Sep 16, 2010


1. Only one loincloth

A certain master decided to visit one of his students, and check on his progress in the teachings, which restricted property to one loincloth. Arrived at his student’s home, the master was surprised to find naked children and listless adults, browsing cattle, and squawking chickens. “What happened to you?” he asked. “Well, my loincloth got quite scummy and stinky after a bit, and really needed a good wash,” explained the student, “and I had nothing to wear while I washed and dried it, and so I got a second loincloth that I could wear while the first one was drying. One day, however, I noticed a mouse nibbling at my loincloth where it was drying on a rock, and so I realized I’d have to get a cat to keep the mice away. The cat wouldn’t stay if I didn’t feed it something, though, and so I got a cow to provide milk for the cat. Then I realized I really needed someone to help look after the cow and so I got married, and here I am.”

“I told you, only one loincloth,” said the master.

2. Han Shan – Cold mountain

I've got no use for the kulak
With his big barn and pasture --
He just sets up a prison for himself.
Once in he can't get out.
Think it over --
You know it might happen to you.

Han Shan – Cold mountain

3. Women and property, and woman as property

Passing over the “ownership” of the woman’s body in those countries where marital rape is still a new concept, it is nevertheless quite clear that ownership of your own body is by no means an accepted legal principle in western countries. (The exception is the dead, as in the case of the many unclaimed corpses filling the mortuaries of certain US states to overflowing because the family members can not afford the $2,000 necessary for a cremation.)

Women’s bodies are a rich source of resources, quite apart from those that immediately spring to mind, but women are rarely allowed to claim possession of their own bodies.

That you own your own body is certainly denied by most western governments if you happen to be a woman. Not only in the case of abortion, but the much commoner one of childbirth, any western hospital will deny the mother the possession of her afterbirth. Many immigrant mothers continue the practice of burying the afterbirth in the place of their birth (the garden of the dwelling house, not the hospital.)

The umbilical chord is particularly rich in stem cells, and is also regarded as the property of the hospital, not able to be claimed by the mother though indisputably part of her own body. In the UK a totally new liver was grown from the stem cells in an umbilical chord and subsequently used in a liver transplant.

Should she ever land in a hospital to give birth, she never gets the opportunity to profit from the very valuable parts of her own body, such as the umbilical chord. These are one of the “biological items belonging to the hospital” and flogged off to the South Koreans for their cloning experiments, one assumes.

The hospital itself may be one of a whole group bought by a Private Equity Group, quite possibly one about to go into bankruptcy in a few months. Private Equity Groups recently pulled the quite amazingly brilliant piece of financial jiggery pokery of having the company to be bought being forced to assume all the loans necessary for buying it.

It’s not likely that the Louisiana Purchase will be sold back to the French who couldn’t afford it anyway, nor Alaska back to the Russians, who could, but no one trusts currency any longer, nor even gold bars that might be gilded tungsten. Leaving the country entirely as some are doing or births at home seem the best alternatives.

4. Happiness in the US constitution

The original draft of the US constitution hammered out in that hall in Philadelphia specified “life, liberty, and property” as the inalienable rights of the people. The people doing the writing of the constitution, large landowners, all of them, with many slaves and servants, obviously did not feel comfortable with allowing property rights to any Tom, Dick, or Harry. George Mason, one of the “founding fathers,” is on record as approving the creation of the College of Electors, rather than allowing direct elections of presidents and such, on the grounds that it provided a safeguard against “populist demands for equal property rights and other wicked schemes,” which sort of let the cat out of the bag. In much the same way guaranteeing “life, liberty, and property” as universal rights struck the large landowners as dangerous stuff, and so it was changed to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” You may not have the right to own property, but you’re allowed to try and be happy. How can they bear to be so good to us?

Benjamin Franklin, he of the kite flying and electrical experiments, a printer by trade, and later US ambassador to France, declined to take any part in the proceedings in the hall in Philadelphia. He appeared outside at the conclusion and told the crowd “They have created a republic, if you can keep it.”

A republic indeed it is called, sometimes even a democracy, but to the untutored eye it looks remarkably like a plutocracy, or government by the rich, carefully preserved and later extended.

5. Property and international law

What is gaining ground is the medieval European notion of property as the extension of the person, so that surreptitiously snaffling a deer for dinner in the royal park was the equivalent of an attack on the royal person and appropriately punished. The US legal system decided to ignore the judicial ruling in 1842 that a corporation was in no sense ever to be held the equivalent of a person (you know, two arms, two legs, torso and head.)

Ignoring this key judicial ruling has allowed many different “rights” to be assigned to these pseudo persons, the corporations. The culmination may be the vast powers that were to be assumed by Lord Mandelson and his successors in the UK. They were to be able to decide without any oversight by parliament or any one else, when the property rights of corporations have been infringed, and what the appropriate fine or punishment should be in each particular case.

One question has been dodged: What happens when the “Eminent domain” deal Hillary Clinton made with the Chinese on her first trip hits the fan? (See FEDS GRANT EMINENT DOMAIN AS COLLATERAL TO CHINA FOR U.S. DEBTS

BEIJING, China -- Sources at the United States Embassy in Beijing China have just CONFIRMED that the United States of America has tendered to China a written agreement which grants to the People's Republic of China, an option to exercise Eminent Domain within the USA, as collateral for China's continued purchase of US Treasury Notes and existing US Currency reserves. The written agreement was brought to Beijing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and was formalized and agreed-to during her recent trip to China. This means that in the event the US Government defaults on its financial obligations to China, the Communist Government of China would be permitted to physically take -- inside the USA -- land, buildings, factories, perhaps even entire cities - to satisfy the financial obligations of the US government. Sunday, March 1, 2009.)

Hawaii, which is beginning to demand unraveling the deal that dragged them into the empire, might be swallowed (the Chinese are much better in their five thousand year history at dealing with grumpy groups) but California not so much. Admittedly it’s the basket case of all basket cases of US states, but the sentimental attachment to it is very strong. The encampments of homeless and jobless are proving an increasing hazard to the area, and its debts beginning to rival those of the US itself. Still, could handing it over really be accomplished without the states beginning to rebel against the federal government putting them in hock to pay for their loony foreign wars?

Just wondering.

6. Very little freedom in western societies

Classical concerts

The Gamelan orchestra in Bali starts playing from the advertised beginning of the concert, mostly classical traditional pieces, with some limited improvisations allowed. They call it “the music of time.” People drift in and out, sit down and listen, and then leave again. When the last person has left and the place is empty except for the orchestra, the musicians pack up and go home.

Perhaps the Africans were right, after all: “No one owns the earth. She is too old. She owns us. From her we come, and to her we return.”


Wahyusamputra said...

"According to Ginger Thompson and Thom Shanker of the New York Times, the U.S. military has 963 generals and admirals, approximately 100 more than on September 11, 2001.

(The average salary for a general, by the way, is $180,000, which means that the cost of these “stars,” not including pensions, health-care plans, and perks, is approximately $170 million a year.)"

None of the 963 has so far thought fit to warn that forty (40) other countries are currently developing drone technology, that some of them, by leakage, theft, or gift, are bound to be successful, and that the hellfire missiles are going to be flying in both directions. A group in southern Sudan, indeed (John Garang's group?) brought one down and identified its source, which was not the US.

Wahyusamputra said...

Not quite the same as owned property, associated effects should be considered. In the following "No wolves, no water" the wolves do not not OWN the water. Nevertheless, when the wolves were returned to Yellowstone, so also was the water:

"The chain of effects went roughly like this: no wolves meant that many more elk crowded onto inviting river and stream banks where the grass is green and the livin’ easy. A growing population of fat elk, in no danger of being turned into prey, gnawed down willow and aspen seedlings before they could mature. Willows are both food and building material for beavers. As the willows declined, so did beaver populations. When beavers build dams and ponds, they create wetland habitats for countless bugs, amphibians, fish, birds, and plants, as well as slowing the flow of water and distributing it over broad areas. The consequences of their decline rippled across the land.

Meanwhile, as the land dried up, Yellowstone’s overgrazed riverbanks eroded. Life-giving river water receded, leaving those banks barren. Spawning beds for fish were silted over. Amphibians lost precious shade where they could have sheltered and hidden. Yellowstone’s web of life was fraying and becoming threadbare."

Wahyusamputra said...

The quotation in the previous comment is from Chip Ward. Chip Ward "lives in Capitol Reef, Utah, where songbirds are eaten by housecats, housecats are eaten by coyotes, and coyotes are eaten by mountain lions."