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Bidding for the Blood of Ronald Reagan

Bidding for the Blood of Ronald Reagan

What you see there is described on the British auction website, PFCAuctions.com as:

The 5” glass vial with a half inch diameter has a green rubber stopper. Dried blood residue from President Reagan (1911-2004) can be seen clearly in the vial with a quarter-inch ring of blood residue at the end of the inserted rubber stopper.

Also included in this lot is a letter of provenance which reads:

“These articles have actually been in my family’s possession since 03/30/1981, the day that President Reagan was shot in Washington D.C. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, my mother worked for Bio Science Laboratories in Columbia, Maryland. Her laboratory was the laboratory contracted by Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well as the George Washington University Hospital to handle blood testing as well as other types of testing. Her lab did the blood work and testing for President Reagan.

And here’s a bit more of the seller’s back story:

“About 3 to 4 months ago, I contacted the Reagan National Library and spoke to the head of the library, a Federal Agent. I told him what I had, how I came across it and so on.

…he felt the family would be interested in it being returned to them and if I was interested in doing so to contact him and he would make all of the arrangements. I told him that I didn’t think that was something that I was going to consider, since I had served under Pres. Reagan when he was my Commander in Chief when I was in the ARMY from ’87-’91 and that I was a real fan of Reaganomics and felt that Pres. Reagan himself would rather see me sell it rather than donating it.”

I don’t doubt the King of unfettered capitalism would prefer his blood be sold to the highest bidder rather than donated to some public museum or library. As of now the highest bid in the online auction that ends tomorrow is £9,181 ($14,410).

What will the buyer do with this vial of dried presidential Type-O blood? Will it be worn as a talisman that wields the magical powers of the free market and makes the wearer extremely wealthy and subject to little or no taxes? Or will it project the darker aspects of Reagan’s nature by empowering the wearer to make deals with torturing thugs that undermine democracy?

Buyer beware.

UPDATE:

The bidding for Ronald Reagan’s blood went as high as $30,086 before it was pulled from auction. The anonymous consignor, after realizing “the importance of this historical artefact (sic)” has donated Ronald Reagan’s blood to the Ronald Reagan Foundation.

The foundation’s Executive Director John Heubusch, who had called the sale a “craven act” released the following statement:

We are very pleased with this outcome and wish to thank the consignor and PFC Auctions for their assistance in this matter. While we contend that the removal of the vial from the hospital laboratory and the US auction sale in February 2012 were not legal acts in our opinion, we are grateful to the current custodian of the vial for this generous donation to the Foundation Ensuring President Reagan’s blood remains out of public hands.

I feel much safer now.

Karl Marx Said Unbridled Capitalism Will Destroy itself, and He was Right

Karl Marx Said Unbridled Capitalism Will Destroy itself, and He was Right

The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs. – Karl Marx 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek has been extolling the works of Karl Marx over the past few weeks. One article, “Marx to Market” by the Bloomberg News Services economics editor Peter Coy, brought me to a reflection on my own studies in Karl Marx in the early 1970s at the University of Pittsburgh. Although my focus was on alienation themes in his treatises, one could not help but be captured by the breadth and depth of his writing. In 1999 the BBC did an extensive polling to determine who were considered the greatest men and women of the millennium. Karl Marx topped the list followed by Einstein, Newton, and Darwin.

My interest even led me to London where I ordered an ale from the same corner of The Museum Tavern in Bloomsbury where Marx revived himself after his efforts at the British Museum across the street. I also came to identify with Engels plea to Marx, “You just read, read, read. It’s time to stop reading and start writing.”

Even the Vatican signed in on Marx in 2009 when L’Osservatore Romano praised his diagnosis of income inequality—a phenomenon that is becoming increasing rampant in American society.

Marx argued that overproduction was in fact endemic to capitalism because the proletariat isn’t paid enough to buy the stuff that the capitalists produce. Again, that theory has lately been hard to dispute. The only way blue-collar Americans managed to maintain consumption in the last decade was by overborrowing, according to Coy.

That statement reminded me an encounter between Henry Ford and Walter Reuther decades ago. Ford, showing Reuther a new factory that was to open and noting all of the automated assembly machines, baited Reuther with “You won’t get many union members from those machines.” Reuther’s reply was prophetic, “And you won’t sell them many Fords.”

Because, as Marx noted, the wild excesses of capitalists tend to sow the seeds of their own complete destruction, deregulation is actually disastrous for capitalism in the long run.  Former Oxford professor David Harvey believes that “The Republican Party is en route to destroy capitalism and they may do a better job of it than the working class could.”

Marx predicted that companies would need fewer workers as they improved productivity, creating an “industrial reserve army” of the unemployed whose existence would keep downward pressure on wages for the employed.

Although Adam Smith is often cited as the first economist to describe capitalism, Smith fell short in his projections missing the growth of child labor sweatshops, the deliberate displacement of workers to keep pressure on workers to work for wages that were not commensurate with their productivity. Neither did he foresee the alienation of labor from its work product as assembly lines developed. Marx did.

Critics often point to the USSR as failures of Marxism but they did not exemplify the teachings of Marx either in concept or in the development of the proletariat. Both of them jumped from feudalism to socialism skipping the important step that Marx required: Going through a stage of capitalism first. That’s why the socialism of the Scandinavian countries is so effective.

Marx believed that societies follow laws of motion simple and all-encompassing enough to make long-range prediction fruitful. Second, he believed that these laws are exclusively economic in character: what shapes society, the only thing that shapes society, is the “material forces of production. Third, he believed that these laws must invariably express themselves, until the end of history, as a bitter struggle of class against class. Fourth, he believed that at the end of history, classes and the state (whose sole purpose is to represent the interests of the ruling class) must dissolve to yield a heaven on earth.

Evidence of stage three is all about us.

Marx was much more original in envisioning the productive power of capitalism. He saw that capitalism would spur innovation to a hitherto-unimagined degree. He was right that giant corporations would come to dominate the world’s industries. He rightly underlined the importance of economic cycles (although his accounts of their causes and consequences were wrong).

The central paradox that Marx emphasized, “namely, that its own colossal productivity would bring capitalism to its knees, by making socialism followed by communism both materially possible and logically necessary” has turned out to be false (so far). As Coy points out, Marx could lay claim to having sensed more clearly than others how far capitalism would change the material conditions of the world. And this in turn reflects something else that demands at least a grudging respect: the amazing reach and ambition of his thinking.

When one looks at the huge increase in families living in poverty, at the fact that the laboring class has not realized any increase in their true income in over 40 years and the fact that a small percentage of Fat Cats have nearly half of the total income in this country one can only wonder what the defenders of our form of capitalism can say to defend it.

They will probably sound like the slave holders of many years ago who proclaimed that they provided a wonderful life for their slaves who were much better off than if they were on their own. Not surprisingly that sentiment was repeated in a pledge that was signed by many of the Republican candidates this year when they agreed that the family structure of the slave family was preferable to the family structure of black families today. A blatantly false representation because families were torn apart as they were sold off. But don’t let facts get in the way.

That wonderful, C-minus student (in Animal Science at Texas A & M), Governor Perry, knows better than to trust science with its facts. (His statement of Galileo Galilei: namely that the scientists of his time didn’t believe him was 180 degrees off the mark. All the reputable scientists in Rome and elsewhere accepted a heliocentric universe. It was the church–e.g. the government–that wouldn’t accept his theory just as there are people today who make a political determination that man has no part in global warming.

One more example of capitalism working very hard at its own destruction.

Bill Moyers on the Evolution of Capital from Good Servant to Evil Master

Bill Moyers on the Evolution of Capital from Good Servant to Evil Master

Amy Goodman interviewed Bill Moyers on Democracy Now! last week, and he had this to say about greed and capitalism:

I think this country is in a very precarious state at the moment. I think, as I say, the escalating, accumulating power of organized wealth is snuffing out everything public, whether it’s public broadcasting, public schools, public unions, public parks, public highways. Everything public has been under assault since the late 1970s, the early years of the Reagan administration, because there is a philosophy that’s been extant in America for a long time that anything public is less desirable than private.

And I think we’re at a very critical moment in the equilibrium. No society, no human being, can survive without balance, without equilibrium. Nothing in excess, the ancient Greeks said. And Madison, one of the great founders, one of the great framers of our Constitution, built equilibrium into our system. We don’t have equilibrium now. The power of money trumps the power of democracy today, and I’m very worried about it. I said to—and if we don’t address this, if we don’t get a handle on what we were talking about—money in politics—and find a way to thwart it, tame it, we’re in —democracy should be a break on unbridled greed and power, because capitalism, capital, like a fire, can turn from a servant, a good servant, into an evil master. And democracy is the brake on my passions and my appetites and your greed and your wealth. And we have to get that equilibrium back.

Happy May Day

Happy May Day

Also know as International Workers Day.

On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the epicenter for the 8-hour day agitators, 40,000 went out on strike with the anarchists in the forefront of the public’s eye. With their fiery speeches and revolutionary ideology of direct action, anarchists and anarchism became respected and embraced by the working people and despised by the capitalists.

Read all about it here.

And here are some quotes about Labor:

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

“The labor movement means just this: It is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth.” – Wendell Phillips

“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.” – Molly Ivins

“If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.” – Lane Kirkland