Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The "Free" Market is not so free

Don't make the mistake of thinking that Friedmanist free market economics is only applied in other countries. It's alive and well, and growing, in the united States today.

I've been lead drummer on the anti-corporatist bandwagon for some time, as well as accompanist for the Close the Pentagon Glee Club, but I didn't understand until recently the economic pressures that underlie both of these social institutions.

Think back with me to the halcyon days of 1989, when the Soviet Union "collapsed," the Cold War was over and the "Peace Dividend" had legs... with the people. Of course, this movement had to be quashed, lest the military-industrial complex grind to a much deserved halt. Friedmanists were dispatched off to Moscow to squelch incipient democratic movements, while the security establishment at home sought diligently amongst the bushes for an enemy, any enemy, to hold up to public obloquy. This movement coalesced in Washington, DC, resulting, lo these many years later, in the Bush & Co. Neoliberal coup d'etat.

As it turns out, the Soviet Union did not so much collapse as have its economic carpet pulled out from under it by Boris Yeltsin and the Chicago School economists. Milton Friedman student Jeffrey Sachs was in the room in the Kremlin when Yeltsin announced the end of the Soviet Union, and he had been lobbying Yeltsin on free-market economics for some time. The next few years were characterized by a feeding frenzy of global marketeers grabbing up as much of Russia as they could carry away with both hands. Harvard was even sanctioned and fined for allowing its economist to double dip in the newly privatized Russian economy. Harvard, alma mater of George W. Bush and his economic adviser, Al Hubbard.

So, the uS lost its Enemy Number 1, that had served so well during the Cold War. What to do, what to do?

9/11 served up the perfect crisis for the imposition of Friedmanist economic reform in the uS, not to mention an out of control police state organized under the Teutonic appellation: Homeland Security. The Bush economic shock troops are working diligently on privatization of everything in the uS from Social Security to education, all the while building a culture of fear and dependency. Today, the "War on Terror" serves as the one-size-fits-all excuse for economic deconstruction and reassembly in a jigsaw puzzle of global free market capitalism.

Fortunately, as the Friedmanists knit new free market economies under the chins of manufactured dictators on one end of the Global Economy quilt, the other end is unraveling into populist democracies. Our greatest hope, as we move into the Age of Peak Oil and Climate Change, is that our neighbors to the south will help us out when the "Global Economy" collapses and the uS government abandons their people as they pursue the last dregs of Middle East crude. The tide of history will turn, turn, turn as the south rises once again.

That's South America, not Dixie, y'all.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Shock Doctrine

There are many conspiracy claims flying about these days: 9/11 government complicity and such.

Then there are real conspiracies.

I'm still reading The Shock Doctrine, but I've read enough to say, "Oooooooh, so that's what that was all about!"

I was always puzzled about why there were so many revolutions in South America ("Governments in South America are measured in revolutions per minute"), why Allende, Mossadegh, and so many others were deposed by the US government, why Pinochet was so oppressive to his own people, why the Chinese killed so many at Tiananmen Square.

Now I understand.

It really is a conspiracy. Worse yet, it's a conspiracy by economists!

What's at stake is not oil, or land, or water, even though these are important things. What's at stake here is an economic theory that is being tested on billions of people around the world, trying to prove that Milton Friedman was a genius and not a madman.

What's at stake here is a vision of society based on free market capitalism that favors corporations over living things and the environment in which we all live. What's at stake here is the vision that "a rising tide lifts all boats," the "trickle down theory" of economics, Reagan's "Voodoo Economics," NAFTA, GATT, the IMF and the World Bank.

This vision is threatened by democracy, self-determination, freedom of choice, the "Welfare Society," mixed economies, social programs, socialism (true socialism, not the Stalinist distortion), Marxism, and, worst of all, anarchism.

The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and soon to be Iran is not about oil in the deepest sense. Yes, oil is important, but only as a product. Saddam Hussein was a threat to the united States, not because he attacked Kuwait, but because he refused to knuckle under to the IMF and the World Bank; because he refused to sell out his country to the forces of global economic hegemony; because he threatened to nationalize Iraqi oil companies and build an economy to support his own people in his own country. Any leader who dared to defy Milton Friedman and the Chicago School economists was quickly brought down and forced to kneel before the alter of free market capitalism.

Fortunately, several new South American leaders rose off their knees and led their countries back to developmentalism and economies geared to support their own people. They are defying the Chicago School hegemony and building their own alliances to maintain their own economies, free of IMF and World Bank manipulation. Time will tell if they can continue to hold out until the world goes into deep global recession.

Read The Shock Doctrine, then look around with clear eyes. You will be shocked!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

“Fuel made from food is a dumb idea..."

This article succinctly states common sense: Don't burn your food to drive your car!

We've all heard of the poor people who burn their furniture to keep warm... same same. Biofuels is just another scam to prop up agribusiness faced with collapse and bankruptcy as climate change pulls the rug out from under them.

What kind of sense does it make to divert more acreage from food production at a time when climate change will be reducing the amount of land avaiable to produce food for people all over the world?

Furthermore, who benefits from biofuels? Trans-national corporations, yes. People who drive cars in affluent nations, yes. Poor people? No, sorry. People in third world nations? No, again, too bad for them. Living things all over the planet? Please, let's be serious.

There is one thing that demonstrates clearly, once and for all, the snake oil business of biofuels: the Bush administration supports and promotes it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Irony is not yet dead

Condi Rice is either completely ignorant or possessed of a heightened sense of irony, as the Herald Tribune reveals. Time will tell.

In browbeating Putin and accusing the Russian government of walking away from democracy, she accurately and succinctly described increasing centralized authoritarianism, fascism and imperialism in the United States government. Perhaps she was reading from the wrong playbook.

The government of the united States, as distinct from the people occupying the United States of America, has stepped wide of the path of democracy in its latest attempts to solidify the corporatocracy that rules this country, and most of the rest of the world. The Oval One and his band of thugs have shredded the Constitution of the united States of America, abandoned the carefully crafted system of checks and balances that have heretofore maintained an uneasy truce among the graspers at power, and strode roughshod across most of the rest of the planet, making the world safe for hypocrisy.

Militarism, the substitution of military priorities and justifications for government action, has replaced democracy and egalitarianism as the guiding ideology of the United States government. Since the "Global Economy" is capitalist, that makes the United States a country that uses militarism to support, defend and spread capitalism throughout the world by imperialistic economic and military conquest. This is a precise definition of fascism.

The United States government has become the evil force it proposes to defeat, using torture of prisoners, slaughter of civilian non-combatants, indiscriminate bombing of civilian infrastructure, kidnapping, extortion, drug-running, extraterritorial mercenary armies, blatant lies and deceit, murder and assassination, to topple governments that offer no threat to this country. What they do threaten is world corporate hegemony, the ability of trans-national corporations to dominate capital, resources and labor on any continent, in any country on Earth as they desire.

Many have pointed out the clear parallels with the Roman Empire and its decline, as the Romans sought to spread their domination throughout the known world through force of arms, and whose militarism at home lead to a decline in democratic institutions and arguably the eventual downfall of the Roman Empire.

This is not the Roman Empire and history never repeats itself quite this literally.

The greater lesson to be learned is far more universal and final. In a world of finite resources, unlimited growth is a fatal disease. What we see now in these desperate struggles for political and economic domination is the final, pitiful thrashings about of the dinosaur of expansionist capitalism. The twin specters of global climate change and Peak Oil are ushering in the end of the Age of Oil, and with it, the end of the Age of Growth.

Whatever society survives the next 250 years will be inevitably sustainable and in harmony with natural biological and geophysical cycles. There can be no other outcome. The imperialist model of expansion and dominion is revealed as ultimately bankrupt. Only a steady-state society can exist in a world of finite resources.

That's the way it is. We're stuck on this whirling mud blob for the rest of eternity, or until the Sun expands and swallows us up. Might as well get used to it, stop all this tedious pretense at omnipotence and get down to the real task of learning how to play nicely together in the remaining sandbox.

Sorry to burst your bubble, Condi.