Charleston Man Receives $525 Federal Fine for Failing to Pay for a $0.89 Refill

Some of you may wonder why of all the stories out there today I decided to focus on the $525 fine a construction worker in South Carolina received a for refilling his drink without paying. The reason is to highlight the difference between what happens when a peasant breaks the law versus when a banker does it.

In this case, citizen Christopher Lewis refilled his drink without paying at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston. For this horrific offense (a refill costs $0.89), he was hauled into a room by the Federal Police Force and given a ticket for $525. Even worse, he was told not to ever come back to the premises, so he ended up losing his job as well.

So for this undoubtably minor offense, Mr. Lewis received a fine almost 600x greater than the cost of the crime and lost his ability to support himself. Compare that to the slap on the wrist banks receive when they are caught engaging in criminal behavior that leads to the theft of billions of dollars. At the worst, they pay a fine that is only a fraction of the profits and no one goes to jail, so the law actually incentivizes major financial crime. Meanwhile, if a peasant steps out of line, even for the most minor offense, the full brute force of federal law comes down like a ton of bricks. This is one of the main reasons why the social fabric of society is being torn apart, and unfortunately, there will be a hefty price to pay for it in the future.

This is a theme I have written about time and time again, most recently in a two part series, which I suggest reading:

Some Money Launderers are “More Equal” than Others

Some Money Launderers are More Equal than Others Part 2 – CEO of BitInstant is Arrested

From WCSC News we learn that:

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A North Charleston man was hit with a federal fine for refilling his drink without paying. The on-site construction worker says he didn’t know refills at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston came at a price, and Wednesday, during his lunch hour, he was slapped with federal charges.

The ticket was issued by the Federal Police Force at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston after Christopher Lewis refilled his soda without paying the $0.89. A hospital spokesperson called it a “theft of government property.”

“Every time I look at the ticket, it’s unbelievable to me,” says Lewis, who works construction. “I can’t fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525.”

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Neo-Con Republicans Make Pilgrimage to Vegas to Kiss the Ring of Oligarch Sheldon Adelson

Oligarchs are ruining America. They are ruining the economy through their rampant theft and corporate welfare handouts. They are ruining our social structure with their billions used to buy and sell politicians as well as entire Presidential elections. They represent an existential threat to the Republic and the cancer needs to be addressed at once.

Oligarchs now control both phony political parties. On the Democratic side, we have Warren “tax loophole” Buffett and George Soros. On the Republican side, we must become increasingly aware of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who boasts an estimated net worth of around $37 billion.

For those still daydreaming that the GOP may nominate a more libertarian-leaning candidate in 2016, rather than the typical big government, warmongering neo-con, the biggest obstacle in your way is Sheldon Adelson and his billions. This threat was on clear display this past weekend in Vegas when Chris Christie, Paul Walker and Jeb Bush all made the pilgrimage to “kiss his ring.”

The serious threat to our political system posed by Adelson was covered by both “left-leaning” and “right-leaning” commentators (although I hate those terms). First, Juan Cole writes at Bill Moyers that:

A series of pro-corporation Supreme Court decisions and the latter’s disingenuous equation of money with speech, including Citizens United, have turned the United States from a democracy to a plutocracy. It is not even a transparent plutocracy, since black money (of unknown provenance) has been allowed by SCOTUS to flood into elections. These developments are not only deadly to democracy, they threaten our security. It is increasingly difficult to exclude foreign money from US political donations. We not only come to be ruled by the billionaires, but even by foreign billionaires with foreign rather than American interests at heart.

The perniciousness of this growing plutocracy was on full display on Saturday, as GOP governors Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich trekked off to Las Vegas in an attempt to attract hundreds of millions in campaign donations from sleazy casino lord Sheldon Adelson. Since Adelson is allegedly worth $37 billion, he could fund the Republican side of a presidential election (which costs $1 billion) all by himself. In the last presidential election he is said to have donated $100 million.

One important thing he thing he failed to mention was that Jeb Bush was also there, featuring prominently at a private dinner with Adelson and others.

The case of Adelson exhibits all these issues of corruption and eccentricity. Much of his current fortune is recent and derives from the Macao casino, and Adelson has admitted to “likely” breaking Federal rules against using bribes to do business in other countries. (A reference to allegations that his company was involved in rewarding legislators of the Chinese Communist Party for supporting his Macao project.) There was a time when this admission alone would put the donor off limits for mainstream politicians.

 Adelson has a right to vote and advocate for his candidates. But the idea that he and his like should choose the next president is too awful to contemplate. One person, one vote isn’t one person, $100 million worth of votes. That isn’t democracy…

CBS has also chimed in with some interesting commentary:

Both Christie and Bush are cut from the same mainstream Republican cloth: well liked by the donor class and viewed suspiciously by conservative activists. If they both compete in 2016 — and to be clear, neither has decided on a bid — they’ll be fighting for the roughly same slice of the Republican pie, and perhaps more importantly, many of the same donors.

But as Christie stumbled, Bush soared. The former governor was feted at a private dinner on Thursday to kick off the weekend. The dinner was held at Adelson’s private airplane hangar.

Bush delivered brief remarks at the dinner, and after one attendee urged him to run for president, the crowd of donors burst into applause, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

The Co-Op Movement – A Decentralized Solution to Solving Inequality and Avoiding Serfdom?

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958) 

As readers of this website are well aware, the entrenched power structure has proven itself unwilling to address any of the extreme fraud, crony capitalism and corruption that plagues the U.S. economy. As such, it has become increasingly clear to myself and countless others that the solutions we need must be grassroots and decentralized. I have personally made it a point to encourage people to take matters into their own hands, using whatever tools they have available to make the communities in which they live better for their families and their neighbors.

Of course, in a world in which power is ever increasingly concentrated in the hands of a very unenlightened egomaniacal handful of oligarchs, this seems like a daunting and near impossible task to many. Because so many Americans are simply consumed with making ends meet and putting food on the table, the concept of changing the world appears entirely unrealistic if not downright impossible.

The message I want to convey is that this is not the case. Whether it be decentralized competing currency systems, states rights initiatives such as legalizing marijuana (some pot convictions can now be overturned in Colorado), neighborhood farms, independent energy systems, the path toward localized solutions is the one I firmly believe we must follow.

To that end, I want to highlight this encouraging article from the New York Times titled, Who Needs a Boss?, which explores possibilities worker co-ops provide for workers everywhere. Not only is the pay far better, not only is work engagement considerably more robust, but it restores a sense of community and power to those involved. I think this is a model we should greatly expand upon, rather than looking for centralized solutions, which are merely band-aids placed upon a cancer.

Here are some excerpts from the New York Times:

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction. Of the $3.50 you hand over for a latte (plus $2.75 for the signature sourdough croissant), not one penny ends up in the hands of a faraway investor. Nothing goes to anyone who might be tempted to sell out to a larger bakery chain or shutter the business if its quarterly sales lag.

Instead, your money will go more or less directly to its 20-odd bakers, who each make $24 an hour — more than double the national median wage for bakers. On top of that, they get health insurance, paid vacation and a share of the profits. “It’s not luxury, but I can sort of afford living in San Francisco,” says Edhi Rotandi, a baker at Arizmendi. He works four days a week and spends the other days with his 2-year-old son.

Arizmendi and its five sister bakeries in the Bay Area are worker-owned cooperatives, an age-old business model that has lately attracted renewed interest as a possible antidote to some of our most persistent economic ills. Most co-ops in the U.S. are smaller than Arizmendi, with around a dozen employees, but the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has about 2,000. That’s hardly the organizational structure’s upper limit. In fact, Arizmendi was named for a Spanish priest and labor organizer in Basque country, José María Arizmendiarrieta. He founded what eventually became the Mondragon Corporation, now one of the region’s biggest employers, with more than 60,000 members and 14 billion euro in revenue. And it’s still a co-op.

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

State of the Union Preview – What to Expect from the Propagandist in Chief

Tonight, the Propagandist in Chief for the USSA will take the stage and say absolutely nothing meaningful. He will employ trite clichés to appeal to the increasingly small section of the lobotomized population which still somehow supports his oligarch coddling criminality. He will preen and posture and threaten to legislate via executive order like the petty little wannabe dictator he is. Like all of the other speeches he has given before, it will be a verbal assault on the intelligence of all human beings still capable of putting together a string of critical thoughts.

At this time, it makes sense to go back and admire the words of a true American statesman, Theodore Roosevelt. Back in his own State of the Union in 1902 he proclaimed (click on the image for more quotes):

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.50.07 AM

Ah, but we will hear none of that from Barry. No, sentiments such as those are too nuanced, too accurate to serve as effective propaganda. Rather, what we will see will more closely relate to speeches given by former Iraqi Info Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf. This nation has become a circus of stupidity.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Have You Heard of John Kiriakou?

As someone who considers himself reasonably informed of the machinations of the criminal oligarchy running the United States of America these days, I am consistently surprised by how uninformed I still am in many ways.  The case of ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou and the government’s witch hunt over his case is a perfect example.

One of the most disturbing yet encouraging things happening in America (and the world) today is the emergence of sophisticated and courageous whistleblowers and the subsequent attempts of the oligarchy to attack them and ruin their lives.  Over a year ago, I wrote a piece about the soon to emerge whistleblowing theme titled The Whistleblower Trend has Begun: Next up Backstabbing.

The sad little criminals in power are understandably terrified of this trend and are using their old playbook methods to go after them, but they do not understand the hopelessness of these tactics.  Social media, the internet and technology in general just make it too easy to leak stuff and expose criminality to hundreds of millions and soon to be billions of people in minutes.  This trend cannot be stopped and is why TPTB and their minions will be swept away into the dustbin of history.

The propaganda line that really gets my blood boiling is when minions in the media and the whores in Washington D.C. use the line “national security” as a reason to crack down on freedom of speech.  This is obviously a ploy to play on the emotions and ignorance of the sheeple population that doesn’t understand “national security” simply means the security of the 0.01% oligarchy to remain in power and rob and pillage the rest of humanity.

Anyway, please take the time to read the story in the Huffington Post of John Kiriakou and support him and other whistleblowers like Thomas Drake (ex-NSA) in any way you can.

Key quotes:
John Kiriakou is a 14-year CIA veteran who, until his indictment, was best known for publicly rejecting the Bush administration’s Orwellian doublespeak about “enhanced interrogation.” In a 2007 ABC News interview, Kiriakou became the first person directly involved in the handling of terror suspects to call waterboarding at the CIA’s hands what it was — torture.

Fitzgerald’s use of the Espionage Act is in keeping with the Department of Justice’s crackdown on leaks to reporters. And the Obama administration has now used the Espionage Act six times to prosecute disclosures to journalists — more than all previous presidential administrations combined.

Adler, who writes about the expansion of executive power, said that in both the Libby and Kiriakou cases, Fitzgerald fell short of his obligation to prosecute abuses of power. “It’s bizarre to me that those who were involved in waterboarding have been granted immunity, and now Kiriakou’s going to be prosecuted for leaking information that exposed illegal actions,” Adler said.

“Even if torture works, it cannot be tolerated — not in one case or a thousand or a million,” he wrote. “If their efficacy becomes the measure of abhorrent acts, all sorts of unspeakable crimes somehow become acceptable. … There are things we should not do, even in the name of national security.”

Kirakou’s supporters, including many open-government advocates, said he’s being punished for his whistleblowing. The CIA — through Fitzgerald and the Department of Justice — is trying to chill critical speech, they said.

Full article here.