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Study: Connecting every SF resident, business to fiber-optic internet would cost up to $1.9B

Webpass is among three companies named in a new report on the importance of building a fiber-optic network in San Francisco. (Joshua Sabatini/S.F. Examiner)

By  October 18, 2017 (SFExaminer.com)

San Francisco is on the verge of becoming an internet connectivity leader by asking the marketplace to help create a fast network on a scale never before achieved by a major U.S. city.

The cost to create a fiber-optic network connecting every home and business in San Francisco to the internet would cost up to $1.9 billion, according to a new city-hired consultant report released today. And the best way to get there is through a public-private partnership.

“The opportunity The City is about to present to the private sector is unprecedented,” reads the 195-page report by Maryland-based consultant Columbia Telecommunications Corporation in partnership with financial advisory firm IMG Rebel.

“There has never before existed in any American community an opportunity for a private entity to lease fiber or broadband infrastructure to reach 100 percent of the homes and businesses in the community,” the report says.

For Supervisor Mark Farrell, who has taken the lead on the issue with the support of Mayor Ed Lee, the report paves the way for making citywide internet access a reality.

“We are going to continue to move aggressively down this road,” Farrell told the San Francisco Examiner on Tuesday. “I, along with the mayor, will do everything possible to make this a reality for San Francisco.”

He added, “We are further along than any other major U.S. city has ever been.”

The consultant team, under contract with the Department of Technology, studied various public, private and public-private models, ultimately determining a public-private model meets the objectives of The City, which includes San Francisco retaining ownership of the network, ensuring the most competition and the least financial risk.

One model the report favors is having The City select through a competitive process one entity to build out the dark fiber network — the actual laying of the fiber optic cables — and select another entity for “lighting” the fiber for use by businesses and residents. The entity elected to create the lit fiber network would then sell access to internet service providers.

The report “envisions delivering 1 Gbps [gigabit per second] intranet access to every home and business and thereby creating a Civic Network that would connect all San Francisco residents and businesses to civic, educational, healthcare and nonprofit resources.”

“Residents and businesses can also choose to purchase retail services (from competing providers that would buy wholesale service from the Lit Fiber Concessionaire), in addition to the free, high-bandwidth access to the Civic Network,” the report says.

The report, titled “The Potential for Ubiquitous, Open Fiber to the Premises in San Francisco,” estimates the internet broadband service would cost residents between $26 and $67 a month and businesses between $38 and $97 a month. The rates would ultimately be determined by how the project is financed and the model chosen.

Additionally, the report assumes a subsidy for 15 percent of the population — more than 100,000 residents who are low-income — which, if free, would total $33 million. But with $10 per month charge, as the report assumes, the cost would be $26 million in subsidies.

The up-to-$1.9 billion estimate includes the total capital cost to build the fiber to the premises network to support ubiquitous 1 Gbps data service.

The City’s financing of the initiative could come from revenue bonds backed by the user fees and pre-leasing use of the fiber.

Farrell said a fiber network, commonly considered the gold standard for internet connection, will not only pay for itself but become a major revenue creator as services like Google Nest, Netflix and the advancement of the Internet of Things would likely pay for use of it.

“This asset that we are building is going to be one of the most valuable pieces of infrastructure that The City could ever have,” Farrell said.

“The need for this is only going to grow.”

PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE
The private market left to its own devices will not create a “ubiquitous, open, fiber-based service throughout San Francisco,” the report concludes.

There are two major internet service providers in San Francisco: Comcast and AT&T.

“AT&T is upgrading its network to fiber in certain areas, but not, to our knowledge, on a ubiquitous basis,” the report says. “Comcast … still relies on coaxial cable for distribution and the gigabit service is priced in excess of $150 per month.”

A smaller “new class of competitors including Sonic, Webpass and Monkeybrains is making important investments in fiber … but these new networks are available only in certain areas and to certain buildings or consumers,” according to the report.

As for a public network, such a model could “meet goals for ubiquity and openness” but there are concerns over the ability to build and operate the utility, the limitation of public financing and assuming all the risks.

The analysis found that for a public network to pencil out, the “take up” rate would need to range between 45 percent to 53 percent to break even and “few municipal networks have managed to reach this level of penetration.”

NEXT STEPS
The City plans to invite companies in the industry to meet on Nov. 15 for a “market sounding” on establishing the citywide network, followed by one for internet service providers.

The City then plans to issue a request for quotations and ultimately a request for proposals to build out the network, which would take about two to three years.

If all goes according to plan, The City would approve the project next year.

“Broadband networks rank among the most important infrastructure assets of our time — for purposes of economic development and competitiveness, innovation, workforce preparedness, healthcare, education, democratic discourse, and environmental sustainability,” the report says.

The mayor reiterated his support of the effort in a statement.

“All our city’s residents deserve fair and equitable access to this crucial resource which is why we’ve continued to push forward and advance this project,” Lee said. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but today we are one step closer to delivering fast and affordable internet to every San Franciscan.”

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George W. Bush: Nativism ‘Casual Cruelty’ Pulling Us Apart


LIVE ON-AIR NEWS
Published on Oct 19, 2017

Former President George W. Bush delivered a speech on Thursday where he railed against bigotry, rampant nationalism and the forces of partisan division that t to tear apart the country.

As Bush acknowledged America’s challenges in his New York address, he expressed concern about the spread of nativist isolationism and partisan conflict around the world. Bush warned that the impact on America has resulted in a “crisis of confidence” that endangers the national spirit:

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Press Release from California U.S. Senate candidate David Hildedrand

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday/October 17, 2017

Berniecrat U.S. Senate Challenger David Hildebrand Declares CA ‘Anti-Corporate’ Progressives Not Interested in Kevin de León Any More Than Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein

SACRAMENTO – Berniecrat and candidate for U.S. Senate in California David Hildebrand Tuesday challenged the just-announced candidacy of Kevin de León, declaring that “anti-corporate” progressives wouldn’t and shouldn’t be interested de León any more than corporate incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Mr. Hildebrand, a pro-labor Democratic Socialist from Sacramento, released this statement:

“Kevin de Leon gets large corporate donations from the same donors as Dianne Feinstein. I fail to see how any anti-corporate progressive would be interested in his candidacy. Like Feinstein, he is benefiting from a Super PAC. As a people’s campaign, we continue to reject corporate donations and will  never have a Super PAC.

“I promised my supporters I will be in the race until the end, because working families deserve representation, and they are not currently receiving any. Kevin de Leon’s entrance doesn’t change anything.

“The decisive factor that will determine who fights for the people of California will be clear when the fourth quarter financial reports come out. They will show that I continue to refuse corporate donations. I doubt the same will be true of other candidates in this race.”

Mr. Hildebrand is the son of a union carpenter, and a member of a union himself. After the 2016 Democratic Primary in which his candidate, Bernie Sanders, lost, Mr. Hildebrand felt compelled to stay involved and continue the fight for a better future. And after serious consideration, decided that he would start a serious campaign to represent the working people of California.

Mr. Hildebrand’s platform includes battling institutional racism, investing in our country’s infrastructure and workforce on a massive scale, pushing for single-payer health care, defending our public school systems while making public universities and trade schools free, term limits in Congress, campaign finance reform, and making real efforts to halt climate change.

If successful in the upcoming election, he promises to lead the charge for progressive policies at the federal level, and defend California against a Congress and Presidency determined to cut the social, economic, and environmental programs that American workers rely on.

-end-

David Hildebrand for U.S. Senate 2018
http://www.davidforcalifornia.com/

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Phil Ting’s Community Coffee

When:  Saturday, October 21, 2017, 10:00 to 11:30 am.
Where:  West Portal Elementary School, 5 Lenox Way, San Francisco.  Located on the corner of Taraval Street and Lenox Way.

RSVP:  Assemblymember Ting’s official website, Event:  Community Coffee

Action:  Tell your family, friends (live and/or virtual), neighbors, and associates.

Event:  California Assemblymember Phil Ting’s Community Coffee

Why:  We encourage voters to attend town halls, listen to what their representatives say, and offer their comments regarding legislation, taxation, etc.  Assemblymember Phil Ting represents West San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.

To Do:  This might be a good time to ask about single payer for California and a California public bank and to ask Mr. Ting to address the effect of crowding on real estate prices, how he and his colleagues in the Assembly plan to deal with unfunded pension liabilities, what is he hearing from neighborhoods regarding the recently enacted by-right building incentives, has he heard about the current effort to repeal the gas tax, and anything else you might want to get off your chest.  Representatives’ town halls in San Francisco are usually packed with supporters of tax and spend.  It might be good to balance the crowd a bit.

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What is a Public Bank?


Public Banking Institute
Published on Oct 12, 2017

What is a Public Bank? What can it do for you? For your community? Watch this short video to find out.

Find out more:
Public Banking Institute: http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org
#YesPublicBanks

Support our work: http://www.publicbankinginstitute.org…

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Will Public Banking Bring More Clean Energy Programs to California?

At a recent forum at Oakland City Hall, experts from the public banking and community energy sectors explored how the creation of a public bank could help communities transition to clean energy while creating economic opportunities.

“We need to build a more sustainable world, we need to be using energy that is positive for the environment and community, and we need to do it a way that support local jobs,” says Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan who is leading the public bank creation efforts.

The forum took place in Oakland, California, just days after the approval of a resolution to fund a feasibility studyby the City Council, with support from neighboring cities. The first and only public bank in the U.S. is the Bank of North Dakota.

“A public bank can really create community wealth in ways other institutions are not capable off,” said Gregory Rosen, the founder of High Noon Advisors, a local consulting firm with experience in clean energy investing. “It can help people of different backgrounds and income levels come together, for the good of the community.”

A representative from Germany’s public banking sector, Wolfram Morales, explained how public banks played a central role in the country’s energy sector. Germany’s energy transition from centralized fossil fuel energy to diverse renewables has been successful and gets between 38-41 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, according to figures provided by the East German Savings Bank Association. “The government says about us, that the Sparkassen finance group is one of the largest financiers of the energy transition,” said Morales, who is the head of the Office of the Executive President at Sparkasse, an association of public banks in Germany.

In 2016, 73 percent of investment in renewable energy — a total of 10.3 billion euros — came from Germany public bank sector, which offers far lower interest rates and has specific programs for lending to projects focused on environment, energy, and efficiency, according to Morales. Germany’s energy transition would not have been possible without investments from public banks.

The panelists at the forum said they see an opportunity for a regional public bank to work alongside new Community Choice Energy programs, which are already common in California, with entities like Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Lancaster Choice Energy providing customers with an alternative to the investor-owned utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) that currently control much of the state’s electricity generation and distribution market.

Community Choice Energy aggregators allows cities and counties in California to group individual customers’ purchasing power within a defined jurisdiction to buy energy. They provide a locally-run, democratic alternative to investor-owned utilities.

“When we pay PG&E for our electricity, that money is out the door, to investors … when you pay to community energy, that money circulates locally,” said Jessica Tovar, an organizer with the Local Clean Energy Alliance of the Bay Area. “We want to see that money in our community and people who eat, pray, and play here benefit.”

Community Choice Aggregators provide more renewable energy options to customers at a similar price point, while also allowing for the creation of community-tailored energy procurement options, according to a University of California, Los Angeles, report.

Community Choice is coming to the the Bay Area. East Bay Community Energy aims to launch next year, and provide many Alameda County customers with a fully 100 percent renewable energy option.

“Community Energy is an opportunity for us to help promote cleaner energy locally for all ratepayers throughout the country, and it’s happening not just in Alameda County, but throughout the state,” said Dan Kalb, an Oakland City Councilmember and Vice Chair of East Bay Community Energy Joint Powers Authority.

Together, a public bank and the East Bay Community Energy could show a new way forward towards a more democratic, sustainable, and local energy future for communities across California.

Header image by Photo by Josh Bean via Unsplash

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“DE LEÓN’S CHALLENGE TO FEINSTEIN HELPS DEMS” by Randy Shaw 

October 17, 2017 (BeyondChron.org)

State Senate leader Kevin de  León will challenge Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 U.S. Senate race. This is great news for California Democrats.

Kevin de León is the first Latino to mount a potentially winning statewide campaign for a top office in California’s modern political era. Win or lose, his candidacy will make history (Loretta Sanchez’s 2016 Senate campaign against Kamala Harris was never “potentially winning”).

Some see the situation differently. They feel that Democrats should not be engaged in internal fights when the goal is defeating Republicans. They see this challenge to a sitting Democratic Senator as “divisive;” I heard similar claims about Barack Obama’s challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Unlike many progressives, I do not have a problem with how Feinstein votes in the Senate. While she remains the San Francisco mayor most responsible for the city’s ongoing housing crisis (due to vetoes of vacancy control and failing to build housing to meet increased jobs and population), her “moderate” image has not prevented her from almost always sticking with progressives on key Senate votes.

I see Kevin de León’s challenge as great news for Democrats because it will translate into far higher Latino turnout in the June and November 2018 elections. And because it sends a message that Latino politicians deserve a seat at the head of the table when Latino votes keep California Democrats in power.

Taking Latinos for Granted?

Since the rise of Latino voting in California transformed the state into a Democratic stronghold, not a single Latino has been elected to the state’s top offices. Not one.

Feinstein and Boxer long controlled the U.S. Senate seats. Jerry Brown was an unbeatable candidate for Governor in 2010.

If Antonio Villaraigosa had performed as expected when first elected Los Angeles mayor in 2005, he would be the hands down favorite to be California’s next Governor. But the combination of a disappointing mayoral record and a multitude of personal scandals gives him little chance to win against Gavin Newsom in 2018.

Barbara Boxer opened up California’s top offices to non-whites when she departed and was replaced by Kamala Harris. But absent a de León  victory the state will head into the future with Latino voters putting Democrats in power but still having nobody from that community in the state’s top three political offices (Latino Attorney General Xavier Becerra holds the state’s fourth most powerful office but he was appointed by Brown, not elected).

I think California’s Democratic power brokers preferred Feinstein step aside for de León. They do not want to take Latino voters for granted. But it was Feinstein’s call.

Boosting Latino Turnout

If de  León had not challenged Feinstein, Latino voter turnout could have been dismal next June. This would hurt progressive candidates up and down the state.

Villaraigosa’s ability to generate Latino turnout comes nowhere close to de León’s; the State Senate leader has political allies across California. Any progressive on the June 2018 ballot should be thrilled de Leon is running. His candidacy will increase non-Latino progressive turnout as well.

California’s November 2018 turnout would be large regardless of de León’s running, but if he makes the top two in June there will be a lot more electoral energy in the Latino community in the fall. And that’s good news for Democrats.

Feinstein’s Self-Centeredness

Feinstein will be 85 years old when she faces voters in November 2018. She has lived an extraordinary life. Absent Dan White’s assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, Feinstein would have retired from politics and would rarely have been heard from again. Thrust into power unexpectedly, Feinstein has had a remarkable political career.

But there comes a time when one must step aside for the next generation.

Unlike Nancy Pelosi, who some wrongly think should step down [sic], Feinstein does not control a key place of power. Her departure would not weaken California’s federal influence. Democrats are unlikely to retake the Senate in 2018 so Feinstein will remain in the minority party.

Barbara Boxer could have strolled to another six year term, but understood the bigger picture. Unfortunately, Dianne Feinstein does not. The only reason she is running at age 85 is because she enjoys doing the job—it is about what is best for her,  not for the people of California.

If California did not eliminate party primaries, Feinstein would be the underdog against de Leon in June 2018. But under the top two system Feinstein will likely face de Leon in November. This makes her the clear favorite to win.  Republican voters are not going to vote for a powerful, charismatic Latino to be their next Senator.

But even a defeat positions de Leon to win the Senate seat when it becomes vacant. It also raises his statewide stature.

Kevin de León just presided over the most successful legislative session in California’s history; he understands how to deliver for the working people of the state.

Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron. His most recent book is The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco.

To leave feedback, go to feedback@beyondchron.org

CONTRIBUTOR

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the Editor of Beyond Chron and the Director of San Francisco’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which publishes Beyond Chron. Shaw is the author of four books on activism, including The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, and Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century. His new book is The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco

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“In Hong Kong, It’s the Fans Who Protest During the National Anthem” by Austin Ramzyoct

OCT. 11, 2017 (NYTimes.com)


Fans boo China’s national anthem during Hong Kong-Laos soccer match.  South China Morning Post Published on Oct 5, 2017

HONG KONG — In the United States, athletes protest during the national anthem. In Hong Kong, fans do.

Sports fans in Hong Kong have been turning their backs, booing and even raising their middle fingers as China’s national anthem is played, a protest of Beijing’s growing influence in this semiautonomous city.

While Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997, it still fields its own teams in international sports competitions. One of its most popular teams, men’s soccer, has become a focal point for discontent.

On Tuesday, fans booed before the start of an Asian Cup qualifier against Malaysia, which Hong Kong won, 2-0. Last week, they protested the anthem before a friendly match against Laos that Hong Kong won, 4-0.

The boos come from hard-core fans who worry that Hong Kong’s autonomy and unique identity are being undermined by Beijing. A few even hold up signs advocating independence, an idea that mainland and local officials denounce as illegal.

Now the authorities are planning tougher measures. Last month, China’s legislature approved a law prohibiting disrespect of the anthem, barring the song’s use in commercials or parodies, and outlining punishments for people who do not “stand with respect” and “maintain a dignified bearing” when it is played.

Weekslong street protests in Hong Kong known as the Umbrella Movementended three years ago without the government ceding any ground on expanding residents’ say in local elections.

But that spirit of protest has been revived in the stadium jeers, which appear to have started two years ago. Hong Kong played China in World Cup qualifiers twice in 2015, and those matches took on an added political dimension coming a year after the street protests.

Photo

Hong Kong soccer fans booed the Chinese national anthem and held banners calling for Hong Kong’s independence from China during a match against Malaysia on Tuesday. CreditKin Cheung/Associated Press

With a population of seven million, Hong Kong is a minnow in the ocean of international soccer. But the city has a long history with the sport and, with the help of some foreign-born players, often punches above its weight.

China has a huge population to draw from and its teams have been successful in several sports. But its men’s soccer teams have routinely struggled in international competition.

In 1985, Hong Kong beat China, 2-1, in Beijing to eliminate the team from qualifying for the following year’s World Cup, setting off a riot. In the 2015 World Cup qualifiers, Hong Kong tied China twice. To add to the insult, the home fans booed the Chinese national anthem before the game in Hong Kong.

The world governing body for soccer, FIFA, fined the Hong Kong Football Association for fans booing during one of the China matches and also during a 2015 World Cup qualifier against Qatar. The city’s football association has called on fans to behave, and stewards make vain attempts to encourage hard-core supporters to keep quiet during the national anthem.

The anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” was a poem set to music in 1935, and it became popular as a call for resistance against Japan. Its lyricist, Tian Han, died in prison during the Cultural Revolution in 1968.

The anthem law went into effect on Oct. 1. But Hong Kong, a former British colony, maintains a semiautonomous existence that allows it to keep its own economic and legal systems. So Hong Kong will need to enact its own version of the law, which it has yet to do. 

Thus far, Hong Kong fans are unbowed.

“We do it spontaneously because we don’t think we are part of the P.R.C.,” said Sanho Chung, 24, who was at Tuesday’s game, using an abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China. “We are different.”

Rights activists and pro-democracy politicians are concerned that the law could be used to suppress free expression.

“I think it will be quite problematic to apply it,” said Dennis Kwok, a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Photo

Jorge Tarres Paramo of Hong Kong scoring a goal against Malaysia on Tuesday. FIFA fined the Hong Kong Football Association for fans booing during a match against China in 2015. CreditBobby Yip/Reuters

He noted that the mainland law allows the police to place violators in administrative detention for 15 days. That method of incarceration, which bypasses the courts, does not exist in Hong Kong.

And the idea of showing reverence will be hard to define, he said. “What does it mean to be respectful of the national anthem?” Mr. Kwok said. “That concept of law is simply unheard-of here, to have to stand in silence. I think we need to be very careful defining what is respectful and what is not.”

Hong Kong officials say the national anthem law is a routine matter that should not prompt concern among residents.

“I just want to reiterate that, rightly so, we are living in a more politicized environment, but we need not adopt this very politicized stance in considering and dealing with any matter,” Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, said in August. “This particular matter of national anthem legislation does not carry any particular scope for politicization.”

In recent months, the authorities have taken several steps to punish people for protesting or for calling for Hong Kong’s independence. Now, even symbolic protests are being suppressed.

Last month, a lawmaker was fined 5,000 Hong Kong dollars, about $640, for turning upside down several small Hong Kong and Chinese flags on desks in the Legislative Council chamber.

And the appearance of posters calling for Hong Kong independence on a wall run by the student union at the Chinese University of Hong Kong set off debate between local and mainland students. School administrators and Hong Kong officials called the signs illegal, but legal scholars said it was questionable whether colonial-era sedition laws could be enforced.

“The introduction of a national anthem law is coming at a time when people who oppose symbols of the Chinese government and symbols of the Chinese Communist Party have reason to fear they could end up behind bars,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “This could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”

On Tuesday at the match against Malaysia, Mr. Chung, clad in a red home jersey, stood with fellow fans during halftime. He said the national anthem law would not stop him from booing.

“It does dampen our freedom of speech, forcing us to respect something,” he said. “I worry, but I will still practice my rights. I think this is my right.”

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2 or 3 Things I Know About Late-Stage Capitalism (with apologies to Jean-Luc Godard) by Phil Rockstroh

A view of New York City from the top of the World Trade Center in the mid-1980s. (Photo: Ralph Hockens/flickr/cc)

October 16, 2017 (CommonDreams.org)

A number of recent, press articles, including an over 8000 word feature piece in the New York Times have asked, to quote the The NYT’s headline, “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?”

Although the question was proffered, the reporters and editors responsible for the articles remain resolutely obtuse to the obvious: The bughouse crazy environment of late stage capitalist culture evokes classic flight or fight responses attendant to episodes of severe anxiety and panic attacks.

The word panic has its derivation in reference to the Greek god of wilderness and wildness, of pastural repose, of the animal body encoded within human beings and its attendant animalistic imperatives, Pan. To wit, deracinate an animal from its natural habitat and it will evince, on an instinctual basis, a flight or fight response. If caged, the unfortunate creature will pace the confines of its imprisonment, chew and tear at its fur and flesh, become irritable, enervated, languish and even die from the deprivation of the environment it was born to inhabit. A caged animal, even if the unfortunate creature endures captivity, is not the entity nature conceived; the living being has been reduced to A Thing That Waits For Lunch.

Human beings, animals that we are, respond in a similar fashion. Experiencing anxiety is among the ways our innate animal spirits react to the capitalist cage. Inundate a teenager with the soul-defying criteria of the corporate/consumer state, with its overbearing, pre-careerist pressures, its paucity of communal eros, its demands, overt and implicit, to conform to a shallow, manic, nebulously defined yet oppressive societal order, and insist that those who cannot adapt, much less excel, are losers who are fated to become “basement dwellers” in their parent’s homes or, for those who lack the privilege, be cast into homelessness then the minds of the young or old alike are apt to be inundated with feelings of angst and dread.

Worse, if teenagers are culturally conditioned to believe said feelings and responses are exclusively experienced by weaklings, parasites, and losers then their suffering might fester to the point of emotional paralysis and suicidal inclinations.

What does the capitalist state offer as remedy? Obscenely profitable, corporately manufactured and widely prescribed psychoactive medications. Treatment, which, at best, merely masks symptoms and bestows the illusion of recovery.

As R. D. Laing observed: “What we call ‘normal’ is a product of repression, denial, splitting, projection, introjection and other forms of destructive action on experience. It is radically estranged from the structure of being.”

In short, it is insanity to be expected to adapt to socially acceptable insanity. Yet we are pressured to adapt to, thus internalise odious, groupthink concepts and tenets. To cite one example, homelessness is natural to the human condition and is a communally acceptable situation.

Closer to fact: The problem of homelessness is the result of a societal-wide perception problem—the phenomenon is the very emblem of the scrambling, twisting, dissociating, and displacing of perception that capitalist propagandists specialize in. Homelessness would be considered a relic of a barbaric past if this very simple principle was applied: Having access to permanent shelter is a human right and not a privilege.

What kind of a vile, vicious people would deny the simple proposition? Those conditioned by a lingering Puritan/Calvinist mindset to believe: Punishment for resisting the usurpation of the fleeting hours of one’s finite life must be severe. If the overclass can no longer get away with, as was once common practice in the Puritan/Calvinist tradition, public floggings to whip the labor force into line, then those who will not or cannot comply will be cast onto the cold, unforgiving concrete of a soulless cityscape.

It comes down to this, societies that are ridden with vast wealth inequity, due to the machinations of a rapacious overclass, create the obscenity known as homelessness. Moreover, the situation is only one of the numerous obscenities inherent to state capitalism. Obscenities that include, events that are dominating the present news cycle e.g., the predations of a lecherous movie mogul, to the sub-cretinous doings and pronouncements of a Chief of State who is a bloated, bloviating, two legged toxic waste dump.

How is it then, liberals fail to grasp the fact the Trump presidency is not an aberration; rather, his ascension to power should be regarded as being among the high probability variables of late stage capitalism and empire building? The psychopathic, tangerine-tinged clown Trump is the embodiment of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a development that is concomitant to over-expanded empires. Thus he will continue to flounce deeper into the quagmire of crash-engendering, economic legerdemain and perpetual war.

Empires are death cults, and death cults, on a subliminal bases, long for their own demise. Paradoxically, the collective mindset of imperium, even as it thrusts across the expanse of the world, renders itself insular, cut off from culturally enhancing novelty, as all the while, the homeland descends into a psychical swamp of churning madness.

A draining of the swamp of the collective mind cannot come to pass, for the swamp and citizenry are one. Withal, the likes of leaders such as Trump rise from and are made manifest by the morass of the culture itself. In a swamp, the gospel of rebirth and redemption is heard in the song of humus. New life rises from its compost.

In the presence of Trump’s debased mind and tumefied carcass, one is privy to arias of rot. While Hillary Clinton’s monotonous tempo was the dirge of a taxidermist—cold, desiccated of heart, and devoid of life’s numinous spark—Trump’s voice carries the depraved cacophony of a Célinean fool’s parade…its trajectory trudging towards the end of empire.

As liberals new BFFL George W. Bush might ask, “Is our liberals learning.”

In a word, no. For example, the collective psyche of US culture as been enflamed by the revelations that actresses were coerced into sexual encounters with a movie mogul whose power in the industry was only matched, even enhanced, by his sadistic nature. The staff of his company assisted, were complicit in, or remained silent about his lechery, as did the whole of the movie industry and the entertainment press. All as NFL athletes are being threatened with expulsion from the League if they kneel during the national anthem.

Yet the great unspoken remains: The enabling of and submission to the degradation, exploitation and tyranny, and the lack of resistance thereof share a common and singular factor: The careerism of all concerned. The cultural milieu concomitant to capitalism is at the rotten root and noxious blossoming of the situation.

Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967, cinematic barnburner 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her should be required viewing for those unaware or in denial of the acuity of the film’s theme i.e., becoming enmeshed within the psychical landscape of dominance, degradation, and submission inherent to and inseparable from capitalist/consumer culture will cause one to become party to societal sanctioned prostitution. When life is negotiated within a collective value system that devalues and deadens the individual’s inner life thus warps every human transaction, anomie descends, the worst among a people ascend to positions of power.

 “Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.” —William S. Burroughs, from Ghost of Chance

When friends visited me in New York, where I lived for decades, I would take them on walking tours through the city. We would cross the Westside Highway and stroll the pedestrian walk along the Hudson River, or cross the East River by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The effect of these excursions on people was often profound…the combined elements of the elemental beauty of the rivers and vastness of the city’s architecture and scope, clamour, and the dense interweaving of traditional ethnic customs and ad hoc social codes of New Yorkers often would heighten the visitors’ senses and open them to larger, more intricate awareness of themselves and extant reality…the freeways of the contemporary mind (conditioned to be constantly engaged in manic motion, with one’s mind either frenzied by an obsession with performing (ultimately futile) manoeuvres directed to saving time—or stalled at a frustration inducing standstill) were replaced by the exigencies of life at street level, i.e., novel situations that had to be apprehended and negotiated.

The possibilities of life seemed greater. The crimped eros of insular suburban thought became loosened before the city’s intricacies and expansiveness. Although: Not all, or even a scant few, New Yorkers can maintain the state of being. Few of us can live by Rilke’s resolve to “make every moment holy.” Life, in the city, becomes grotesquely distorted… High rents, inflicted by hyper-gentrification, in combination with the deification of success and its cult of careerism overwhelm one’s psyche…There is so far to fall.

Angst (the word originally can be traced to the ancient Greek deity Ananke, the immovable by prayer and offering bitch Goddess of Necessity and the root word of anxiety) clamps down one’s sense of awareness. Ananke dominates the lives of the non-privileged citizenry while Narcissus, Trump’s, the Clinton’s et.al. and their financial and cultural elitists’ patron God rules the day. The pantheon of possibility has been decimated, a cultural cleansing has been perpetrated, by the egoist caprice of the beneficiaries of the late capitalist dictatorship of money.

Hence, we arrive at the primal wisdom tacitly conveyed by anxiety-borne states of fight or flight. Due to the reality that capitalism, on both an individual and collective basis, drives individuals into madness, all as the system destroys forest and field, ocean and sea and the soulscape of all who live under its rapacious dominion, our plight comes down to this: We either struggle and strive, by and any and all means, to end the system—or it will end us.

Phil Rockstroh

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living, now, in Munich, Germany. Visit him at FaceBook.

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