Domination and Control

My Recent Posts

I’ve been reading Titan, the biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr, authored by Ron Chernow.  Rockefeller was the creator of Standard Oil and built an empire of oil magnates using cut-throat tactics on his competition.  Chernow claims that one of Rockefeller’s earliest ambitions was to be rich.  Standard Oil quickly grew so large that it became the target for the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890, but the wily Standard Oil “combine” was merely inconvenienced by this and other legislation designed to contain it.


But this post is not about Rockefeller or Standard Oil.  It is about the pervasive drive for domination and control by nations, institutions, and individuals.  It is about “cripple-to-control,” intimidation, and other tactics used to subvert and subdue another person or group to someone’s will.


Certainly war is one example of the impetus to dominate and control, but there are others, more subtle, but just as psychologically destructive.  Before war can ever begin, a group of people must delegate power to others to make decisions for the group.  Delegated authority defines many institutions, like religious, governmental, educational, and corporate.  The individual or group gives up freedoms in order to participate in or accommodate the requirements of the larger group.


In the modern United States, we claim we are free, and perhaps we are freer, in some ways, than others.  However, our presumed independence has come at a huge cost, primarily submission to a host of laws and regulations that affect every area of our lives.  The willingness to delegate authority to others on such a grand scale has the effect of keeping the populace in a child-like state of dependency, without the initiative to question or challenge the status quo.


The current “opioid crisis” provides an example of how this subtle mind control works.  Governments and religions have been attempting to control what people ingest throughout time, but opium and its derivatives have been around—and used for pain relief, among other things—for thousands of years.  It has been used as a medium of exchange in places like China, historically, and in places like Afghanistan today.  It functions as “commodity money” on the black market, especially in poverty-ridden areas where honest cash is hard to obtain.  It circumvents taxation.


The political importance of opiates spans the centuries.  In 1729, the Chinese government outlawed opium, but the British used slave labor in India to grow the opium poppy and to smuggle the drug into China.  Because gold was leaving the country, the Chinese government confiscated illegal shipments of British opium, leading to the “Opium Wars,” in 1839-1842.  When the British won, they forced China to open its ports to more vigorous European trade.


After the Spanish-American War, in which the United States acquired the Philippines, among other territories, a missionary there became concerned about narcotics addiction.  He urged US President Theodore Roosevelt to form an international committee to collaborate in the control of the narcotics trade.  This led to the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 (under Woodrow Wilson’s term), which put the federal government in control of every aspect of the cultivation, processing, distribution and consumption of opiates and cocaine.  This followed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required labeling of patented medicines which contained any mind-altering substances, including cocaine, opiates, cannabis, and alcohol.


The early 20th century was characterized by a distinct moralizing tone.  Leaders like John D. Rockefeller, who was a strict Baptist teetotaler and contributor to the Temperance movement, and President Woodrow Wilson, son of a fire-and-brimstone preacher, both believed they were doing God’s will and therefore justified in their business and political actions.  This was the era leading up to Prohibition, beginning January 16, 1920, at the end of Wilson’s second term.


Although Franklin D. Roosevelt ended Prohibition (and thus re-instituted the whiskey tax that had provided a strong revenue source for the federal government) efforts to control and tax drugs didn’t end there.  The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned its use and sales. (Cannabis, or marijuana, has been used across cultures as a medicinal agent for 5000 years.)  While the act was ruled unconstitutional years later, the prohibitions were replaced by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. 


The Controlled Substances Act created the drug schedule classification system used today.  Under this formula, marijuana and heroin, among others, fall under Schedule I, which makes them absolutely illegal, with no recognized medical benefit.  Prescription opioids, like Oxycontin and Fentanyl—two major narcotics implicated in the “opioid crisis”—fall under Schedule II, or those with recognized medical benefit but high abuse potential.


In 1971, US President Richard Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” and claimed drugs were “public enemy number one.”  Despite costing over a trillion dollars to date, the “War on Drugs” continues, with no measureable benefits.  Nixon claimed this federal action would curtail the high level of heroin addiction in returning Vietnam veterans.


While the “opioid crisis” has attracted the attention of government, professional organizations, media, and the public, I believe it is symptomatic of a much larger problem having to do with dominance and control on a grand scale.  A good working definition of “addiction” is that it is a means of acting out power struggles with internal or external authority.  That the US is an addictive nation may be disputed by some, but no one can deny the enormous growth of the pharmaceutical industry and the accompanying belief that pills or other drugs can alleviate human suffering on all levels.


That the approach to the “opioid crisis” is so skewed by selective information, misinformation, and politics makes me wonder if the “crisis” is among the authorities who feel themselves losing their grip.  We are told that heroin overdoses are on the rise, especially in poverty-stricken communities, and that the addition of fentanyl to the mix increases the likelihood of overdose.


But we are not told that there is a difference between heroin (absolutely illegal) and prescription opioids, or that many drug users combine a multitude of drugs that also depress the respiratory system.  We are advised that we need more funding for treatment, but we are not told that the most effective treatments to date have come from free, peer-supported groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).  We are told that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been approved by the FDA and supported by professional organizations, but we are not told that two of the four approved drugs for MAT are also opioids, thereby, according to some, only perpetuating the problem of addiction.


Anyone who wants to address the “opioid crisis” in a realistic way should consider the power struggles generated by the laws themselves, which set up a dominance-and-control scenario that invites abuse of power as well as of drugs. 


George N Romey Added Jan 12, 2018 - 8:32pm
Katherine great article. There’s big money in addiction. Notice decades back you had people that boozed it up daily but lead fully functional lives. Some lived to be very old.
Today they are forced into rehab.
Autumn Cote Added Jan 12, 2018 - 10:10pm
Please note, the second best way to draw more attention to your work is to comment on the work of others. I know this to be true because if you do, I'll do everything in my power to draw more attention to your articles (there is a lot I can do and would like to do on your behalf). 
Doug Plumb Added Jan 13, 2018 - 4:09am
Rockefeller is Rothstein.
George N Romey Added Jan 13, 2018 - 9:38am
As long as enough Americans fall for the fear factor , “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” and in general flag waving bullshit we will have the military state. Let a politician run on a platform of removing us from military and counter surveillance  interference and they’d get trounced. There’s big money in killing overseas.
If we left other nations alone for the most part they’d ignore us. The way it should be.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:11pm
Although I didn't mention it specifically, I believe the CIA profits mightily from drug laws and drug dealing around the world, most recently in Afghanistan.  
As far as Rockefeller and the oil empire are concerned, I surmise that he was eager to support any endeavor that would sell oil  When you think about that and wonder what sells oil, you have to consider that war, international shipping (imports and exports), private automobiles, and plastics are at the top of the list.  
I'm a minimalist by nature, and wonder at the wastefulness of all the above.  I'm a fan of peace, the domestic economy (preferring regional over international markets), public transportation with a strong revival of passenger rail, and a sharp reduction in the use of plastics, especially single-use packaging.  
I've been a big fan of Ron Paul, too, but have not been so impressed by his son, Rand.  Maybe he will grow into being a leader.  I agree that none of these monoliths would have grown so large without the debt-backed currency (the bottomless barrel) created by the Federal Reserve Act.  You probably know that John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was a prime mover in creation of the Fed, and the Rockefeller family descendants may still have a significant financial stake in it.
That the federal government is owned by the oil companies, and not the other way around, shows in Trump's recent approval of off-shore oil drilling along virtually all US coastlines.  That the people oppose that and our interminable wars makes no difference to the thugs in control of our collective future.
By the way, thanks for your comments.
John Minehan Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:13pm
"Opium is the religion of the people." Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:17pm
Thanks, as always, for your supportive response.  The scapegoating principle has been used throughout history to avoid facing internal problems.  If you can find an external enemy to blame, it generates at least temporary cohesiveness at home.  However, it doesn't seem to be working for the US lately.  There is so much infighting at all levels that the country as a whole seems to be running on automatic pilot status quo.  Like you, I keep waiting for the bubble to burst.
Even though Trump is a firebrand, he seems to be fulfilling the role of latest scapegoat.  Maybe the focus on him will deflect attention from more dangerous situations.  
Katharine Otto Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:20pm
I know that and have been reading more than commenting, simply because I often don't know what to say.  It also seems some of my favorite contributors have not been contributing lately.  I'll try to do better.
mark henry smith Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:27pm
Wonderful piece, Katherine, per always.
The opioid crisis is a red herring to a far greater problem, healthcare. No one appears to talk about the fortunes drug companies made selling "less addictive" opioids, OxyContin and Oxycodone, which turned out to be more addictive than old treatments. It would be maddening if you didn't know the history of American businesses determination to use the monopoly power of government to give them access to poison peddling and take the blame in the form of signing off, as the FDA did with these drugs.
The increase in fentanyl use is not an accident, in my assessment of the problem. It is a way to do two things, one kill people at the bottom of the ladder, in a way just like the Philippines, eliminating addicts, and it is a way to create a crisis to divert attention away from real societal concerns that will have far-reaching consequences. Which our government has always done to control an unruly and mistreated underclass.
Not that opioid addiction is not tragic for the families of addicts, but it is not something that won't play out over time. Rules will change. Treatment will improve. The real problem with addicts isn't addiction, but something at the psychic core. If these drugs were the devil they're made out to be, all people who used them would become addicted, but only a small percentage do. I have a theory and it is the basis of a treatment system I would like to institute when I have tested it. Thanks again.
And oil, the rise of the automobile, the government involvement in road building, the incestuous relationship between, oil, auto, petro-chemicals, government is still at the heart of all political decisions in the US. And the military, prison, drug, sports, education cartel is too. And Disney. Walt was an agent for the FBI reporting on "communists".      
George N Romey Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:29pm
Katharine Trump is being used for fodder. Just look at the entire Russian situation. Again they are being framed as the 1950s boogeyman. And too many Americans are buying it.
All of this is made possible by endless printing of fiat currency. Until the day the debt induced global economy collapses the endless wars, conflicts and meddling will continue all wrapped up in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Katharine people like yourself, myself and many others have figured out this game. We know it’s not sustainable. So do many people that have become fabulously wealthy off it. They are buying hard assets, stashing cash and buying land. They see the day that they or their children will see a crash to a hocus pocus finance.
Dino Manalis Added Jan 13, 2018 - 12:38pm
Drugs are useful to treat patients. but addictive and easily abused.  Doctors and pharmacists have to be very careful about prescribing and giving patients such medicines and replace them with other products, if possible, after a period of time.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 13, 2018 - 1:05pm
Mark Henry,
I could write several articles based on your response. Health care, for instance, is such a large and comprehensive issue that nobody seems to have a handle on it.  Why are Americans so sickly?  Could it be related to our sicko society, with its misplaced values and rampant hypocrisy?  
Drug overdoses are on the rise, but so are suicides, murders, and medical error.  Physician-assisted suicide.  Our interminable wars.  All have the effect of reducing population numbers.  Is this conscious?  I doubt it, but it may be the natural result of the debilitating competition that believes it profits by suppressing others.
What galls me about the medical profession is that it is so obsessed with funding and legislation, yet the simplest measures, like NA and AA, have proven most effective over time.  Also, the professionals and FDA have fallen under the spell of the pharmaceutical companies, so that they presume to treat the opioid problem with more opioids.  Meanwhile, they make no effort to educate the public about addition, the dangers of over- and inappropriate medication, or alternatives for such problems as pain relief.  
You're right that monopolists abound, with the federal government the biggest monopoly of all.  What to do about it?  I wish I knew.
John Minehan Added Jan 13, 2018 - 1:14pm
Funny, we as a society, have seen major problems coming from the over-prescription of powerful pain killers, but people in end-of-life situations often die in agony from insufficient analgesia.  
Katharine Otto Added Jan 13, 2018 - 1:15pm
I have to wonder who is really pulling the strings.  It can't be a single individual, or even a group, as these people can't get along with each other.  I believe it is larger than that, in that it's a belief system attracting like minds who believe they are born to control.  John D. Rockefeller certainly believed that his wealth was a combination of hard work and God's will, and his Baptist faith reinforced it.  
As far as hoarding cash goes, when the currency collapses, the cash will be no good.  Buying land may work as long as the creek don't rise (my property was flooded by storm surge from Hurricane Irma), and the government doesn't eminent domain your assets or seize because of some "trumped" up claim.  I contend there are really no safe havens for hoarded wealth, so it's safer to be poor.  Less to lose.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 14, 2018 - 8:54pm
Sounds like a meaty book.  I will look into it.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 14, 2018 - 9:00pm
There's a lot of ambivalence over pain killers.  Patient-controlled analgesia, especially for cancer patients, is pretty common.  And, of course, no pain reliever is 100% effective.  There's also the fear of overdosing critically ill patients and causing respiratory depression or aspiration.  
The politics surrounding opioids make it hard for anyone involved to think objectively.
Bill Kamps Added Jan 15, 2018 - 6:28am
KO, the opiod crisis is a merge of many  factors, and yes big ones are the profit to be made.  Another big part of it was our desire for a "quick solution".  Doctors want to see their patient for as little time as possible, so they can see more patients, patients dont question what the doctor says because taking a pill to feel better fits nicely into what they want from a doctor. 
While the politics and money played a great role, a lot of people suspended common sense as well.  Patients think that because the doctor prescribed the pills they are safe.  They may be necessary in some circumstances, but they are not safe.  People are literally playing with fire, and dont want to think too much about it, because the pills make them feel good.
In some situations it is easier to take a pill to cure a painful bad back, than to lose weight and exercise.
There is a lot of pain out there, both real and emotional, and the pills make people feel better. 
What to do about it?  Well, like many situations, we have to take control of our own lives.  This isnt necessarily easy.  Companies and governments literally hand us the means to ruin our lives.  Doctors use the same techniques as drug pushers, "the first one is free", handing out samples.   We need to remember that we are responsible for our health, not the doctor, we need to find out about any drug before we start taking it, and if possible we need to change our lives so taking drugs every day is not our way of life. 
We learned during Prohibition that we cant pass laws to regulate what is harmful to people.  Same is true with opiods.  If they were free, and available like M&M's does that mean we should be taking them routinely?  No of course not. 
Whether it is meth, alcohol, opiods, or some other drug, there are many people who want to escape the problems in their lives through drugs of some kind.  There will always be a drug that people can take to escape.  Impossible to address this at the supply level, only at the demand level.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jan 15, 2018 - 11:15am
Fantastic one, agree fully ! And that applies to a lot of European countries as well, especially the German-speaking part of Austria, Switzerland and Germany:
The willingness to delegate authority to others on such a grand scale has the effect of keeping the populace in a child-like state of dependency, without the initiative to question or challenge the status quo.
Dave Volek Added Jan 15, 2018 - 7:29pm
New laws often have nefarious motivations behind them.
If anything, we need a new system of governance to create laws that benefit society as a whole, rather than having some vested interest or ideology be the main beneficiary.
Mircea Negres Added Jan 16, 2018 - 3:42am
Great article, Katharine. I would suggest a small correction though. The Opium Wars had at their origin the high European demand for Chinese tea and that empire's monopoly on it. The Chinese demanded silver in payment for tea and over time this led to a dangerous trade imbalance. To counteract it, the British and Americans figured to sell Indian and Afghan opium to the Chinese for silver, and they could do it cheaper because of modern mass manufacturing techniques. Until then opium was really the preserve of the wealthy, but the lower prices offered by the British and American traders made it more accessible for ordinary people. In short order there were around 150.000.000 addicts in China, a figure which stayed there until the communists came to power and the government began to crack down on the opium business and criminalized addiction.
The oldest fight that I know of in human society is the struggle for power between the masses and ruling elites. In order to gain, hold and even increase their power, ruling elites have used a variety of means. It began with the corruption of religion (a social construct which gave hope and set up social norms of behavior) and over the millennia moved on to other sophisticated measures, the latest of which is brainwashing of the masses via propaganda in schools and media, which is aided by the introduction of substances which lower mental resistance like opiates and hallucinogens. When it comes to fighting that, the only way is to do what Nancy Reagan once advised- JUST SAY NO- because drugs are enormously addictive and the best cure is prevention. Again, a very good article. Thumbs up big time!  
mark henry smith Added Jan 16, 2018 - 1:10pm
The entire basis of addiction and the nanny state is to alleviate suffering, so industries develop when suffering arises to alleviate suffering that create more suffering in a never-ending cycle. Look at opioids. We had addicts, in my youth it was heroin, and it was decided to help them not by legalizing the drugs and making sure they got their fix in a clean and healthy way, because you can have healthy heroin addicts, as Burroughs, the writer was, but to criminalize addiction and create all alternative addictive substance, methadone, run as a monopoly by the state for the benefit of who? So all of your addicts can now become state addicts.
And the drug used to treat ODs is another state sponsored way of rewarding an industry that has no incentive to fight addiction, but to promote it. Wouldn't fentanyl be a perfect way to increase the need for your product? I'm not accusing, just saying. There all kinds of perverse incentives out there. The prison industry needs criminals. The methadone industry needs addicts. The healthcare industry needs patients. The insurance industry needs people who make bad decisions. And all of these industries need a government that does not stand in the way, but is willing to be complicit.
I believe in the power of government to do great things, but in the US we have the government that Eisenhower warned about. An institutionalized military that needs wars to justify its existence, so wars are created. Vietnam didn't start because we wanted to create a democratic Vietnam, but for exactly the opposite reason. And isn't it odd that the Gulf of Tonkin, a fabrication, we now know, came on the heals of country wide race riots? Nothing limits dissent like a good war. And a good draft of young black men into an organization that will channel their aggression away from political activism.
Thank you Bill Kamps and Mircea and all. I am an example of a person coming to the conclusion that just say no is the best approach and to accept the suffering of going cold turkey. Our inability to watch people suffer the consequences of their behavior is one of the great tragedies of our age. Our inability to put institutions and programs in place that offer alternatives to degenerate behavior and poor health is another.          
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 4:33pm
I agree that patients trust doctors too much, but the system is set up that way.  The best way to create demand for anything is to put controls on it--the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden is an example. 
Prescriptions and illegality are ways of putting controls and increasing perceived value of the substance.  That's why I question drug laws, including prescription laws. 
Removing prescription requirements would force people to educate themselves about what they are taking and why, a method of making people more responsible for their own lives, as you suggest.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 4:38pm
The desire to pop a pill goes farther than just escaping problems in life.  There's also the use of pharmaceutical agents, such as antihypertensives and statins, to compensate for stress and worry, lack of exercise, and poor diet.  In fact, medications are used instead of common sense and patience to alleviate a whole variety of uncomfortable physical and mental feelings.  
When we talk about drugs, we need to think beyond the addictive ones to see how addicted we are to pharmaceuticals across the board.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 4:43pm
Thank you for the support.  I've been hearing people wishing for a "leader," as though any "leader" will solve the world's current problems.  But it seems so-called "leaders" only provide someone to blame when things go wrong.  You would have to be a masochist to want to be a leader.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 4:49pm
Laws that "benefit society as a whole" depend on the perspective of those making the laws.  I confess to not having read your book, but I'm suspicious of anyone who presumes to make laws that coerce other people.  I prefer the concept of "guidelines."  For instance, do we need laws against murder, when everyone knows it's wrong?   
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 4:55pm
What sells oil?  War, international shipping, the private automobile, airline travel, plastics.  Electric cars are not the answer, because they will depend on the power grid for a long time, which will increase energy demands.  
Alternatives like solar and wind may alleviate the demand for oil, but as long as we pursue oil-intensive practices like war and shipping, the oil industry will prosper.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 5:04pm
I stand corrected, since you seem to know more about Chinese/European trading history than I do.  My main point is that drug laws are a control tactic by the "ruling classes."  Who gave the "ruling classes" the right to rule?  They just had the biggest guns and probably the best propaganda machines, such as the church.
Many drugs that are abused now have been around for centuries.  Why is it only now a problem?  Doesn't that say something about society as a whole?
I would like to know why there were so many addicts in China and why the government cared enough to outlaw it, or why any government feels the need to control the use of mind-altering drugs.
I remember a professor in college saying every culture known to man has used some kind of mind-altering drug, except the Eskimos, who quickly adopted alcohol.
Also, why does the brain have receptors for drugs like the opiates and cannabis.  The drugs would have no effect if the brain wasn't receptive to them.  
Katharine Otto Added Jan 16, 2018 - 5:16pm
Mark Henry,
I don't know about the power of government to do great things.  We don't know of alternatives, since we've never been without government.  
Be that as it may, the US government is a great enabler, and it supports the industries that foster dependencies.  Thus my theory that addiction is indicative of power struggles with authority.  We are moving toward more controls, but I believe the solution lies in having fewer controls.  Certainly the scare tactics being used now about the "opioid crisis" confuse the picture, because they are so distorted.  The conflation of heroin and prescription opioids is only one example.
I can't help but wonder if the increase in heroin use is related to the war in Afghanistan.   Morphine use went down after the Civil War, when fewer people were getting maimed.  Heroin use went down after returning Vietnam vets quit smuggling it in.  I'm also told that drugs are used as a medium of exchange for the CIA and terrorists.
B.E. Ladin Added Jan 17, 2018 - 12:28am
This is an interesting, and informative article.
B.E. Ladin Added Jan 17, 2018 - 12:31am
See American Made with Tom Cruise.
mark henry smith Added Jan 17, 2018 - 4:00pm
Very interesting points, Katherine. The government is in the drug business on both ends, I do believe, as Iran-Contra showed. The government is in the criminalization business, as drug policy shows. The government is in the war business, as all of our recent debacles show. Our government is in the entertainment business, as Trump shows. Our government is in the debt business, as the deficit shows. Our government is in every business except the one it was set up to be in. That's the democracy business.
Let's get government back to doing what it was created to do, be a facilitator for freedom and democracy amongst all citizens.   
Katharine Otto Added Jan 18, 2018 - 10:43am
Mark Henry,
That's two of us.  Now, we merely need to convince all those people who profit from being in the government business.
In broad strokes, I believe the best function of government is to make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing.  That would include encouraging individual participation without coercion.  Why do people contribute time and money voluntarily to their churches or charities?  Well, they believe in the missions and the good intent.  How many Americans can say they believe in the federal government's good intent?
mark henry smith Added Jan 18, 2018 - 1:08pm
Katherine, they can't.
We've had slavery. We've had broken treaties with the indigenous people. We've had the Trail of Tears. We've had refugees from the Holocaust turned away. We've had an entrenched elite run this country from day one. A new elite has evolved, a moneyed elite that doesn't have America's best interest in mind. We have politicians who play to the basest interests to get elected, use emotional blackmail, use money as an eliminator of candidates who think too much.
But there are good people who want to change this. There are good women and men running. They have been energized by the horrible behavior that has been the boy's club of politics. Trump is the epitome of a system in crisis. I hate to say it, but we needed him to pull us down to the bottom. Isn't that what they say in addiction circles, that you have to hit bottom before you can come up? How much lower can we get?   
Dave Volek Added Jan 18, 2018 - 1:52pm
Laws that "benefit society as a whole" depend on the perspective of those making the laws. 
I'm not sure we will ever get full unity on any laws. But we need a process to vet out the various positions and come to some kind of resolution, and let these laws guide our society.
For example, we could create a law that says "All murderers get put in jail for 20 years". But we have all sorts of shades of murder, from self defence to serial killers. We have decided not to treat all murderers the same--and that requires a lot of laws to define those various shades of grey.
As much as I believe western democracy has outlived its usefulness, it does a much better job of finding laws that work well--when compared to various oligarchies. For example, someone who overly criticizes Mr. Trump can write a best seller book. Someone who overly criticizes Mr. Putin will find himself in jail on trumped up charges.
The various facets of western democracy--free press, free speech, free association, elections, legislative procedures, peaceful protests, etc.--are quite remarkable in how they all work together. Very little is done by a western government is based on arbitrary whims of some powerful people. Any law requires some degree of popular support and some due process.
It is true that many people feel a lot more disconnected from the law-making process than they did a few decades ago. As this credibility erodes, we risk going back to some kind of oligarchy when a populist leader just says: "I'm suspending the constitution and taking full control." If this does happen, average citizens are going to have less input than they did before. I would hope that they read my book and start building the TDG before we get to this state.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 18, 2018 - 8:03pm
Mark Henry,
The system itself needs a drastic overhaul.  While there may be good people running, they are eventually swallowed up by the system itself, used, compromised, bought, outnumbered or otherwise disempowered.
You may be right that Trump has brought the system's inadequacies front and center, for all the world to see.  But we could go lower if we got into a nuclear war or let the off-shore drilling go much farther.  I just hope all our enemies don't decide to gang up on us.  We seem to be provoking them in a big way.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 18, 2018 - 8:13pm
You believe in government more than I do.  Lots of laws are pushed through by committed proponents, and the people are swept along by propaganda or misrepresentation of the truth.  Every law restricts freedoms and sets one person or group of people in judgement over others.  
While you compare the US with other governments, I compare it with what was promised and how those promises have been turned upside down.  Government "by the people" has become "government over the people," yet the people are forced to pay for it.  Rather, in the US, future people are expected to pay for it.  
George N Romey Added Jan 19, 2018 - 10:20am
Katharine big causes big everything.  We've thrown out the 1890 Sherman Anti Trust Act and now we have a litany of too big too fail corporations with too much influence over Americans.  So we turn to big government to police the big corporations but big corporations have enough financial resources to control big government.  Its all one big party we are paying for with those at the top getting benefits and protection.
mark henry smith Added Jan 19, 2018 - 11:58am
Well said George. If the game is money, period, money in politics, money in healthcare, money in environment, no one can compete with the corporations. The amount of money they've accumulated is mind-boggling. And they claim to be citizens like everyone else, that's how the law presents them, so why don't they have to go to war? Why don't they have to go to jail? Why don't they have the same obligations as ordinary citizens? They get the benefit of citizen status, protecting the individuals to a large degree from being responsible for bad decisions, but they get none of the duties, none of the social responsibilities beyond providing jobs and creating profits. So much of the debt is a direct result of taxes being reduced on corporations and that money being placed in private hands. It's classic economics 101. Private interests accepting the profits and pushing the burdens onto the public. It's classic distraction theory, kicking the can down the road by appealing to immediate, emotional issues that do little or nothing to improve the lives of ordinary citizens. 
Katharine Otto Added Jan 19, 2018 - 11:59am
Agreed.  Not only that, but they have bought the opposition via the stock market.  How many people are dependent on their dividends or their stock investments to provide financial security now or later?  No one who has investments wants to rock the boat, and the worst offenders, like Exxon Mobil, pay the highest dividends.  I've decided virtual monopolies, like AT&T or Southern Company, which owns Georgia Power, should not be allowed to trade on Wall Street.  In the case of Southern Company, rate payers are forced to subsidize dividends for people who live all over the world.
Mircea Negres Added Jan 21, 2018 - 2:08am
Katharine, apologies for the late reply. I'm not an expert, but ruling elites were either given power to rule or they took it from "the people", often with the support of the clergy. They not only got the power, but they also expanded it because they wanted and more importantly, they could. Much as I dislike the man, Mao Tse Tung was right when he said that power comes from the barrel of a gun. As for why the Chinese communist government cracked down on drug addiction and the trade in narcotics, it was as a way to stem the outward flow of capital, deprive the American and British peddlers of income and disproportionate power they had over the nation, as well as to be "good communists", because drugs were seen as a decadent bourgeois practice/influence/phenomenon. Both during and after Mao's time, the Chinese did not have addiction treatment centers as we know them- they jailed, killed or allowed addicts to die. As for why there were so many addicts, I think there are two dominant reasons- the harshness of lower class Chinese people's lives during the 19th and up to mid-twentieth century (people seek relief from physical and/or emotional pain, and opiates do provide it), and the greatly lowered price of opium due to British and American mass manufacturing capabilities.  
Katharine Otto Added Jan 21, 2018 - 10:36am
Thanks for your comment.  Your reply spans a couple of centuries, because the Chinese first outlawed opiates in 1729.  While the British did smuggle it in later and export gold and silver in exchange, the opium wars didn't begin until the 1850s.  I believe that the Brits wouldn't have had the opportunity if opiates had been legal in China, so my question about why it was originally outlawed stands.  
Opiates are not generally that lethal, but mixing them--especially if you mix with other drugs (like benzodiazepines--Xanax, Valiium, and the like) or alcohol can be.  Certainly there was no fentanyl in 1729 China and no hypodermics, either.  Ingestion had to be from smoking or swallowing, which are probably more benign avenues.  
I suspect the "opioid crisis" we are seeing now comes from mixing several respiratory depressants.  Also,, the "war on drugs" raises the black market appeal and price.  I wonder how much of that heroin--which falls in a separate category from prescription painkillers--is being smuggled in by Afghanistan veterans.  The government's perennial need for crises to justify its relevance is probably a factor, too.
John Minehan Added Jan 21, 2018 - 10:54am
Opium Wars were 1839-'42 and 1856-'60.
Katharine Otto Added Jan 22, 2018 - 6:29pm
Thanks for the correction.  I had looked it up before but only remembered general dates.  The opium wars provide just one example of opium's long history, political, moral, and economic.

Recent Articles by Writers Katharine Otto follows.