Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes

Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes

By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Writer Tue Aug 12, 6:31 AM ET

WASHINGTON – Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.


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The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released Tuesday, said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO’s estimate.

“It’s shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who asked for the GAO study with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

An outside tax expert, Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, said increasing numbers of limited liability corporations and so-called “S” corporations pay taxes under individual tax codes.

“Half of all business income in the United States now ends up going through the individual tax code,” Edwards said.

The GAO study did not investigate why corporations weren’t paying federal income taxes or corporate taxes and it did not identify any corporations by name. It said companies may escape paying such taxes due to operating losses or because of tax credits.

More than 38,000 foreign corporations had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax, the GAO said. Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.

The GAO said it analyzed data from the Internal Revenue Service, examining samples of corporate returns for the years 1998 through 2005. For 2005, for example, it reviewed 110,003 tax returns from among more than 1.2 million corporations doing business in the U.S.

Dorgan and Levin have complained about companies abusing transfer prices — amounts charged on transactions between companies in a group, such as a parent and subsidiary. In some cases, multinational companies can manipulate transfer prices to shift income from higher to lower tax jurisdictions, cutting their tax liabilities. The GAO did not suggest which companies might be doing this.

“It’s time for the big corporations to pay their fair share,” Dorgan said.


London’s Jewish radio station closes after Galloway sues

London’s Jewish radio station closes

after Galloway sues

By Michael Savage

London’s only Jewish community radio station has been forced to cease broadcasting after losing a High Court libel case brought against it by the Respect MP George Galloway.

Jcom, a non-profit station which broadcast online and to a small area in north-west London, was wound up after it was told to pay the MP damages of £15,000.

Mr Galloway sued the station after one of its presenters played a spoof character based on the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and implied he was anti-Semitic. It was also ordered to pay Mr Galloway’s court costs, thought to be £5,000. Mr Galloway said that the judgment had “categorically crushed the slur of anti-Semitism”.

During a broadcast in November, a presenter who called himself “Georgie Galloway”, the station’s “Middle East correspondent”, used the catchphrase, “kill the Jews, kill the Jews”. The station immediately sacked the presenter, Richard Malach, saying he was “young and inexperienced” and had made an error of judgment while attempting to present an edgy programme. It also issued an apology on its website and offered Mr Galloway the opportunity to appear on the station, which had a very small audience. Only 36 people were listening online at the time of the offending show.

The programme was also broadcast over the radio to an area in north-west London with a three-mile radius.

But Mr Galloway said he pursued the case as the station’s apology “fell short of the categorical retraction of the imputation of anti-Semitism that I insisted upon”.

Jeremy Silverstone, the head of Jcom, said he was disappointed that the case had led to the downfall of the capital’s only Jewish radio station.

Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq

Soaring birth deformities and child cancer rates in Iraq

By James Cogan

Iraqi doctors are making renewed efforts to bring to the world’s attention the growth in birth deformities and cancer rates among the country’s children. The medical crisis is being directly blamed on the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions by the US and British forces in southern Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the even greater use of DU during the 2003 invasion.

The rate of birth defects, after increasing ten-fold from 11 per 100,000 births in 1989 to 116 per 100,000 in 2001, is soaring further. Dr Nawar Ali, a medical researcher into birth deformities at Baghdad University, told the UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) last month: “There have been 650 cases [birth deformities] in total since August 2003 reported in government hospitals. That is a 20 percent increase from the previous regime. Private hospitals were not included in the study, so the number could be higher.”

His colleague, Dr Ibrahim al-Jabouri, reported: “In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother and father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country.”

The director of the Central Teaching Hospital in Baghdad, Wathiq Ibrahim, said: “We have asked for help from the government to make a more profound study on such cases as it is affecting thousands of families.”

The rise in birth defects is matched by a continuing increase in the incidence of childhood cancers.

Six years ago, the College of Medicine at Basra University carried out a study into the rate of cancer among children under the age of 15 in southern Iraq from 1976 to 1999. It revealed a horrific change between 1990 and 1999. In the province of Basra, the incidence of cancer of all types rose by 242 percent, while the rate of leukaemia among children rose 100 percent. Children living in the area were falling ill with cancer at the rate of 10.1 per 100,000. In districts where the use of DU had been the most concentrated, the rate rose to 13.2 per 100,000.

The results were cited at the time in campaigns to end the UN-imposed and US-enforced sanctions against Iraq, which were held responsible for the death of as many as 500,000 Iraqi children from malnutrition and inadequate medical treatment.

The study noted: “Most doctors and scientists agree that even mild radiation is dangerous and increases the risk of cancer. The health risk becomes much greater once the [DU] projectile has been fired. After they have been fired, the broken shells release uranium particles. The airborne particles enter the body easily. The uranium then deposits itself in bones, organs and cells. Children are especially vulnerable because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. In pregnant women, absorbed uranium can cross the placenta into the bloodstream of the foetus.

“In addition to its radioactive dangers, uranium is chemically toxic, like lead, and can damage the kidneys and lungs. Perhaps, the fatal epidemic of swollen abdomens among Iraqi children is caused by kidney failure resulting from uranium poisoning. Whatever the effect of the DU shells, it is made worse by malnutrition and poor health conditions….

“Iraq holds the United States and Britain legally and morally responsible for the grave health and environmental impact of the use of DU …” (A version of the report is available at:

Terrible as these results were, the last six years have witnessed a further rise in the number of children under 15 falling ill with cancer in Iraq. The rate has now reached 22.4 per 100,000—more than five times the 1990 rate of 3.98 per 100,000.

Dr Janan Hassan of the Basra Maternity and Childrens Hospital told IRIN in November 2004 that as many as 56 percent of all cancer patients in Iraq were now children under 5, compared with just 13 percent 15 years earlier. “Also,” he said, “it is notable that the number of babies born with defects is rising astonishingly. In 1990, there were seven cases of babies born with multiple congenital anomalies. This has gone up to as high as 224 cases in the past three years.”

The statistics point to the long-term consequences of depleted uranium contamination. Munitions containing an estimated 300 tonnes of DU were unleashed by coalition forces in southern Iraq in 1991. A decade after the war, DU shell holes are still 1,000 times more radioactive than the normal level of background radiation. The surrounding areas are still 100 times more radioactive. Experts surmise that fine uranium dust has been spread by the wind, contaminating swathes of the surrounding region, including Basra, which is some 200 kilometres away from sites where large numbers of DU shells were fired.

A 1997 study into the cancer rate among Iraqi soldiers who fought in the Basra area during the 1991 Gulf War found a statistically significant increase in the rate at which they were stricken with lymphomas, leukaemia, and lung, brain, gastrointestinal, bone and liver cancers, as compared to personnel who had not fought in the south. One in four of the American personnel who fought in first Iraq war—more than 150,000 people—are also suffering a range of medical disorders collectively described as “Gulf War Syndrome”. While the US military denies there is any relationship, exposure to depleted uranium is one of the factors blamed by veterans and medical researchers.

Somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 tonnes of DU was expended during the three-week war in 2003. Unlike 1991, however, where most of the fighting took place outside major population centres, the 2003 invasion witnessed the wholesale bombardment of targets inside densely-populated cities with DU shells. Christian Science Monitor journalist Scott Peterson registered radiation on a simple Geiger counter at levels some 1,900 times the normal background rate in parts of Baghdad in May 2003. The city has a population of six million.

Given that it was two to four years after the 1991 war before cancer and birth defect rates began to rise dramatically, the fear among medical specialists is that Iraq will face an epidemic of cancers by the end of the decade, under conditions where the medical system, devastated by years of sanctions and war, is unable to cope with the existing crisis.

Dr Amar, the deputy head of the Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, one of the main hospitals treating Iraqi cancer patients, told the Sydney Morning Herald on April 29: “We don’t have drugs to treat tumours. I have a patient with tumours who is unconscious and I don’t have drugs or a bed in which to treat him. I have two women with advanced ovarian cancer but I can give them only minimum doses of only some of the drugs they need.

“Two or three days ago we had to cancel all surgery because we had no gauze and no anaesthetics. Our wards are like stables for horses, not humans. We can’t properly isolate patients or manage their diets. We don’t have proper laboratory facilities….

“If you are sick don’t come to this hospital for treatment. It is collapsing around us. We’re going down in a heap.”

See Also:
Iraq: child malnutrition almost doubles after US invasion
[26 November 2004]
Iraqi social crisis continues unabated as US slashes funding
[20 October 2004]

My Government Went to Afghanistan And All I Got Was This Stupid Pipeline

My Government Went to Afghanistan

And All I Got Was This Stupid Pipeline

The Complete Truth About the U.S. Attack on Afghanistan

By Ted Rall

“American soldiers, oilmen, and diplomats are rapidly getting to know this remote corner of the world, the old underbelly of the Soviet Union and a region that’s been almost untouched by Western armies since the time of Alexander the Great. The game the Americans are playing has some of the highest stakes going. What they are attempting is nothing less than the biggest carve-out of a new U.S. sphere of influence since the U.S. became engaged in the Mideast 50 years ago.” (0)

—“The Next Oil Frontier,” Business Week, May 27, 2002.

PART 1: Bush’s Fake War on Terror

The Official Story goes like this:

Within days of the September 11 suicide attacks, U.S. intelligence zeroed in on perpetual-enemy-of-America Osama bin Laden as the diabolical mastermind behind the plot that had killed more than 3,000 innocent civilians in New York and Washington. Top Bush Administration officials told the public that they possessed proof that bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization were the culprits of 9-11 (1); Great Britain and Pakistan asserted that the evidence was strong enough to convict the “evildoer” in a court of law — their courts of law, in any case (2). Although bin Laden and his men had enjoyed the protection of Afghanistan’s hard-line Taliban regime, a government diplomatically recognized by just three other countries (3), the United States politely requested extradition of these mass murderers to face justice in the West. When that demand — er, request — was supposedly refused, an America determined not to allow more of its citizens to die at the hands of terrorists had no choice but to defend itself against an ongoing threat: it took advantage of Afghanistan’s long-standing civil war to drive the Taliban — bin Laden’s protectors — out of power.

Regrettably, the official line continues, bin Laden and his followers sneaked off into the mountains of Tora Bora (where bin Laden was, according to some reports, possibly killed) as American bombs dropped. But though the United States failed to capture its most wanted man, the bombing campaign was a huge success in grander respects. It liberated ordinary Afghans, stabilized Central Asia, and struck a blow against Islamic extremism. Soon after the Northern Alliance swept into power, residents of Kabul and Herat rushed outside to shave their Taliban-mandated beards and burn their burqas. Music and kite-flying, both inexplicably banned under Taliban rule, filled the streets. Afghans freed to indulge their taste in Indian musical films, went the thinking, would lose their taste for flying planes into buildings in American cities.

The U.S., it was posited, had turned the tide of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. (read more)

Can an Ex KGB General Save America From Itself?–(reposted 11/18/2015)

Can an Ex KGB General Save America From Itself?

By: Peter Chamberlin

Here is an interesting take on the positions I have taken as editor of There Are No Sunglasses:

“This is quite a unique site – American-based, but looking at things from a Russian point of view, even to the extent of echoing Russia’s traditional anti-Jewish (”anti-Zionist”) rhetoric of the Cold War years. Socialist (”anti-capitalist”), to boot.

I’m so accustomed to looking at things from the traditional, nationalist point of view of military and economic advantage that I’m nonplussed when I encounter an editor who’s rooting for “the other side”.

Of course, the editor probably doesn’t look at it that way. He believes himself to be working together with all repressed peoples in the U.S. for the goal of a political and social revolution. The revolution would put new faces in charge that would adjust U.S. domestic and foreign policies to be more to the liking of Moscow and Beijing.

Interesting.” Reggie B

It is eye-opening for me as an American patriot to realize that I have strayed so far from my anti-communist roots that I now find myself supporting a Russian president who is confronting the United States. But it is true, that the current American administration is so out of control and of such apparent murderous intent that it must be stopped by whatever means necessary, from succeeding in its mad quest to initiate world war, and the only force that can do that is the Russian military. The hope of the world is that Putin is indeed a skilled chessman, and will be able to outthink Bush and Cheney and avoid a global thermonuclear meltdown.

It makes no sense at all to sane minds to think that our leaders would think that nuclear war is a good idea.  How is the decimated world that will be left in the wake of global thermonuclear war superior to an alternative world which is spared the holocaust?  How could the elimination of millions be preferable to the saving of millions?

It is necessary to understand the alternatives, to consider why the world masters think that nuclear war is the better choice.  If nuclear war is the best solution, then what was the second-best solution?  Is it all happening according to an evil plan, or is nuclear war a last desperate attempt to save the evil plan?  It all comes down to the realization that if nuclear force is not used now, to force the world into the mold that the elitists have so carefully created for us, then all the conniving schemes would have been for nothing – it’s now, or never.

The ugly fact remains that the American President and Vice President are frantically provoking conflicts and confrontations on multiple fronts, trying every conceivable gambit to start world war III. Putin has begun to counter every radical step that Bush tries to take.  American agents posing as “al Qaida” keep attacking Chinese troops and citizens, just as other “al Q” terrorists have been doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.  Meanwhile, Israel is being publicly informed by our Secretary of State that they have our permission to attack Iran, just as the largest international fleet assembled in many years sails to positions off the coast of Iran, in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea.  All of this erupts on cue, while the world is distracted with the Olympics and the near news blackout that comes with it.

From the point of view of most Americans, nothing new is going on in the world. This state of blindness is necessary for the nefarious plans to be slipped past the people. The dictatorship is counting on the democratic majority to not fulfill our Constitutional duty to restrain tyrannical government. They obviously figure that once the opportunity arises, they will be able to escalate hostilities so rapidly, that they will be able to seal the world’s fate before anyone has time to react.  And the neoconservative whores will have been proven correct when they boasted:

“We’re an empire now, when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.”

All of this is happening at once, yet the national media is unmoved, devoting only an occasional minute or two to covering facets of the impending crisis each evening, with the intent of using the opportunity to blame America’s enemies for every conflict.  The American people should know what their government is doing to them and in their name.  The people should know that our government’s plans for our national security are to eliminate any real security that we now have and replace it with the “security” of a police state.  They plan to preserve themselves by destroying much of the world.  The people should know this.

Our “free press” is actually a bubble that insulates the people from the evil our government is sowing.  The “watchdog of government” faces the wrong direction, as it guards the government against the people, forgetting that its true master is the people themselves.  The press has transformed itself into a wall of division as it hides the government’s evil deeds, instead of making them transparent, so that all could plainly see.  We have to kill the watchdog, in order that the people might be allowed to see.

Preserving freedom requires that our “freedom of the press” be restored.  Burst the press bubble, provide more real outlets for the truth to break free from those who have so much to keep hidden. The ugliest truth is that in all these potential conflicts it is the US and its proxy forces who are the aggressors.  In all cases, it is the aggressor nation that must be stopped, if the war it has started is to be ended. Yet, in every case, the Western media dutifully reports that it is our allies who are under attack. Our free press hides our government’s aggressions from the people. This cannot be allowed to continue, especially if all the separate aggressions are leading to the same outcome, nuclear world war.

The empire that has been built on lies cannot withstand the light of day. The criminal enterprise that calls itself our “democratic government” knows that the people will consume them in their wrath when the day of revealing finally comes. They fully intend to take much of the earth back to the stone age in order to prevent that day from arriving.  We have to be just as determined to stop them.

If this is the price for preserving the American global empire, then we cannot allow it to be paid.

Leaders who have decided for us that maintaining the wasteful American lifestyle is more important than wasting millions of lives in a massive exercise in futility, cannot be allowed to remain in power.  It is far more important to save America than it is to save the corrupt empire.  America must be forced to pull back from empire. The resources that are being robbed from the people to maintain the empire must be invested in America-strengthening projects, as a first measure to preserving the Republic. (The second necessary step will be investing in re-building the acreage we have bombed into oblivion.)

America has bankrupted its future, turning itself into just another debtor nation that can no longer repay its debts. By all rights, it should be subjected to the same stringent IMF conditions as any Third World nation. The money that has been “loaned” throughout the world to nations with no resources to cover those debts, shackled under unreasonable repayment conditions is money that will never be repaid. The world economy has to swallow all this bad debt and restructure itself. The new economic system has to find ways to guarantee an end to resource piracy, as practiced by the United States and any nation with a formidable military force.

The world’s energy resources must be available to all, according to actual needs for development, just as the earth’s other limited vital resources (food, water, medicine, etc.) must be made accessible to all.  The needs of the human race must take precedence over the desires of the chief rodents leading the “rat race.”

To this end, all activist groups working to change the course of history must unite. We have a common purpose that has room for a diversity of opinions and directions. Preventing the one unprecedented calamity that would destroy everything we cherish the most is the most important thing any of us can do. The long history of American terrorism must be brought to an end.

It really is way past time for the counter-revolution to begin.The urgency of our predicament demands that we all get off our asses and down from our high horses and proceed to get it on, while we still can.


Russians out of South Ossetia? Americans out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

Russians out of South Ossetia?

Americans out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

Christopher King

The USA’s efforts to stop a European/Russian superstate

August 10, 2008

Christopher King argues that the “US and NATO are behind the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia” but have misjudged Russian resolve. He says it is time for Europe to distance itself from NATO, which has become a US tool, and to choose whether it wants Russia as a friend or an enemy.

The European Union needs to re-evaluate its relationship to both the United States and NATO.

I’ve said recently (see “The USA, Russia and the spinoff from Iraq and Iran” and “Iran’s ‘provocative missile test’”) that US plans to instal a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to cause trouble between Europe and Russia as well as distracting Europe from US Middle Eastern outrages. These missiles, under US control, are supposed to protect Europe and if you believe that, you probably believe in the tooth fairy. US negotiations for these missiles don’t appear to be going very well since the Poles and Czechs don’t much like the idea of being targeted in response by Russian missiles and the Russians have been musing about installing their missiles in Cuba for a re-run of the Cuban missile crisis and near nuclear war of the 1960s. That would not be popular with US voters. What do do? Are there any trouble spots that can be stoked up to show Russia as an aggressor? What about Georgia and the South Ossetia separatists on Russia’s southern border?

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So we’ve arrived at having a US/NATO-sponsored provocation with Georgia invading its breakaway semi-independent province. South Ossetia’s declaration of independence was supported by almost all its residents. The South Ossetian argument is that if the West and NATO supported Kosovo’s independence from Serbia, they should support its independence from Georgia. That sounds reasonable. No? Of course, no! The difference is that South Ossetia wants ties with Russia and the US has been pressing for Georgia to join NATO.

Condoleeza Rice predictably, was quick to call on the Russians to withdraw from South Ossetia. President Bush says sanctimoniously that Georgia is a sovereign nation and that its territorial integrity should be respected. That is pretty rich (hypocritical) as we say in the UK. Before Condoleeza or anyone else in the US takes that position they could prevail on President Bush to leave Iraq and Afghanistan where they are looting oil, killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, driving millions of refugees from their homes and creating general disaster half a world away from their own country.

While she is about it, Condoleeza could also call on the Israelis to leave Palestinian and Syrian territory outside their 1967 borders and allow the ethnically cleansed Palestinians and their descendants to return and re-claim their property that was stolen by the Israelis.

To return to South Ossetia and Georgia, we should note that NATO rejected South Ossetia’s referendum in favour of independence. “What’s this? What does a national referendum, particularly in a non-NATO country, have to do with NATO?” you might wonder; “Isn’t NATO our warrior arm, dedicated to defend us against armed aggression?” Not any more. It’s now a political organization as well. The EU countries should seriously consider whether it is a good idea to allow its military arm to make political decisions, particularly when it is driven by US rather than European interests.

NATO has also taken on a role in formulating conspiracy theories against Russia, for example Russia’s “Gas OPEC plans“, reported by the Financial Times. There seems to be no evidence for this whatever and even if it were true, (a) What does it have to do with NATO and (b) Would it matter more than our existing oil OPEC? Russia still wants to sell its gas and can do so on any terms it wishes whether NATO or the EU like them or not.

The new non-Communist free-market Russia, that the US and Europe wanted and got, is a disaster for NATO because it no longer has an enemy. The only way to save careers and maintain funding is for NATO officers to create enemies and new threats. Its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer popular so a prod at Russia through South Ossetia has doubtless been designed to produce a response that can be spun as Russian aggression.

The new Russia is also a disaster for the US. Russia is creating strong economic ties with Europe. There is serious talk of a free trade agreement between the EU and Russia and the possibility of Russia becoming an EU member is being talked about. Russia is, after all, historically a part of Europe. You can imagine how the idea of such an economic superpower is perceived in the US with its declining oil reserves and economy.

As matters stand, rather than having the purely defensive joint military force with the US that was its original purpose, Europe finds itself supporting, through NATO, the US’s aggressive foreign policies in the Middle East. Worse still, NATO is formenting trouble between Europe and Russia, which should be thought of as a valuable friend and future EU partner, rather than an enemy.

To be blunt, NATO has become a tool for the extension of US influence and foreign policy. This is argued cogently by F. William Engdahl whose article I have resisted plagiarising. One might consider why Finland rejects NATO membership. The main reason given by opponents of membership in a poll 18 months ago is that Finland could be drawn into conflicts that have no direct bearing on their country. This seems to be a polite refusal to fight wars for the US and Israel. Indeed, Israel has recently joined a NATO exercise and Italy’s defence minister has proposed that Israel should join NATO. Certainly it might, when it withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, abandons its settlements on stolen Palestinian land and gives right of return to the Palestinians. Alternatively, a single state with right of return and equal rights might do.

The evidence is clear. NATO has become not only counter-productive to European interests but an immediate danger to the EU as an arm of the US military-industrial complex. The South Ossetia conflict is an unmistakable warning. The US and NATO provocateurs have shown their hand and have gone too far. Russia has acted with commendable restraint in relation to the US’s outrageous attempts to bribe new EU countries to accept its missiles on Russia’s borders. There can be no doubt that the US and NATO are behind the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia but have misjudged Russian restraint for unwillingness to act. What they now have is called, I believe, “blowback”. The EU needs to reassess NATO from fundamental principles of its defensive needs. The current senior command of NATO has clearly been politicized by the US. This is unacceptable as also is NATO’s current role as tool of the US.

The EU should make some decisions about its links and future with Russia, its economically important and militarily powerful neighbour. The choice is simple: to have Russia as a friend in the short term and EU member eventually or make it an enemy. It is clear that the USA’s military-industrial complex needs Russia as an enemy, not only to stay in business but to prevent a European Union/Russian superstate developing. Europe needs to pursue its own peaceful interests, ideally keeping a good relationship with the US while working with Russia toward closer economic integration. If the US does not like that, it is too bad. The US has used up its global credibility and goodwill.

Russia has had a bad press in the West for the last 60 years, not always undeserved. We should recall, however, that the man who set Russia and the Soviet Union on its post-war course, created Churchill’s “iron curtain”, the nuclear arms race and the repressive character of the Soviet post-war state, was not Russian at all. Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, otherwise known as Stalin, was Georgian, born in Gori, just south of South Ossetia.

Americans wait for the big smackdown

Americans wait for the big smackdown

art: Alessandro Bavari

Mr. Bageant,

Thanks, asshole, for writing a book that makes me feel so fucking miserable I could cry. For all the redneck jokes I’ve heard and the feel-good superiority they engender for having been born into a northern Virginia culture, yet rising above it, I now feel like a traitor to my class. I feel a compulsion to do something more than merely espouse liberal values. I feel a need to do something about them, and I thank you for awakening me to this need.

Your book, Deer Hunting with Jesus, is the most profoundly moving social tract I have ever read. To me, it ranks with Thomas Paine’s Common Sense as a call for social justice.

Georgetown, Texas



Well, I’m not sure one is a class traitor just because he or she utilized their potential on the only terms offered. I think it’s more a matter of a society maintaining a sense of ongoing interactive compassion for its members, which of course starts on a one-to-one basis.

In my humble opinion, it’s like this:

We are told that freedom is entirely individual. Which means we owe nothing to any other man and they owe us nothing. That leaves us all to depend upon the government for any broad measures of human care and development. That also leaves us isolated from one another for lack of normal human connectivity through mutual responsibility and care of one another, which is the real conduit for human growth.

Having a government that is essentially a global corporation, the emphasis is naturally upon productivity and profit and maintaining a disposable work force at the least expense. Societal support systems are expensive — schools, health, etc. So we slash ’em or dump them altogether.

Meanwhile, our isolation from one another as the body whole is rewarded in accordance to our usefulness to the state. A professor is more useful than a backhoe operator because a professor can disseminate the state’s free market message or its officially approved history, or any number of things to future generations. The professor — and life for educators these days is not easy — is rewarded with goods and commodities and a more pleasant social atmosphere, and at least some degree of economic security.

The professor is not a bad guy. He is just living in the world as it presents itself to him during his life. But the established career paths, lifestyles, and cumulative subjective experience leads to further isolation from the whole of society, undermining the collective perceptions of society itself. And after a while the interpretation of freedom as individual and non-responsible for the outcome of our fellow man eats away the very cohesiveness, the very weft and warp of any approximately free society. The so-called individuals become mere moving parts in the great faceless state machinery.

As Mario Savio said back in the Sixties, the time comes when we must throw ourselves onto the machine and stop its very works. To me, that time has passed. An opportunity was missed because the keen edge of liberty has been dulled in Americans through satiation of the senses and overload of plentiful but meaningless material goods. Which leaves us to watch the whole sad miserable machine come to a slow halt, then collapse, due to unsustainability and a host of other factors.

In the end I believe societal awareness and compassion will be achieved (assuming it is ever achieved) the same way our numbness was arrived at. Slowly, very slowly. Personally, I give this country about 40 years. It’s too big to fall apart in an instant and all sorts of makeshift means will be used to prop it up, including increased force and state generation of public fear, and elimination of privacy.

I find it very interesting that so many more advantaged American citizens do understand what is about to happen, but believe they can buy their way out of it by accumulating wealth. As if genuine danger did not threaten everyone equally. Naturally our nation as corporation is making a profit on their fears even as the state cranks up the fiat money machine and their sequestered dollars become increasingly worthless.

Ya know, as much as Americans want to see everything in black and white, there ain’t no bad guys causing all this to happen from behind some curtain. There is only us. All 300 million of us. Even as mere moving parts we are mutually dependant upon one another for survival. In fact, especially as mere moving parts. In some relative unison AFTER the big smackdown of American numbness and hubris, we just may have enough sense to choose to be parts in a different machine altogether, a more compassionate and fair one.