Capitalism, the greatest set of lies ever told…

Economic prosperity has been engineered out of our society except for the top .01% during the Lost Decade.

This article was written in response to this series of articles on Medium. You can follow the link for the main article thread. I took umbrage at this last assumption:

“The free market has lifted more billions out of poverty than any thing done by anyone in the past two thousand years. Governments, usually autocratic, sometimes despotic and occasionally democratic (see Greece, Venezuela etc) have caused far more harm to working people than supposedly evil capitalism.”

Yes, the “free markets” have lifted more billions (of dollars) out of “poverty that they created” than any other form of government in the history of the world. Yes, the engine of capitalism is only too happy to:

  • Destroy millions of lives to claim the land of early America in order to gain economic strength against the Old World. Native Americans are one of the first near-genocides which make the United States the economic powerhouse it is today.

  • Enslave Africans for free labor to power the economic engine of the early United States giving it access to economic leverage unable to be matched by any other nation. The US maintained this dominance for at least three hundred years by not having to pay wages for any of this economic power gained by slavery.

These first two stellar examples of capitalism create the foundation for the great economic advantage enjoyed by the United States for centuries.

  • This economic advantage is perpetuated by the United States economic dominance of other nations after World War II when most nations where war was held were forced to rebuild, the United States was happily able to profit because little or none of the war happened on US soil. Nor did the United States suffer the devastating losses in life that many other nations did during the war.

  • Manipulate the media to control what people know about how millionaires make their money and keep the general knowledge of money market manipulations, graft and corruption, insider trading, political machinations (See: ALEC) which enrich select members of our society.(See: Koch Industries, Walmart, Wall Street Banks)
  • Create economic engines using legislation to bust unions and prevent workers from having better pay, safer work environments and the ability to pay bills with only one full-time job (with benefits) rather than three part-time ones (without benefits)
  • Boast of their profit margins being the greatest in the history of the free world while paying their workers stagnating or even diminishing wages while the top .01% happily scamper away with billions of dollars in profit and unpaid taxes while storing their wealth in overseas banks.
  • Capitalize off of the cheapest labor it can find even if it has to first impoverish a nation so it can then profit from it. (See: most modern free trade agreements)
  • Create poverty in a system of government by creating false divisions between groups in order to profit from the dissent caused as a by-product (American GIs returning from World War II were given completely different opportunities depending on their race. White GIs could buy property in many major cities where Black GIs could not. Decades later that economic disparity allowed generations of Whites to leverage their homes as a means of sending their children to college and better economic opportunities for later generations while Black GIs had none of these options except in a few states of the union. Later these cities became areas of urban poverty such as Detroit.)
  • Manipulate markets in order to create profit using questionable ethics and mathematical models (see: 2008 economic recession, HSBC money laundering for criminal cartels, Wall Street Banks bailout and subsequent payouts to CEOs and executives)
  • Utilizing privatization of public services, resources, and land to profit from the commons being sold to the highest bidder while providing the lowest quality of care or support for said services. (See: Prison industrial complex and the trillion dollar waste of the War on Drugs.)
  • The greatest boondoggle of the free world is the US’s Military Industrial Complex (and the defense contractors who profit handsomely — See: Haliburton profits from Iraq War) from the United States preference for perpetual warfare, incursions into other nations (exploiting their natural resources, creating dissent, the support of dictators until they become inconvenient — See: Saddam Hussein) and military spending eclipsing all other forms of spending in the nation.

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All told, the U.S. government spent about $718 billion on defense and international security assistance in 2011 — more than it spent on Medicare. That includes all of the Pentagon’s underlying costs as well as the price tag for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which came to $159 billion in 2011. It also includes arms transfers to foreign governments. — Washington Post
  • And many, many other examples of exploitation, extermination, and big businesses ability to ignore externalities caused by their corporate and economic abuse of the capitalist model.

Yes, capitalism has done a lot for the world (and could have done a whole lot more) but not because it was benevolent or because it is an effective means of sharing the wealth because in most cases, as it is practiced in most of the world, it is neither.

Capitalism as a model is designed to keep fantastic wealth in the hands of few and varying degrees of poverty for everyone else.

Capitalism in its current form rewards those with money to leverage the system for their benefit, avoid any form of jurisprudence which might hold them accountable for the destruction of the environment, abuse of the people affected by their machinations or responsibility to anyone for the devastation left by the wars which enrich and power those elite enough to not have to worry about sending their children to war.

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. – Washington Post

Let’s not brag about Capitalism as if it was some holy grail of goodness making the world a better place because when you look around, if you are rich enough, you know where the bodies are buried for your incredible wealth to exist. And have the money to keep the secrets necessary for it to be a success story claiming no one got hurt in the process.

Bison were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.

<drops mike, walks away.>

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PREVIEW: DC’s GODS and MONSTERS

An Elseworld with Bite

Bruce Timm of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman, The Animated Series, Justice League and Jutice League Unlimited fame gives us an alternative perspective on DC’s Holy Trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.

Instead of the familiar faces we know and love, we have three new versions of the characters who feel familiar but are very different from the three core heroes of the normal DC Universe.

Kal-Zod, son of General Zod and raised by an immigrant family who stole into the country from Mexico, raise a Man of Steel who is very different from the Kansas born Kal-El. His genetic heritage as the son of General Zod and his upbringing as an immigrant create within him a barely-contained rage.

This is a Superman who is not above doing whatever he thinks is necessary to get the job done. He has great power and he is not afraid to use it.

Batman: Scourge of Gotham: Gone is the mysterious and spacious Wayne Manor and its supportive butler Alfred Pennyworth. In its place is the loner, Dr. Langstrom. In the mainstream universe, he would become the menace of the Man-bat, but here, his experimental serum turns him into a living vampire. (I guess no one told Timm that Marvel did that once with a character named Morbius the living vampire…) We don’t get an understanding why Langstrom fights crime beyond directing his need to feed upon the criminal element of Gotham City. Perhaps that’s enough…

Wonder Woman – New God: Most divergent member of this Trinity is the newly revamped Wonder Woman. Instead of being a member of a secret island of woman warriors or descended from mythological beings, she is a member of Jack Kirby’s penultimate creation, the New Gods. She resembles the wife of Orion, Bekka and is every step the warrior we hope Wonder Woman can be. Supporting Steve Trevor in his operations, she is funny, smart and deadly in battle.

This new Justice League appears to have its hands full in a world more dangerous, less friendly and every bit as fantastic as the mainstream DC Universe. Amanda Waller is the President of the United States and Dr. Sivana is her chief scientist. Does that tell you what kind of trouble this world is in store for?

Strap in, it looks like its gonna be a bumpy ride. The three short introductory videos are worth the six minutes each, with the Wonder Woman clip being the best, in my opinion.

I look forward to the continued development of this product line and believe Bruce Timm is one of the best people to produce animated versions of DC heroes. Few have done it better, more consistently and for longer than he has.

Welcome Gods and Monsters to the DC Multiverse!

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil’s even significant?

My @Quora answer to With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories …

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

#ALL_LIVES_MATTER

Daredevil's stories matter for the same reasons your story matters. President Obama gets more press in a day than most of us will get in a lifetime. Does that mean our lives matter less, to us?

Comic companies are always forced to ask the question: If I have cosmic stories with beings who are like gods, can alter the very fabric of reality, shape matter and energy at will, why should a guy who beats up muggers get the same kind of treatment in the comics?

Because to the guy struggling to pay his bills who experiences a mugging one day and loses a month's pay, that is a world-shaking event. His life is rocked. Screw the cosmos, how will I feed my family, pay my rent, get to work without money? This man needs a hero, too. Someone who relates to life at his scale.

You see, Peter Parker relates to the common man. The average fellow on the street may not know WHO Spider-Man is but he knows he cares. He's relatable. Spider-Man stops to save construction workers from the sides of buildings. Helps women getting mugged in alleys. Protects the common citizen from the most extraordinary of problems, in a way people can relate to.

https://youtu.be/02S6ucfp1sU
When people meet Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Superman, these guys are awesome. Full of awe. Far removed from the common man's experience. They are like gods. You don't relate to gods. You tend to worship them. Their story is one of aspiration, you aspire to be like them but you recognize they are distinct from you, the same way you are distinct from your pets.

The common man is looking for something a bit more down to Earth. Daredevil is his hero. Batman is his hero. Spider-Man is his hero. These guys may play in the Big Leagues, but remember the little guy in all of this. They work first hand with the people, not as a concept, but as a concrete reality.

Yes, they can be scary too. That is part of their mystique. But ask the people whose lives they change with their "small" acts of heroic bravery and they will all tell you about their encounter with one of those "little" heroes.

It's not the scale of the hero, its not the cut of his jib, its not the flash of his cape. It's the moment when he helps someone figure out what matters in their lives. A moment of self discovery. A moment of transformation. A moment of something bigger than they are.

It's a problem heroes have been contending with for a long time. And one not easy to shake. Ask Green Lantern:

It's the story that matters, the same way the ancient tales of Hercules and Odysseus matter. Hercules was a hero whose strength was legendary and though his tales told often of his strength, he was known for his challenges, his drunken rages, his inability to forgive, his moral failings were ultimately his undoing.

Odysseus lacking the brawn of the former was forced to be clever, to learn from his opponents, to out-think his foes. Stories are for the people reading them, seeking to find new ways of thinking, new ways of being. Sometimes we fight against the world from the position of Hercules, confident in our power and ability to protect ourselves.

And sometimes we have to fight like Odysseus using our wits, planning ahead, thinking tactically when our enemies are simply more powerful than we can overcome.

Stories both great and small, of heroes whose power rivals stars and mere men whose feet are made of clay both can teach us how to be. They can help us, define us.

#ALL_STORIES_MATTER

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil's even significant?

Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

My @Quora answer to Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Thanos is awesome; he's just not Mjolnir-lifting awesome. He's in good company…

Thanos, often called the Mad Titan (rarely to his face, by the way) is a being of incredible capability and prowess. A master of alien technologies from hundreds of worlds, his natural gifts make him a force to be reckoned with in close combat or at range. His prodigious intellect means he is rarely out of his depth even when dealing with the Marvel Universe's most intelligent or inscrutable beings such as the cosmic entities. Despite his enhancements both cybernetic and technological, nothing in his arsenal will lend itself to lifting or breaking the enchantments upon Mjolnir as laid by Odin.

But I bet you're asking: Who is Thanos? For the answer to that question, we need to talk about his family…

Enter: The Eternals

Thanos was a member of a humanoid species called the Eternals. The Eternals were part of a project created by the Celestials designed to bring forth metahuman potential (for a still unknown reason) among Humans and thousands of other species across the galaxy.

The Celestials manipulated the DNA of Humanity to create three separate subspecies. Deviants, Humans and the Eternals. The Eternals were one subset of the Human species altered by the Celestials for their experimentation.

What were the Celestials looking for? They never say. They never admit to why they performed the experimentation that links the human genome and the possibility for mutant capability. We do learn in the seminal Thor #300 if your species doesn't meet their rigorous standards, they will erase their failed experiment from existence. 

The two other subgroups of Humanity were: the Deviants and the Eternals.

  • The Deviants, an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, were their first experiments and are genetically unstable.
  • Their forms varied wildly and it was said that no two Deviants looked alike (which always made me curious how they reproduced…perhaps technology was involved.)
  • They boasted a wide array of superhuman levels of ability, some of their members were easily as powerful and capable as the Eternals, just with more skin, teeth and back hair problems.

Their next experiments, the much better looking Eternals, were more successful in certain respects:

  • The Eternals are capable of absorbing cosmic energy within their cells and releasing it in various ways. At a rest state, all Eternals can lift ten tons without effort.
  • Their bodies are far stronger, faster, more resilient, and heal faster than a human's even without the use of their cosmic energy. Their senses are sharper and more acute than a Human's and their mental capacity is in far excess of the average Human.
  • In addition to their natural resilience, all Eternals may channel cosmic energy for superhuman feats. Each Eternal may have different levels of capability depending on their personal training and preferences.
  • These feats include super-speed, flight, increasing invulnerability, strength enhancement, energy projection at range, mental powers and matter manipulation.
  • The most sophisticated and well trained with these powers may use all of them with equal facility. Being such as Mentor and Zuras, have few equals among the Eternals.
  • While the range of abilities for each Eternal varies widely, they have proven themselves to be a match for most modern metahumans on the Marvel Earth, with speed and strengths as great as Thor, Iron Man and for brief periods, the Hulk. Their technology far outpaces the most advanced on Earth.
  • The versatility of their powers has even secured one or two of them honorary roles among Earth's mightiest heroes, the Avengers. See Avengers: Sersi and Starfox.

  • Primitive Humans were unable to tell the difference between these godlike Eternals and the actual "gods" of the Marvel Universe, often confusing them because of their physical similarities.
  • An unknown schism would eventually split the Eternals into two groups, one led by Zuras and the Other by Mentor.
  • Mentor's group left Earth but were intercepted by the alien Kree and shot down their ship over the moon of Titan.
  • The survivors using their cosmic powers would create a new paradise there and remained hidden.

Titan, homeworld of the Eternals was just once a barren land mass. It is the biggest moon of Saturn. The Eternals first arrived when they had a conflict with the Kree armada. The Kree shot down the Eternals ship, forcing them to crash into Titan. From there on, the surviving Eternals formed a colony underground, then they employed artificial life systems. From then on, the Eternals made Titan a place of knowledge and meditation.

The Mad Titan, Thanos

Of all of the Titanian Eternals, none save Mentor are the equal of the most powerful of them, often called The Mad Titan, Thanos.

  • Thanos is a mutant among the Eternals, born with Deviant Syndrome increasing his physical abilities and his mental instability.
  • Thanos has always had a lust for power and has expanded his abilities far beyond his brethren. His physical strength is unmatched by the Eternals.
  • He can lift one hundred tons or more. He has stood toe to toe with Thor, Iron Man and the Thing simultaneously and easily held his own. This is without using any form of augmentation or manipulation of cosmic energy.
  • He is also believed to have been further enhanced using alien cybernetic technology giving him even greater physical durability and resistance. He has taken blows from Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and was unfazed.
  • While Thanos rarely uses his energy projection abilities, they are quite formidable. He is able to project energy from his eyes and sheath his hands in an energy field capable of destroying any matter it touches.

Thanos isn't just a jock. Despite his incredible physical capabilities, Thanos' greatest asset is his unmatched intellect.

  • He has scoured the galaxy learning whatever he could from whomever would teach him.
  • He is a master of alien technologies which has allowed him to battle against the Universe's mightiest beings such as the Stranger, the Elders of the Universe and even Galactus.
  • His genius-level intellect has even tapped into mystical powers allowing him to commune with forces such as Eternity and to woo the Conceptual Entity known as Death.
  • Thanos plays the long game. He can manipulate and study multiple enemies simultaneously pitting them against each other usually to his benefit.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe

While the Thanos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have different abilities than his comic counterpart he will surely be as competent and as dangerous. His taste in gauntlets is certainly the same.

But could he lift Mjolnir?

As to whether he could move Mjolnir with the Infinity Gauntlet? That is an unqualified yes.

  • With the gauntlet he has the ability alter reality at the fundamental level. Using the completed Infinity Gauntlet he is able to do nearly anything he can conceive of.
  • When Thanos acquired the Gauntlet in the comic universe, for one of the few times all of the Universe's greatest cosmic powers, not known for getting along, gathered together in agreement. Thanos could not be allowed to maintain ownership of the Gauntlet. These were beings who power eclipsed even the powerful Odin Borson.
  • Odin's enchantment is nothing more than a stain on the hammer that the Infinity Gauntlet would allow Thanos to remove it at will.

At the point he would be able to lift Mjolnir, he would no longer have a need or a desire to do so.

Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

What are some theories on why we haven’t been visited by aliens yet?

My @Quora answer to What are some theories on why we haven’t been visited by aliens yet?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

The Fermi paradox: It’s complicated.

  • Fortunately I have found a video that breaks down the Fermi Paradox into its component concepts in simple, four-color splendor. If you like it support the creators. It took them 200 hours to create it.
  • When you are done with this video, you will understand the basic premise for why we suspect the Universe is quiet. Some of these ideas are positively terrifying to conceive of.
  • The empty dead universe concept is even more terrifying to conceive of. An entire universe with no life in it but us. And we are poised on the edge of nuclear war, climate change, asteroid strike, plague, and run away capitalism. The universe may be more screwed than it knows if its depending on US to fill it with new life.

Associated with the Fermi Paradox is The Drake Equation

“What do we need to know about to discover life in space?”
How can we estimate the number of technological civilizations that might exist among the stars? — Frank Drake, 1961

  • While working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, Dr. Frank Drake conceived an approach to bound the terms involved in estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy.
  • The Drake Equation, as it has become known, was first presented by Drake in 1961 and identifies specific factors thought to play a role in the development of such civilizations.
  • Although there is no unique solution to this equation, it is a generally accepted tool used by the scientific community to examine these factors.

REFERENCES:
Wikipedia: Fermi paradox
SETI Institute: The Drake Equation
Kurzgesagt Information Design

VIDEOS:
Kurz Gesagt – In a Nutshell: The Fermi Paradox video
Drake Equation Video: Published on Aug 9, 2013 – Animation explaining famous Drake Equation with the voice of COSMOS editor Wilson da Silva.

What are some theories on why we haven’t been visited by aliens yet?