RAGGED AND POOR: THE COLD CALCULUS OF RACIST CAPITALISM

new poor and ragged (4)

PART I 

The fate of African Americans is not in their hands; instead, our fate lies in the cold calculus of racist capitalists.  Carroll Quigley echoed the thoughts of the 1% wealthiest or elitists in our nation when he said: “…they [Negroes and Latin Americans] are really an educational and social problem for which economic or racial solutions would help little.”[1] Africans were brought to the United States for one purpose and one purpose only; they were brought to the U.S. as labor capital.  After the transition to an industrial economy the overarching national question has been ‘what to do with “negroes”.  Every other socio-political role played by people of African descent in the United States as far as economic elites are concerned is an accident.

We were brought here to do intensive manual agricultural and domestic work.  We were brought to the United States to generate wealth and leisure time for those who owned us and the Federal Government.[2] The value of Africans as labor capital depended upon whether the cost paid for them and their upkeep remained less than the financial returns their labor generated for their owners.  If any labor capital increases in cost beyond the financial returns earned by its use  in comparison to other forms of labor capital like machines or cheaper laborers, then what is more costly to the owner is discarded as being a drag on profit margins. That is the cold calculus of capitalism. That is what has and what will determine the ultimate fate of African Americans in the United States today.

In the beginning, it was necessary to bring large numbers of Africans into the European colonies to work on plantations as their territories expanded.  By 1770, 33% of the population in the colonies was African.  Population is a prime indicator of an ethnic group’s economic role in a nation as either producer and/or consumer.  Historically,
the numbers of African Americans in the United States is associated with the nature of the economy and immigration law.  For example, under slavery Africans had full employment for obvious reasons.  After slavery, African Americans have never had full employment in any industrial market.  In fact, after slavery and during industrialization, African Americans have been disproportionately unemployed.  If we break African American unemployment down by post-industrial markets we see the same pattern.

SLAVE VALUE AND AGRICULTURE

The value of a slave increased during the years 1800 to 1862 from $600.00 to $1,800 per slave.[3]  That is a 300% increase over 62 years.  It is directly correlated with an increase in agricultural acreage and production throughout the United States.  It was also a profitable investment for slave buyers because both the north and south could bet on the past consistency of farm profitability and so grew in wealth on the backs of Africans.[4] The civil war ended slavery but did not end the dependence upon African labor in the southern states in the agricultural market.  Then the economy of the United States was defined by its agricultural market.  Ninety percent of the U.S. population lived on farms or in rural areas. Though the labor capital cost of newly freed Africans would now be greater than it was during slavery it was still less than the profit to be made by using them as laborers especially if they had no cash and depended upon borrowing money.  And so a new system had to be reinstituted. It was one that had been so effective in Europe during the 9th and 15th centuries.  That system was feudalistic in design.

REPARATIONS FOR SLAVERY

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution ended slavery, except for those convicted of a felony.  The market for slaves thus brought to an end, a new market was ushered in; African American citizens were free to own businesses of their own or to hire themselves out in the so called open market after over 200 years.  Then a military policy was enacted which had it remained in effect would have changed the economic fortune of African Americans and upset the status quo.  More than 10,000 African American’s were granted reparations for slavery and given 40 acres and a mule in the State of North Carolina under General William T. Sherman’s ‘Special Field Orders, No. 15’ on January 16, 1865.  It was proposed by Abraham Lincoln; however, it was never made into law by Congress.  After President Lincoln’s assassination, Sherman’s ‘Special Field orders, No. 15’ was revoked by President Andrew Johnson (who was born in North Carolina, a southern democrat, by profession a tailor, and buried in Greenville, Tennessee the birth state of the Ku Klux Klan) and all land which had been distributed to African Americans as reparations for slavery was returned to ‘White’ democratic owners.

What was more profitable and politically beneficial to the power elite after the civil war in the southern states was a sharecropping system.  It became the normative manner of employment for most African Americans. For example, in Mississippi, 85% of African American farmers were sharecroppers up till 1940s.  Sharecropping was based upon a contractual agreement between parties. It is when an estate owner rents land to a leasee for the purpose of farming. The sharecropper promises to pay to the estate owner rent in the form of crops or livestock.  Sharecropping was a debtor’s prison from which none could ever escape.  It signaled a new kind of economic experience for African Americans, i.e., perpetual debt or no wealth at all.[5]

ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIANCY OR SERVITUDE

What is overlooked is that during the Reconstruction period (1866-1870) it was the ‘The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands’ which displaced ‘Field Orders, No. 15’ and thus the historic chance for African Americans to become economically vested in the United States.   It was the Freedman’s Bureau which framed and supervised sharecropping contracts as a system of feudalism.  The policy of the Johnson administration was in conjunction with racists’ interest groups in the south. That policy was the exploitation of African American labor within the context of feudalism.  Eventually, President Ulysses S. Grant disbanded the Freedman’s Bureau and with it all hope of economic self-sufficiency by the 40 acres and a mule policy.

A declining value of cotton, the boll weevil, flooding, lynching, and a technological innovation, Harvester International’s mechanical cotton picker introduced in 1947, made the northeast and west-coast economically attractive to African Americans.  So, we moved.

 



[1] Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, by Carroll Quigley, pub. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1966, pp. 1221 (Italics Mine)

[2] Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1; United States Constitution

[3] Black Labor, White Wealth, by Claud Anderson, Ed.D., Pub. PowerNomics Corporation of America, 1994, table 8, pp. 133

[4] How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery: Complicity, by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of the Hartford Courant, Pub. Ballantine Books, 2005, pp. 54-55

[5] In 2011, the median net worth of African American Households was $5,667.00; Pew Research: Social and Demographic Trends, July 26, 2011

FROM THE BOOK: THE SYLLABUS OF MALCOLM X, by Dr. Steven Nur Ahmed

Malcolm X (640x480)

Is it so that“…there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes its so.”?

Before Malcolm X accepted Islam he characterized himself as being beyond atheism when he entered prison. Maybe he meant that he categorically rejected the idea of God. The prison moniker given to him was ‘Satan’.  He said: “…the men in the cell-block had a name for me it was Satan “… Because of my anti-religious attitude.”[1] So, assuming that he rejected the concept of God did Malcolm believe in the reality of evil? I would answer based on his own testimony: yes, he did. I believe he did believe in the existence of evil because he had deeply rooted emotional insecurities stemming from his father having been murdered by the Black Legion. His father’s body had been shredded by a train on railroad tracks. That made the Black Legion the object of Malcolm’s hate. Therefore, He must have perceived the Black legion (Ku Klux Klan) as evil.

Perhaps Bimbi pulled out a book and handed it to Malcolm. Perhaps it was a copy of George W. Hegel’s ‘Science of Logic”. Then after giving it to him, perhaps Bimbi said to Malcolm that: ‘logically the idea that evil exists presupposes the idea of its negation or put another way it implies that which is not evil.  Logically, the relation of good and evil is subject to the dialectical principle of ‘Being’.  Dialectically, if there is evil then its anti-thesis, ‘good’, must exist too.  If this were not true, then either there would be all good and no possibility of evil or all evil and no possibility of good. If it were true that no good exists then we would be forced to characterize everything which exists as evil. On the other hand, if neither good nor evil exists, which is logically possible, then that would make all of us nihilist. Malcolm, nihilism is the belief that life is utterly meaningless, that “…there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It would mean that our actions are neither moral nor immoral. But you may see, Malcolm, that the science of logic won’t allow us to escape its boundary, for if you make the argument that ‘there exists neither good nor evil’ in the world then logically the opposite idea must exist, too, that ‘there exist simultaneously both good and evil’. Malcolm you are called ‘Satan’ because you believe that the world is thoroughly evil; you think that your life experience proves that to you. However, what you do not comprehend is the dialectical nature of existence and thus your life experiences.  There is always a ratio of good to evil.  Malcolm, our life struggle is to tilt the balance in favor of good. That is the root of the struggle to survive. That is the fundamental moral premise of all social life.’

Was that the nature of the conversation about atheism which Malcolm had with his Bimbi? Malcolm does not elaborate on the content of the conversation in his autobiography. There was a conversation on the subject.  However, we have no evidence regarding exactly what Bimbi said to him nor do we have evidence of whether or not Malcolm’s Bimbi had a religious orientation.  I am compelled to conclude that he did not have a religious orientation otherwise Malcolm would have identified it.  The lesson here is that one should take sound advice from whomsoever offers it.  Don’t make acceptance of a fact, a sound, or a cogent argument dependent on whether someone believes as you believe.

Malcolm states that Bimbi put the argument for atheism into a framework for him. Malcolm’s Bimbi must have appealed to Malcolm’s inherent capacity to do critical reasoning. Maybe Bimbi distinguished for Malcolm the difference between belief and science. Maybe his Bimbi made the argument that a person can believe in any proposition they want because ‘belief’ does not depend upon material evidence to support it but rather is based on one’s fears or maybe even one’s passions. Maybe he said to Malcolm that cursing faith based religion is a waste of intellectual energy because no argument supported by facts that will disprove a believer’s assumption about reality can be accepted by a ‘true believer’. Whatever Bimbi said to Malcolm, it had the effect of causing Malcolm to stop his “…vicious cursing attacks…”against religion and particularly against Christianity. One cannot change oneself nor one’s community by viciously cursing faith based religions.  One can only change one’s own self by first getting a thorough understanding of one’s own human nature and then to practice a lifestyle which directs and works the power of one’s own nature in one’s best interest.  In short, one can try their best to be the best human being he or she can be under their present circumstances.

What might Malcolm’s Bimbi have suggested to him and which is indirectly suggested to you?  Perhaps he suggested that we should neither accept propositions on the basis of fear nor passion in the form of Eros.  The reason for this suggestion is obvious and if made to Malcolm must have been clear to him, too. Let me put it to you this way; unconscious fears and eros (sexual urges) are irrational forces.  The fact that they are irrational does not make those forces evil but when expressed outside the bounds of self directed rational guidance they can be destructive to social relations. If you’ve ever acted impulsively then it is more likely than not that you also exercised poor judgment and you probably did it high on drugs, or alcohol, or in a state of fear or passion, or you were swayed away from thoughtfulness by the aggregate impulse of a group or crowd.  Good reasoning and impulsive behavior move in opposite directions. Reason must direct behavior. Prison is full of young and old people who have little control over their impulses. They are paying for their lack of self control.

But prison can be said in many ways. People may choose to lock themselves into a belief system, too.  They may do so simply because they have unconscious fears and want to emotionally bond with a certain group of people for a feeling of security, status, acceptance, the prospect of wealth, or even power. Pathological ambition in a person is always evidence of deep feelings of insecurity or fear in a person, or of not having a sense of self worth. What such people feel is emptiness which they try to fill by consuming or taking more and more prestige, status, power, or wealth, but they can never fill the inner void they feel. They always want more of whatever it is that makes them feel better momentarily. The fear they have may not be connected to any object or it may be connected to the wrong object or it may be connected to some imagined idea. The urge to bond that they feel is an irrational impulse; it originates in fear because they feel erotic attraction and or peer pressure to do so or want the feeling of security conferred on them by bonding with the group herd. That is an instance of misplaced love.  You may have joined a gang for the same reasons; now in prison you may stay in a gang for those same reasons. You want to feel protected.

During Malcolm’s life many Germans joined the Nazi party for those reasons. Many Caucasians joined the Ku Klux Klan and the Eugenic Movement for the same reasons. But what that kind of person really does is turn the key in the cell door lock thereby incarcerating their minds even more.  Belief systems can incarcerate one’s mind as effectively as a state penitentiary incarcerates one’s body when they are based on false assumptions.  More often than not that is the effect of religion. It has divided our neighborhoods and communities along lines of belief none of which can claim a single shred of material evidence to support their basic dogmata. Can we have our religions yet overcome the divisions caused by them?  That question takes us into the substance of Malcolm’s conversation with his Bimbi.

Malcolm’s Bimbi possessed a unifying idea which impressed Malcolm. It is an idea which can bring convicts together with families and communities regardless of individual religious orientations. If it is to work, then that idea must be universally applicable. That idea is science. That is what Malcolm’s Bimbi was suggesting to Malcolm X.  It doesn’t matter what your religion is, you can unify with your neighbors around the idea of science. The word itself means theoretical and practical ‘knowledge’ in the broadest sense. But what it doesn’t mean is hearsay and superstition. It is the kind of knowledge which is the result of observation and a logical and systematic way of making claims about things and their relations to other things and then proving such claims you make to be right or wrong by the application of a meticulous procedure to prove it as true or false based on evidence. And the end value of this method of producing knowledge is that it doesn’t matter what you believe because the facts compel the direction of your reasoning on any subject and it is the facts and the facts alone which compel you to conclude truthfully concerning a subject even if your conclusion is contrary to or contradicts your beliefs.

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Malcolm X with the assistance of Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Penguin Books, 2001

Revisiting Public Place Tragedies, Mass Killings, And The Second Amendment – By Wayne Johnson, Attorney At Law, Oakland, California

2ndEveryday people are killed in the United States by violence, including gun violence.   Let us examine this.  While it is horrific to see that young children are killed, and particularly by lunatics with no known reason, violence, and gun violence, in particular, is as “American as cherry pie.”  (Quote by H. Rap Brown).

It is how the oppressors subjugated the natives on every continent, including this one.   It is how the slave owners kept the slaves in slavery.  It is how the so-called Knights of the KKK intimidated the south and in the other cardinal directions.  It is how the government keeps Chevron, Bectel, and Halliburton on top.  It is how the police kill criminals and the innocent alike.  It is how the West Was Won.  

Gun violence is common in poor rural areas, but more common in urban neighborhoods.  It is not always executed outside the law…, or by those we are told are cowards, maniacs, lunatics, or criminals.   Police shoot to kill and do kill many innocent victims each year.    I suppose we can argue that a police officer that shoots an innocent person is outside the law, and is therefore, a maniac, a lunatic, and a criminal.  However, there is no cry to disarm the police.   They only want to disarm the people.  Police go on killing sprees too.  Remember Christopher Dorner?  In fact, a study found that they kill and are more likely than the average person to attack their spouses and lovers.

Not everyone decides to pick up a weapon and to cause destruction.  So the question remains will I feel safer with every gun being registered, every clip holding less than ten rounds, or with everyone in the national database?  The answer may depend on who you are. 

Me personally, no!  I will never feel safe so long as I know that people will be fed unhealthy food, and given poor quality healthcare.   When the people begin to suffer they will implode, possibly taking me with them.  

My research shows me that the United States is the number one arms, and particularly gun, supplier and manufacturer on the planet.  I invite you to conduct your own research.  The only people being placed into these databases will be … guess who?… the people who have always been the subject of government investigations. 

Descendants of “Johnny Rebel,” those who actually lost the civil war will continue to be just as gun toting has they have always been.  And, I am told there is a backlog on purchasing assault style weapons.  I distinguish actual assault weapons from assault “style” weapons.  An assault style weapon is no more potent, or menacing than a regular weapon.   It just looks more menacing.   We cannot legally buy real assault weapons, like machine guns and 50 Caliber rifles anyway. 

Of course, they may use the database to locate other people from time to time; however, if J. Edgar Hoover’s people have any say, they will use the database to curb dissention or simply to make sure that all protests remain peaceful, orderly, nonviolent, and ineffective.  Protesters will be like fish in a barrel, or cattle to be rounded up and placed in the fenced area.

Under the Constitution, we have a right to form militias to defend the Constitution and to defend ourselves against governmental tyranny.

Given our Constitutional right to bear arms is to defend the Constitution, and not the individuals, I say gun control may be a good thing, but only if the government disarms too.   Defending the Constitution is a much broader concept than taking orders blindly from a government official.  You are not necessarily a hero because you blindly follow orders to kill. 

Being a Patriot requires some thought and after thought…, some intelligence…, some strategizing.   It does not require that you put on a uniform or bark and obey like a dog.  Interestingly enough, this led me to do research on the entomology of “sic,’ as in to sic a dog on another.    Apparently, the true word is to seek, or hunt.  Seeking or hunting on command requires brainwashing. 

The government sends paid police out to seek or hunt us, like dogs.   So I suppose in a utopian world, only those who are sent out to sic, seek, or hunt on command will have weapons.   By definition, the rest of us will be bystanders… or the sought after, hunted, or the prey.    Unless I was a thrill seeker (play on words), if I was a hunter, I would not like my prey to be armed.   Ideally, I think I would prefer my prey to depend on me for safety too. 

What if I was a closet Klansmen?  Boy!  Would I like to be able to hold a firearm and to control or police those animals in the inner cities? 

Then of course, there are the terrorists…  Those who don’t like the way we lace up our boots in the morning and who envy us and who may want to blow us up because we love “freedom too much.”

Well, outside of making car and house notes, and owning a few items of jewelry and clothing, or maybe watching good television program occasionally, most people I know never enjoy that level of freedom.    George Bush’s and “Dick” Cheney have a very different concept of freedom than most of us.  Economics has never prevented them from going where they wish and doing as they please.   Maybe intelligence and compassion have limited their travels.  For what it is worth, you’ve “gotta” love George Bush for his proclaimed “Mission Accomplished.”   Indeed, he did accomplish his mission.  That being, getting all the oil and money he could ever use in his lifetime.

What if I want to defend or pursue my own idea or concept of the Constitution, or freedom?   Should I be left with peace rallies… or should I have to rely upon the people in the government I may not agree with to defend my ideas and ideals?   What if you cannot be elected to a governmental seat?  What if you make too much noise?  What if they tell you to lie face down on the ground and interlace your fingers behind your head?   What if you are accidently shot by an officer who meant to only to “taze” or daze you for being vociferous?   What if you do not have enough money to pay bail or to hire legal assistance?  What if the judge is not sympathetic to your point of view?

Of course, all weapons should be secured so that we and nobody else can have random access to them.   Otherwise, a tragedy is most likely to occur. 

What will happen when unemployment insurance, disability insurance, social security, Food Stamps (Debit Cards), CalWORKs, Medicare, alcohol, marijuana, football, basketball, and those silly television court programs are no more? 

What will happen when there is no more food or water on the table or we cannot pay taxes, rent, or purchases clothes?  What will happen when we are scavenging in the streets and armed people and armed police are looting?   “Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”  How are the lyrics: “…Police naw give ya no break.  Naw soldier might naw give ya no break.”

When the so-called 99% were demonstrating, many police claimed they were part of the 99%.  They wanted to protect their pensions; however, they were still swinging batons and firing upon crowds on command to protect the governmental interests.  The government’s interest is to maintain the status quo.   Does that mean keep the 1% in the 1%?  

If there is chaos in the streets, who will be armed?   Who will be harmed?  Who will be a career criminal then?   What will they do with those arms?  Will there even be a recognizable government?   We have seen in the past when the tension reaches a certain level all of our Constitutional rights may be suspended and the banks may close.   What happened in Cyprus can happen here.   It happened during the depression.  

Whose side will the President take?  In the words of Gil Scott Heron “Will the revolution be televised?”   When it is every man for “himself” who will be in the national registry?  Who will have access to it, and how will it be used? 

China has purchased a lot of the United States’ debt.   China has over a billion people.  China has nuclear weapons.  Israel may have nuclear weapons, Pakistan has nuclear weapons, India has nuclear weapons, the British have nuclear weapons.  Russia has nuclear weapons.  North Korea has nuclear weapons.   The United States has every know weapon on the planet, and most weapons are manufactured in the United States.  How will this play out if China calls in its chips? 

Do we really care how many people, even children, die as a result of gun violence?   Is it more important that we protect the status quo?  What is the status quo?  Who is the status quo?   If it came down to people or property what would be more important?  Would our government act to maintain the status quo, or protect lives?    Who will crusade for the children then? 

Of course, some politician will claim the airwaves and claim to be a protector of the children, but will the children still go hungry along with their parents?   It sounds good when you can claim to defend the “innocent.”   It sounds good when you can call a tyrant a “coward.”  Who wants to harm the innocent?   Who are the innocent anyway?  What is a coward?  How many dictators have we backed in name of freedom and democracy?  And, how many innocent lives have they mowed down for the sake of profits? 

When money trickles down how much trickles down and where does it go?  When we spend money in toppled countries who actually receives the money?  Isn’t it true that most of those dollars just come back to the large corporations who beat the tax system in the form of uncompetitive bids?  Is that welfare or an entitlement?  Do we even care?

That is why Presidents and police always employ euphemisms like cowards or say things like  “protect,” “innocent,” and “lives” in the same phrase when they are grand standing, trying to impress us. 

The truth of the matter is “name-calling” works.   The ugly truth is we are all our brother’s keepers.  We all have some of the same “Good, Bad, and the Ugly” within us.   That is why the so-called western countries use drones, stealth jets, 15,000 pound bunker bombs, and worse on civilian populations who never see it coming.   People use what they can get when they want to harm others.  So, if firearms are not available, people who want to cause harm find things, invent things.

When we were children in the inner city, I remember children from around the corner sneak attacking us with rocks, liquor bottles, and tin cans that were flattened by cars in the streets.   The cans were brutal because you never knew what trajectory they would take.  When they accidentally hit a kid who was too young, we called the other guys cowards, and the victim, innocent.   Even though we felt sympathy, when we retaliated, we would pretend we did not care if a very young child was struck.  It was all justified as our defense against the surprise attackers.

When politicians or news people have given a good speech, you hear us mimicking the same things.    When the United States participated in hunting down and killing President Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, first they called him names.  Then they disarmed his side.  Then they accused him of “killing his own people.”  Finally, they accused him of killing innocent people who were later armed and backed by western backed forces.  Once they were armed, they were no longer innocent by anyone’s definition.  Not that I want anyone to die; however, if he killed anyone, I certainly would prefer he kill his own people, instead of “my people” whomever they may be.

The “Founding Fathers” were more intelligent than we give them credit.  You have to keep in mind that the Founders were terrorists to the English Crown.   They did not pay taxes to the Crown.  They sold liquor and tea without permission from the Crown.  They destroyed property that belonged to the Crown.  Some abandoned their posts. 

They knew what amendments were important to them and they knew the order in which to place them.    Speech, associations, and ideas are number one.  The right to defend those ideas is number two.   The right to exclude armed soldiers from living in your home is number three.  The right to keep the government away from and off of your Property without proper reason is number four.  

The United States population is about 313,914,040.   In 2010, in the United States there were 2,468,435 deaths from all causes.  Of those there were 358 murders involving rifles. Murders involving the use of handguns in the U.S. that same year totaled 6,009, with another 1,939 murders with the firearm type unreported.  Homicide is not even close to the leading cause of death.  Cancer claims over half a million.  

 

Summary Table Of People Killed By Police In the United States in 2012

Month

Number of killings in list

December

30

November

37

October

47

September

66

August

91

July

94

June

64

May

37

April

39

March

21

February

27

January

30

Total

583

As a matter of fact, if you are a minority, or lower income person of any persuasion, there is an unreasonable likelihood that you or someone you know may be shot or killed by police.  As a matter of fact you have almost as much to fear from the police as you do an armed robber.   So when the topic is gun control, maybe we should advocate gun control on the part of the police.  

When people die we miss them.  When they die suddenly or unexpectedly, we miss them even more.   You do not have time to say good-bye.  So, a gun death is traumatic. 

Let’s face it.  Arming yourself alone will not protect you from the government.  A S.W.A.T. team, a drone, an attack helicopter, a bomb, or a tank would be hard to combat.  You would have to really use your brain to defend yourself against trained attack dogs.  

Because curbing dissent may be the real issue, the next time the government tries to engage you in a debate or a discussion over gun control, change the topic to food, shelter, real healthcare, and survival.   We know that the real problem with healthcare is not the availability.  There are all sorts of doctors and hospitals.  It is the cost and it is the unnecessary drugs and procedures. 

Next time, force a discussion on the number and kind of weapons and rounds the police can use.   Force a discussion on how the cities will pay to compensate all of these police and law enforcement officials when they retire.  More police on the streets do not prevent crime because no matter how many exist, smart criminals will wait until the police leave to commit crimes.

Even if I do not own any weapons, I do not want the government to know what I might have or how to play me in the event of a crisis.   You might hear that the Second Amendment was drafted in a different time.  A time when the people relied upon guns to fight the Crown.  Those times may be here again.   We have tyranny and we have taxation without representation.   We have huge governmental intrusions into our lives and into our homes.  Look at camera on every street corner.  Look at “Smart Meters” that record our electric usage.  Think of the homing devices on our wireless equipment.

I want the government and the bank president to think twice before considering shutting down the bank without disbursing my funds, leaving me and my family to fend for ourselves.  I want the government to consider I might lawfully participate in an effective militia when it interferes with my Constitutional rights.  There is something fundamentally different about the fear associated with a civil boycott as opposed to that of armed people defending the Constitution.

Never concede any of your Constitutional rights.  Exercise them.  Our rights are there for a reason.  

 

 

 

 

DID YOUR CHILD/CHILDREN HAVE A BOWEL MOVEMENT TODAY?, By K.C., M.D. (California)

Many parents take it for granted that youth is a sufficient condition for having a daily bowel movement, but it is not. That assumption is misleading when we consider whether or not a child has a diet rich in fiber. For example, the eating of processed foods; consuming too much carbohydrate (starchy foods); and drinking little or no water can cause constipation in children.

There are many possible reasons for constipation in children. But socio-economic quality is negatively correlated with constipation in children. Children in low income families are less likely to consume sufficient amounts of fiber rich foliage such as greens, cabbage, okra, spinach, broccoli, unsalted sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and celery.  The conclusion stands out in 3-D. Children from lower socio-economic classes and who are physically inactive are more disposed to constipation.  According to ‘The American Family Physician’, constipation is 1.3 times more likely to occur in non-white populations than in the white population.[1] Since 46.5% of single parent female headed African American families with children less than 18 years of age are poor, then constipation generally is a serious problem for adults and is a very serious malady among African American children.[2]

So what is normal?  It is considered normal for a child to have at least one bowel movement a day.  If that does not occur regularly, then it can result in adverse side-effects such as straining to move the bowels, hard or infrequent bowel movement.  It may also cause abdominal pain; increasing the risk of urinary tract infection, sluggishness, and increasing the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids which can lead to anal burning or itching, and poor academic performance.

WHAT CAN A PARENT DO?

Parents can be proactive.  A helpful method is to examine your child’s stool (feces or popularly called boo-boo) periodically. Observing your child’s stool can help you determine if he or she is constipated.  A change in your child’s stool form is a good indicator of constipation.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?

Look for stool that has: 1) separate hard lumps, or 2) sausage shaped but lumpy, or 3) sausage shaped with cracks on the surface of the stool.

Remember moms and dads, you have absolute control over what goes into your child’s body for the first 6 to 7 years of life.  During that time you are the one who shapes their taste for foods and beverages. And always remember, cook good food rich in fiber and don’t worry whether they’ll eat it because when they get hungry they’ll eat what you have prepared for them.

If a child does not respond to lifestyle changes including increased fiber and water consumption, parents should seek further care from their family physician or pediatrician.

Until next time, K.C., MD (California) Physician on Call, bye



[1] American Family Physician, 2011, 84(3): p.299-306

[2] Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2011 ACS Report

Community Property – Considerations Before Marriage – By Wayne Johnson, Attorney, Oakland, California

In states controlled by community property laws, most property acquired during the marriage (except for gifts or inheritances) is presumed to be community.  That means it is  owned jointly by both spouses and is divided upon divorce, annulment or death.   Under the community property doctrine, the law presumes in the absence of specific evidence that would point to a contrary conclusion for a particular piece of property, that the property is jointly owned.

Many California residents presume that all property owned by one or both spouses is community property, and that is the “default” condition.  This means that unless property is of a certain character or the parties agree, in writing, to the contrary, that is how it is held.

Many California residents also assume that they enter into a common law marriage by living together in California for a set period of time and hold themselves out as husband and wife.

Both of the above presumptions are incorrect.

Common-Law Marriage in the United States can still be contracted in nine states (Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Iowa, Montana, Utah and Texas) and the District of Columbia. New Hampshire recognizes common-law marriage for purposes of probate only, and Utah recognizes common-law marriages only if they have been validated by a court or administrative order.

Common-law marriage can no longer be contracted in 27 states, and was never permitted in 13 states. The requirements for a common-law marriage to be validly contracted differ from state to state. Nevertheless, all states — including those that have abolished the contract of common-law marriage within their boundaries — recognize common-law marriages lawfully contracted in those jurisdictions that permit it, meaning if you consummate a marriage in a state where it is permitted and later move to a state that does not permit it, the new state will recognize it.

Some states that do not recognize common law marriage also afford legal rights to parties to a putative marriage (i.e. in circumstances when someone who was not actually married, e.g. due to a failure to obtain or complete a valid marriage license from the proper jurisdiction, believed in good faith that he or she was married) that arise before a marriage’s invalidity is discovered.  The principle of common-law marriage was affirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Meister v. Moore (96 U.S. 76 (1877)), which ruled that Michigan had not abolished common law marriage merely by producing a statute establishing rules for the solemnization of marriages.

Division of community property may take place by item, by splitting all items or by value. In some jurisdictions, such as California, a 50/50 division of community property is strictly mandated by statute, meaning that the focus then shifts to whether particular items are to be classified as community or separate property. In other jurisdictions, such as Texas, a divorce court may decree an “equitable distribution”” of community property, which may result in an unequal division of such.  In non-community property states property may be divided by equitable distribution. Generally speaking, the property that each partner brings into the marriage or receives by gift, bequest or devise during marriage is called separate property (i.e., not community property).

Division of community debts may not be the same as division of community property. For example, in California, community property is required to be divided “equally” while community debt is required to be divided “equitably.

Property that is owned by one spouse before the marriage is the separate property of that spouse, unless the property is “transmuted” into community property.  The rules for this vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

States that recognize community property are primarily in the West; it was inherited from Mexico’s ganancial community system, which itself was inherited from Spanish law (a Roman-derived civil law system) and ultimately from the Visgoths.  While under Spanish rule, Louisiana adopted the ganancial community system of acquests and gains, which replaced the traditional French community of movables and acquests in its civil law system.

The community property system is usually justified by the pragmatic recognition that such joint ownership recognizes the theoretically equal contributions of both spouses to the creation and operation of the family unit, a basic component of civil society. The countervailing majority view in most U.S. states as well as federal law (based on traditional American family values and gender roles) is that marriage is a sacred compact in which a man assumes a “deeply rooted” moral obligation to support his wife and child, while community property essentially reduces marriage to an “amoral business relationship.

In the United States there are nine community property states. While not a community property state, Alaska does allow couples to opt-in to a community property arrangement; property is separate property unless both parties agree to make it community property through a community property agreement or a community property trust.  It used to be that the parties could determine the character of property by an oral agreement or understanding, or by conduct; however, now all property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community unless the character is changed in writing.

If property is held as community property, each spouse technically owns an undivided one-half interest in the property. This type of ownership applies to most property acquired by each spouse during the course of the marriage. It generally does not apply to property acquired prior to the marriage or to property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. After a divorce, community property is divided equally in some states and according to the discretion of the court in the other states.

It is extremely important to bear in mind that there are no two community property states with exactly the same laws on the subject. The statutes or judicial decisions in one state may be completely opposite to those of another state on a particular legal issue. For example, in some community property states (so-called “American Rule” states), income from separate property is also separate. In others (so-called “Civil Law” states), the income from separate property is community property. The right of a creditor to reach community property in satisfaction of a debt or other obligation incurred by one or both of the spouses also varies from state to state.

Community property has certain federal tax implications, which the Internal Revenue Service discusses in its Publication 555.  In general, community property may result in lower federal capital gains taxes after the death of one spouse when the surviving spouse then sells the property. Some states have created a newer form of community property, called “community property with right of survivorship.” This form of holding title has some similarities to joint tenancy with right of survivorship. The rules and effect of holding title as community property (or another form of concurrent ownership) vary from state to state.

Because community property law affects the property of all married persons in the states in which it is in effect, it can have substantial consequences upon dissolution of the marriage from the perspective of the spouse forced to share a valuable asset that he or she thought was separate property.

One of the most spectacular examples of this in recent memory was the Frank McCourt Dodger’s dispute.  Frank McCourt paid his ex-wife about $130 million to avoid a trial over whether the team was actually community property after the trial court ruled that the McCourts’ prenuptial agreement was invalid.

What is a Prenuptial or Premarital Agreement?

Basically, a prenuptial agreement is an agreement that defines property that might ordinarily be presumed to be community property.   The agreement is “pre” because it is usually entered into before marriage because that is when neither party owes the other a fiduciary duty to be fair and look out for the other’s interests.   However, a marital agreement may be entered into at any time.  During a marriage when both parties work, they usually treat their incomes as separate property, and they spent it as they did before being married until it is placed into a joint account; however, all income is presumed to be community property.

In a prenuptial agreement even income can be treated as separate property.   However, this does not mean that income is not subject to family support.  And, even the best of prenuptial agreements cannot exempt separate property from family support obligations.   Be mindful that separate property may be transmuted into community property by the way it is handled during the marriage.  If you place separate income into a joint account, or pay down a loan on separate property, the community can obtain all or a portion of the property.

Even a detailed prenuptial can be invalid so it is best that the prenuptial be arm’s length, and that the parties be represented by independent attorneys and clearly understand what they are giving up.   This is done by allowing both parties a reasonable amount of time to consult with attorneys to consider the terms of the prenuptial agreement.

Issues

Often a new couple acquires a family residence. If the marriage terminates in subsequent years, there can be difficult community property problems to solve. For instance, often there is a contribution of separate property; or legal title may be held in the name of one party and not the other. There may also have been an inheritance or substantial gift from the family of one of the spouses during the marriage, whose proceeds were used to buy a property or pay down a home loan or mortgage. Case law and applicable formulas vary among community property jurisdictions to apply to these and many other situations, to determine and divide community and separate property interest in such a residence and other property.

Community property issues often arise in divorce proceedings and disputes after the death of one spouse. These disputes can often be avoided by proper estate planning during the spouses’ joint lifetime. This may or may not involve probate proceedings. Property acquired before marriage is separate and belongs to the spouse who acquired it. Property acquired during marriage is presumed to belong to the community estate except if acquired by inheritance or gift, or by exchange for other separate property. This definition leads to numerous issues that can be difficult to ascertain. For instance, where a spouse owns a business when marrying, it is clearly separate at that time. But if the business grows during the marriage, then what of the additional property acquired during marriage? Do they not result from labor of the spouses? Were some of the funds that were used to pay for the property community funds while a portion of the funds were separate property?

Community property may consist of property of all types, including real property (“immovable property” in civil law jurisdictions) and personal property (“movable property” in civil law jurisdictions) such as accounts in financial institutes, stocks, bonds, and cash.

A pension or annuity may have first been acquired before a marriage. But if contributions are made with community property during marriage, then proceeds are partly separate property and partly community property. Upon divorce or death of a party to the marriage, there are rules for apportionment.

Options are also difficult to ascertain. A stock option is a right to purchase shares of a company at a fixed price. Companies with growth potential sometimes award stock options as compensation to employees, during times when there is not enough money to pay a suitable salary. By accepting a stock option for compensation, an employee invests his or her own trust in the belief that he or she will help make the company acquire a higher value. Thereafter, the employee works and contributes value to the company. If the company later acquires a higher share valuation, then the employee may “cash in” his options by selling them at the fair market value. The employee’s trust in this future value motivates his work without immediate compensation. That effort has value. If the marriage is terminated before the shares are cashed in, then the parties must decide how to apportion the community property portion of the options. This can be difficult. Case law precedents are not yet available for all situations involving stock options.

Definition – Quasi Community Property

Property acquired by a married person or couple in a non-community property state that would have been community property if it had been acquired in a community property state, e.g. California. If the married couple subsequently relocates to a community property state and either the couple divorces or one spouse dies, a court in that state may treat the property like community property when determining the property interests of the divorcing or surviving spouse(s).

Quasi-community property is a concept recognized by some community property states. For example, in California, quasi-community property is defined by statute as “all real or personal property, wherever situated, acquired before or after the operative date of this code in any of the following ways: (a) By either spouse while domiciled elsewhere which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition. (b) In exchange for real or personal property, wherever situated, which would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in this state at the time of its acquisition.

It can also refer to property acquired by the parties during the marriage when they lived in a state that does not recognize community property under circumstances that it would have been presumed to be community property had the parties lived in California.

Typically, such property is treated as if it were community property at the time of divorce or death of a spouse, but in California, at least, property acquired while married and domiciled in a non-community property jurisdiction does not become community property just because the married parties move to a community property jurisdiction. It is the new event of divorce or death while domiciled in the community property state that allows that state to treat such property as quasi-community property.  As of 2007, only Washington, California, New Mexico and Arizona have laws that recognize quasi-community property.

Divorce

In many community property law states, a husband and wife may enter into a Premarital (or Prenuptial) Agreement that there will be no community property. Divorce terminates the community relationship in all community property states; however, the manner in which the property is divided differs.

Upon the dissolution of a marriage, the source of property becomes important in determining whether an asset is community or separate property. Ordinarily, separate property includes that which is acquired through gift, descent and distribution, and devise or bequest. Each partner in a Property Settlement reacquires whatever he or she owned prior to the marriage.

In some states, community property is divided equally; in others, the division is based on the court’s discretion. In certain jurisdictions, the guilt of a spouse in a divorce action can be a factor in reducing his or her share of the community property.

Inheritance Laws

Each spouse owns one-half of the couple’s property in community property states, and, therefore, when a husband or wife dies only one-half of the marital property is inheritable since the surviving spouse owns, in his or her own right, one-half of the marital property.  If that spouse does nothing to transfer his or her interest, his or her interest goes to the surviving spouse.

If you have a family law question or wish to consult with an attorney in the area of family law, you may contact Wayne Johnson, Attorney At Law, (510) 451-1166