -- A. G. Gelbert

No matter how much progress we make in cleaning up the biosphere, as long as the egocentric, morally bankrupt, empathy deficit disordered, Social Darwinist Ideology continues to be embraced by TPTB, we do not have a snowball's chance in Hell of surviving our Existential Crisis.

Social Darwinists believe that ethics based principles are 'limitations pretending to be virtues'. To them, ethics are 'feel good illusions' that humans invented to pretend our species has empathy. To Social Darwinists, empathy is irrefutable evidence of inexcusable weakness. To them, all who are guided by ethics are deluded fools that should be eliminated from the human 'apex predator' gene pool for the "good" of our species.

The ideology of the Social Darwinist is indistinguishable from the despicable ideology of NAZI Germany, clearly exemplified in their brutally enforced morally bankrupt concentration camp law: “Eat your own bread, and if you can, that of your neighbor.”

Social Darwinism is actually based, not on "survival of the fittest", but on fear of tomorrow, a morally bankrupt excuse for rejecting altruism and empathy and embracing a selfish greed dominated hoarding modus vivendi.
Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly. --  Proverbs 13:16

"One who fears tomorrow does not offer his bread to others. But one who is willing to divide his food with a stranger has already shown himself capable of fellowship and faith, the two things from which hope is born." -- Primo Levi, author of Survival in Auschwitz

Social Darwinism is the world view that spawned the profit over people and planet neoliberal ideology. Neoliberal intellectuals like Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman were all Social Darwinists long before they renamed laissez-faire liberalism (that had been thoroughly discredited by the Great Depression) with the catchy title of "Neoliberalism".
The celebrated social theorist and geographer David Harvey explains that neoliberal ideology serves the following principle:

"There shall be no serious challenge to the absolute power of money to rule absolutely. And that power is to be exercised with one objective: Those possessed of money shall not only be privileged to accumulate wealth endlessly at will, but they shall have the right to inherit the earth, taking either direct or indirect dominion, not only of the land and all the resources and productive capacities that reside therein, but also assume absolute command, directly or indirectly, over the labor and creative capacities of all those others it needs. The rest of humanity shall be deemed disposable."

"In human society, the amount of inequity is directly proportional to the amount of iniquity." -- A. G. Gelbert

Sober Thinking requires that we all recognize the fact that a society that is founded on altruism, not the "invisible hand" of greed, is not optional if we wish to avoid exctinction. Capitalism's "invisible hand" modus operandi is rooted in the ideology of Social Darwinism.

“Capitalism is the astounding belief, that the most wickedest of men, will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.” — John Maynard Keynes


The main purpose of the Sober Thinking Forum is to convince you, regardless of your religious beliefs or lack of them, to soberly think about these two quotes, embrace altruism, reject greed, and convince as many people as you can that altruism is not optional for human society:

"Look at our world, our country, our interactions with each other……… this is not the mark of a healthy society, and if these are the self-appointed leaders of this flaming meteor…’s time to move on to new ideas and new people. Let’s relegate these fools to history. They perpetuate a narrative that it is right to behave in a strictly selfish, exploitative manner towards all. We simply can’t survive it any longer. Things will change because they have to." -- Kathleen Wallace

"Technical knowledge of Carrying Capacity will not save us; Only a Massive Increase in Caring Capacity will." -- A. G. Gelbert

« Last Edit: March 29, 2022, 06:19:40 pm by AGelbert »
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

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When Maritime Employers Hide Behind Archaic Laws
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2022, 06:49:26 pm »

March 28, 2022

“I am indeed lord of the world, but the Law is the lord of the sea. This matter must be decided by the maritime law of the Rhodians, provided that no law of ours is opposed to it.” Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (86-161 A.D.)

A History of American Maritime Law


Maritime law has governed ships and shipping for the past 2,000 years. While it is assumed that the ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians had some form of basic maritime laws in place, there are no records of these. The first written record of maritime law is attributed to the Greek island of Rhodes and was made by Emperor Antoninus Pius during his reign from 138 to 161 A.D. His words, which are included above, can be found in the Digest (553 A.D.)

Today, maritime law is a combination of some of the oldest legal standards and new regulations designed to address changes as the industry has evolved. Individual nations have their own iterations of maritime law, and 167 are members of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, a United Nations agreement that established international marine and maritime regulations.

As a younger nation, the United States adopted much of its maritime law from England. The first maritime laws were brought to the Americas in the 1600s with the establishment of vice-admiralty courts at major seaports, but it wasn’t until the Judiciary Act of 1789 – after the American Revolution – that federal district courts were granted jurisdiction over maritime law cases, with a “serving” clause that allows state courts to hear certain cases. ... ...

When Maritime Employers Hide Behind Archaic Laws

As a seaman’s life is still dangerous, there is every reason for some of the oldest maritime principles and customs to apply, like maintenance and cure. Although we have seen many advancements in vessels themselves and the tools and technology we use to navigate them, weather storms, and accomplish some of a seaman’s most hazardous tasks, maritime workers continue to face numerous risks. Some are even heightened because of the advancement of the maritime industry, like offshore drilling operations, the transportation of immense quantities of natural gas and oil, and increased production demand. 🤦‍♂️

Unfortunately, some companies try to hide behind laws that should no longer apply. Congress passed the Limitation of Liability Act of 1851 to protect maritime employers from acts that were out of their control, like heavy storms and pirates.

It limited their liability for damages from such events to the value of the vessel. While the Limitation of Liability Act was needed at that time, its use has been outlived.

Today’s vessel owners do not face the same threats of piracy as they once did. Storms can be predicted with more accuracy than ever before. Even so, some maritime 😈 employers try to use this archaic law to try to limit their liability when seamen are catastrophically injured or lose their lives. 😠 This is a perfect example of when maritime laws are misused or no longer applicable.

Read more:

AGelbert NOTE: You can be sure that these greedy maritime 💰🎩😈 employers, true to there Social Darwinist = Capitalist morally bankrupt ideology, will do all they can to avoid any accountability for losses in crew and ships that will grow as Catastrophic Climate Change makes the oceans of the world more deadly to ships and their crews than mankind has ever experienced. 

Climate Change, Blue Water Cargo Shipping and Predicted Ocean Wave Activity: PART TWO
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


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1619 and the Slavery that Made America
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2022, 08:55:26 pm »
1619 and the Making of America

Oct 15, 2018 326,118 views

Library of Congress 257K subscribers

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress convened a symposium that brought together respected scholars to explore the intricate encounters of Africans, Europeans and native people during this significant period in America's history. In 1619, a Dutch ship with about 20 Africans on board entered a port at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. This event is known as the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America. Their historic arrival, however, marked the beginning of a trend in  colonial 🐀 America, in which the people of Africa were taken from their motherland and consigned to lifelong slavery.

From 1619 to 1650, during the life span of the first arriving Africans, racial discrimination emerged and chattel slavery would be 😈 codified into law. The symposium will ask questions related to the historical importance of these events in 1619. For example, who were the Africans who arrived in Virginia in 1619, where did they come from, what world did they bring with them? What emerged from Africans' engagement with indigenous Native American populations and their spiritual and cultural life ways, and what is the enduring legacy of this encounter today?

The event also featured a display of treasures and historical items from the Library of Congress' collections related to the early Americas. The symposium was held in collaboration with the Middle Passage Project of the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Commonwealth's 2019 Commemoration and Norfolk State University.

Speaker Biography: Joanne M. Braxton is 2015 David M. Larson Fellow in spirituality and health at the John W. Kluge Center and the director of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William & Mary.

Speaker Biography: Robert Trent Vinson is Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings professor at the College of William & Mary.

Speaker Biography: Cassandra Newby-Alexander is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies at Norfolk State University and co-chair of Virginia's 2019 Commemoration's First Africans to English North America committee.

Speaker Biography: Lynette Lewis Allston is chief and tribal council chair of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, one of 11 officially recognized by the Commonwealth.

For transcript and more information, go here.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2022, 09:05:30 pm by AGelbert »
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


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“How to 🗽😉 Hide an 🦍 Empire”: Daniel Immerwahr on the History of the Greater United States

Mar 5, 2019 899,331 views

Democracy Now! 1.15M subscribers

“How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.” That’s the title of a new book examining a part of the U.S. that is often overlooked: the nation’s overseas territories from Puerto Rico to Guam, former territories like the Philippines, and its hundreds of military bases scattered across the globe. We speak with the book’s author, Daniel Immerwahr, who writes, “At various times, the inhabitants of the U.S. Empire have been shot, shelled, starved, interned, dispossessed, tortured and experimented on. What they haven’t been, by and large, is seen.” Immerwahr is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

#USterritories #UShistory #PuertoRico

Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET:

Please consider supporting independent media by making a donation to Democracy Now! today:

AGelbert NOTE: There are several important historical nuggets in this category that you may peruse, copy and pass on under this same Topic at my previous website. I'll be moving them over here little by little, but since there are nearly 10 years of posts there, it will take a while. In the meantime, feel free to check them out:

  Key Historical Events ...THAT YOU MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 03:19:54 pm by AGelbert »
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


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Then Again: Fame eluded Brandon man who invented the ⚡ electric motor 

Jul 3 2022 By Mark Bushnell

In 1837, Thomas Davenport of Brandon received the world’s first patent for an ⚡ electric motor. It was, in fact, the first patent for any sort of ⚡ electrical device. His wife, Emily Goss Davenport, suggested the use of mercury as a conductor, and tore up her wedding dress to use as insulation. Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Davenport helped create the modern world, but has largely been forgotten by it. 😟

He invented a device that makes possible so many of the trappings of life today: refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and dryers, dishwashers and microwave ovens, air conditioners, hair dryers, electric fans, electric clocks, lathes, forklifts, elevators, garage door openers, subway cars, satellites, electric vehicles — the list goes on. Even the computer, tablet or phone you are reading this on.

But any dreams Davenport harbored of attaining wealth and renown were thwarted by an absurd amount of poor timing, bad luck and disastrous decisions.

His biggest misfortune was that his ⚡ invention was half a century ahead of its time.

Davenport’s biography contains two seemingly incompatible facts: He was a poorly educated blacksmith from the hinterlands of Vermont, and he invented the first electric motor ever patented. That he did so nearly 200 years ago shakes our image of what life was like during the early decades of the 1800s.

He had a vision of an ⚡ electrified future,” says Dave Hammond, a scientific electronics technician in the University of Vermont’s physics department. Hammond has been immersing himself in the life and work of lately, even building models of his motors.

Dave Hammond, of the University of Vermont’s physics department, reproduced three working models of Davenport’s electric motor. Photo courtesy of Dave Hammond

Thomas Davenport ⚡ motors (made by Dave Hammond) in action:
PhysicsatUVM 617 subscribers

Some of Davenport’s motors still exist — notably at the Smithsonian Institution. Hammond constructed three copies of the motor — one for UVM, one for the Brandon Museum (in the Vermont town where Davenport invented his device), and one for Beta Technologies of Burlington, an aerospace manufacturer developing vertical takeoff and landing aircraft powered by cutting-edge electric motors.

The working model will be on display in Brandon at the inaugural Davenport Electric Fest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, which is the 220th anniversary of the inventor’s birth. The event will also feature hands-on exhibits of various electric vehicles, including electric cards, e-bikes and snowmobiles.

Like Franklin and Fulton

Though he is little remembered today :(, Davenport drew high praise during his lifetime. One newspaper claimed his name would be remembered alongside such great inventors as Benjamin Franklin and Robert Fulton.

High praise, and much more than his parents might have expected for him when Thomas was born in 1802, the eighth of 12 children in a poor farming family in Williamstown, Vermont. He was apprenticed to a local blacksmith for seven years, starting at age 14. In exchange for Thomas’ labor, the blacksmith would teach him the trade and allow him to attend school for six weeks each winter.

Despite his meager learning, Thomas was curious about the world, even bookish. The boy was said to read sometimes while working the forge’s bellows. After completing his apprenticeship, he was able to establish a blacksmith shop in Brandon, which had an active iron smelting industry.

For nearly a decade, Davenport focused on his trade, but in 1832 gave up his business. He was fascinated by electricity and wanted to study it. He was hardly alone in this fixation; some of the brightest minds in natural philosophy, what we would call science, were trying to understand and harness electricity’s power.

“Electricity was a really mysterious thing to people at these times,” explains Hammond. “They called ⚡ electricity a fluid, since that was what was familiar to them.”

People were, however, familiar with static electricity. To earn money, Davenport visited local schools to teach about ⚡ electricity. Accompanying him was fellow Brandon resident Johnny Johnson, who brought along a tame moose pulling a cage full of animals. This was part science exhibit, part carnival show.

“Davenport would put a silver dollar in the bottom of a bucket of water and tell the children they could have it if they could grab it,” Hammond says. Davenport was in no danger of losing the valuable coin, because the bucket was hooked to a static electricity generator. Anyone trying to snag the dollar got a ⚡ shock instead.

The following year, 1833, Davenport had an epiphany that changed his life. He learned that an iron works in Crown Point, New York, was using ⚡ electromagnets built by Joseph Henry of Albany (future first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution) to pull bits of iron from the rocks extracted there. The magnets were supposedly so strong they could suspend an anvil.

Davenport traveled more than 25 miles by 🐎 horse to the site to see the ⚡ magnets and perhaps purchase one, but discovered that the owner was away. Undaunted, Davenport eventually managed to purchase one of ⚡ Henry’s electromagnets, though at great expense.

Back in Brandon, Davenport took apart the magnet while his wife, Emily, took detailed notes on how it was constructed. Davenport noticed that the magnet was insulated with silk, and assumed he needed to use silk too, though other materials would also have worked. Silk was hard to come by in rural Vermont, so Emily sacrificed her wedding dress, cutting it into strips that furnished Thomas with all the insulation he needed for years. ;D

Davenport created a second ⚡ magnet and used it to test a theory. He believed ⚡ electricity could cause a machine to move. After attaching one magnet to a wheel and a second magnet to the stationary frame that held the wheel, he wired each magnet to a battery. The wheel turned. Though it rotated only half a revolution, the wheel’s movement was revolutionary.

Of course, a half-turn doesn’t get you very far, but Davenport knew he was on to something. He found that, if he reversed the wires to the magnets, the wheel would complete the revolution. His original motor revolved only about one to three times per minute.

He continued to tinker, and with the assistance of his neighbor, a skilled mechanic with the odd name of Orange Smalley, Davenport added magnets to the system and developed a way to reverse their polarity automatically. By the summer of 1834, they had created a motor that could turn 30 times a minute.

Davenport understood the ⚡ power he was tapping into.

Like a flash of ⚡ lightning,” he later wrote, “the thought occurred to me that here was an available ⚡ power within the reach of man.”

The early 1800s were the age of steam. People used the forces unleashed by boiling water to power industry and transportation, in the form of steamboats and trains. But Davenport saw a major drawback with steam. Under too much pressure, steam would cause boilers to explode, with dramatic and often fatal effect. Davenport sought a safer source of power.

People derided Davenport for his claims. Some said he was boasting of having invented a perpetual motion machine ::). Others said his machines’ output should be measured not in horsepower but in mosquito power ::). But Davenport confronted more severe obstacles than mere mockery.

“Everybody, regardless of when they made a motor and how they made a motor, faced the same problem: Where do you get the ⚡ power for this thing?” Hammond explains.
The financing problem

Davenport’s electric motor relied on battery power, which was expensive, though he was confident the price would drop over time. However, Hammond says, “Until the dynamo was invented and perfected in the 1860s, there was no way to generate electricity reliably.”

Davenport needed allies to advance his cause. If his device was going to change the world, he needed money. Elite scientists of the day disdained conducting research for money. They believed it should be done solely to advance knowledge. Davenport didn’t have the luxury to share that opinion.

A sketch accompanying Thomas Davenport’s 1837 patent for an electric motor.
He found a strong advocate in the scientific community when he demonstrated his device to Edward Turner, a Middlebury professor of natural philosophy, in fact the only one teaching science at the school at the time. Turner grasped the revolutionary nature of Davenport’s motor and urged him to secure a U.S. patent, even drafting wording for a patent application.

In 1835, Davenport made the arduous journey to Washington, D.C., to apply in person, stopping en route to visit eminent men of science and demonstrate his motor. When he arrived, he discovered that the cost of a patent application, which included hiring a draftsman to sketch his machine as well as other expenses, was more than he had left in his pocket. He didn’t even have enough money to return home.

He could, however, make it as far as Troy, New York. There he called on Stephen van Rensselaer, founder of an esteemed polytechnical school. And was immediately set upon by the man’s dogs. 😨 While a kitchen maid mended his clothes, Davenport showed Rensselaer his motor. Rensselaer bought the device for his institute, so Davenport had enough money to get home.

He returned to Washington the next year to submit his patent application, complete with a working model. That December, a 🔥 fire at the U.S. Patent Office destroyed both his ⚡ model and paperwork. He returned in January 1837 to apply yet again.

Middlebury professor Edward Turner was enthusiastic about Thomas Davenport’s electric motor and suggested he patent it. Turner even drafted a description of the machine Davenport could use in his patent application. The motor for which Davenport eventually won a patent was a modified version of the one he showed Turner. Above is a copy of Turner’s draft, which appeared in an 1891 edition of the journal The Electrical Engineer.

The third time did the trick. In February he received his patent. “It was the first electrical patent ever granted,” Hammond says, “and probably the broadest patent ever issued.” He notes that the patent granted Davenport the exclusive right to “the idea of ⚡electromagnetically moving anything.”

The Patent Act of 1836 gave Davenport that sole right for 21 years. He had plenty of time to make a fortune. If things hadn’t gone terribly wrong.

Money would pour in

By this point, Davenport had another partner, Ransom Cook, who ran a successful cabinetmaking business in Saratoga, New York, and shared an interest in the new science of electricity. Cook’s design expertise and skilled workmen helped improve the motor.

The two men met when Davenport was touring with his motor, charging admission for the privilege of watching it spin. Many audience members viewed the device as a novelty, but Cook saw the practicality of it.

Now that Davenport held a patent, he could get strangers, not just friends and neighbors, to invest in his⚡ motor. The men set up a business in Manhattan to search for investors. Edwin Williams, the head of an organization that promoted invention, approached them about launching a joint-stock company, the precursor of the modern corporation. Williams’ lawyer would draw up the papers.

The arrangement would let Davenport and Cook focus on improving the motor, while money poured in to support the venture. The prospectus for their stock offering quoted enthusiastic praise from New York City newspapers. (A)n ⚡ electromagnetic engine, constructed on this principle, will cost only one-tenth the expense of steam power, and only occupy one half of the space,” the New York Herald declared. “There can be no doubt, in our mind, but the days of steam power, and animal power, and water power, are gone for ever.”

The New York Evening Post predicted that “The application of this new principle of motion … is one of the most wonderful inventions of the age , and will hand down the name of its discoverer to future times along with those of Franklin and Fulton.”

The Baltimore Daily Gazette estimated that the patent rights in America alone would be worth the astronomical sum of $600,000. Davenport had also secured a patent in Britain, which was far ahead of the United States in terms of industrialization.

The Daily Gazette’s estimate was wide of the mark. If there was a time to start a new company, 1837 wasn’t it. A financial panic gripped the country and few investors found an electric motor company irresistible. Whatever money came in, little reached Davenport and Cook. The men took Williams to court, but failed to gain satisfaction.

If no one else believed in his invention, Davenport didn’t lose faith. He demonstrated that it could be used to power a drill to bore holes in iron and steel, and to power a printing press. Fittingly, the press printed America’s first ⚡ electrical journal, The ⚡ Electro-Magnet and Mechanics’ Intelligencer.”

In early 1842, Davenport seemed to catch a break. An investor gave him $3,000 in notes, drawn on an Ohio bank, to support his work. Davenport cashed a $10 note, with plans to draw the rest later, but typical of Davenport’s luck, the bank folded before he could cash any more. 🤦‍♂️ 

By the fall of 1842, Davenport had had enough. He moved with his family back to Brandon, where he died nine years later , never having realized his dream of seeing electric motors supersede steam power.

The electric motor was, of course, an invention whose time would come. Davenport just had the great misfortunate of understanding its potential long before its time.

AGelbert LAMENT: If only Davenport had realized in 1840 that he didn't have to rely on expensive battery power for his motor, but could get all the juice he needed to market the profitable use of his motor as a drill (which he had demonstrated) by using mechanical means, like a water wheel, to turn his motor into a dynamo to power many motors, history would be quite different.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2022, 02:35:48 pm by AGelbert »
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


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Re: Key Historical Events ...THAT YOU MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2022, 06:46:10 pm »

December 7, 2022

🔊 Podcast with Adam Hochschild 👍 on his new book 🕯️ American 🦍 Midnight: The Great War, A Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis: 👀
« Last Edit: December 07, 2022, 06:51:07 pm by AGelbert »
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12


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March 2, 2023

By Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

A 40 year 🐘 campaign to destroy Social Security

Social Security is the most popular and effective program in America. That’s why Wall Street has spent 40 years on an insidious campaign to undermine the people’s faith in the system.

Think we’re exaggerating? The right wing called for a “Leninist Strategy on Social Security” back in 1983. And reading it today, much of that strategy looks just like reality.

Social Security Works is pushing back against the Wall Street lies. But they have a head start. Chip in $7 to fight back!

In 1983, Social Security was in a real crisis, but the system’s popularity protected it from destruction, much to Wall Street’s disappointment. Wall Street sees our Social Security system as a cash cow that they can’t access. They would give anything to get their hands on Social Security’s $2.9 trillion trust fund, which is instead invested in US Treasury bonds.

So Wall Street-funded conservative think tanks got to work, outlining a long-term strategy to chip away at the public’s confidence in Social Security. And it was extraordinarily successful.

The right-wing Cato Institute published a plan in 1983 called a Leninist Strategy, designed to 😈 “neutralize” elderly voters while continuing to 🐍 undermine confidence for Social Security among the young. Their model was the Leninist movement's "success in isolating and weakening its opponents." (Yes, they really were taking cues from V.I. Lenin, even in the depths of the Cold War. :o)

This strategy of undermining Social Security is exactly what Rick Scott and Mike Pence are doing to this day! Chip in $7 to fight back against opponents of Social Security. Together, we will expand and defend Social Security!

The strategy had two main prongs: Make younger Americans lose faith that Social Security will keep its promise to them, and create an alternative in the form of private accounts that could be gambled on the stock market, similar to 401ks.

The strategy took a decade to be mainstreamed by the Republicans.

In 1988, a presidential candidate sharing their views about Social Security appeared on the scene. Former Delaware governor Pierre S. “Pete” du Pont IV, an heir to those who had thrown money at any FDR-hater they could find, sought the Republican nomination for president and ran on a platform of privatizing Social Security.

But George H. W. Bush won the Republican nomination and the election that year. As president, he showed his understanding of the program, when he said, “In my budget plan, I say we’ve got to control the growth of . . . mandatory programs, but set Social Security aside. It’s not a welfare program. It’s sacrosanct.”

In 1994, the House of Representatives returned to Republican control for the first time in over 40 years, the first time since Eisenhower was president. The Republicans had run in support of the “Contract with America,” drafted and promoted by Congressman Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Unfortunately for those opposing Social Security, the Contract with America expressed implicit support for the program by proposing only minor modifications.

However, in 1994, as the law had required since 1956, the Secretary of Health and Human Services appointed 14 members to serve on Social Security’s quadrennial advisory council. The trustees had begun to project a long-term deficit in Social Security’s financing occurring somewhere more than 35 years in the future. Included in the report was an appendix, entitled “Developments Since 1983,” which addressed the causes of the projected shortfall. The appendix began by debunking the myth that the inexorable tide of aging baby boomers had anything to do with the projected deficit.

The report clarified: “the fundamental ratio of beneficiaries to workers was fully taken into account in the 1983 financing provisions and, as a matter of fact, was known and taken into account well before that.”

The report then explained that the shortfall resulted from a variety of factors. By the time the advisory council reported, almost 31 million workers participated in 401(k) plans, which contained assets of over $1 trillion. As the stock market went up and up in the 1990s, these arrangements became more and more popular.

This was the opportunity the Leninist Strategy envisioned. More and more Americans were becoming used to private accounts for retirement income.

The Cato Institute, who had first called for this 😈 Strategy, formed the Project on Social Security Privatization on August 14, 1995. A co-chairman of the project was José Pinero, the Pinochet minister of labor who had designed the Chilean system of private accounts. Just as supporters of private accounts had been doing since almost the moment Chile had privatized its Social Security program, Cato touted the Chilean system as a model for the United States, despite its decidedly mixed results.

The new 🐘 right-wing project fueled privatization talk with publications and conferences. In less than a decade, the project could proudly boast that it had “published more than forty books, articles, and reports” criticizing Social Security and advocating private accounts.

Conservative think tanks have spent decades working to undermine Social Security. Stand with Social Security Works today to protect and expand Social Security and invest in our future!

During these years, Social Security produced large surpluses, as it had been projected to do when the 1977 and 1983 amendments had been enacted—but the federal deficit produced record deficits.

On March 7, 1999, the wealthy governor of Texas had announced that he was forming a committee to explore a run for the presidency. Despite his limited political experience and his weaknesses as a speaker, he had one huge asset. He happened to be the son of a former president, and the two men shared the same first and last names, George Bush.

Well before Bush formed his exploratory committee, he had been thinking about the presidency and had been thinking about Social Security, as well. He had a long history of hostility to the program. As a student at the Harvard Business School in the early 1970s, he had railed against Social Security and other New Deal programs. In his losing bid for a congressional seat in 1978, he had ventured that “people [should] be given the chance to invest [Social Security] the way they feel.”

The patience of the anti-Social Security forces seemed to have paid off. They finally had a president who seemed to see the world their way.

Just as in the Bush years, Wall Street continues to try and get their hands on our hard-earned Social Security benefits. Donate to Social Security Works today to fight back against attempts to privatize this critical program.

Despite Social Security’s absence from the campaign, President Bush established a presidential commission on May 2, 2001, to study and make recommendations about Social Security.

Naturally, the members consisted only of people who were dedicated to destroying Social Security’s universal promise, and it resulted in Bush’s privatization scheme.

Unlike most presidential commissions, which are given broad guidelines within which to work, this commission was to be tightly constrained. Among the stipulations dictated by Bush was that the commission’s recommendations “must include individually controlled voluntary personal accounts.” It was not a commission to consider what should be done; rather, it was a commission to advise the president how to do what he had already made up his mind to do.

At the same time, Bush used the administration of government to sow distrust in Social Security. Though Trustees Reports between 2001 and 2004 grew slightly more optimistic, with the projected year of exhaustion of the trust funds slightly further into the future, Social Security Administration publications became more alarmist. No longer confirming that Social Security faced “no immediate crisis,” the publications now warned that the program was “unsustainable,” and “underfinanced.”

Most disturbing was the change in the annual statement sent to all of the 125 million workers age 25 and over who pay into the trust funds. This statement, completely unsolicited, simply arrives in each worker’s mailbox. The 2001 statement proclaimed, “Will Social Security be there when you retire? Of course it will.”

This reassurance was gone by 2002, and in 2005, the unsettling remark “Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time” was now in the mailing, just in case workers were feeling too secure.

The same tactics are being used today: Republicans in Congress are systematically underfunding the Social Security Administration, forcing office closings and longer wait times to receive the world class service Americans are promised.

Social Security Works is dedicated to fighting back against these 💵🎩🐘🐍🦍🐉 schemes that  fly 😈 under the radar. Donate $7 to support our work!

George W. Bush set the agenda for 🐘 today’s Republicans: Pass a massive tax cut, and then try to cut Social Security in the name of fiscal discipline.

This isn’t a new fight―it is the same thing we have been fighting for nearly a century. With our voices together, we beat Bush’s privatization scheme, we beat President Obama’s fiscal commissions, we beat Paul Ryan’s supercommittees, and we beat Donald Trump’s defunding attempt

Now, Republicans are holding the global economy hostage in exchange for unspecified budget cuts. While many of them claim not to have Social Security and Medicare in their sights at the moment, they are also quick to feed the same false narratives that the Leninist Strategy demands.

The way we win is to go on offense: We need to EXPAND Social Security, never 🔨 cut it.

We’re rallying members of Congress behind a bill to expand our Social Security system, which will protect and expand benefits for millions of Americans and keep Social Security strong through the 21st century and beyond!

We need to stand together to fight back against efforts to undermine confidence in Social Security. Donate to Social Security Works to ensure Social Security thrives for future generations!


Nancy Altman
Social Security Works

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Social Security Works leads the fight every day to expand and protect our Social Security system. Become a member today.

Social Security Works for Everyone!
From SSW's co-founders, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, this book builds on the success of 2013's Social Security Works: The Book, updating and expanding its argument that Social Security is the best way to protect and expand the insurance Americans love and count on. Order your copy today!

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12