Category Archives: United States

Blazing POTUS: Barrack Obama’s First Term with thanks to Mel Brooks

I was watching Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and It was amazing how many of the jokes worked in an Obama, Tea Party, GOP context. I hope that you are amused.

Meanwhile at GOP Headquarters

The President gathered Support from other minorities

The President’s opponents started to get somewhat desperate

Serious blogs about banking fraud and Ayn Rand’s Objectivism coming soon.


The Comedian, The Prime Minister and Mitt Romney

Jimmy Carr for those that don’t know is very successful and talented British comedian, he appears regularly on British TV and radio, his tours fill very large theatre venues  and he sells hundreds of thousands of DVDs in the United Kingdom.

Mr Carr has found his tax affairs the subject of much media speculation, it appears that he has been using a perfectly legal but somewhat morally questionable tax avoidance scheme which involves his earnings being transferred to Jersey, one of the Channel Islands and outside of United Kingdom tax legislation  and then returned to him in the form of a loan, because Mr Carr’s income comes in the form of a loan it is not subject to UK income taxation and he therefore avoids paying tax.

I’m not going to defend Mr Carr, I find these kind of arrangements absolutely morally wrong,  however Mr Carr is entitled to do what he can to reduce his tax liability within the law, moreover this scheme was probably devised for him by an accountant and Mr Carr may not have had any knowledge of the how scheme works or even how much tax he was saving.  He is after all a comedian and not tax accountant or business manager, Mr Carr is incredibly successful and one would presume that he has someone who deals with these things for him.

My real problem with this is the reaction of British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an interview with the UK’s Channel 4 News David Cameron described these schemes as “Morally Wrong” and yet has done absolutely nothing to close the loopholes in UK taxation legislation which allow these tax avoidance schemes to operate. David Cameron is in control of British parliamentary process if he feels so strongly about this then surely he can move to make these schemes illegal.  David Cameron singled out in Mr Carr a single UK taxpayer and yet didn’t  mention his many supporters in business and finance that use schemes similar to this in order to avoid tax. His moral outrage is absolutely disingenuous, he knew very well that these schemes existed and that many of his donors use them and has chosen to do nothing at all about this except criticise a comedian that doesn’t support his government.

What does this have to do with Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney is the first US Presidential candidate that has refused to publish his tax records, by his own admission he has paid a lower marginal rate of taxation that the average middle class American. It is absolutely essential that the US electorate know what measures for tax avoidance a presidential candidate has taken, if Mr Romney has taken measures to off-shore his wealth in order to avoid US taxation or used similar schemes to the one used by Jimmy Carr then that is something the electorate need to be aware of.

Mitt Romney has made great play of his financial success in business, claiming this to be a qualification for the office of President Of The United States, so why shouldn’t his tax records be the subject of public scrutiny? And why shouldn’t he answer questions about his business career at Bain Capital?  Mitt Romney has something of a track record on avoiding difficult questions, during the Republican primaries he made great statements of his Mormon faith and now he is the candidate for the party he is refusing to answer any questions about his faith. If Mitt Romney wants to be taken seriously as a candidate then he must be open to scrutiny especially when it comes to the things he declares as his qualifications for the office.

Dali’s Magic Cheque Book: America’s Economic Dilemma

Dali’s Magic Cheque Book

Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali had a magic cheque book, no matter how much he spent, his cheques were hardly ever cashed, he had made a realisation that was to make him the most generous host and dinner companion in the whole of Spain. He would regularly wine and dine his friends and retinue in the finest restaurants, eat the very best food, drink the very best wines and cognacs and seldom it would cost him a single penny. After a lavish evening, Dali would call over maître d’, thank him for the excellent service and ask him for the bill, when the bill was presented, Dali would take out his oversized cheque book, write out the cheque for the cost of the meal plus a generous gratuity and sign the cheque, but before handing the cheque over Dali would turn it over and on the back make a pen and ink sketch, unsurprisingly Dali’s cheques were seldom cashed, however much the extravagant dining had cost the value of a Salvador Dali sketch was so much greater. For the sake of a couple of minutes of doodling Dali and his friends were able to dine for free and the restaurateurs were delighted they had just be handed something of great value by one of the most famous artist alive. Sometimes, some things are worth a great deal more than their face value.

The Power Of The United States Dollar

In the years that followed the end of the Second World War, the United States became the world’s dominant economy, replacing the United Kingdom and its diminishing empire. Along with this economic dominance came the gradual adoption of the US Dollar as the world’s prime reserve currency, this meant that the US Dollar became the principle currency for international transactions and therefore nation states, international banks and companies operating globally needed to keep large reserves of US Dollars. In 1971 OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) adopted the US Dollar for all crude oil transactions, this for the first time in history this made a currency, the US Dollar, the de-facto official world reserve currency.

With the adoption of the US Dollar, the United States, it’s banks and corporations were placed in a unique position, because of the need for nation states, banks and companies to hold reserves of US Dollars it effectively gave them a real world advantage. The United States Federal Reserve was able to keep the value of the US Dollar relatively stable on international exchanges whilst keeping domestic US interests rates and US domestic inflation relatively low. Because of its importance as the world’s primary reserve currency the US was effectively able to manage the world economy to its own advantage, the effective costs of borrowing in the United States was modest compared to the rest of the world, this allowed the creation of an affluent consumer led economy with cheap and easily available credit for US consumers and US business. It also allowed the United States government to spend and increase the national debt whilst paying very modest yields on government bonds and gilts. This unique position allowed the United States to become the world’s first hyper power and sustain not only the world’s largest military but also be the major player in a world economy that was becoming more and more integrated.

The Burden Of Debt

In absolute fairness to all United States presidential administrations both Republican and Democrat, the United States federal deficit and the United States national debt were relatively modest until the election of George W. Bush in 2000. Even under Ronald Reagan who publicly stated he wished that he had done more to contain federal spending, the United States debt and deficit was similar to that of other industrialised nations and was in no way problematic. It was only with election of George W. Bush that spending and debt started to become a problem, Bush inherited a budget surplus in his inaugural year of 2001, he immediately proceeded to cut taxes, a modest tax cut for middle class Americans and huge tax cuts for the rich and corporations. After the attacks of September 11th 2001, his administration embarked upon two wars firstly in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003. Rather than fund these wars from current fiscal year spending which would have increased the deficit, the cost of these wars was added directly to the national debt. With the banking crisis of 2008 and the real fear of a complete collapse of the world financial and banking system the US government massively increased the national debt again to bail out and reinforce the banking and financial system.

After winning the 2008 presidential election Barack Obama was faced with a mounting deficit, a spiralling national debt and an economy in recession he took the decision quite rightly to slow the rate of spending increases whilst still managing to stimulate the economy, however he has been unable to raise taxation on corporations and the rich because of the political rhetoric of the Republican controlled House and the use of the filibuster in the Senate. This has lead to a slight increase in the US federal deficit under the Obama administration, but the claims made by his political opponents are without substance. The US national debt now stands at 103% of Gross Domestic Product and without raises in taxation on those that can afford to pay the United States even with its status holding the world’s principle reserve currency will face steep rises in interest rates if the situation is not addressed. It is only via taxation that this problem can be solved, cutting federal spending would almost certainly force the United States into yet another recession.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”

From 1987 onwards Alan Greenspan in his role as Chairman of the US Federal Reserve deregulated the US financial markets, effectively ending the oversight of US financial institutions by regulators. Greenspan a devotee of Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy believed that financial markets would become self regulating and this absence of regulation would lead to stable and continuing growth, however Greenspan appears to have underestimated the sheer criminal greed of those involved in the banking and finance industry. It isn’t just outright crooks like Bernie Madoff that stole peoples money, many major banks, insurance companies and hedge funds produced financial products that they happily sold into the market that were little more than junk and the credit referencing agencies gave them triple A ratings. How could system exist where ratings agencies that rated products were paid to rate those products by the very institutions that were producing them? This was absolute power corrupting absolutely and it very nearly led to the collapse of the entire financial system.

This Coming Election

The rise of The Tea Party in 2009-10 and their influence on the Republican Party have effectively drawn the battle lines for the forthcoming presidential election, the Republican party are now in a position where they are unable to raise taxation and therefore forced to to make massive cuts to US public spending in order to address the deficit and national debt, be in no doubt a Republican administration would cause the biggest recession in world history and even further widened of the gap between rich and poor.

I have checked and rechecked every statement I have made in this article because I want my friends and those who may just casually read to realise exactly what is at stake over the next few months. The US can get back to the days of cheap credit and long term investment, the US Dollar can remain the world’s prime reserve currency if steps are taken to regulate effectively financial markets and realistic taxation is used to address America’s debt crisis.

Please in November vote for the future of your wonderful nation and vote against self interest and greed.

How The Rich Become Super-Rich


So Daddy did well in business and left you a couple of hundred million dollars, but rather than lie on beach earning five percent you really fancy joining the ranks of the billionaire super-rich, well this is how you do it, it’s risk free, totally safe and guaranteed to make you super wealthy. Follow my step by guide and you too can be enjoying the billionaire lifestyle, be hailed as a hero of capitalism and a real master of the universe.

  • Set up an holding company through which to start your enterprise, we shall call ours Rand Capital Investments, you might want to register it in a tax haven such as the Caymen Islands, Jersey, Switzerland or Monaco.
  • Transfer your personal assets to Rand Capital Investments, you will now be able to use those assets to leverage finance for a company purchase, if you have assets of $200 million you will be able to raise up to $2 billion in capital from the banks. Unlike ordinary people in business you wont be struggling to raise finance, you are already rich.
  • Find a company that is asset rich but struggling for either cash flow, turnover or market share and buy it using your $2 billion of leveraged capital.
  • Transfer the debt taken on in the purchase from Rand Capital Investments to the company you’ve purchased, clearing Rand Capital Investments debts. Charge the company a large consultancy fee for arranging the transfer of debt. This will not only make you money but will reduce the companies tax liability. And you still own the company!
  • Sell off the profitable divisions of the company, reducing the company’s debts and improving the balance sheet, for each sale charge the company a large consultancy fee. If you use the revenue from the sell off to reduce company debt this avoids the need to pay tax.
  • Now you are left with just loss making divisions it is time to sell the remainder of the company, the best buyer is obviously the company’s own pension scheme who will want to buy the company to try and save their own jobs.

Congratulations, you’ve turned your $200 million into $2 billion and because you had the foresight to register Rand Capital Investments in a tax haven you don’t have to pay tax.

Sadly this is the way that capitalism works, it is risk free, your strategy doesn’t depend on being able to turn a company around and create new business, it is simply about making your money work for you, it is 100% legal moreover it is openly encouraged by American, Australian, European and British governments.

That’s Capitalism Folks!


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Jon McNaughton: Art, Religion and Conservative Propaganda

McNaughton Fine Art to visit Mr McNaughton’s website

Jon McNaughton is a Utah based painter whose work is of a religious nature, his work ranges from the spiritual landscape, thru Mormon iconography to what I can best describe a pseudo-religious political propaganda.

I must preface this entry by stating quite clearly that it is Mr McNaughton’s right to produce work of any nature he wishes, I do not seek in way to curtail his freedom of expression or his religious freedom, I merely offer  Mr McNaughton’s painting One Nation Under God as an examination of  how a belief system appears to have a led Mr McNaughton in the area of religious political propaganda and distorted the history of the foundation of the United States and the nature of its constitution.

One Nation Under God

I’ve annotated Jon McNaughton’s One Nation Under God for the purpose of demonstration.

One could argue that all religious art is in some respect political propaganda, the Michael Angelo’s Sistine Chapel,  Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Raphael’s Madonna and Child were all commissioned for the purpose of bring the viewer nearer to god by illustration  and thus endorsing the power and the majesty of the church.  From the Renaissance  until the 20th century monarchs, politicians and religious leaders have been aware of the power of art, it feeds its message straight into the visual cortex, it can inspire, fill with awe or tell a narrative tale, helping shape opinions and grant prestige, art is indeed powerful.

My concern with Mr McNaughton’s painting One Nation Under God is that conveys a religious symbolism to the greatest triumph of secularism, the United States was not founded to be a Christian nation although it was primarily populated by Christians at the time of  the War of Independence and its subsequent establishment. The founding fathers of the United States with great deliberation set out to create a secular nation free from the religious bigotry and the sectarianism which had plagued Europe since the reformation. The deliberate absence of an established church and clear division between the secular state and all churches is the simple reality of the constitutional settlement. To create a painting wherein Jesus triumphant stands holding the constitution surrounded by the founding fathers either kneeling in supplication or standing in adoration is to send a message that a Christian god inspired this most earthly of documents. This is a clear attempt by Mr McNaughton propagate the myth of a Christian United States, a United States endorsed by the Christian god, maybe even mandated by the Christian god. This is a message that many conservatives in the United States are all to willing to not only accept but to attempt to legislate for.

To quote from Mr McNaughton’s website:

“These men and women were passionately religious and saw the hand of God all around them. To God they gave Thanks for His Hand in the founding of this great nation. To Him, according to their own testimony, they turned for wisdom and strength when life and liberty hung in the balance. Certainly the debate on separation of church and state will continue. But no one  can dispute  how our Founding Fathers and Patriots felt about God. The record is clear!”

That would be true if it wasn’t for the facts, to claim that any of these men were in any way passionately religious is untrue or that the founding fathers of the United States (1-7)  were Christians is to stretch a point to breaking, they were all Deists with exception of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, Adams was raised Unitarian, but didn’t practise the faith or attended church and made many statements which can only be seen in an anti-religious light, Hamilton, was Anglican but again didn’t attend church or publicly practise his faith. Deism is an Enlightenment idea pretty non-existent today, the deism of the founding fathers was from a time before Darwin and knowledge of the utter vastness of the universe, deism holds that there was a god that was responsible for the universe and for life, a creator, a great architect of the universe, however, this god was in a sense unknowable, he (it) may or may not pay mind to human affairs and may or may not answer prayer or supplications, that was of know matter becasue they knew that god was not concerned with their nation building. These were indeed men of the Enlightenment, devotees of John Locke, Cabaret Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza and Jean Jacques Rousseau, religion was of little or no consequence to them. Perhaps the best way of relating deism to contemporary thinking is to see the deist as a secularist that doesn’t profess any belief or disbelief, they are neither religious or atheist, they believe that freedom of belief is a human right and they take no stance on the truth of any spiritual position.  In a sense deism was something of an abdication of position, they took the view that there simply wasn’t any evidence for the existence of an interventionist god, however without another rational explanation of the universe, atheism seemed also to be something of an act of faith, deism served has an explanation of the universe.  Deism in this sense is not a faith in the way that theism (Christianity, Judaism or Islam) is a faith, deism is more of a logical belief based upon the evidence that existed at the time. These great men really didn’t worship god in the way that a self-proclaimed Christian worships god, they weren’t religious, perhaps the rather contemporary statement on reads on profiles these days may have suited them best, “spiritual, but not religious”.

George Washington on many occasions refused to be drawn on Christianity, he always claimed that it was a personal matter and not open for public discussion, privately he wasn’t so reticent, in his letter to  Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792 he wrote  “Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause” and “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society”. Washington believed with much conviction that a secular society based upon a secular constitution  was the only way to prevent the religious violence and wars that had plagued Europe for the last three centuries. Washington argued against a chaplaincy being created for the fledgling United States military on the grounds that each denomination would require a chaplain and if one soldier or sailor belonged to faith that was remote and it wasn’t possible to provide a chaplian then that  might  constitute a denial of religious freedom, however, privately he agreed with Thomas Jefferson that religion and the presence of chaplains  was a threat to the good order and discipline of the troops, their fear was that soldiers may start fighting amongst themselves rather than fighting an enemy. Washington also always fought on the side of education and science against Christian zealots that wished the government to play no part in such things, addressing congress January 8th 1790 “There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”.

Thomas Jefferson was even less religious and more strident in his views, admiring the atheism of the French Revolution, Jefferson had wanted to see a more pluralist constitution informed by the writings of his friend Thomas Paine and The Social Contract of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Jefferson feared that great wealth and great poverty would lead social breakdown, Jefferson warned that the concentration of wealth would lead to a corrupted government and that the people lose their franchise to elect their political leaders due to the corrupting  influence of those that could afford to buy patronage. Without doubt Thomas Jefferson was not a religious man writing in Notes on the State of Virginia “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  could there be a more complete secularist argument?  Jefferson in principle believed that which was not prohibited by law was a matter between a man and his conscience (or his god) and that whether one man believes something or a million it would make no difference, the state should take no position.

Abraham Lincoln despite growing up in a religious family never joined a church and always claimed that he acted out humanism not from a prescribed Christian morality, Lincoln was probably a deist but that hasn’t stopped both Christians and atheists trying to claim him for their own. I could go on at great length and produce literally hundreds of quotations of the views of  the founding fathers to show they were  indeed secularists and were intent on and indeed succeeded in framing a secular constitution. It is possible to be a Christian and believe in a secular society, many Christians did and still do, they didn’t just want freedom to practise their religion but also desired that freedom others of different faiths. This is the great triumph of the birth of the United States, that mankind for the first time in its history manage to create a just settlement without recourse to a god or gods. With the United States not recognising any faith but respecting and protecting all beliefs we have for the first time a society based upon mankind’s rights and responsibilities, the US constitution and its amendments were framed to prevent endorsement of religion of any kind, so that the United States cannot be a Christian country, this is the only way the framers of the constitution could envisage the maintenance of religious freedom.

The United States is the most religious nation of all the worlds developed nations, it has the highest church attendances, the largest proportion of people who declare a belief in God, contrast that with western Europe where many nations such as my own the United Kingdom have established churches, church attendances are at present, less than 8% of population attend a church for anything other than weddings and funerals and less than 4% regularly attend, over 30% of the population are atheists or agnostic. Most of western Europe is similar in its relationship with religion, even southern European Catholic nations: Spain, Portugal and Italy have small church attendances, Christianity will be albeit gone from Europe within fifty years if the current rate of decline continues. I would argue that it is the nature of a totally secular nation that has kept religion alive in the United States, forced prayer in school probably turns more children away from religion than just about anything, whereas in the United States the absence of prayer from schools means that children get to choose along with their families whether to participate or not. The sheer diversity of faiths in the United States is a testament to a secular constitution, perhaps if one wishes to destroy faith then easiest way to do so is to get the state to endorse that faith. If the Christian Conservatives in the United States ever get their way and actually get the nation declared a “Christian Nation” then  within weeks every denomination will be claiming that they are the only true Christian faith, within months they’ll be arming themselves and probably within a year there will be serious blood shed, secularism is the greatest defense against religious intolerance.  To return to Thomas Jefferson it was the Congregationalists of Danbury Connecticut that Baptists of Danbury Connecticut feared and felt persecuted by not the secularists.

In attempting to paint the Christian figure of Jesus into the foundation of the United States ,  you claim sanction from god for the United States, something which the founding fathers would have been disgusted by. Really Christians should be more outraged by this than anyone to claim god for earthly minion is surely blasphemous?