Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Then And Now The Rich Use Their Power To Change The Laws To Further Enrich Themselves To the Detriment of Everyone Else And Nature

From The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf's biography of Alexander Von Humboldt:
"In the Political Essay of New Spain Humboldt had doggedly woven together his observations of geography, plants, conflicts of race and Spanish exploits with the environmental consequences of colonial rule and labour conditions in manufacturing, mines and agriculture.  He provide information about revenues and military defense, about roads and ports, and he included table upon table of data ranging from silver production in mines to agricultural yields, as well as total amounts of imports and exports to and from the different colonies.
The volumes made several points very clear:  colonialism was disastrous for people and the environment;  colonial society was based on inequality;  the indigenous people were neither barbaric nor savages, and the colonists were as capable of scientific discoveries, art and craftsmanship as the Europeans;  and the future of South America was based on subsistence farming and not on monoculture or mining.  Though found on the Vieroyalty of New Sapin, Humboldt always compared his data with that from Europe, the United States and the other Spanish colonies in South America.  Just as he had looked at plants in the context of a wider world and with a focus on revealing global patterns, he now conceded colonialism, slavery and economics.  The Political Essay of New Spain was neither a travel narrative nor an evocation of marvelous landscapes, but a handbook of facts, hard data and numbers.  It was so detailed and overwhelmingly meticulous that the English translator wrote in the preface to the English edition that the book tended to 'fatigue the attention of the reader'. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Humboldt choose another traitor for his later publications."
This is early 1800s.

And yes, the Humboldt that the current is named after.

[An earlier post on The Invention of Nature is here.]


  1. The republican party is the party of greedy sociopaths. It's obvious.

  2. Anon, we try here to add information not simply vent. While I tend to think that our current balance of power allows the worst of Republicans to get their way, simply labeling all Republicans as you do is not helpful. And the Democrats have their share of troubled people as well.
    The key for me is figuring out what structural changes would minimize the power of the power hungry and then devise strategies to make the changes happen.
    Democrats need to understand individual Republicans and vice versa and discover where they have common ground and work from there. Calling each other names doesn't help that process.

  3. I think there are several actions we could/should do, ie: term limits, public funded elections, and at least a 5 year wait before any elected official can be employed by a company that contributed to their campaign or they regulated.

  4. Meanwhile, here in the UK, there are calls from too many conservatives for our own version of Trump's tax 'triumph' to attract (more) wealth to our nation post-Brexit.

    I thought we already did rather well in that area (while homelessness soars). No, America's tax bill is a triumph for those who deeply believe freedom's lure is to get more stuff for 'hard work', not to share it with 'lazy losers'.

    That is powerful bait and it currently divides political party alliance. It paid off this week for America's 'winners'.

  5. If you are referring to the wealthy as "winners", you may be a bit premature. This monstrosity can't be signed before the first of next year or automatic cuts in entitlement programs are triggered due to the amount of deficits in the new mess. The right doesn't want to be seen as the cause for the cuts to entitlements they have targeted for cuts for next year.

    There are so many errors in the drafting of this mess that will need to be fixed next year and those fixes must have a solid 60 votes or they won't get fixed.

    I'm not sure Dems are feeling up to helping the right fix the messes they couldn't wait to make before Christmas.

    We shall see.

    1. I thought maybe you'd caught me here. I'm always struggling with the conflict with clarity and brevity. But when I looked back, I really said nothing about today. This post sort of leaves it open for readers to fill in the blanks. (But I have to admit I was thinking about the new tax law. We don't know how this will all turn out. There are so many unknowns in the 500 or so pages plus what's between the lines, who will come out ahead and who will lose. We know the basic intent, just not all the unintended consequences. Both in the outcomes and in the political reaction to them.)

    2. My reply was for Jacob Dugan-Brause about winners. My apology if that wasn't clear.

      Drumpf did say he would sign the monster today, kicking in automatic cuts to entitlements- https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2017-12-22/trump-says-he-will-sign-tax-government-spending-bills-on-friday

      This matters bigly to me as my 2 % SS raise was entirely eaten up and then some by increase in Medicare and prescription drug premiums. I now have nearly 3 bucks less per month than before. When one has to count pennies every month, every penny counts.

      Have a great Holiday season and keep up the good works you do.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.