Throughout the colorful history of organized crime in the United States, periodic eruptions of inter-gang Mafia violence have dotted the criminal landscape. When turf wars broke out between competing crime families in major cities such as New York and Chicago, the combatants would conduct their warfare from unsavory redoubts such as abandoned warehouses or low-rent hotels and apartments. In such locations, the soldiers would spend their off hours sleeping on rented mattresses until the internecine conflicts had run their course; hence the expression “going to the mattresses.”
Well, there is another turf war going on, a worldwide one, one that threatens the entire economic and political landscape of the planet. It is between all the hard working savers on the planet and the ever greedy criminal bankers and their cohorts in government. The real big canary singing out an extreme danger warning to all traditional savers who wish to entrust their wealth to banks and other paper vehicles – stocks, bonds, etc., is the incredible emergency banking shutdown in the tiny island nation of Cyprus. Granted, Cyprus represents only .02% of the population of the European Union. Yet what is occurring there is the harbinger of great risk to traditional savers on every continent; and equally important, there are many more scary danger signs raising their ugly heads as well.
To recap for a moment, let’s briefly itemize the situation in Cyprus. Cyprus, like just about every other country on the planet, has for decades been politically committed to a socialist based economy. In this scenario, politicians have promised benefits to the various voting classes which have far exceeded their annual tax revenue. This has caused its government to continually accumulate deficits that have resulted in a very large national debt in relation to its GDP. This debt has been collateralized by sovereign bonds sold to and purchased by large banks in Europe and elsewhere. Now this debt has become so large the government of Cyprus can no longer afford to pay even the interest, let alone reduce principal. What happens at this juncture, is that a powerful international banking institution, in this case, the European Central Bank (substitute your favorite lender of last resort – the Federal Reserve, the IMF, the World Bank, etc., etc.), has agreed to come to the rescue of the cash strapped government and help it make its current annual debt payment.
However, this emergency funding comes with a draconian penalty for the trusting taxpaying savers. In this instance, the European Central Bank has cut a secret deal with the Cypriot government to raid the bank accounts of all the country’s bank depositors, between six and ten percent. This proposed robbery, if it comes to pass, will confiscate billions from citizens and non-citizens alike who have placed their trust in the security of Cyprus’s banks. What has resulted, of course, is riotous response throughout the nation and frantic sell-offs in world equity markets.
What is important to understand here, though, is that this same game plan has been occurring for several years now in many countries throughout the world. Here is the short list of some of the transgressions that unscrupulous governments, under pressure from their major bank lenders, have perpetrated, and continue to perpetrate upon unsuspecting savers.
October 2008 – Argentina’s leftist government, facing a gigantic revenue shortfall, proposes to nationalize all private pensions so as to meet national debt payments and avoid its second default in the decade.
November 2010 – Headline – Hungary Gives Its Citizens an Ultimatum: Move Your Private Pension Fund Assets to the State or Permanently Lose Your Pension – This is an effective nationalization of all pensions.
November 2010 – Ireland elects to appropriate ten billion euros from its National Pension Reserve Fund to help fund an eighty-five billion euro rescue package for its besieged banks. Ireland also moves to consider a regulatory move that compels some private Irish pension funds to hold more Irish government debt, thereby providing the state with a captive investor base but hugely raising the risk for savers.
December 2010 – France agrees to transfer twenty billion euros worth of assets belonging to its Fonds de Reserve pour les Retraites (FRR), the funded portion of its retirement system, to help pay off recurring social benefits costs. No pensioners are consulted.
April 2012 – Argentina announces that its Economy Ministry has taken an emergency loan from the national pension fund in the amount of $4.3 billion. No pensioners were consulted.
June 2012 – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner unilaterally appropriates $45 billion from US federal pension funds to help tide over US deficits for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.
January 2013 – Treasury Secretary Geithner again announces that the government has begun borrowing from the federal employees pension fund to keep operating without passing the approaching “fiscal cliff” debt limit. The move effectively creates $156 billion in borrowing authority from federal pension funds.
March 2013 – Open Bank Resolution finance minister, Bill English, is proposing a Cyprus style solution for potential New Zealand bank failures. The reserve bank is in the final stages of establishing a rescue scheme which will put all bank depositors on the hook for bailing out their banks. Depositors will overnight have their savings shaved by the amount needed to keep distressed banks afloat.
Ladies and gentlemen, this trend is JUST getting underway. Bank failures, sovereign bond collapses, and national government bankruptcy are just around the corner. Because of the interconnectedness of world debt markets and derivatives risk, counted in hundreds of trillions of dollars, the risk to traditional investment vehicles looms ever closer. We’re at critical eleventh hour crossroads where savvy investors need to head for “the mattresses” to protect their life savings. We may be biased but we strongly feel that the very surest and safest “mattress plan” in this extremely dangerous financial environment, is to invest in the one vehicle that has survived every crisis in recorded history, precious metals. When all else fails, gold and silver will be there to save you.
To learn more about the rewards of precious metals investing, including how to fund your existing IRA with gold or silver, call Liberty Gold and Silver seven days a week at 888.751.3330. To learn about the most generous referral program in the precious metals industry, please visit the Liberty Gold and Silver Referral Program.
We’re happy to spend as much time as you need to discuss the details with you.
“The 20th century (was) characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.”- Alex Carey
Recently, while at an event marking the 1,000th day of imprisonment for Bradley Manning, I began to ponder the long and storied role of propaganda that led up to his demonization and incarceration.
“A scientific method of managing behavior”
Given the unspeakable lessons learned from Joseph Goebbels and Nazi Germany, propaganda has long been a dirty word. But when public relations pioneer Edward Bernays got his start in the early 20th century, it was a word less charged but equally as potent. In fact, Bernays unabashedly named one of his books Propaganda.
“Edward Bernays was surely one of the most amazing and influential characters of the twentieth century,” explains PR watchdog, John Stauber. “He was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and helped to popularize Freudianism in the United States. Later, he used his relation to Freud to promote himself. And from his uncle’s psychoanalysis techniques, Bernays developed a scientific method of managing behavior, to which he gave the name ‘public relations.’”
The Vienna-born Bernays was heavily influenced, of course, by his uncle’s work, but it was in the service of war that he helped shape what we call “PR” today.
In what Stauber calls “perhaps the most effective job of large-scale war propaganda which the world has ever witnessed,” the Committee on Public Information, run by veteran newspaperman George Creel with the help of others like Bernays, used all available forms of media to promote the noble purpose behind World War I: To keep the world safe for democracy.
The average American was notoriously wary of any hint of their country entering the bloody conflict. As a result, men like Creel and Bernays were called upon to change some minds with some good old-fashioned propaganda and persuasion.
The Creel Committee (as it came to be known) was the first government agency for outright propaganda in U.S. history; it published 75 million books and pamphlets, had 250 paid employees, and mobilized 75,000 volunteer speakers known as “four minute men,” who delivered their pro-war messages in churches, theaters, and other places of civic gatherings.
The idea, of course, was to give the war effort a positive spin. To do so, the nation had to be convinced that doing their part to support global military conflict on a scale never before seen was indeed a good idea.
“It is not merely an army that we must train and shape for war,” President Woodrow Wilson declared at the time, “it is an entire nation.” The age of manipulated public opinion had begun in earnest.
Although Wilson won reelection in 1916 on a promise of peace, it wasn’t long before he severed diplomatic relations with Germany and proposed arming U.S. merchant ships — even without congressional authority. Upon declaring war on Germany in December 1917, the president proclaimed, “conformity will be the only virtue and any man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.”
In time, the masses got the message as demonstrated by these (and other) results:
Fourteen states passed laws forbidding the teaching of the German language.
Iowa and South Dakota outlawed the use of German in public or on the telephone.
From coast to coast, German-language books were ceremonially burned.
The Philadelphia Symphony and the New York Metropolitan Opera Company excluded Beethoven, Wagner, and other German composers from their programs.
Irish-American newspapers were banned from the mails because Ireland opposed England — one of America’s allies — as a matter of principle.
German shepherds were renamed Alsatians.
Sauerkraut became known as “liberty cabbage.”
Buoyed by the indisputable success of the Creel Committee and armed with the powerful psychoanalytical techniques of his Uncle Sigmund, Bernays set about shaping American consciousness in a major way.
“Torches of Freedom”
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” Bernays wrote in Propaganda. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.”
Bernays’ vision had a dominant economic component. As described by Tim Adams of the London Observer, Bernays “thought that the safest way of maintaining democracy was to distract people from dangerous political thought by letting them think that their real choices were as consumers.”
A fine illustration of Bernays’ approach involves his efforts — for the American Tobacco Company — to persuade woman to take up cigarette smoking. His slogan, “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet,” exploited women’s fear about gaining weight (arguably a fear manufactured through previous advertising and/or public relations work).
While Lucky Strike sales increased by 300 percent in the first year of Bernays’ campaign, there was still one more barrier he needed to break down: smoking remained mostly taboo for “respectable” women.
This is where some watered-down Freud came in handy. As Bernays biographer Larry Tye said, he basically wanted to take his uncle’s works and “popularize them into little ditties that housewives and others could relate to.” With input from psychoanalyst A.A. Brill, Bernays conjured up the now legendary scheme to re-frame cigarettes as a symbol of freedom.
“During the 1929 Easter Parade,” explains New York Times reporter Ron Chernow, “he had a troupe of fashionable ladies flounce down Fifth Avenue, conspicuously puffing their ‘Torches of Freedom,’ as he had called cigarettes.”
As Chernow reports, Bernays augmented this successful stunt by lining up “neutral experts” to “applaud the benefits of smoking, all the while concealing the tobacco company’s sponsorship of his activity.”
Bernays was also concealing his knowledge of tobacco’s deleterious effects. “As he hypocritically seduced American women into smoking, he was trying to wean his own wife from the nasty habit,” Chernow continues.
His daughter Anne Bernays, the novelist, recalls that whenever he discovered a pack of his wife’s Parliaments, ‘he’d pull them all out and just snap them like bones, just snap them in half and throw them in the toilet. He hated her smoking.’”
“Insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny”
With the legislative ground made fertile by men like Bernays and Creel, the Espionage Act was passed in June 1917. It read in part:
“Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than 20 years, or both.”
This act cast a wide net and, predictably, civil liberties were trampled. In Vermont, for example, a minister was sentenced to 15 years in prison for writing a pamphlet, distributed to five persons, in which he claimed that supporting the war was wrong for a Christian.
Perhaps the best-known target of the act was noted socialist Eugene V. Debs who, after visiting three fellow socialists in a prison in June 1918, spoke out across the street from the jail for two hours. He was arrested and found guilty, but, before sentencing, Debs famously told the judge:
“Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
Eugene Debs remained in prison until 1921 and roughly 900 others also did time thanks to the Espionage Act.
While some of more controversial sections were repealed in 1921, the Espionage Act remains on the books today and has been used against, for example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, and yes, Bradley Manning.
Never forget, comrades: This is what we’re up against.
NYC Event Note: To continue conversations like this, come see Mickey Z. in person on Mar. 19 in NYC for Occupy for All Species: Social Justice in the Age of Climate Change.
On January 16 Islamic militants staged an audacious attack on a major natural gas complex in southeastern Algeria, 800 miles southeast from the capital. A jihadist group calling itself the Masked Brigade—led by Moktar Belmoktar, the fierce one-eyed veteran of the Afghan war and a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—claimed responsibility for the raid on the In Amenas gas facility near the Libyan border. Dozens of foreign hostages were taken, including at least seven Americans, as well as workers from Britain, Ireland, Norway, Japan, and other countries.
On January 17 government forces launched an operation to retake the facility. On January 18 the crisis was still continuing. Some hostages have been freed but an unknown number of others were reported killed, either by their captors or by the Algerian army fire. There has been some dismay in Western capitals over the speed and ferocity of the authorities’ response. The Algerian government strongly defended its action. “Those who think we will negotiate with terrorists are delusional,” said Mohamed Said Belaid, Algeria’s communications minister. “Those who think we will surrender to their blackmail are delusional.” The assessment seems right: allowing the attackers to escape to Libya with the hostages, or settling in for a long siege, was exactly what the Masked Brigade leaders would have hoped for.
The raid on In Amenas is the most significant military event in North Africa since the end of operations in Libya in October 2011. It was more sophisticated than the attack which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi last September 11. Its implications are far more momentous than the escalating jihadist insurgency in the landlocked and dirt-poor Mali, bordering Algeria to the south.
Western media reports have taken scant notice of the proximity of the Libyan border to In Amenas, which is a significant omission. It now seems certain that the attackers came from a stronghold in Libya, across the unguarded desert. If this is confirmed, the attack would provide further evidence that the NATO-led war—in addition to plunging Libya into chaos—has given a boost to jihadist activity in the region. It has also enabled the militants to amass a substantial arsenal of modern weaponry: Belmokhtar’s faction is known to have commandeered vast quantities of weapons from Libyan military stockpiles at the end of the war. AQIM fighters are well poised to try destabilizing Algeria again, now that they have established a cross-border sanctuary which was denied them by Qaddafy.
AQIM was formed in 2007 by veterans of two Algerian groups that fought the government during the fierce civil war in the 1990’s, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and the Armed Islamic Group. It is one of the jihadist network’s biggest, richest and most heavily armed subsidiaries. Its “Masked Brigade” is said to have carried out the attack in retaliation for Algeria’s agreement to let France use its air space to supply French forcesbattling Islamic militants in Mali, but the assumption is too optimistic. It would have been impossible to plan such a complex operation barely a week since the beginning of the French operation in Mali. The attack must have been planned well in advance of the French military involvement, with the air space issue providing a misleading pretext which the Western media have been all to willing to accept at face value.
The Algerian extremists have bigger fish to fry. Their wider objective is to reignite the Islamic insurgency in Algeria, which the secularist government successfully suppressed over a decade ago. The authorities officially lifted the 19-year-old state of emergency in February 2011, just before the “Arab Spring” spread to Libya.
The jihadists’ new strategy may be gleaned from the fact that the assault on In Amenas is their first major attack ever on an Algerian hydrocarbon installation. Algeria is the third-largest gas supplier to Europe and one of the world’s biggest producers of liquefied natural gas. Well aware of the importance of energy revenues the rebels refrained from attacking production facilities in the 1990’s, hoping to reap the benefits after an eventual regime change. Targeting such facilities now indicates that they are smarting for a new, long fight. They are initially aiming to destroy Algeria’s image as a safe location for foreign oil and gas companies to invest and operate. In the long run they are hoping to make Algeria the next domino.
The effects of the attack were felt immediately. Snam Rete, which operates the Italian gas network, announced on January 17 that volumes of gas pumped into Italy from Algeria through a vital trans-Mediterranean pipeline had fallen from over 70 million cubic meters a day (mcm/d) to just over 60 million—a drop of 15% at a time of peak consumption.
The implications of a renewed conflict in Algeria for European energy security are immense. If similar attacks spread to the scantily protected oil and gas fields in southwest Libya, which has no effective military force controlled by the government in Tripoli, the consequences would be potentially disastrous for the consumers in Italy, France, and points further north. Algeria is the third-largest supplier of gas into the European Union (after Russia and Norway), and In Amenas’ output alone covers two per cent of total European demand, accounting for 18 per cent of Algeria’s gas exports and earning $4 billion a year in export revenues.
Russia’s Gazprom may step in to make up the shortfall, as it did in 2011 when the war in Libya brought its gas exports to an abrupt halt, but an important consequence may be to draw Europe and the United States apart on the key issue of energy politics. An ever-greater reliance on Russia’s gas runs counter to the U.S. strategy of nudging Europeans to diversify their supplies by increasing deliveries from majority-Muslim countries. Most Europeans are lukewarm about the stalled Nabucco pipeline, which has been strongly favored by the U.S., and their misgivings are bound to be reinforced by the latest developments across the Mediterranean.
The latest crisis is the direct consequence of the ill-advised, unnecessary, and self-defeating NATO intervention in Libya. It is but another reminder that Western interventionism in the Muslim world is a form of psychosis which harms the interests of the intervening powers, brings nothing but misery to the targeted lands and peoples, and benefits only the darkest enemies of civilization in today’s world.
It does not mean to stand up for any political party, politician or any other another state.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon the Democratic National Committee to rescind its invitation to former President Jimmy Carter to address the upcoming 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Among Carter’s ‘crimes’ are his 2007 book, “Peace Not Apartheid” which the ZOA claims is filled with “falsehoods about Israel, not least the vicious insinuation in its title that Israel resembles the evils of the apartheid regime in South Africa and that Jews living in Judea and Samaria, is the ‘primary’ obstacle to peace.”
According to a UN report, Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein admitted that “Israel today was an apartheid State with four different Palestinian groups: those in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israeli Palestinians, each of which had a different status…even if the wall followed strictly the line of the pre-1967 border, it would still not be justified. The two peoples needed cooperation rather than walls because they must be neighbors.” 
The ZOA is also up in arms over Carter daring to mention that Israel has destroyed over 40,000 Palestinian homes, which have rendered hundreds of thousand Palestinians homeless and that Gaza is an open-air prison.
The ZOA ignores the Jewish Justice Richard Goldstone’s 575-page report of September 29, 2009, which accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes perpetuated during the 22 days of assault on Gaza when the Israeli military launched Operation Cast Lead; a full-scale attack on Gaza that killed 13 Israelis and 1,400 Palestinians.
Over 5,000 Palestinians were injured, 400,000 were left without running water, 4,000 homes were destroyed, rendering tens of thousands who are still homeless because of Israel’s targeted attacks upon them, their schools, hospitals, streets, water wells, sewage system, farms, police stations and UN buildings.
US-supplied weapons enabled the 22 days of Israel’s attack on the people of Gaza and we the people of the US who pay taxes provide over $3 billion annually to Israel although Israel has consistently misused U.S. weapons in violation of America’s Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.
During the 22 days of Israeli assault on Gaza, “Washington provided F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions, including white phosphorus and DIME. The weapons required for the Israeli assault was decided upon in June 2008, and the transfer of 1,000 bunker-buster GPS-guided Small Diameter Guided Bomb Units 39 (GBU-39) were approved by Congress in September. The GBU 39 bombs were delivered to Israel in November (prior to any claims of Hamas cease fire violation!) for use in the initial air raids on Gaza. 
During Operation Cast Lead, the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, International Red Cross, and global voices of protest rose up and demanded a ceasefire, but both houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions to support a continuation of Israel’s so called “self defense.”
In a 71-page report released March 25, 2009, by Human Rights Watch, Israel’s repeated firing of US-made white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.
“Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” provides eye witness accounts of the devastating effects that white phosphorus munitions had on civilians and civilian property in Gaza.
“Human Rights Watch researchers found spent shells, canister liners, and dozens of burnt felt wedges containing white phosphorus on city streets, apartment roofs, residential courtyards, and at a United Nations school in Gaza immediately after hostilities ended in January.
“Militaries officially use white phosphorus to obscure their operations on the ground by creating thick smoke. It has also been used as an incendiary weapon, though such use constitutes a war crime.
“In Gaza, the Israeli military didn’t just use white phosphorus in open areas as a screen for its troops,” said Fred Abrahams, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “It fired white phosphorus repeatedly over densely populated areas, even when its troops weren’t in the area and safer smoke shells were available. As a result, civilians needlessly suffered and died.” [Ibid]
Last year, I attended AIPAC’s D.C. Conference and heard President Obama speak about the dangers of the spread of nuclear weapons but not a word about Israel’s still un-inspected WMD facility-which everyone in the world, except most Americans learned about 26 years ago, when Mordechai Vanunu’s photos and testimony made front page news in London’s The Sunday Times.
Obama also mentioned his visit to the Jewish Wailing Wall and how he thought about the generations who have wanted a homeland; but not a word was uttered about the generations of indigenous Palestinians who are still denied their inalienable right to return home or about the 21st century Wailing Wall: The Apartheid Wall:
Obama told of his visit to Sderot and the struggles of those residents, but he neglected to travel five minutes away into the open air prison of Gaza where 1.5 million human beings-800,000 are under the age of 16-struggle every moment of the day just to survive under a brutal siege aided and abetted by USA policy!
In 2009, I spent an evening in Sderot and learned that most everyone there would be just as happy to migrate to Las Vegas than live in Israel: Read more…
Israel’s existence is a fact of life, but what can never be accepted by people of conscience is Israel’s ‘right’ to steal land and resources of the indigenous people of Palestine and we the people of this homeland’s tax dollars that aid, abet and sustain an illegal, immoral and brutal military occupation.
All through that AIPAC conference I heard the incessant drumbeat of Israel’s rights, about the “special relationship” “shared values” “common Interests” the “Jewish State” and claims that Israel is a democracy, but Israel is not-and never has been a Democracy!
In the May 28, 1993 edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, Ariel Sharon explained:
“The terms ‘democracy’ or ‘democratic’ are totally absent from the Declaration of Independence. This is not an accident. The intention of Zionism was not to bring democracy, needless to say. It was solely motivated by the creation in Eretz-Isrel of a Jewish state belonging to all the Jewish people and to the Jewish people alone. This is why any Jew of the Diaspora has the right to immigrate to Israel and to become a citizen of Israel.”
Jeff Halper, American Israeli, co-founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Professor of Anthropology explained that, ”An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group-the Jews in Israel, the Russians in Russia, the Protestants in pre-1972 Northern Ireland, the whites in apartheid South Africa, the Shi’ite Muslims in Iran, the Malay in Malaysia and, if they had their way, the white Christian fundamentalists in the US-seize control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos, whereby one’s ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a county actually ‘belongs.’”
In his Farewell Address, President George Washington warned US:
“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all…and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”
Obama admitted that true friends speak open and honestly and that “the current situation does not allow procrastination. The world is moving too fast [and] the Talmud teaches as long as one has life do not abandon faith. We will never abandon universal human rights.”
It was President Harry Truman who crossed out the word ”Jewish state” on the draft of the Establishment of Israel that was cabled him and substituted ”State of Israel” which he affirmed was contingent upon Israel upholding the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Read more…
As a Member State of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, America is obligated to hold ALL other Member States to it!
As an American patriot who went online in 2005 after my first of 7 trips to Israel and Occupied Palestine, all I have been saying is that when Israel honors its founding promises and America upholds its obligation as a Member State of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then YES WE CAN begin this world again by BUILDING IT according to the principals outlined and agreed to in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
3. Jeff Halper, An Israeli in Palestine: Resisting Dispossession, Redeeming Israel, Page 74
Anyone claiming that international bankers, multinational company executives, members of the Bilderberg Group, elite academics, senior judges, United Nations officials and European Union strategists are working together to undermine the remnants of sovereignty and identity of old Christian nations through mass Third World immigration would be dismissed by our bien pensants as a conspiracy theorist. A wacko unfit for polite society.
Enter Peter Sutherland (66), a remarkable man. Addressing the House of Lords sub-committee on immigration on June 21, Mr. Sutherland said that the EU should “do its best to undermine” the “homogeneity” of its member states in order to make them truly multicultural. He was addressing the peers in his capacity of head of the Global Forum on Migration and Development, but that is only one of Peter Sutherland’s many affiliations. He is also:
- the UN’s special representative for migration;
- non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International who made $200 million from the bank’s flotation in 1999;
- former chairman of Allied Irish Bank, the biggest in the country;
- former member of the European Commission;
- “Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See,” offering advice on the Vatican’s finances;
- former Director General of The World Trade Organization (WTO);
- former chairman of oil giant BP, with a salary of $1,000,000 a year;
- former Attorney General of Ireland;
- Chairman of the Council of the London School of Economics;
and last but by no means least,
- a regular participant in meetings of The Bilderberg Group, which the BBC report on his remarks to the Lords tactfully described as “a top level international networking organization often criticized for its alleged secrecy.”
The future prosperity of many EU states depended on them becoming “multicultural,” Sutherland told the peers, “however difficult it may be to explain this to the citizens of those states.” An ageing or declining native population in countries like Germany or southern EU states was the “key argument … for the development of multicultural states,” he said. “It’s impossible to consider that the degree of homogeneity which is implied by the other argument can survive because states have to become more open states, in terms of the people who inhabit them,” according to Sutherland. “At the most basic level individuals should have a freedom of choice” because anyone should have the right to work or study in the country of his or her preference.
Criticizing the UK government’s current attempt to cut net immigration to “tens of thousands” a year through visa restrictions, Mr. Sutherland urged EU member states to adopt “a global approach to the issue” and “accommodate more readily those from other backgrounds.” He bewailed the fact that many Europeans “still nurse a sense of [their] homogeneity and difference from others… And that’s precisely what the European Union, in my view, should be doing its best to undermine.”
This is the most explicit statement of intent to date by an authoritative member of what is de facto world government. Nations should disappear by being cured of the sense of difference from others, dissenters should be coerced into submission, and everyone in the world is entitled to live anywhere in the world.
It is noteworthy that, in Sutherland’s view, the EU has not done enough to advance his agenda. As it happens, Brussels has decreed many years ago that countries of the European Union no longer have the power to decide on who comes or stays within their borders. In 1999, the Treaty of Amsterdam transferred responsibility for immigration policies from individual member-countries to the EU Council of Ministers, acting on proposals from the unelected European Commission. The all-out EU effort to undermine “homogeneity” is over a decade old. Its founding document is the European Council agreement signed in Tampere (Finland) in October 1999, which mandated granting immigrants all those rights enjoyed by host-country citizens. It also demanded relaxation of asylum policy, since European freedoms should not be regarded “as the exclusive preserve of the Union’s own citizens” and will not be denied to those “whose circumstances lead them justifiably to seek access to our territory.” The European Union Presidency statement on racism of March 21, 2002, declared that the EU “bases its very existence in the idea that “all peoples and individuals constitute one human family.”
With his plea that “individuals should have a freedom of choice,” Sutherland is knocking on an open EU door, and he knows it. For a cultural radical like him no given status quo is ever satisfactory, however. Brussels can and should do more, for as long as there are Britons, Germans or Italians who are still proud of who they are and who still believe that their countries should somehow belong to them and their offspring.
It is to be feared that Europeans may get physically eradicated well before their “sense of difference” is destroyed though state education and judicial fiat. Even on current form Europe is well on the way to population replacement. In France—to take the most drastic example—of close to 800,000 live births in a nation of just under 60 million, Muslim immigrants (predominantly from North Africa) and their French-born descendants currently account for close to one-third. Short of a sudden reversal of policies and demographic curves, even without Sutherland’s radical measures there will be no “Europeans” a century from now. They will literally disappear as members of ethnic groups that share the same language, culture, and ancestors, and inhabit lands associated with their names.
Peter Sutherland embodies the Western elite class: he is deracinated, authoritarian, rich, arrogant, contemptuous of the common people, powerful and dangerous. In other words, a few details of the physique notwithstanding, he is Barack Obama’s older brother. It is therefore unsurprising that in his remarks to the House of Lords he praised the United States as the model of multicultural openness that Europe would be well advised to emulate.
Over the past two decades the decisionmakers in Washington have acquired and internalized a bias in Balkan affairs that falls outside the parameters of rational debate. As Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute has noted, such policy is not as inconsistent as it seems: “Time after time the U.S. policy makers would ask what is it that the Serbs want, they would think about it for about five seconds, and reply that it is totally unacceptable.”
Such consistency has had grim results. Their mendacity, as displayed at Rambouillet in February 1999, was on par with the farce of Munich in 1938. In Kosovo their bombs led to a violent secession by an ethnic minority which, in the fullness of time, may render many European borders tentative. In Bosnia-Herzegovina they helped ignite the war in the spring of 1992, notably with U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmermann’s now notorious mission to Sarajevo. They kept it going in 1993 by torpedoing the European-led peace initiatives. They engineered an outcome in 1995 that could have been obtained in 1992 without a single shot. In Croatia, in August 1995, they aided and abetted the biggest act of ethnic cleansing in post-1945 Europe.
The puzzling question remains: why did America get involved in Balkan affairs, which bear no relationship to U.S. security, involving herself in long-standing and perhaps incurable national conflicts, and consistently acting in bad faith at that?
THE BURDEN OF HISTORY—The U.S. policy in the Balkans made its debut near the end of the First World War. President Wilson, while advocating the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918, did not realize that the unification of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was at least half-century overdue: the process of separate cultural development and the emergence of mutually incompatible national identities among the South Slavs had been completed. But being a liberal, Wilson did not allow Balkan realities to get in the way of his vision. He blended the Puritan self-righteous zeal with the Progressive Era’s belief in the power of politics to change the world for the better. His concepts of “self-determination,” “enlarging democracy” and “collective security” signaled the birth of a view of America’s role in world affairs which has created—and is still creating—endless problems for America and for the world.
After 1948 Tito came to be perceived as an asset by the U.S. Money, weapons, and warm welcome were soon to follow and continued until the end of the dictator’s life in 1980. Fixated on “Tito’s Yugoslavia” as a factor of Cold War stability, key American leaders disregarded—a decade later—the fact that Tito’s internal boundaries between the federal republics were the root cause of the looming conflict. Arbitrarily designed by the communist winners in the civil war in 1945, they left a third of all Serbs outside Serbia-proper, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro. For good measure two “autonomous provinces” were carved out of Serbia, one of which—Kosovo—is an almost Serbenfrei quasi-state today.
For as long as Yugoslavia existed the Serbs could nevertheless derive some comfort from the existence of a common Federal framework: it appeared to promise them a measure of security from the repetition of the nightmare of 1941-45. When Yugoslavia started unraveling, however, in 1991-92, they were determined to resist any attempt by the breakaway republics to force millions of Serbs to become insecure and disliked minorities in their own land.
POLITICAL ESSENCE OF THE WARS—In Croatia in 1991 and in Bosnia in 1992 the Serbs reacted in the same manner as the Americans of Texas, Arizona or New Mexico may react—10 or 20 years from now—if they are outvoted by a Latino majority demanding that those states be reabsorbed into Mexico, or into a contrived “Republic of the North.” For those who discount such outcomes, let us remember history. For example, the Protestant Ulstermen fought, demanded, and were given the right to stay in the United Kingdom when the Irish nationalists opted for secession in 1921. A second poignant illustration is the creation of the State of West Virginia in 1863 when—during the Civil War—the Union annexed the counties of the Commonwealth of Virginia that rejected secession. When comparing the paradigms, the Loyalists of Ulster and the Unionists of West Virginia were just as guilty of a “Joint Criminal Enterprise” to break up Ireland, or the Old Dominion, as were the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina who did not want to be dragged into secession by the Muslim plurality.
Yugoslavia was a flawed polity, and in principle there should have been no objection to the striving of Croats or Bosnian Muslims to create their own nation-states. But equally there could have been no justification for forcing over two million Serbs west of the Drina River to be incorporated into those states against their will. Yugoslavia came together in 1918 as a union of South Slav peoples, and not as a federation of states or territorial units. Its divorce, once it became inevitable, should have proceeded on the same basis. This has been the key foundation of the Yugoslav conflict ever since the first shots were fired in May 1991.
The political essence of the wars of Yugoslav disintegration has been systematically hidden or distorted in the Western mainstream media, academia, and political forums, behind the portrayal of the Serbs as primitive ultranationalists who seek to conquer other peoples’ lands by violent means. The demonization of the Serbs was an exercise in social constructivism, depressingly effective in its crude simplicity. As early as 1992 the media pack equated the brutalities of the Balkans with the Holocaust. Once the paradigm matured with the myth of the “Srebrenica Genocide,” and once any doubters were equated with holocaust deniers, the possibilities for mendacity were limitless. Its fruits will be with us for decades to come.
UNDERSTANDING THE ABSURD—At the level of institutionalized corruption which passes for the political process in Washington D.C. the Yugoslav policy was the end-result of the interaction of pressure groups within the power structure: finding a new role for NATO, earning points in the Muslim world, caving in to ethnic lobbying, pandering to the military-industrial complex, isolating Russia, controlling strategic routes between Europe and the Middle East, and above all cementing American global hegemony. The influence of organized political lobbies in Washington was not decisive, but it should not be underestimated. Anti-Serb lobbies, notably Albanian-Americans, have been well-funded and well-placed for decades, while today (as in the past) the “Serbian lobby” does not exist. As James Jatras has noted, well before the outbreak of hostilities in 1991, the Serbs had already been branded the bad guys. Combined with media reinforcement, much false information was and still is accepted as unquestionable fact.
The Bosnian war transformed NATO into a tool of U.S. hegemony and it opened the door to the renewal of American dominance in European affairs to an extent not seen since Kennedy. As the late Richard Holbrooke put it, Dayton demonstrated that Europeans were not capable of resolving their own problems and that America was still the “indispensable nation.” He boasted, a year later, “We are re-engaged in the world, and Bosnia was the test.”
It is undeniable that geopolitical-strategic factors have played a role in defining the Balkan policy in Washington. Such “rational” reasons are not sufficient, however, to explain the zeal of successive administrations in pursuing a premeditatedly duplicitous anti-Serb policy. The clue is not in the realm of tangible strategic benefits and geopolitical assets, of transit corridors, oil and gas pipelines, lignite and zinc reserves, or military bases such as Camp Bondsteel. The key is in the desire of the Western elite class to use the Balkans as a testing ground for their emerging postmodernist, postnational project. They know that Kosovo is more than a piece of real estate, that it is to the Serbs what Alamo is to Texans or Jerusalem to Jews, that taking it away and letting its churches and monasteries be demolished is an unprecedented exercise in ethnocide. They condoned the Albanian barbarity because they saw the demolition of a small nation steeped in tradition of heroism and martyrdom—the Kosovo saga embodies it perfectly—as a step in the direction of a U.S.-dominated post-national world based on propositional abstractions.
This is the cue to the treatment of the Serbs by the U.S. political and media decision-makers over the past two decades. On the ruins of real nations, the rhetoric of “universal human rights” is imposed as the new basis for law and morality. The Serbs were merely a litmus test. The slogan of choice is multicultural democracy, irrespective of the wishes of the citizens of the particular territory involved—unless it is Serbs who wish to maintain a multi-ethnic state, in which case secession is the West’s preferred policy.
PANDERING TO ISLAMIC MILITANTS—In 1980 the U.S. supported hard-core Islamists in the insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan. That decision was a strategic mistake of the highest order: it prompted the release of the Jihadist genie from a bottle that had remained sealed for almost three centuries after the siege of Vienna. Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “brilliant idea”—as he called the Afghan covert action almost two decades after the event—meant that hundreds of millions, and eventually billions of dollars were poured into the coffers and arsenals of people who openly stated their intention to rebuild an early-medieval theocracy in Afghanistan.
The fruits went beyond the jihadists’ wildest dreams. Brzezinski will go down in history as the man who did for Bin Laden what the Kaiser did for Lenin by providing him with that sealed train in 1917. Two “liberal” interventions on the side of the Balkan Muslims, in Bosnia and Kosovo, ensued in the 1990s. The most tangible result of promoting “common ideals and interests in this globalized world” by NATO bombs is the existence of a vibrant, hard-core jihadist base in the heart of Europe that has had a connection with every major terrorist attack in the past decade. Even 9/11 itself had a Bosnian Connection: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, who planned the 9/11 attacks, was a seasoned veteran of the Bosnian jihad, as were two of the hijackers.
In spite of all other unresolved domestic and foreign issues, at a time when the U.S. power and authority are challenged around the world, key players in President Obama’s team still look upon the Balkans as the last geopolitically significant area where they can assert their “credibility” by postulating a maximalist set of objectives as the only outcome acceptable to the United States, and duly insisting on their fulfillment. We have already seen this pattern with Kosovo, and we’ve seen an attempt to stage its replay in Bosnia under the ongoing demand for unitarization.
The U.S. policy in the Balkans—just like its policy in Libya last year and in Syria today –facilitates the jihadist agenda. American goals paradoxically coincide with the regional objectives of those same Islamists who confront America in other parts of the world. Far from enhancing peace and regional stability, such policies continue to encourage pan-Islamic agitation for the completion of an uninterrupted Green Corridor in the Balkans by linking its as yet unconnected segments. It destabilizes Bosnia by encouraging constant Muslim demands for the abolition of the Republika Srpska, and it destabilizes Serbia in the Raska region (“Sanjak”). It encourages greater-Albanian aspirations against Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Serbia. It encourages escalation of Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ambitions in the region. It is destructive and harmful.
In all cases the immediate bill will be paid by the people of the Balkans, as it is already being paid by Kosovo’s disappearing Serbs; but long-term costs of the U.S. policy in the Balkans will haunt the West. By encouraging its Albanian clients to proclaim independence, the U.S. administration has made a massive leap into the unknown, potentially on par with Austria’s July 1914 ultimatum to Serbia. The fruits will be equally bitter. In the fullness of time both America and Europe will come to regret the criminal folly of their current leaders. Remarkably, the continuing automatic-pilot policy directed against the Serbs is taking place without any serious debate in Washington on the ends and uses of American power, in the Balkans or anywhere else. Obama’s and Bush’s rhetoric differ, but they are one regime, identical in substance and consequence. Its leading lights will go on disputing the validity of the emerging balance-of-power system because they reject the legitimacy of any power in the world other than that of the United States, controlled and exercised by themselves. Theirs is, indeed, the global equivalent of the Brezhnev Doctrine.
The quest for hegemony leads to a counter-coalition which defeats it. The proponents of American exceptionalism nevertheless scoff at history’s warnings provided by Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, the Kaiser’s in 1918, or Hitler’s in 1945, as inapplicable in the post-history that they seek to construct. They confront the argument that no vital American interest worthy of risking a major war is involved in Georgia, or Syria, or the Balkans, with the claim that the whole world is America’s near-abroad. It is therefore essential for the emerging powers to refuse in principle to accept the validity of Washington’s ideological assumptions and the legitimacy of its associated geopolitical claims. At the same time, the key “liberal hawks” in the Obama Administration remain anchored in Madeleine Albright’s hubris: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall.”
The premises of an imperial presidency—which in world affairs translates into the quest for dominance and justification for interventionism—remain unchallenged, as we are witnessing in Syria today and as we shall witness in Iran tomorrow. (We are witnessing it in America, too, with Obama’s unrestrained use of the Presidential executive order—an extreme emergency measure—as a tool for overriding the will of the Legislative branch.) American meddling in the Balkans has been paradigmatic of the problem. It remains unaffected by the ongoing financial crisis manifest in a 16-trillion public debt, just as Moscow’s late-Cold War adventurism—so tragically manifested in Afghanistan—was enhanced, rather than curtailed, by the evident shortcomings of the Soviet political and economic system.
[Excerpts from Dr. Trifkovic’s paper presented in Belgrade at The Gorchakov Foundation conference European Security: The Balkan Angle on June 27, 2012.]
“The Greek economy is truly broken. The circuits of credit are so badly damaged that even efficient, profitable firms have been cut out of the capital markets …. Moreover, the new spending cuts… will give the forces of recession another boost. To cut a long story short, there is no doubt that such loosening up will simply prolong the agonising death of the Greek social economy.” – Yanis Varoufakis, economist, University of Athens
Unemployment is still rising, the deficits continue to widen, and the economy is in tatters. Everything is fundamentally the same as before, with one exception, the victor (New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras) remains firmly committed to staying-the-course and meeting the terms of the bailouts, whereas, the loser (Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras) rejects the austerity measures laid out in the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) and promises to renegotiate the agreement with the troika. (The European Commission, the IMF, and the European Central Bank)
Samaras’s slim victory means that Greece will get more financial aid (loan installments), but will be required to implement another round of savage cuts to social spending, this time in the amount of $11.5 billion. These cuts will further inhibit growth, which will reduce tax revenues leading to even bigger budget deficits. When the government is unable to hit its deficit targets, (as everyone expects) then EZ policymakers will suspend the bailouts and the crisis will flare up again.
It’s a vicious circle that can only end one way, with Greece leaving the eurozone and returning to the drachma.
So, what happens next?
New Democracy leaders will try to cobble together a coalition government with other “pro bailout” parties (like PASOK) while trying to win meager concessions to extend the length of existing loans and reduce the rates on others. Some analysts think that the troika will try to be more flexible on the terms of the bailouts to reduce growing social unrest, but that doesn’t seem likely.
German chancellor Angela Merkel nixed the idea of greater forbearance or debt reduction just hours after the election results were announced. Here’s the account from Reuters:
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday a new Greek government had to meet commitments made to international lenders. Speaking to reporters at a Group of 20 leaders’ meeting, Merkel said any loosening of agreed reform pledges after Sunday’s narrow election victory for Greece’s pro-bailout parties would be unacceptable.” (Reuters)
Merkel is not going to cut Greece any slack. Either the deficit targets are reached and Greece complies with its obligations, or the loans will be cut off. “Either pay up or get out”: that’s the massage from Berlin. Judging by the reaction in German newspapers, Merkel’s hardline approach is wildly popular across the political spectrum. Just look at these clips from Monday’s editorials. This is from the center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“The Greek electorate is obviously divided. But the country needs a government that has the power and courage to pass and implement the unavoidable reforms: a government that can convince the people that their country needs a fundamental renewal. It won’t be easy to form such a government — ‘not easy’ being a gross understatement. The coming days will show just how difficult it will be.”
This is from the Financial Times Deutschland:
“The Greeks must provide clear affirmation of reforms. They don’t just owe this to their fellow Europeans, from whom they are accepting aid, but also to themselves. The population must understand that there can be no going back to the pre-crisis state of affairs.”
Finally, from the conservative Die Welt:
“Chancellor Merkel insists on shared responsibility. She emphasizes that austerity and reforms are the way to solve Europe’s debt crisis. This clarity is even making many Germans uneasy. And yet these conclusions, which are actually banal, are being made within a political context that is increasingly volatile.
Germany is showing strength, without trying to dominate, and yet it is punished by being despised. If Angela Merkel were to change course, if she were to buckle to criticism, then it would really not be good for Europe or for Germany.”
Reforms, reforms, reforms. German pundits love reforms, which is why they admire their reform-minded chancellor, Frau Merkel. But where have these reforms–which are more commonly called “austerity measures”–worked? In which country has debt consolidation, structural adjustment, privatization, and union busting led the way out of recession to a strong recovery? Ireland? Spain? Portugal? Italy?
The evidence suggests that Merkel’s policy doesn’t work which is why many of the world’s leading economists have blasted austerity as counterproductive.
So how is it that these “experts” still think they are right when 2 years of experience demonstrates that they’re wrong? Just look at bond yields. Just look at the banks. Just look at unemployment. Just look at GDP. By every objective standard, the policy has failed. This is no longer a debatable point. The facts speak for themselves.
On Tuesday, while leaders of the world’s major economies met in Los Cabos, Mexico for a G20 summit, a failed auction of Spanish debt set off alarms reminding the gathering that the crisis was still unresolved. Here’s the story from Reuters:
“Spain paid a euro era record price to sell short-term debt on Tuesday, pushing it closer to becoming the biggest euro zone country to be shut out of credit markets. The soaring borrowing costs highlight the shortcomings of a June 9 euro zone deal to lend Spain up to 100 billion euros ($126 billion) for its banks. They also illustrate how Europe’s problems run much deeper than Greece, brought back from the brink of default in Sunday’s parliamentary election….” (Reuters)
Spanish 10-year bond yields remain above 7 percent at present after hitting a high of 7.28 percent yesterday. Economists think that anything above 7 percent is unsustainable.
So, while one fire has been doused in Greece another has broken out in Spain. It’s only a matter of time before the European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi will be summoned to reopen the Securities Market Program (SMP) and resume buying Spanish debt to push down bond yields and avoid a meltdown.
Why is the crisis spreading? And why has it shifted to Spain, after all, up until 2007, the Spanish government’s balance sheet looked better than Germany’s. They had lower public debt, had never broken the EZ’s deficit rules, and had consistently ran budget surpluses.
So why Spain? The problem isn’t Spain. Nor is it Ireland, Greece, Portugal or Italy. It’s the monetary union itself.
The EZ’s creators were warned that a monetary union outside a fiscal and political union would not work, but they proceeded anyway. Now they’re trying to correct their error by inflicting pain on the members, (internal devaluation) because the only other choice they have is to create a United States of Europe, which would require public referenda in all 17 countries. They know that their chances of success in that effort would be quite small, so they’re not even going to even try, which why the band-aid remedies will continue until one member leaves and the race for the exits begins.
Slow-motion Bank Run…
“The burden of recapitalizing insolvent banks or loss-making acquisitions of solvent banks will fall on Spanish citizens.” – Karl Whelan, economist at University College, Dublin.
Sure, it’ll keep the markets bubbly until mid-week when fears of the Greek elections set in, (June 17) but that’s about it. It won’t fix the eurozone’s underlying problems, in fact, it doesn’t even address them. The narrow purpose of the bailout is to keep insolvent banks propped up to avoid another Lehman Brothers-type catastrophe. That’s it. In other words, the 100 billion will not boost competitiveness, spur growth, reduce unemployment, or increase fiscal and political integration. It doesn’t do any of these things, in fact, Spain’s debt-to-GDP ratio will widen even more due to the new burden its leaders have taken on. That means, Spain’s working people will have to endure even harsher conditions for a longer period of time to repay the obligations assumed by Madrid. How does that help?
The Eurogroup has agreed to lend Spain 100 billion, but they have no way of knowing how much more the country will need in the future. Just take a look at this and you’ll see what I mean:
“Spain’s banks have over €300 billion in exposure to the real-estate sector, mostly through loans to developers. Around €180 billion of this exposure is considered “problematic” by Spain’s central bank.
Estimates suggest that there are about 700,000 vacant newly built homes, but including repossessed properties the total could be as high as one million or even higher. At current sales levels, it will take many years to clear the backlog, which will be compounded by more properties being completed and coming onto the market. Housing prices have fallen by 15-20% but are forecast to fall eventually by as much as 50-60%. A severe recession and unemployment of 25% means that losses on Spain’s over €600 billion of home mortgages loans are likely to also rise.” (“The Spanish “Bailout”, Whoops – “Assistance”!, Satyajit Das, Naked Capitalism)
Housing prices have a long way to fall which means the slump is going to drag on indefinitely putting more pressure on bank balance sheets. Expect more bailouts to come. The 100 billion is just the tip of the iceberg.
And, keep in mind, the bailout will not ease credit conditions either. The money will be used to roll over debt, and to restructure and recapitalize underwater banks. The truth is, that none of the bailouts have eased credit conditions. Even after the ECB launched its trillion euro Long-Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO)–which provided 3-year, low interest loans to financial institutions– lending is still in the doldrums with no sign of improvement. So, don’t expect the bailout lead to another expansion.
The same rule applies to borrowing costs. The bailout doesn’t ensure that yields on Spain’s debt will fall or that the ratings agencies won’t continue to downgrade its banks and sovereign bonds. (which will make borrowing more expensive) In fact, adding 100 billion to the country’s debt load will probably trigger more downgrades, lowering Spanish debt to junk status.
Finally, the bailout will not stop the slow-motion bank run that’s seen 100 billion euros exit Spain in the last year. (How’s that for symmetry?) The country is borrowing the exact same amount that it’s lost due to the flawed architecture of the eurozone which does not provide blanket guarantees on deposits.
Here’s an excerpt from the Eurogroup’s statement on Spain:
“The Eurogroup supports the efforts of the Spanish authorities to resolutely address the restructuring of its financial sector and it welcomes their intention to seek financial assistance from euro area Member States to this effect….
The financial assistance would be provided by the EFSF/ESM for recapitalisation of financial institutions. The loan will be scaled to provide an effective backstop covering for all possible capital requirements estimated by the diagnostic exercise which the Spanish authorities have commissioned to the external evaluators and the international auditors. The loan amount must cover estimated capital requirements with an additional safety margin, estimated as summing up to EUR 100 billion in total….
The Eurogroup considers that the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (F.R.O.B.), acting as agent of the Spanish government, could receive the funds and channel them to the financial institutions concerned. The Spanish government will retain the full responsibility of the financial assistance and will sign the MoU.”
So, Prime Minister Mariano “We don’t need help” Rajoy will have accept an IMF monitoring team that will sift through the books of distressed Spanish banks and expose the boundless red ink and corruption that lies therein. The involvement of the IMF means that a lot of shareholders are going to be wiped out while bondholders take severe haircuts.
Spain will now join the other bailout-dependent countries, Greece, Portugal and Ireland, although it will not be asked to increase austerity measures which Rajoy has already implemented with gusto. With the economy already in deep recession and unemployment tipping 25 percent, EZ finance ministers believe that more belt tightening would be counterproductive. Accordingly, the European Commission has agreed that Spain should be given an extra year to bring its budget deficit down below the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP. Here’s how Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis summed up recent developments in Spain:
“Spain’s current predicament is instructive: To get money to give to its decrepit banks, the nation must be humiliated and undergo further fiscal waterboarding so that Italy and others are deterred from turning to the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) for help. In this sense, when Europe’s functionaries say that there is no need for further action on Spain since the EFSF is available to help, they are inviting the Spanish to enter the Workhouse for a life of undeserved misery on behalf of their bankers. And they have the audacity to call this ‘solidarity’ with the Spanish people.” (“Solidarity Euro-Style: Finnish loans, ECB bond purchases, EFSF tough love and assorted horror stories from the postmodern Euro-Workhouse”, Yanis Varoufakis)
The Spanish bank bailout is only going to make matters worse for working people who’ll see the losses of corrupt financial institutions heaped onto their shoulders via higher taxes, cuts to social programs, and a firesale of publicly owned assets. They’ll pay the price while the crooks walk away scot-free.
Why isn’t the U.S. economy in a depression right now? The number one reason is because the federal government has stolen more than five trillion dollars from future generations since Barack Obama was elected and has used that money to pump up our grossly inflated standard of living. Whether the federal government spends money wisely or foolishly, the truth is that the vast majority of it still ends up in the pockets of the American people who then use it to buy the things they need for their daily lives. If the U.S. government had not borrowed and spent an extra five trillion dollars that we did not have over the past several years, we would be in the middle of a rip-roaring economic depression right now. So any talk that Barack Obama is “improving the economy” is a total farce. It is a five trillion dollar lie. The reality is that Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress have been stealing trillions of dollars from future generations in order to make things tolerable in the present. If the federal government adopted a balanced budget next year, the debt-fueled prosperity that we are currently enjoying would start disappearing very rapidly and all hell would break loose in America.
At this point, the U.S. national debt is over 15.7 trillion dollars.
When Ronald Reagan took office it was less than a trillion dollars.
If you were to divide the national debt up equally, it would come to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
So the share of the national debt for an average family of four would be about $200,000.
When the government borrows and spends money that it does not have, that increases the amount of dollars in circulation and it causes GDP to go up.
That is one of the reasons why our politicians like to borrow and spend money that we do not have. It makes the economic statistics look good. They can point to those economic statistics as a reason to send them back for another term.
This is a major flaw in our system. Most of our politicians do not care about how they are raping future generations financially. Most of them just care about getting elected again.
If you will notice carefully, neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama are promising to balance the budget any time soon. Like so many politicians in the past, they promise to do it “eventually”, but “eventually” never arrives.
According to a recent article in the Washington Times, Mitt Romney declared during a recent campaign appearance that he has no plans to balance the federal budget in his first year….
“My job is to get America back on track to have a balanced budget. Now I’m not going to cut $1 trillion in the first year”
Why would he say that?
Why wouldn’t he want to balance the budget?
He went on to explain that….
“The reason,” he explained, “is taking a trillion dollars out of a $15 trillion economy would cause our economy to shrink [and] would put a lot of people out of work.”
Romney is right about this. Taking a trillion dollars out of a 15 trillion dollar economy would plunge us into an economic nightmare.
And that would make him look bad.
Of course if Obama wins the election we can just expect more of the same from him as well.
For example, just check out what White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew had to say about balancing the budget recently….
“The time for austerity is not today,” Lew told NBC News “Meet the Press.” “If we were to put in austerity measures right now, it would take the economy in the wrong way.”
Why is the time for austerity not today?
It is because the 2012 election is coming up and Obama wants the economic statistics to look good.
But can you blame our politicians for being cowardly?
Just look at what is happening in Greece. After several years of austerity they are in the midst of a full-blown economic depression and they still have not balanced their budget.
Do we want to end up like Greece?
Most Americans do not realize this, but the U.S. already has more government debt per capita than Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland or Spain.
So why haven’t we collapsed yet?
Well, because we continue to borrow larger and larger amounts of money.
It took from the founding of America until 1995 for the federal government to accumulate 5 trillion dollars of debt.
Under Obama, we have accumulated more than 5 trillion dollars of new debt in just over 3 years.
Amazingly, Obama has added more to the national debt than George W. Bush did during his entire 8 year term.
And let there be no mistake – George W. Bush was a wild spender. A fiscal conservative he most certainly was not.
But Barack Obama does not seem troubled by any of this.
Barack Obama is prancing about the countryside touting his great “economic plan”, but the truth is that the only reason the economy has not totally collapsed is because he is stealing 150 million dollars an hour from our children and our grandchildren.
Sadly, most Americans don’t understand that the current level of prosperity that we are enjoying is a grand illusion. Most Americans still expect things to return to the way that they used to be, and they are increasingly becoming angry that it is taking so long to get back there.
In fact, a whole host of recent surveys have shown that Americans are very dissatisfied with the direction the economy is heading in….
Four recent surveys have found that on average only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the condition of the country, while 70% are dissatisfied. Three recent surveys have found that between 69% and 83% of Americans believe that the country is still in recession (it isn’t), and only half believe that a recovery is under way.
What they don’t realize is that if we were not massively ripping off our kids and our grandkids things would be much, much worse.
Thomas Jefferson understood that government borrowing is essentially the same as theft from future generations.
He once made the following statement….
And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
What we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is so immoral that it is hard to put into words.
We are running up trillions upon trillions of dollars of debt in their name just so that our lives can be more comfortable right now.
How could we be so selfish?
The sad thing is that even with all of this reckless spending our economy is still not in great shape.
-Today, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
-Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages. In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages. Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.
-The United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
-Every year now, we see millions of Americans fall out of the middle class. In 2010, 2.6 million more Americansdescended into poverty. That was the largest increase that we have seen since the U.S. government began keeping statistics on this back in 1959.
-At this point, approximately 22 percent of all American children are living in poverty.
-When Barack Obama took office, there were 32 million Americans on food stamps. Now, there are more than 46 million Americans on food stamps.
So how much worse would things be if a trillion dollars of federal spending was suddenly removed from the economy?
Are you starting to get the picture?
As bad as things are right now, they are about to get a whole lot worse.
So why can’t we just keep on borrowing and spending forever?
Well, just like Greece found out, debt always catches up with you eventually.
During fiscal 2011, the U.S. government spent over 454 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt.
But just like we are seeing in Europe, if confidence in U.S. government debt starts to disappear the U.S. government could end up facing much higher interest rates to borrow money.
If the average rate on U.S. government debt only rose to 7 percent (in the past it has actually been much higher than that), then the U.S. government would be spending about 1.1 trillion dollars a year just on interest on the national debt.
So if we were spending 1.1 trillion dollars just on interest, that would be close to half of all the revenue the federal government brings in.
Right now, the Federal Reserve is manipulating the system in a desperate attempt to keep interest rates down. During 2011, the Federal Reserve bought up approximately 61 percent of all government debt issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.
But most Americans have no idea how fragile our financial system is.
Most Americans just assume that we will always be the greatest economy on the planet and that there is nothing to be worried about.
Sadly, one way or another this debt bubble is going to burst and then our debt-fueled false prosperity is going to disappear.
Most Americans are not going to understand what is happening and they are going to go absolutely nuts.
Source: The Economic Collapse
As you might have noticed, the stock market is falling like a stone. As of 9 AM PST, the Dow Jones has dropped 172 points while all the other indices are down sharply. German 2-year debt (bund) has dipped below 0% this morning at auction, signalling an acceleration in the bank run taking place in southern Europe. Depositors in Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, etc would rather take a loss on their investment, then risk not their money back at all. The European Central Bank (ECB) does not guarantee deposits, so people are withdrawing their money en masse and getting out of Dodge pronto. What we’re seeing is a real-time panic.
The ostensible trigger for the panic is known, but you won’t read about it in the financial media where the news is dumbed down to the point of incoherence. What’s really going on is that the German central bank (The Bundesbank) has indicated that it’s ready to pull the plug on Greece which means that future bailouts will probably not be forthcoming. That’s bad. It means that Greece will run out of money some time in June; their banking system will implode, and the “birthplace of democracy” will be reduced to 3rd world status overnight. Here’s a blurb from the Bundesbank’s communique:
“Current developments in Greece are extremely worrying. Greece is threatening not to implement the reform and consolidation measures that were agreed in return for the large-scale aid programmes.
This jeopardises the continued provision of assistance. Greece would have to bear the consequences of such a scenario. The challenges this would create for the euro area and Germany would be considerable, but manageable given prudent crisis management. By contrast, a significant dilution of existing agreements would damage confidence in all euro-area agreements and treaties and strongly weaken incentives for national reform and consolidation measures. In such circumstances the institutional status quo comprising liability, control and individual responsibility of member states would be fundamentally called into question.
When the Eurosystem provided Greece with large amounts of liquidity, it trusted that the programs would be implemented and thereby ultimately assumed considerable risks. In the light of the current situation, it should not significantly increase these risks. Instead, the parliaments and governments of the member states should decide on the manner in which any further financial assistance is provided and therefore whether the associated risks should be assumed.”
Okay. So German central bankers don’t want to wait until the June elections in Greece to decide whether to provide more money or not. They’re throwing in the towel now. No more money. No more bailouts. No more Mr. Niceguy. End of story. But what does that mean? Does it mean that the whole global financial system is headed back into the shitter again like after Lehman Brothers?
No one knows for sure, but there’s bound to be a few bumps in the road, don’t you think? Take a look at this from Bloomberg today (Wed):
“Europe’s banks, are sitting on $1.19 trillion of debt to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, are facing a wave of losses if Greece abandons the euro. While lenders have increased capital buffers, written down Greek bonds and used central-bank loans to help refinance units in southern Europe, they remain vulnerable to the contagion that might follow a withdrawal, investors say. Even with more than two years of preparation, banks still are at risk of deposit flight and rising defaults in other indebted euro nations.” (Bloomberg)
Can you really slash a trillion bucks out of the rotting corpse of the EU banking system and still keep things running smoothly?
Don’t bet on it. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
“The ECB’s unprecedented provision of 1.02 trillion euros in three-year cash in December and February helped calm financial markets in the first quarter by removing concern that banks unwilling to lend to one another would run out of cash. Lenders in Spain and Italy also used the funds to buy sovereign debt, reducing government borrowing costs….
Lenders probably would need another 800 billion-euro liquidity lifeline from the ECB to help stem contagion from a Greek exit, Citigroup analysts estimated in a May 17 note….” (Bloomberg)
That’s right, the EU banks were gifted over 1 trillion euros 3 months ago, and they’re still too undercapitalized to weather the storm of a Greek default. Nice, eh? So, the whole system is just an empty gourd, right? They’re broke, so the ECB will have to print up another 800 bil just to keep the house of cards from collapsing in a heap.
Getting worried yet?
US Treasuries are also rallying big today. In fact, the yield on the 10-year –which hit a record low last week–is on its way back down indicating that investors are freaking scared-out-of-their-minds. In real terms, investors are now socking money into 10-year Treasuries knowing that (inflation adjusted) they’ll get LESS money back then they put in.
How do you like them apples? That’s what I call a full-blown panic! And yet, you ain’t hearing a blasted thing about it on the news, right? Why would that be?
Here’s a little icing on the cake from Bloomberg:
“Greece may have only a 46-hour window of opportunity should it need to plot a route out of the euro.
That’s how much time the country’s leaders would probably have to enact any departure from the single currency while global markets are largely closed, from the end of trading in New York on a Friday to Monday’s market opening ….
“I am completely convinced they could not orchestrate an orderly exit,” said Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit SpA in London. “This is a country that can’t implement laws, so how in the world are they going to secretly agree to print money, control the banks, control capital flows and think this is going to be orderly? It’s completely impossible.” …
“There is no reason to think there won’t be riots and violence,” said Lefteris Farmakis, a strategist at Nomura International Plc in London. “It would be a pretty disastrous situation. People have no understanding of the consequences of a euro exit.” (“War-Gaming Greek Euro Exit Shows Hazards in 46-Hour Weekend”, Bloomberg)
Riots, street violence, skyrocketing unemployment, grinding poverty…the whole schmeer. And what’s the most likely scenario for Greece after all that?
Well, probably another military coup backed by President Hopium and his band of CIA merry pranksters, right?
Okay, my bad. I don’t want to polarize all the Obama fans, but, Geez Louise, things are looking mighty grim for the poor Greeks, don’t you think?
Of course, it all could go smoothly “without a hitch”; no credit crunch, no bank runs, no flight to safety, no crashing stock markets, no decades of struggle and social unrest, no splitting up of the eurozone, no ethnic animosities, no uber-nationalism, no right wing fanaticism, no border skirmishes or armed hostilities, no revolutions, no depression, no rise of fascism…just a smooth transition to a new, slimmed-down version of the EZ. After all, that’s what Germany is expecting. And they could be right.
But, probably not.
After the Greek elections struck fear into the hearts of the global banksters, the fallout remains uncertain. If the next Greek election produces an anti-austerity government, Greece will almost certainly make a speedy exit from the euro. If this happens — and it is looking increasingly inevitable — the consequences for the global economy are spectacularly gloomy. Yet U.S. media and U.S. politicians are largely silent on the issue, almost as if nothing were happening.
What will happen when Greece leaves the Euro? Foreign banks hold over $90 billion in Greek debt in the public and in the private sectors. These enormous losses could very well bring down banks in Europe and abroad.
Also, the struggling Euro countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland will see their borrowing costs skyrocket, since the wealthy will be more reluctant to waste anymore investment money on risky Euro countries, guaranteeing a further downward spiral of bailouts and bankruptcy.
How likely is a Greek euro exit? The conservative Economist magazine reports:
“If Greece rejects the second bail-out or falls drastically behind in its program [of debt payments and public sector cuts], its exit could become inevitable.”
This scenario appears increasingly likely, as Greek voters have tired of supporting politicians that continue to attack the majority of voters’ living standards through massive austerity policies (cuts to jobs, social programs and the public sector in general).
How would the U.S. be affected by a European Union meltdown? The Bank for International Settlements claims that U.S. banks have loaned $96.8 billion to the weakest European nations in the public and private sector, with an additional $275.8 billion to German and French banks, who would suffer directly if the weak nations drowned.
Furthermore, the European Union is the U.S.’ largest trading partner; U.S. exports to the EU would instantly plummet if the above scenario were played out.
Which brings us to the silence of the U.S. politicians on the issue. The giant austerity measures that are driving Europe to the edge of revolution have been delayed on the federal level in the U.S. until after the November elections. Then, the seldom discussed budget “sequesters” will go into effect — automatic cuts to federal spending of $100 billion, every year until 2021.
Also, after the election federally enhanced unemployment insurance expires, as does the federal payroll tax cut. Obama’s stimulus plan that supported states and city governments petered out at the end of 2011, adding pain to the ongoing deficit crunch nationwide.
It’s possible that the U.S. may already be re-entering an “official” recession, though the jobs recession never left; the April jobs report showed that only 63.6 percent of people in the U.S. are either employed or actively looking for work, the lowest in more than three decades.
U.S. politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — are united in a strategy to combat the weakening economy by resorting to the European strategy of austerity. Both parties have already worked together to cut 600,000 government jobs (mostly local) since 2009, destroying the services these workers deliver in the process (education has been most targeted).
These numbers will balloon when the effects of Europe’s plight reaches America’s shores. The political silence over this fact is a good strategy for U.S. corporate political representatives; the more unprepared working people are for austerity measures, the easier they are to implement (what Naomi Klein calls the Shock Doctrine).
Therefore, working people in the U.S. need to learn to speak Greek, and adopt an increasingly popular slogan that rejects austerity measures: Tax the Rich! In other words, make the rich pay for the crisis they created. In practice this means that, instead of massive job reductions, cuts to education and health care, taxes on the wealthy and corporations should be raised; the banks should be put under public control rather than being bailed out with public money; the public sector should be fully funded and expanded rather than privatized and slashed.
Austerity is when the wealthy attempt to push the effects of their recessions onto the backs of working people, who need only to collectively push back and force the 1% to pay instead.
At a time when America desperately needs to come together, we are becoming more divided than ever. The mainstream media and most of our politicians love to pit us against one another in dozens of different ways, and right now class warfare has become one of their favorite tools for getting us to hate one another. If you are struggling in this economy, you are being told that “the wealthy” are the cause of your problems. If you have money, you are being told that the poor hate you and want to tax you into oblivion. Class warfare has already become a dominant theme in the 2012 race for the White House, and there will certainly be endless speeches given along these lines by politicians from both major political parties all the way up to election day. Class warfare will be used by both sides as a way to divide America and get votes. And the frightening thing is that it is clearly working. There is more hatred between the poor and the wealthy in America today than at any other time that I can remember. But hating people because of how much money they have or don’t have is not going to solve anything. Instead, it is just going to cause more problems.
The other day, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told CNBC that the globe is already in a state of “late Great Depression“. The United States is heading into unprecedented economic and financial problems and we desperately need to pull together as a country and solve these problems.
But instead, our leaders are tapping into the politics of division in a desperate attempt to get elected in the fall.
Rather than focus on real issues and real solutions, our politicians attempt to make “the wealthy” or “welfare recipients” the focus of our debates.
Well, you know what?
Most people that are rich and most people that are poor are not purposely trying to abuse the system. Most of them are hard working people that are trying to do the best that they can in a world that is increasingly going crazy.
These days, the Occupy Wall Street crowd loves to talk about how evil the “1 percent” is. But most of the “1 percent” are people that have worked really hard and that have been fortunate enough to get some really good breaks in life.
Yes, there are some among the “1 percent” that do some really bad things. The too big to fail banks and the big money managers on Wall Street should be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed.
But most wealthy Americans are not trying to oppress the poor. Most of them are just trying to do the best that they can for themselves and their families.
Neither are most poor people trying to abuse the system either.
Yes, without a doubt there are some that do not want to work and that want to live on government benefits indefinitely.
But that is a minority.
Most Americans that are receiving government benefits today would rather be working good jobs that would enable them to provide for their families.
Most Americans understand that government handouts can never provide dignity and hope for a better future.
But if you don’t demonize the poor and you point out the decline of the middle class, many Republicans will call you a “liberal” or a “socialist”.
And if you don’t demonize the rich and you don’t blame them for all of our economic problems, many Democrats will call you a “pig” or a “fascist”.
Unfortunately, playing the blame game is not going to get us anywhere.
The number of Americans living in poverty increased dramatically under George W. Bush and it also increased dramatically under Barack Obama.
Our country is drowning in debt, millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas, the middle class is shrinking at an astounding pace, and the Federal Reserve continues to destroy our financial system.
Getting angry at the wealthy or the poor is not going to fix those problems.
But it will distract us from the reality that both major political parties have been doing a horrible job.
Sadly, Americans seem to really enjoy blaming one another these days. Just check out some of the slogans that have been seen on various signs at Occupy Wall Street protests….
“They Only Call It Class Warfare When We Fight Back”
“Eat The Rich – Feed The Poor”
“The Rich Are Wrecking The Planet”
So will destroying the lives of the rich solve our problems?
Of course not.
The truth is that we should want millions more Americans to be prosperous. We should be cheering for one another instead of tearing one another down.
But that is heresy to many on the left.
On the right, it is heresy even to mention that our tax system is fundamentally flawed and that it has thousands of loopholes that are being abused by the very wealthy.
In a previous article, I detailed how many of the largest and most profitable corporations in America get away with paying absolutely nothing in taxes.
There is something very wrong with that.
Our income tax system should be abolished altogether, but if we do have to pay income taxes, then it is fundamentally unfair for some people and businesses to be able to pay little or nothing while the rest of us get absolutely obliterated by taxes.
But if you try to say that to many on the right, they will look at you in horror.
The other day, there was a New York Times article that detailed the extreme measures that Apple takes to avoid paying taxes. It turns out that Apple sets up shell offices all over the globe in order to evade taxation….
As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world.
That same article talked about how Apple has become a model which hundreds of other companies have followed. To giant corporations such as Apple, tax evasion has become an art form….
Apple, for instance, was among the first tech companies to designate overseas salespeople in high-tax countries in a manner that allowed them to sell on behalf of low-tax subsidiaries on other continents, sidestepping income taxes, according to former executives. Apple was a pioneer of an accounting technique known as the “Double Irish With a Dutch Sandwich,” which reduces taxes by routing profits through Irish subsidiaries and the Netherlands and then to the Caribbean. Today, that tactic is used by hundreds of other corporations — some of which directly imitated Apple’s methods, say accountants at those companies.
So what is the solution to all of this?
Raising income taxes won’t work too well because the tax lawyers are always several steps ahead of our politicians.
The truth is that when taxes get raised it is always the middle class that gets absolutely clobbered and the wealthy always find more ways to reduce their exposure.
Just take a look at Mitt Romney. He made more than 42 million dollars in 2010 and yet Romney had an effective tax rate of only 14 percent.
If I could find a way to have an effective tax rate of only 14 percent I would be jumping up and down for joy, and so would millions of other Americans.
Our tax system is deeply, deeply broken and needs to be thrown into the trash can.
Abandoning the current tax system would not solve all of our problems, but it would be a start.
Unfortunately, neither political party is willing to even consider this.
Instead, the Democrats want to raise taxes a little bit and the Republicans want to lower taxes a little bit.
But neither alternative will do much of anything to solve any of the real problems we are facing.
Our economy is dying and it is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us. When Barack Obama took office, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in America was 2.6 million. Today, it is 5.3 million.
At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed.
So where is all of the “change” that Obama promised?
Things just keep getting worse.
Since Obama has been in the White House, 14 million more Americans have gone on food stamps, and more than 25 percent of all American children are enrolled in the program today.
How will class warfare help those people?
Will blaming the wealthy make things better for them?
They are already receiving government handouts.
Will increasing those handouts a little bit more fundamentally change their lives for the better?
Of course not.
What those people need are good jobs.
But instead, both the Democrats and the Republicans continue to pursue the same job killing policies that have been destroying American jobs for decades.
Without good jobs, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to grow.
In a previous article, I detailed the explosive growth of social welfare benefits that we have seen under both Republicans and Democrats….
Back in 1960, social welfare benefits made up approximately 10 percent of all salaries and wages. In the year 2000, social welfare benefits made up approximately 21 percent of all salaries and wages. Today, social welfare benefits make up approximately 35 percent of all salaries and wages.
The goal should not be to rape the rich and give out even more social welfare benefits.
Instead, the goal should be to develop an economy that creates good jobs.
We need have an economy that empowers individuals and small businesses.
Instead, we have an economy dominated by big government and big corporations.
We have an economy that funnels the vast majority of the economic rewards to a tiny elite while most of the rest of us struggle.
Just consider the following statistics….
*The following is how income gains in the U.S. were distributed during 2010….
-37 percent of all income gains went to the top 0.01 percent of all income earners
-56 percent of all income gains went to the rest of the top 1 percent
-7 percent of all income gains went to the bottom 99 percent
*In America today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
*According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
So what is the solution to that problem?
Is it to attack the rich and take away all their money and give more government handouts to the poor?
Of course not.
Rather, we need to change the rules of the game so that individuals and small businesses are empowered to succeed.
We need to decentralize economic power and dramatically reduce the undue influence that big government and giant corporations have over our economic system.
We need to create an environment where almost anyone that has a good idea and that is willing to work hard can succeed.
But instead of focusing on real solutions like shutting down the Federal Reserve, converting to debt-free currency, eliminating the income tax, shutting down the IRS, massively reducing the size of government and getting rid of thousands upon thousands of unneeded regulations, the mainstream media and our politicians are going to continue to try to get Americans to blame one another for our problems.
The efforts to divide America are working, and hatred is growing to unprecedented levels in this country.
Eventually this will lead to mass rioting in our major cities and that will make our problems far worse.
Hatred and division are not going to bring us a better future.
They are only going to destroy us from within.
We don’t need hate.
What we need is more love and more solutions.
Unfortunately, our leaders are leading us down a very dark path, and we are heading for a future that is going to be a complete mess.
Source: The Economic Collapse
Committing Financial Suicide To Appease Big Finance…
Money might “make the world go ’round”, but it’s not going to stop the eurozone from breaking apart. That’s the lesson investors learned on Tuesday when global stock markets plunged on news that yields on Spanish and Italian debt had again entered the red zone. Stocks rebounded on Wednesday, but to little effect, after all, the cat is out of the bag. Now everyone knows that the European Central Bank’s 1 trillion euro ”adrenalin rush” (Long-Tern Refinancing Operation or LTRO) is a short-term fix that won’t relieve the debt troubles of struggling countries in the south or even reduce the prospects of a vicious credit crunch in the second half of the year. (As of Friday morning, Spanish 10-year bond yields are back in the nosebleed section, 5.92 percent, a rate which most economists see as “unsustainable”.)
So, what exactly did the LTRO achieve anyway?
Not much, it appears. While the lavish 3-year low interest loans allowed a significant number of underwater banks to roll over their debts; it did not address the eurozone’s institutional flaws, or –as economists Simon Tilford and Philip Whyte say– “reverse the increasingly perverse and self-defeating policies that the region is pursuing.” Policymakers in Frankfurt and Brussels have refused to heed the warnings of competent economists and other experts who’ve reiterated ad nauseam that “a monetary union outside a fiscal union is deeply unstable.” What’s needed is greater “fiscal integration and debt mutualisation” they advize. But the ECB will have none of it. The Central Bank has decided to pursue its own blinkered strategy and use the crisis to push through excruciating anti-labor and privatization reforms that will help to divert more capital to big finance. The results speak for themselves. Spain is marching headlong into a depression.
To say that Spain’s financial situation is dire would be an understatement. According to International Finance Review:
“Covered bond syndicate bankers are expecting weak jobs data out of the US and a persistent deterioration of Spanish bank credit to weigh heavily on the new issue market for the foreseeable future. It’s a backdrop that is likely to lock Spanish banks out of the primary market and deprive the country’s banks of a funding plan B, according to one banker….
“The Spanish are completely shut out of the market,” said a covered bond trader. “You won’t get any momentum for a deal, and for investors, they have no incentive to buy into a deal when the market is declining.” (“Spanish banks face funding lock-out”, IFR)
Also, while unemployment across Europe has risen to its highest point in more than 14 years, (17.3 million people) in Spain, joblessness has soared to 23 percent, and among young people, it’s nearly 50 percent. An entire generation is being sacrificed so the 1 percent can grab a greater portion of the wealth.
If Spain is unable to manage its finances due to rising bond yields, then the eurozone will surely fail. The country is simply too big to bail out. It’s more than twice the size of Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined. And Spain’s three largest banks — Banco Santander, BBVA, and La Caixa, “have combined assets of about $2.7 trillion. Spain’s GDP is just about $1.4 trillion. In other words: Spain’s three biggest banks are nearly twice as big as the entire Spanish economy.” (CNBC)
Spain’s problems go far beyond its collapsing real estate market, its skyhigh unemployment, its widening debt-to-GDP ratio, and its teetering banking system. A historic structural adjustment program (“Austerity measures”) implemented by newly-elected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has accelerated the rate of decline by slashing spending and thrusting the economy into a deflationary spiral. Here’s a clip from Bloomberg:
“Under EU orders, Spain is promising what might be the tightest fiscal squeeze that it or any other European economy has ever faced. The new plan calls for the budget deficit to fall from 8.5 percent of gross domestic product to 5.3 percent this year. Since the economy is already shrinking, this requires a discretionary fiscal tightening of roughly 4 percent of GDP — with the unemployment rate already standing at about 23 percent.” (“Spain Not Greece Is the Real Test for the European Union,” Bloomberg)
This is fiscal suicide authored by rightwing fanatics who want to use the ongoing crisis to impose their own business-friendly economic model on Europe. As journalist Pepe Escobar says in a recent article, (It’s) “a counter-reformation that erases with a single stroke many labour and union rights acquired by the working class in decades and generations”. That includes extremely harsh cuts in health, education and social services….”
Here’s more from Escobar:
“The catalogue of Spain’s “austerity” is the usual catalogue of neoliberalism in trouble. A previous, nominally socialist and now an ultra-conservative government have furiously decimated unemployment, retirement and severance benefits; turned virtually all labour contracts into precariousness hell; steeply raised fees for education and transportation; vastly militarised the police; and spent fortunes to bail out banks….” (“All the pain in Spain”, Pepe Escobar, Aljazeera)
Now that the ECB’s lending program (LTRO) has failed and Spanish banks are more indebted than ever (Spanish banks borrowed more money from the ECB than any other country—227.6 billion euros or $300 billion); what’s next?
For starters, ECB president Mario Draghi will be forced to revive the vastly unpopular Securities Markets Program (SMP) and purchase more Spanish debt outright. Investors will see this as a sign of desperation since Draghi scotched the idea of reviving the program just last week. Now he will have to reverse himself and hastily resume the EZ’s version of QE.
Restarting the program will set off fireworks in Berlin where hardliners at the Bundesbank will fight tooth-and-nail to stop Draghi in his tracks. Even so, the wily ex-G-SAX managing director Draghi will undoubtedly outmaneuver his rivals and the bailout will go forward. That means big finance’s plan to crush organised labor, savage the social safety net and reduce EZ workers to a life of debt peonage will continue apace.
Another Obama Fleecing…
“The national housing market took a hit in the latter half of 2011, falling to new lows not seen since the housing crisis began six years ago, according to data out Tuesday by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices……The index is down 33.6 percent from its peak in mid-2006.” – Washington Post
The reason that housing prices have dipped only 33.6 percent in the United States instead of 60 percent as they have in Ireland, is because the big banks have been keeping inventory off the market. If the millions of homes–that are presently headed for foreclosure–were suddenly dumped onto the market, prices would plunge and the biggest banks in the country would be declared insolvent. That’s why the banks have slowed the flow of foreclosures. According to Amherst Securities Group’s Laurie Goodman, “….2.8 million borrowers haven’t made a payment in over a year. Add that to the over 450,000 real estate owned (REO) units and you have approximately 3.2 million that are in the shadows. We are liquidating about 90,000 homes a month. That’s about 36 months of overhang; a really shocking number.” (See the whole interview here.)
Indeed, it is shocking, but what’s more shocking is that the banks are allowed to game the system this way and get away with it. New home buyers are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars more than they would be if the banks were not manipulating inventory, so there are real victims in this scam. . And is it really conceivable that Fed doesn’t know that nearly 3 million people are living in their homes for free? Of course, they know; they’re in on it too. The bankers even have a name for this arrangement; they call it “squatters rent” and they estimate it costs them an extra $60 billion per year. They would rather pay that hefty sum then foreclose quickly and have to write down the losses which would leave them broke.
Some readers will probably dispute the claim that housing prices could dip 60 percent in the US as they have in Ireland. These skeptics may want to read a new study titled “Housing, Monetary Policy, and the Recovery” released by the chief economists from the country’s two largest banks (Find it here.)
On page 29 of the report, the authors conclude that it would take “a 57% fall in housing prices would in our accounting sense eliminate housing overhang”. Their second projection estimates that it would take “a 68%” drop. So, if you bought a house in 2005 for $400,000. That house would currently be worth $128,000, a big enough loss to poke holes in anyone’s retirement plans.
So, what should the government do? Should they force the banks to release the backlog homes so prices can adjust quickly and new buyers won’t feel like they’re being gouged? But–if they do–what happens to all the people who bought homes in the last few years who suddenly discover they’re underwater? Won’t that create a whole new wave of foreclosures?
The best approach would be to reduce the principle on the mortgages of the people who are presently in some stage of foreclosure and make the banks pay for the losses. That would slow the stream of foreclosures to a trickle, stabilize the housing market, and force many of the banks into Chapter 11, which should be real goal of any mortgage modification program. The banks were the perpetrators of this gigantic mortgage laundering scam and continue to pose a threat to the financial security of every American. Dismatling the TBTF banks should be the nation’s highest priority.
The Obama administration has chosen an alternate course in its endless effort to appease the bank lobby. They’ve launched a Foreclosure-to-Rental program that’s aimed at severely reducing the backlog of unwanted homes on the banks books via bulk sales to private investors. The program–which is largely shrouded in secrecy– is being hyped as a common sense way to stabilize the housing market and to ‘lower monthly payments so responsible borrowers can stay in their homes.’ In truth, Obama is just helping the banks slash their mountainous inventory so they can avoid bankruptcy.
Here’s part of the announcement from the FHA:
“The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the first pilot transaction under the Real Estate-Owned (REO) Initiative, targeted to hardest-hit metropolitan areas — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and parts of Florida.
With this next step, prequalified investors will be able to submit applications to demonstrate their financial capacity, experience and specific plans for purchasing pools of Fannie Mae foreclosed properties with the requirement to rent the purchased properties for a specified number of years.” (FHA)
So far, 2,500 Fannie Mae-owned properties have been sold to private investors. But–here’s the problem–”85% of the units are already being rented, and almost 60% of the units are on term leases.” (Calculated Risk) So, everything Obama said about the program was a lie. This isn’t a foreclosure-to-rental program; it’s a property-dump proffered to financial insiders who are getting cheap government financing to fatten the bottom line.
“The original idea behind the REO-to-rental program was to sell vacant REO to investors and only in certain areas. These investors would agree to rent the properties for a certain period, and that would reduce the number of vacant units on the market…. This offer doesn’t seem to match that goal,” says Calculated Risk.
Fancy that; another boondoggle-ripoff compliments of President Hopium. Who could have known?
Here’s a clip from the FHA’s Meg Burns:
“The pilot transaction very much gets at the issue at hand-helping to stabilize communities by keeping people in their homes where possible…This helps stabilize neighborhoods because many of the properties will continue as rentals instead of moving quickly to the for-sale market. In addition, it is easiest to price properties with renters already in place, which should help to attract investor interest. “ (Washington Post)
Sorry, Meg, don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. This is the old switcheroo pure and simple. The fact that the properties already have renters means that the investors will be raking in sizable returns from Day 1. That’s not the way the program was sold to the public. The American people have been hoodwinked again.
Here’s more from the FHA’s February 27 announcement:
“In order to ensure compliance with applicable securities laws and regulations, details of the sales announcement will be sent to prequalified investors per FHFA’s Feb. 1 announcement. Subsequently, investors who post a security deposit and sign a confidentiality agreement will gain access to detailed information about the properties. At that stage, interested investors must submit a comprehensive application, which will be reviewed by an outside firm. Only investors who are qualified through this rigorous process will be eligible to bid.”
Okay. So, John Q. Public–the little investor–is completely excluded from this massive transfer of real wealth to private equity, hedge funds and other deep-pocket Obama campaign contributors. That’s to be expected. But what’s the so called “confidentiality agreement” all about. Does Obama really think he can shower his dodgy friends with hundreds of billions of dollars in dirt-cheap property and keep the whole matter under wraps?
Dream on, Barry. And what about the financing? Are these cutthroat property scamsters digging into their own pile of cash to pay for these foreclosures or is Uncle Sugar providing 60, 70, 80, or 90 percent financing at rock-bottom rates of .01 percent? That’s what we want to know.
This is not how honest people deal with a crisis if they genuinely have the public’s interest at heart. This is just more-of-the-same fleece-job larceny that was perfected by the Bush claque. Wasn’t Obama going to change all that?
We are only half way through the foreclosure crisis. The experts predict there will be another 7 to 11 million mortgage defaults in the next few years. That means we need a game plan that will keep as many people in their homes as possible while reducing the vast overhang of supply that has left the market in a shambles. It’s a tough job, but it can be done provided the interests of the victims are placed above those of the banks. Fat chance of that, eh?
Let Your Life Be a Friction to Stop the Machine…
Nightmare and insanity are akin: mysterious and involuntary states that skew and distort objective reality. One wakens from nightmare; from insanity there is no awakening.
Whether Americans live in the one state or the other is the paramount question of this era.
For two hundred years Americans have been indoctrinated with a mythology created, imposed and sustained by a manipulating cabal: the financial elite that built its absolute control on the muscle and blood, good will, ignorance and credulity, of its citizenry.
America began with the invasion of a populated continent and the genocide of its native people. Once solidly established, it grafted enslavement of another race onto that base.
With those two pillars of state firmly in place it declared itself an independent nation in a document that nobly proclaimed the equality of all mankind.
In that act of monumental hypocrisy America’s myth had its beginning.
* * *
A Constitution was written that came to be regarded as American Holy Writ. Its central purposes were to defend private property and suppress mass democracy. It has fulfilled both those mandates beyond the wildest dreams of its creators.
Once the existing oligarchy was secure in law and native people largely exterminated, the ruling class increased its wealth and power fantastically in the 19th century, using the government as its enabler, exploiting to the limit the device of chartered corporations.
With its phenomenal money power, the financial elite began to use the military to expand its sway beyond the continent. Regions, territories, islands, and whole countries were annexed, invaded, and possessed outright, their peoples crushed, suppressed, and ruled.
Because ordinary Americans, like any people, need to believe that whatever the ruling elite undertakes in their nation’s name must be essentially benevolent, noble in purpose and justified in fact, the myth had to be radically modified for imperial expansion.
The foundational story was that Americans had come to a howling wilderness teeming with godless savages and, through invincible strength of character and purity of purpose, had tamed the land and honorably earned the right to possess their bountiful home.
In the era of extra-territorial expansion that version was polished to justify and ennoble imperialism. The new corollary was that America could not ignore colonialist brutality but was obliged, by the Manifest Destiny that led us to civilize our own continent, to carry our mission into barbaric darkness wherever tyranny created abuse and suffering.
A national myth that absolutely binds the loyalty of a people to its government must be a subtle and powerful elixir that elevates and aggrandizes that people’s self-regard. National policy will then appear to be an extension of its superior citizenry’s inchoate will, and the basis for a justified arrogance toward the lesser world.
The simple, powerful myth of America’s altruistic and heroic benevolence, shaped and maintained by the financial/political power elite, infused Americans with a deep and outrageously hubristic sense of racial superiority that, mobilized behind various imperial enterprises, has given all such adventures the character of a quasi-religious crusade. In this way insatiable imperialism acquires the apparent moral perfection of a syllogism.
* * *
With WWII, the world was reconfigured. American Capitalism emerged supreme from the horror that had virtually wrecked its capitalist partners. The Soviet Union, though, having absorbed by far the greatest devastation from Nazi Germany, had astonishingly risen above its ruin to become the leading challenger to America as a world power.
This challenge was not competitive, it was systemic: Soviet Communism was a direct threat to American hegemony in that it categorically refuted the philosophical basis of Predatory Capitalism. Grounded in Marx and Lenin, it attacked Capitalism’s inherent evils, monstrous inequities and flagrant injustices that, exacerbated by speculation, exploitation and fraud, would destroy it. And it promoted world revolution to that end.
This face-off of giants in the Cold War necessitated further refinement of the American myth. Now, instead of simply intervening in situations where despotism or tyranny required America to forcefully implant our just and ethical democracy, America had to become the shield and bulwark of the sacred capitalist system in which “free enterprise” was magically and increasingly identified with democracy and equally to be defended.
This version prevailed through many surrogate confrontations around the globe in the era of Mutually Assured Destruction and survived even the debacle of Vietnam, lasting until the collapse of the Soviet Union, as the propaganda stream became ever more intense and pervasive. On radio and television Americans were subjected to an unrelenting barrage of hyper-patriotism in which American moral superiority was a given, and America’s self-touted courage, generosity and decency were its unchallengeable proofs.
The implosion of the Soviet Union left America, in its own terminology, the “Sole Superpower in a Unipolar World”. This, however, did not result in diminution of the myth. The practical effect of having no doomsday enemy–China couldn’t plausibly be cast in that role then–was to supercharge it by increasing its element of pure, hubristic ego. America was no longer just called upon to defend the “Free World” from monstrous heresy; it was now, by virtue of its universally acknowledged, beatific “exceptionalism”, required to oversee and police it in the interests, and for the benefit, of lesser nations.
* * *
“Power corrupts”, said Lord Mahan, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
When the only rival and counterweight to American power disintegrated there was a sense within the American power elite that the opportunity existed, for the first time in history, for one country to absolutely dominate and effectively control the entire world.
This consensus was expressed in a policy statement composed by a cadre of major right-wing political players representing massive corporate capitalist interests called the Project for a New American Century. This triumphalist manifesto laid out a plan for absolute American access and control of essential resources and raw materials worldwide, to be guaranteed by the military which would enforce Full Spectrum Dominance.
The American Myth, which had seemed to have lost momentum and its animating principle in the totally unexpected so-called Cold War “victory”, was now re-energized with a less defensive and reactive essence, and given the glowing radiance and patina of a true and, for the first time, self-professed and articulated, imperial mission.
The attack on the Towers, an unimaginable provocation, was the trigger mechanism for the explosive launch of the effort to impose that imperial model in practice on the world.
* * *
It has been without question the most spectacular failure in the history of American misadventure. After a decade marked by the waste of trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of American lives, the stunning bankruptcy of our internally burglarized nation, and a consequent recession more fundamentally damaging than the Great One, Imperial America has nothing to show for the botched folly of its arrogant overreach but unequivocal disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, with no end of madness in sight.
An impartial observer would have to say that the hypnotic hold of the American Myth on the loyalty of the people has led only to disgrace and disaster, and set a direct course to inevitable imperial decline and ruin. That would be inarguable on any rational basis, but it entirely mistakes the motive for, and the purpose of, the myth. The American Myth was never intended to serve the interests either of our country or of our people: it was created solely to buttress, shield, and exalt the ruling financial class. It has done that with astonishing and unbroken success that staggers the imagination from our earliest days.
The massive looting of Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan war funding to enrich the Corporate Tyranny—for that is what it has become—is on an unique scale of its own, without anything remotely comparable to its flagrant obscenity in the whole long history of war.
Neither the Pentagon nor any branch of the U.S. government can give any accounting whatever of the many billions of tax-generated dollars that have vanished, evaporated. There is no doubt but that beyond the outrageously inflated, no-bid contracts handed to giant corporate favorites with their preposterous guaranteed profits, much of the money was simply stolen in bulk by, through, or in spite of the military, and distributed among thieves and accomplices, some of it on huge pallets… for convenience, presumably.
* * *
While this wholesale robbery was going on under the oversight of the military abroad, the Corporate Tyranny had evolved a whole set of impenetrably complex devices for the generation of money without any economically productive source or result at home.
The sole driving force and purpose of Capitalism is the realization of profit. According to that calculus, reducing production costs increases profit margin. This leads to the obvious conclusion that as production costs near zero, profit is maximized.
There is no provision for social good in Capitalist theory. Corporations, created to optimize business opportunity through efficient specialization, were originally required to operate for public benefit but that provision was quickly finessed and forgotten.
American law courts have always favored corporate concentrations of wealth since they, like the Congress, exist to serve the moneyed interests. The American Myth was created to provide cover for the financial oligarchy to exploit the country and the citizenry, and the judiciary has consistently cooperated in ruling for corporations against the people.
Indeed, without ever considering the question in law, the Supreme Court long ago endowed corporations with “personhood”, that is with all rights of human beings under our Constitution. The way this travesty occurred–the slipshod by-product of an obliquely related case–shows that the court preferred to incorporate this perversion of the plain intent of the 14th amendment as an unexamined assumption rather than risk an eventual test which would unquestionably have created violent public outrage.
Given the collusion of Congress and the courts in securing legal invulnerability for the Corporate Tyranny and the principle that the only duty of corporations is maximization of profit, it was not surprising that megabanks, huge brokerage houses, giant insurance conglomerates, gilded hedge funds and the credit agencies pretending to certify their work, all engaged in massive and systemic fraud and deception for just that purpose. The result was the crash of ’08, the recession, and the stunning and unprecedented rescue and bailout of the biggest banks, investment houses, and insurance and credit conglomerates with taxpayer dollars. So much for the hallowed Invisible Hand of the Free Market…
* * *
The last decades have seen two related megatrends in American geopolitical mechanics, both with dire effects on the power of the American Myth. First, what belief the world at large had in it has been shattered by a catastrophic series of imbecile and irretrievable military failures and disasters, which has caused erosion of its efficacy at home. Second, in response to this, the State has made increasingly crude efforts to boost the Myth’s waning power by the imposition of totalitarian methods of surveillance, intimidation and coercion on the American people to a degree unprecedented in scope and scale.
The whole clanking, medieval apparatus of Homeland Security that has sprouted like an enormous poison fungus since 9/11 with its brutal police state mindset; the odious Patriot Act with its flagrant subversions of the Bill of Rights; the endless, fantasy-based terror-peddling of the prostitute corporate media with its clowns and harpies churning irrational fear and anger in the uninformed: all this grim, repressive endeavor is a concerted attempt to distract Americans from the real causes of their injury, abuse, and oppression.
And yet, even with the American Myth now totally and irreparably blown full of holes and exposed demonstrably for the tissue of lies, deceptions and frauds that it has always been, it somehow keeps its phenomenal hold on the great mass of the American people. The tragic reality is that, for the majority, their own identities have been so deeply and thoroughly infused with the myth that to disbelieve it is to disbelieve in themselves.
* * *
So the American Myth is dead, and yet it lives on in its deadness, horribly masking our crapshot economy, our bankrupt debtors prison of a society, our Ghost Dance charade of kabuki democracy, while typhoons of impending social, economic and ecological disaster build their enormous, lightning-charged thunderheads above the dark future before us.
And what is it that the dead Myth still imperfectly obscures for Americans? What is outside and beyond the opaque wall of faltering, failing dishonesty and deception? What is the horror that the shoddy, tattered Myth has so long and so effectively concealed?
It is the world that has suffered unrelieved exploitation by the violence of our imperialist mania. It is the many wrecked and pillaged economies financially looted by our imposed predatory capitalist austerity regimes. It is the teeming hundreds of millions of starved, deprived and dying children sacrificed to Wall Street commodities gaming. It is the multitudes of humble, innocent, ignorant people, barely surviving in absolutist and dictatorial regimes propped up in their barbaric cruelty by our military while our banks siphon off the profits left after arming their brutal police and armies and bribing their ruling Kings, Sheikhs or Generals. It is the millions of dead and maimed in the raped populations of simple tribal people whom our indiscriminately murderous juggernaut has left in its bloody wake in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is the appalling legacy of hate and repulsion, disdain and fear, that America has earned with its appalling hegemonist villainy in every corner of the world.
And at home, what is it we Americans have been so complicit in hiding from ourselves in our devotion to the perverse legend that has come to inhabit our souls like a succubus?
It is the millions of us with no work and no hope in middle age whose jobs and homes have been devoured by the heartless fraud machine of Wall Street. It is the trashed and demolished weedlots of our major cities eroding in crumbling, fire-gutted ruin. It is the many towns and cities with industries shut down and factories deserted or dismantled and shipped overseas. It is our decaying, disintegrating public schools, our bankrupt states and counties, our overtaxed, antiquated public transportation systems, our obsolete, dissolving infrastructure, our bloated, irrational prisons complex, our punishing and inadequate health care disaster, and over it all, the repressive mechanism of our police state, armed and empowered, ready for use against the American people themselves.
* * *
This is where we are. The great question now is whether we as a nation can awaken from this long historic nightmare and face the terrifying and exhilarating prospect of living in the full light of reality without the false props and dishonest constructs of a hoodwinked, herded and dishonored people or, whether we have internalized the falsity and disease to such an extent that it has become an organic, overmastering form of insanity?
In 1846, Henry David Thoreau, offended to his soul by the injustice of the American government’s invasion of Mexico, protested it and went to jail for his convictions. Later, in his essay On Civil Disobedience, he said this:
“If injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”
To attempt to break the hold of the American Myth will be a titanic, daunting challenge. To even begin to openly rebel against the might of the National Security State will require the courage to face much more than official disapproval and denunciation. Imperial America will not respond to even the most peaceful and orderly protest with anything less than hard police repression and the level of punishment will rise in relation to the scope and seriousness of the action undertaken.
Small protests will have no effect and will be meaningless. Organized mass events, when they occur, will draw the whole fiercely and brutally motivated National Security State apparatus down upon themselves. Americans, excepting those of our underclass who have felt it, have no experience with violent police or military repression. Those who commit peaceful civil disobedience, a first and innocent tactic of serious protest, will swiftly find out to their cost how it works. In a National Security State that has excised and eradicated all defensive laws and regulations intended to prevent abuse of the public, whatever the State does is legal. To such a pass have we in America come as a result of our long historic indoctrination in serving our financial elite, our Ruling Class.
To achieve any redemption for Americans, to make possible any more just, humane and life-honoring society, will require complete abandonment of the system of Predatory Capitalism. If offers no prospect of reform or improvement and we have all been witness to the idiocy of the so-called “democratic process” in action for generations now.
America is nearing the greatest crisis point in its history and the terrific cataclysm, when it happens, will determine the future our country is to have. If we cannot, in dominating numbers, rise to reject the heartless, mindless, soulless machine of Imperial Predatory Capitalism, we will be condemned to a fascistic command and control horror in which human beings are mere possessions of the State, units of production or service, and then perhaps not even that, as excess population in that brave, new world nay be eliminated.
That end is not inevitable. We are not lost. We are not even defeated because to this moment we have not engaged. We have not honored our responsibility as human beings. We have not risen to defend our humanity. We have let ourselves be ruled.
All around the world the thunder of vast and immeasurable discontent can be heard and felt. In Egypt and Spain, Jordan and Greece, Iraq and Sudan, Afghanistan and Ireland, Latin America, the Far East and Africa, the legitimate anger of humanity is expressing itself against the dead and killing hand of Predatory Capitalism and its agencies of violence. And here, in America, so long trapped and encapsulated, frozen like a fly in amber in a false religion of state idolatry, the anger is deep, widespread, and growing.
It is up to those who know and care to lead. As Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Nothing is guaranteed us. That can’t matter. We cannot be concerned with odds or outcomes. We cannot let the Machine of Injustice grind on. We must oppose it with all the moral force we own. We must act with quiet courage to confront a vicious tyrannical system that is destroying the earth, its life, and its people. We must put our lives on the line to oppose it.
The Nightmare Machine of rapacious exploitation has overthrown humanity’s decency and reason and its bloody inhuman treason flourishes over us. This must be ended.
Let your life be a friction now to stop the Machine.
Here in Argentina, when we watch the terrible things that are happening today in Greece, we can only exclaim, “Hey!! That’s exactly what happened in Argentina in 2001 and 2002…!”
A decade ago, Argentina too went through a systemic Sovereign Public Debt collapse resulting in social turmoil, worker hardship, rioting and street fights with the police.
Some months before Argentina exploded, then-President Fernando de la Rúa – forced to resign at the height of the 2001 crisis – had called back as finance minister the notorious pro-banker, Trilateral Commission member and Rockefeller/Soros/Rhodes protégée Domingo Cavallo.
Cavallo was the gruesome architect of Argentina’s political and economic capitulation to the US and UK when he was President Carlos Menem’s foreign minister and economy minister in the ’90s.
Menem and Cavallo are primarily responsible for Argentina’s signing of a formal Treaty of Capitulation with the UK/US after the 1982 Falklands War, opening up our economy to unrestricted privatization, deregulation and grossly excessive US Dollar-indebtedness, almost tripling our sovereign debt in a few short years (see my February 11, 2012 article British Laughter in the Falklands).
The Plan? Prepare Argentina for planned weakening, bankster take-over and collapse, so that a new weakening-takeover-collapse cycle could begin. In 2001, Cavallo was back to finish his work…
During that very hot summer in December 2001, true to its Latin temperament, Argentina even had four (yes, 4!) presidents in just one week. One of them, Adolfo Rodriguez Sáa, who only lasted three days, at least did one thing right, even if he did it the wrong way: he declared Argentina’s default on its sovereign debt.
All hell broke loose! The international bankers and IMF did everything they could to break Argentina’s back; global media pundits predicted all kinds of impending catastrophes. Debt default meant Argentina would have to weather the pain and agony alone, being cast out by the “international financial community”.
‘You’re not the boss of me!’
But no matter how bad it got, it would always be better to do that without the bankers, without the IMF’s, European Central Bank’s, US Fed’s and US Treasury’s “help”. Better to sort out your mess on your own, than to have parasitic banker vultures carving out their pound of flesh from your nation’s decaying social and economic body.
And how bad did it get in 2002? A 40 per cent drop in GDP; 30 per cent unemployment; 50 per cent of the population fell below the poverty line; dramatic, almost overnight, devaluation against the US Dollar from 1 peso per dollar to 4 pesos per dollar (then it tapered down to 3 pesos per dollar); if you had a US dollar Bank account, the government forced you to change it into pesos at the rate of 1.40 pesos per dollar.
What did Argentina’s government do wrong? In the months leading to collapse it bowed to all the bankers and IMF-mandated measures and “recipes”, which were actually the very cause of collapse: Argentina was loaned far more than it could pay back…. And the banker knew it! This was described in our December 19, 2011 article, Argentina: Tango Lessons.
Successive governments since then have continued to be functional to banker interests by rolling over debt 30 to 40 years, aggregating huge interest and in 2006 paying the full debt to the IMF – almost US$10 billion in full, cash and in US dollars (sole entity given most-favoured creditor status).
Same vultures circling Greece
Today, Greece is confronted with a similarly tough decision. Either it keeps its sovereignty, or it capitulates to the “Vulture Troika” – the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund – who work for the Bankers, not the People.
Not surprisingly, today we find that Greece too has a Trilateral Commission Rockefeller/Rothschild man at the helm: Lucas Papademos who is doing the same things Argentina did in 2001/2.
Argentina not only suffered Cavallo, but President De la Rúa himself was co-founder of the local Global Power Masters lobby, CARI – Argentine International Relations Council – local branch of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, networking with the Trilateral Commission / Bilderberg mafia.
Greece today should do what Argentina did a decade ago: better to endure pain and hardship, and sort out the mess made by your politicians in connivance with international bankers on your own, wielding whatever shred of sovereignty you still have than allowing the Banker Vultures sitting in Frankfurt, New York and London decide your future.
It’s the Neocolonial Private Power Domination Model, stupid!
Or do you think it’s just bad luck, bad judgment and coincidence that countries – Greece, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Iceland, Ireland, Russia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, France, even the US and UK – always borrow too much from the bankers and then “discover” that they cannot pay it back and that, symmetrically, the same bankers – CitiCorp, HSBC, Deutsche, Commerz, BNP, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JPMorganChase, BBVA lend too much to countries and then “discover” they cannot collect?
No! That is the very yellow-brick road that leads to the Emerald City of “debt restructuring”, “debt refinancing”, and “sovereign debt bond mega-swaps” that snowball sovereign debt, spreading it over 20, 40 or more years into the future. That guarantees unimaginably colossal interest profits for the Mega-Bankers and for all those nice politicians, media players, traders and brokers, without whom that would not be possible.
This is a Model. It must keep rolling and rolling and rolling… As this Monster Machine steams forwards, it completely tramples on, overruns, destroys, flattens and obliterates people, jobs, workers, health services, pensions, education, national security and just about everything human on its path. Run by parasitic usurer technocrats, it does not care what it destroys because it has no ethics; no Christian, Muslim or Buddhist morals. It only worships a greedy golden idol of money, money and more money. This is 21st-century Money Power Slavery.
Three generations of Argentines saw hopes dashed and dreams thwarted by this Monster Machine, suffering the hardship, woes and humiliations that come when countries give up sovereignty.
Bring back the drach!
So, Greece: Just default on your “sovereign debt”! Just revert to the drachma! Just say “No, thanks!” to the German bankers and the Troika Vultures.
Please, Greece: just say “No!” to your Trilateral Commission president!
You will be setting a strong precedent for your European neighbours. Like Spain, which is hurting so badly right now for similar reasons. Like Italy, with its Trilateral Commission Prime Minister Mario Monti (also Trilateral’s European Chairman!).
Greece, the Cradle of Democracy, can teach the world a lesson in True Democracy by kicking these parasites out of the country, which will hopefully trigger kicking them out of Europe and one day, kicking them out of the global economy.
Because what Greece and Argentina and Italy and Spain suffer today is not True Democracy, but rather a distorted bastard imitation that systematically yields control to the Global Power Masters at the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg and Mega-Banking Overworld. They run the whole “democracy show”, whereby all countries end up having “the best democracy that money can buy”… which is no democracy at all…
The Money Power juggernaut is steaming full speed towards us all. If Greece falls, who’ll be next? Spain? Italy? Portugal? Argentina (yet again!!!)?
So what if Greece’s reverting to the drachma marks the beginning of the end for the euro? Let Italy revert to the lira, Spain to the peseta, Portugal to the escudo…! A National Currency is a key National Sovereignty factor.
All governments should understand that you either govern for the people and against the bankers; or you govern for the bankers and against the people.
Source: Adrian Salbuchi for RT