Ukraine – One American Expatriate’s Point of View

As an American who has been living in Kharkiv, Ukraine for the past two years, I’m often asked for my opinion on the current situation in Ukraine by Ukrainians. I’m also often the recipient of concern for my well-being from friends back in the USA. While I’ve exchanged private email and messages with a number of people, and posted a few news stories to my accounts on Facebook and VK, I haven’t actually written up a statement of my own until now. I guess the time has finally come for me to write a few things about the current state of affairs here in Ukraine, and in Kharkiv in particular.

A Brief History Lesson

The Kievan Rus, 8th-9th Century

The Kievan Rus, 8th-9th Century

To even begin to understand the situation in Ukraine, I think Americans need a bit of a history lesson. The fact is that most Americans probably couldn’t have located Ukraine on a map before the recent unrest began, and most of them have zero understanding of Eastern European history. As evidence of this, I cite one question that Americans frequently ask me about Ukraine: “Isn’t the Ukraine part of Russia?” No, Ukraine is not part of Russia, and it’s not “the Ukraine” anymore. During the Soviet era, Ukraine was one of the republics of the USSR, and was known as “the Ukraine” in the west as it was a regional republic within a larger whole (the USSR). Today it is an independent nation, and as a result, the “the” before its name has been dropped. In any case, Americans really do need a bit of a history lesson when it comes to understanding politics, society, and ethnic issues in Eastern Europe, as they generally don’t understand much of anything about this entire region.

The Kievan Rus was established in the 9th century by the Varangians as the first historically recorded Eastern Slavic state. It rose to substantial influence and power during the Middle Ages, but had disintegrated by the end of the 12th century. It was invaded by Lithuanians, Poles, and Mongols, and its territories belonged to those groups entirely by the 14th century. In the 15th century, various regions of modern Ukraine were ruled by the Polish, the Lithuanians, and the Crimeans. By the 18th century, Ukraine had been split between the Poles and the Russians. By the 19th century, it was possessed by the Austrians (and later the Austro-Hungarians) and the Russian Empire, and it remained so until the 20th century. Read more »

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Government, Extortion, and You

Government vs. Mafia: What's the Difference?As an anarchist, I see the world through some quite different lenses than most people. I see government as nothing more than another kind of Mafia; one backed by pieces of paper written hundreds of years ago, and agreed to by small groups of men huddled in special rooms, discussing the best methods for running and maintaining what they euphemistically called, “civilization.” To me, however, what they discussed and agreed to hardly seems civilized. In fact, their agreements seem downright barbaric. For me, there seems precious little difference between the State and the Mafia.

How do government agents differ from Mafiosi? Is there a difference at all, or do they have essentially the same function? I’ll be exploring these questions in the remainder of this article. Read more »

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A Few Questions About Taxes

Tax Protest in London

Tax Protest in London

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that taxes and budget in the USA are related (they’re not), and that if 10% of the budget goes to something, that 10% of your tax dollars go to that same thing (this doesn’t happen).  (Note: In reality, the income tax goes to paying the interest on the national debt, and the USA borrows more money from the Federal Reserve to pay for all those services we’re about to discuss.)

Let’s also assume that our hypothetical wage slave (aka: taxpayer) earns $75k per year, and pays taxes within the standard range on that salary.

That means our hypothetical wage slave pays about $22,500 per year in state and federal income taxes, depending on the state in which he resides.  This does not even take into account the additional taxes he pays every year on things like: utilities, gasoline, products he buys, etc.

Where does his $22,500 go? Read more »

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Central Banking for Dummies

burning moneyA lot of people in the USA now understand that the Federal Reserve (similar to most other central banks around the world) is a private bank that controls the money supply, allegedly on behalf of the government, despite that the government has the right to do this itself through Congress.  That’s thanks to people like Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty. But most still do not really understand how the Fed works. Allow me to break it down for you in personal terms.

Imagine that you are the government of the United States; or more specifically, you are the US Treasury. Now imagine that your bank (let’s call your bank Fubar Bank International) is the Federal Reserve. Finally, imagine that your wages or other forms of income were the taxes raised by government and the IRS (also a private company). If that were the case, this is how your banking would work:

You would work, and when your paycheck arrived, it would not actually belong to you. It would be directly deposited into Fubar Bank. Read more »

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The Death of Money: Emergence and Economics

the death of money

The death of money

Will money become obsolete in the mid-21st-century?

Will technological changes within the next fifty years bring forth an era of super-abundance on Earth, such that a new moneyless vision of human transactions emerges naturally?  It is my assertion that this next great step for human interactions has become inevitable.  All economic roads eventually lead to the end of money in the next century.

[Note: Herein, “money” is defined as “any symbolic medium of exchange.”  It might be beads, or shells, or coins, or slips of paper, or numbers in a database.  In any case, it is understood that the money itself is generally purely symbolic of “value” (except where it takes the form of precious metals) and of little use except in that it may be exchanged for objects of real value.] Read more »

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Who is Oppressed?

If we examined a group of people, a subset of society, and discovered that the group shared the following characteristics, would you call that group “advantaged” or “disadvantaged”? Would you call this group the “oppressor” or the “oppressed”?

oppressionMembers of the group:

  • make up 85% of the homeless
  • are statistically most likely to perish from any one of the major illnesses that kill in the world
  • are substantially more likely to be charged with a crime, given exactly the same set of circumstances, when compared to the general populace
  • when charged with a crime, are substantially more likely to be convicted
  • when convicted of a crime, are substantially more likely to receive a stiffer sentence, and thousands of times more likely to receive the death penalty
  • once sentenced for a crime, are substantially less likely to receive early release
  • drop out of school far more frequently
  • commit suicide more frequently
  • go to college and graduate studies less frequently
  • make up 90% of the people who die in work-related injuries, and the overwhelming majority of those who do not die in work-related illness or injury
  • lose access to their children more frequently in divorce
  • get access to their homes less frequently in divorce
  • make up 90% or more of those working the most dirty and dangerous jobs of society
  • pay more of the taxes while simultaneously collecting less of the benefits
  • can be involuntarily conscripted into armed service
  • are more likely to die in war
  • are not protected against genital mutilation, while the rest of society is

Who is this group?

Is it African Americans?

Hispanics?

Some other minority?

Nope. It is men. Just ordinary men. Not of any particular race, religion or cultural history. Just men.

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