Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

The Looting of America

by Frank Schnittger Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 07:50:17 AM EST

Cross posted from Booman and DKos.

Normally I write for The European Tribune and cross post the odd diary here if I think it might be of interest to some Booman and DKos readers.  This is my first attempt to write a specifically Booman or DKos diary for an American audience from a European perspective.

I do so neither as an economist nor as an expert on the US political system, but I hope to bring some historical perspective to a discussion which appears to be very close to the bone for many Americans right now - and especially to those on the relatively far Right and Left of the current US political spectrum.

My first point is this:  We live in a time of revolutionary change.  The collapse of Communism and the Globalization of Capitalism has resulted in firstly, a dramatic increase in US economic, military and political power, and more recently in a resurgence of China, Russia, Europe, India and many parts of what we used to call the third world. Many other major powers are no longer taking their marching orders from Washington or New York.  McCain is living in a dream world if he thinks that many of the leaders of these emerging powers will be overly concerned whether he/POTUS deigns to speak to them or not.


Secondly the deregulation of market systems which, in part, led to the Globalisation of Capitalism, has resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the USA, because it has enabled Global capital to treat American workers increasingly in the same way that they have always treated workers in the third world.  The growth in efficiency of production systems means there will always be more workers than there is productive work to do, and thus by the laws of free market supply and demand - the price of labour goes down, and down - until it goes down so low that labour is no longer able to sustain itself - and poverty, homelessness, illness, broken families and political destabilisation results.

Over the last 30 years - despite huge growth in GNP, virtually all the incremental wealth that has been generated in the US has gone to the top 0.1% of the population - mainly those helping to run the Global economy.  And I say Global - not American - economy advisedly, because big money has no national loyalties - in flows where the further growth potential lies, usually in "third world" markets, and this process is then wrapped in an American flag as part of the Branding exercise to make the other 99.9% of Americans think that this is all being done for their benefit.

The consequence of this enormous transfer of incremental wealth from the poor to the rich is that virtually all growth in living standards in the past 30 years for the 99.9% has been funded by debt, and by increasingly unsustainable levels of debt at that - so much so that it has masked the enormity of what has really being going on:  US capital has gone Global, and the USA itself has increasingly only remain solvent because of huge inflows of cash from the rest of the world in the form of both public and private debt - a debt which has been increasingly secured against hugely over-priced assets.  

The consequence of this whole pyramid selling or Ponzi scheme falling apart is that the rest of the world will cease to puts its money into Dollars, or at least charge exorbitant interest rates for doing so, and the US$ will lose its status as the world reserve currency.  The money and jobs which have already left the USA aren't coming back, and thus we have the Wall Street bail-out - where already impoverished and over-indebted US taxpayers are expected to bail-out the global bankers and neo-conservative market deregulators who brought you to this wonderful state of affairs.

And don't for a moment think that this bail-out will be the last.  The Globalisation of US capital is an ongoing process and whilst the real money heads abroad, US taxpayers will be expected to make up the losses at home.  Every time a crisis occurs the same extortionate demands will be made:  bail us out or the real economy, real jobs, YOUR homes and livelihoods will suffer.  And there will be an element of truth in this:  the short term consequences of "market failure" are almost always catastrophic.  The last time this occurred you had the Great Depression, and we had Fascism and World War.

It is no accident that McCain and the neo-cons are searching around for an adversary who can give them a Casus Belli and allow them to blame the whole process on some great Satan abroad.  McCain's chief Foreign Policy Adviser, Randy Scheunemann, even acted as chief US adviser to the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, when he rained cluster bombs on the innocent civilians of South Ossetia - in the hope of provoking a Russian response which could be characterized as the Evil Empire rising again.

Because unless this whole enterprise can be wrapped in an American Flag, and all dissenting voices charaterised as unpatriotic, the reality becomes all too obvious:  The US is being systematically looted by its own ruling elite - and don't make the mistake of thinking that this ruling elite are the politicians in Washington - they are but the foot soldiers largely doing the bidding of those who own America, own the big businesses, the media, the "think tanks", the banks, and an increasingly privatised military.

This looting of America has now become so obvious that even the dimmest of the foot soldiers are beginning to realise what they are doing, and are becoming fearful of an increasingly angry electorate looking for an alternate leadership.  Many arch conservative politicians - the social conservatives and small town businessmen - have little in common with international capital, and are ready to break ranks.  They're just looking for a leader to articulate their concerns, and remarkably, McPain could be their guy.  Who better to find a foreign enemy to re-unite the nation?  Who better to stick up for the small guy against the complexities of global finance that no one can understand?  Do not underestimate McPains apparent stupidity - they could represent the popular anger and inchoate confusion at what is going on perfectly.

The big question is whether McPain will break ranks with the big business paymasters who run the GOP operation.  My guess is that he may be sufficiently desperate - and unstable - to do just that.  What better way to differentiate himself from the unpopular Bush regime - and much of the Democratic establishment which has almost as much in common with Global Capital as the Republican elite have?

So where does that leave Barak Obama, the Candidate of ChangeTM  He has a very difficult choice to make.  He can build a coalition with Global Capital by supporting this bail-out plan and hope that this does not lose him the vote of the Left in his own party.  He was never going to get many of the social conservative and small town extreme Republican vote in any case.  In other words, he can do what candidates often do - move to the centre and hope he doesn't lose his base in the process.  It is probably too late for McPain to play the populist card and oppose the bail-out - it would only reinforce existing concerns about his stability, and he might find many prominent Republicans (goaded by their Global Capital masters) endorsing Obama instead.

The real question is: what does Obama do next - on the presumption that he is elected?  Does he too become co-opted by the Global capitalists who control the media, the lobbyists, the banks and much of the real economy?  Is he diverted into finding some external enemy who can be used to disguise the looting of America that is really going on?  Will the Military Industrial complex Cheney so successfully reinforced - force his hand as well?  Kennedy was famously bounced into the Bay of Pigs fiasco by totally fabricated intelligence and had to be killed when he threatened to change course on Vietnam.

We will know early on in his Presidency whether the Change he promises is real or superficial.  If he moves to enact radical electoral reforms, breaks up monopoly control of the media, refuses to be goaded into war, places "draconian controls" on the movement of Global Capital and enacts fundamental FDR type social programs to reverse the impoverishment of 99.9% of the American people there may be some chance.  

However he will have to be a truly radical President in the FDR mold if he is to accomplish any of this.  Any signs of Clintonian triangulation and you can be sure that no real change of power has occurred.  The looting of America will continue - but it will have a far pretty face.  People will congratulate themselves for having elected a Black President and putting a formal and successful end to the Civil Rights movement of the 60's.  Perhaps the racial struggles of past decades will be replaced by a class struggle in the future, but at the moment there is only one class struggling, and that is the global ruling elite who are seeking to hold onto the power and the wealth they have looted from America.

Perhaps when white and black people stop struggling with each other they will see their real enemies lurking in their Global business empires more clearly and make common cause together.  Perhaps that is the future that Obama best exemplifies, but no one should underestimate the task - and the very real physical risks - he faces.

Good luck America.  I wish you all the best in the challenges which lie ahead and hope you create a more just and prosperous future.  And I hope you don't rain war on the rest of us.  We are your friends if you could only recognise us.

Display:
got a link over there?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:27:57 AM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary has fallen off the Diary list at Kos.  Need to get some recommends to make it to the Recommended List.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:40:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only has 25 - I think its a lost cause at this stage.  You need to have a DKos brand to make the recommended list there

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:17:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad timing Frank.  

Posting a diary that early in the AM (US time) means it will be overwhelmed before most of us wake up.

Really good diary, tho'.  Maybe Jerome - a Big Name on dKos - can slip a couple of references to it in his next missive & get you some more eyeballs?  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:13:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks - so what's a good time?

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome is the guy to ask.  I don't get over there enough to be reliable.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:34:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... enough that any time is a good time for him to post.

Without that, the wrecklist has strong inertia, since people comment into a wrecklist diary for greater exposure and then rec that diary to help it stay up, and large numbers of users simply scroll through the wrecklist, rec'ing those diaries they like ... its a system that amplifies the normal power-law distribution, "rich get richer and poor get poorer" system.

Someone gets lucky with a topic of the hour that enough other people want to use to hang comments on, at the time that a current wrecklist diary has its rec's aging, and launches into the wrecklist for its run.

So normally its the long subscriber list that is needed to break onto the wrecklist with something other than the "topic of the hour".


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 12:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... are around 8ish in the morning, when overnight wrecklist diaries tend to be aging, and around 5ish in the evening, when diaries that launched early in the day tend to be aging. But its just increasing the very long odds on a lottery, and well thought out diaries that required more than a few minutes to read and react to are at a heavy disadvantage.

Its still worthwhile to have the diary up on dKos, because there are numbers of kossacks who will follow a dKos link when they will not follow a link offsite.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 12:33:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DKos has a daily diary rescue thread on the front page - you might still make it.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:39:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find it.  How does it work?

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 03:00:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A front pager posts it later in the day.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 03:36:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a lot of ET members who could post recommendations and comments on booman and dkos on Frank's excellent diary.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Happily, Frank's diary is at the top of the Booman diary list, now, and I've just (re)signed up to the Orange site [ouf] specifically to recommend it.

If there is a lack of recommends on Orange, it looks as though <all> of the responses to the diary are positive and constructive, many wondering out loud why the diary hasn't made the rec list.

There's that ...

by Loefing on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:43:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only chance is the nightly rescue, very likely unless they feel there are too many comments, a silly restriction. It is too long for a non-celebrity diarist, and the place is much too preoccupied with the presidential election to think about anything.
by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:53:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks for all your support, guys.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 03:01:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If there is "taxpayer equity" along the lines of an actual mutual fund that is held by the public instead of cash chasing trash - just don't use the word nationalization - who knows how this will end?

McCain is irrelevant. Presidential elections are decided on atmospherics and Obama has already won. And he has become a bit Sphinx-like recently. Yesterday he said at one point "I agree we have to do something but I resent it, raising his voice ever so slightly and bobbing his head a bit. For Mr. Cool, these are signs of populist rage.

There is no reason to believe that Obama will be an FDR. There can only be hope that the horde of young new interconnected voters he has called up will take on a life of its own. Their inchoate impulses may lead them far to the left of Obama.

I received a lengthy email from Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio yesterday. He represents a district that includes Eugene, as left as it gets in the US, and rural areas that are as right as it gets, places where you can see "Get the US out of the UN" signs.

He is violently opposed to the bailout unless it includes a variety of things it never will, including purchase of shares, not a loan, and an emergency public works job bill. (I don't know if it is understood, but the dominant notion of an economic stimulus is that DC sends everyone a little check even as unemployment rises and out infrastructure collapses. That is a measure of how committed we seem to be to the idea that it is all about finances, there seems to be no real world of goods and services out there any more.) We will see today how many agree with him. Just a very few on the left, as usual not enough to extract any meaningful concessions. For a moment there was a chance of getting together with rejectionists on the right, but I suspect they wiill all fall in line behind the leadership after several hours of armtwisting and threats yesterday

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 09:22:51 AM EST
melvin:
There is no reason to believe that Obama will be an FDR.

The problem is now more globalised than it ever was - and so he would need to be much more than an FDR to succeed.....

And it would be great if we could avoid a World War in the transition and recovery process...

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 09:38:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is my hope that the public is finally sick enough of war that there aren't enough cheerleaders even in DC and on the television machines to gin up another one. Every day the voice of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans calling for a change grows a tiny bit louder.

What is incomprehensible is the failure to connect the cost of all these wars, even the immediate cost, never mind further out, to our financial problems, literally the cost of imported plowshares.

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 09:46:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not even just the direct cost of war, but the indirect costs of increased oil prices etc.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 09:53:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very important factor that has not, yet, been included in the Financial Meltdown analysis is the Global Agricultural Meltdown.  

Marginal food production in A India and Pakistan coupled with the already existing low-level military actions could very easily tip into outright war with the always present danger of escalation into a nuclear exchange.  

And then what does China do?  Allied with Pakistan, they have a strong 'tug' to enter the conflict.  Would they?  And if they do then what happens.?

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:27:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He is violently opposed to the bailout unless it includes a variety of things it never will, including purchase of shares, not a loan, and an emergency public works job bill.

He is to be commended on a "trickle up" theory of economic justice. (People like to forget the '37 recession. The New Deal did not delivery the "market stabilization" that Gen XYZ fantasizes about.) Frankly, Obama can't hide his Rubinomic biases (Volunteer labor! Tax credits! Opt out mutual funds!) He should be commended on his creativity in socializing risk.

See warrants though for critical info about what a share buys. It does  not buy "ownership" any more than a mortgage buys "ownership."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 04:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... is non-voting preferred shares leaves the firm "owned" by the common shareholders, but "the firms that get rescued will have to fund their piece of the bail-out themselves, once they get back to financial health".

Not evilly-weavily nationalization, but Wall Street paying for its woeful ways ... but waiting until it won't put Main Street at risk ... that's the political sweet spot if there is one.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 12:36:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The House is now debating this thing. A Republican congressman whose name I did not catch just called it a cow patty; in plain English that would be a pile of shit.

Now a California Dem crying NO.

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 10:39:09 AM EST
Well the "markets" are holding a gun to their heads.  The Irish market is down 12% and (foreign) hedge funds are short selling the Irish Banks.  Silly really - there is no way the Irish Government will let the banks fail - and many would like to see them nationalised in any case.  

Booman is going ape-shit about Dems taking a chance and voting against the cow patty because he fears total melt-down.  But why don't Governments let the markets "find their own level" and then buy up whatever they WANT at bargain basement prices?  There is no law against taxpayers also turning a profit on their investments - and maybe its about time they did.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:25:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've come to the conclusion that opinions on the bailout and the crisis are pretty much independent of facts: people are seeing precisely what they want to see.

Is a bailout necessary? No one knows.

Is the proposed plan the best available? No one knows.

Will the Irish government be able to stop banks failing? Who knows?

It's pretty much all bullshit at this stage.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:30:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a low-information, high-stakes game and you can't not play.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:34:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman:
I've come to the conclusion that opinions on the bailout and the crisis are pretty much independent of facts:

There are almost no facts behind "the magic of the markets" - it's all about intangibles like trust, confidence, and judgments about what might or might not happen in the future.

That is why people are having to buy a ball of smoke - to put it kindly.  Politics, for all its faults, likes to deal with slightly more tangible assets - and real people in the real economy like to know an awful lot more about what they are buying.

To an extent its about asking people to have some confidence in their own future.  The real argument is about to what extent those who take take the risks also get the rewards.

In who's favour is the deal structured?

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Left or Right (and everywhere outside politics) there is this class of human beings that they don't have to open their mouth for us to know what they are going to say. They are the fanatics of "something".

"The market is always right"
"The market is always wrong"

I would suggest that these people are, in the fundamental equal: they are dogmatics. Run away.

Or, as Bertrand Russell (one of the best antidotes to this type of mentality) would say:

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong

by t-------------- on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:59:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Michael Moore.com: The rich are staging a coup

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM.




You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:03:24 AM EST
"Camouflage parachutes" is the term DeFazio just used in explaining his no vote.
by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:23:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 11:51:18 AM EST
There it is - he's pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

This is really a remarkable moment. There are congressmen openly saying on the floor of the house that they have no idea if the bill will work or not, but they encourage its passage anyway because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. Unsaid, there is not time to think this over, because everything was just fine until a week ago when this disaster struck unannounced.

The average American really has no interest in politics at all. But given a few days to look it over the average farmer, independent contractor or shop owner is far, far more literate in finance than Congress.

This will not end well for them.

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
melvin:
when this disaster struck unannounced.
People here have been announcing it for some years.

But politicians are good at reading opinion polls and the results are not pretty.  Congressional leaders are reputedly scouring the corridors for congressmen who are retiring or who are in "safe" constituencies.

This is one of those situations where everybody wants everybody else to do the leading.  Obama and McCain barely debated it.  This is a Bush Plan and his brand is toxic.

The very people who proclaimed small government and the magic of the markets are now looking for state intervention.  No wonder the US electorate are confused.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:08:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I was joking about the unheralded crisis. Jerome would realize that as he is familiar with me, but of course you would not. My bad.

No, the emails aren't pretty. At a minimum, one hundred to one against.

Precisely so. One of the Republicans just said "I don't want to vote for this bill. I want you to."

These assholes will at most have to adjust the cleaning schedule for their private pools, for some reason Kissinger is back in the news, and my kid is going to jail for pot possession.

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:17:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the Republicans just said "I don't want to vote for this bill. I want you to."

Krugman has said today that the Dem's problem is that they cannot be seen to own the bailout, which is why presumably they chose to reform the Paulson one instead of proposing an entirely new approach. If that had, the Republicans would simply have opposed it and it would have become the Dem's bailout. As it is, it's still Paulson's bailout.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Practically: Anyone voting for it, owns it.  That vote will be used by their opponent in an attack ad.

And every House member is up for re-election.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
some are retiring, others are in "safe" seats" - apparently they are in high demand...

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is pissing me off to no end! When this happened in Sweden, the government and opposition joined together and closed the ranks to save the nation. But these scum-sucking American politicians just seem to care about who will "own" the plan, or about their personal seats!

Where is their sacrifice, their solidarity, their partriotism?

Their bloody ordinary common sense?!

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, of course, a lot of political calculation and self-interest involved, but there are also a lot of genuine differences of view as to whether the plan as written is the best way to go.  And let's face it - no one has demonstrated, with any degree of confidence, that the plan would achieve the objectives it sets out to achieve.  There is a disaster in the making, probably regardless of whether or not the plan is adopted, and anyone with any sense wouldn't want to be associated with that disaster.  The real culprits are sitting pretty on their Billions whilst the politicians are supposed to clean up their mess for them.  No wonder they're not going about that task with a lot of enthusiasm - why take the consequences for other people's crass greed?

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real culprits are sitting pretty on their Billions whilst the politicians are supposed to clean up their mess for them.  No wonder they're not going about that task with a lot of enthusiasm - why take the consequences for other people's crass greed?
Now that Plan B has been shot down everyone must regroup.  If there is to be no bipartisan solution the Democrats should put together the best plan they can to mitigate the damage. Republicans such as Darrel Issa of Cal. have claimed credit for killing the plan and have complained that other steps to relieve the problem that could be taken have not been even considered. That could be because the purpose of the plan was other than what was implied.

I suspect that Plan B was intended as the last installment of classic shock capitalism, except that it failed. Goldman has been a beneficiary so far.  If the speculation about the need to recapitalize the Fed is correct perhaps doing that is seen as covering the tracks for what has been done to date. Then Paulson can exit and the problem falls to the next administration.

The dissident Republicans are complaining that this was just a gift to those who brought us the calamity. It is that and it could also be the get   away vehicle for the actual heist, which consisted of giving most of the Feds assets to AIG to protect Goldman, keeping bad assets from Merril to protect B of A etc. etc. to keep collapse at bay till after the election.  

It is unclear how the FDIC has managed to dispose of the toxic waste from its most recent aquisitions without using up its ~$70 billion reserve.  Perhaps it can't manage and it needs to be re-capitalized also.  In other words, the Fed and FDIC may be out of bullets leading up to the election.

By solving the problems of credit availability by creating new institutions that could supply necessary credit, the existing system could be allowed to unwind itself while what is left of the real economy continues to function.  This would be opposed.  It would be like a hostage taker releasing all his hostages.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 12:36:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

- Edmund Burke, philosophical founder of Anglo-American conservatism.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:53:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
However even the British Parliament uses a whip system to ensure conformity to party policy.  If anything, the US parliamentary system is closer to Burke's ideal.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 08:56:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: pot possession.

Sorry to hear that melvin.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 12:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No one running for office can afford to propose a sensible solution until they have all the money they will need for this cycle at least.  It could be solved in January if they first pass effective public financing of elections.  That would be a true revolution and it would be televised.  Pointing out to them that federal elections have become "Pick a Pimp Pagents" with their constituents as the whores, as I have done in letters to congress, does not endear me to my representatives.  If enough constituents wrote similar letters it might start to sink in.  It can't hurt.

Our representatives are very intelligent people who uniformly have high opinions of themselves.  The situation most are in right now over the bail out bill cannot be comfortable.  Point out to them the reasons why they cannot consider solutions that might work.  Note that remaining in this bind is a choice on their part, collectively.  A move to a massive public financing of election expenses will be a leap in the dark.  They will only take that leap when they realize that their current position is untenable.

The constraints arising from campaign finance are now so severe that it should be relatively easy to make the point in LTEs.  I got such a letter published in the neo-con, neo-classical Arkansas Democrat Gazette, which I call the Arkansas DINO Gazette.  Send similar letters to the office of Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  It might start to sink in to the awareness of the staff people at least.

One of the good things to come out of this fiasco has been the repeated driving home by Democrats of the fraudulent and self-defeating nature of the entire neo-classical economics of Friedman, Reagan, Greenspan,  the Bushes, etc.  This is the ideal time to discredit such noxious bullshit.  Next we need for people to understand the deliberate and self-serving process that brought us that policy on behalf of a wealthy few.  

This may be a once in a political lifetime opportunity to enact fundamental change.  That change has to start with campaign financing.  Too much of what needs to change will impact wealthy donors in ways most will consider adverse.  There is an old bridge players maxim: "If there is only one lay of the cards that will allow you to make your hand, assume that that is how the cards lay and play it!"  That is what we need to do.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:21:19 PM EST
Probably the ideal outcome is for the repubs to defeat the bill.  Then all the short term negative consequences can be blamed on them - and Obama can say he tried to adopt a bipartisan approach but the repugs wouldn't play ball.  Then it will be obvious to all that the only prospect for a solution is a Dem administration with a Dem Congress.

The debate can then shift to more fundamental reforms aimed at the underlying problems.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 01:32:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unbelievable!  We got just such an optimal outcome as you suggested and yet our brilliant Democrat senators are now going to try to once again bite the poisoned apple. They want to pass the bill or a very similar one in the Senate even though it should originate in the House.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 11:21:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Currently going down to defeat, with Rs opposing by a more than 2 to 1 margin and 94 Ds joining them. The vote is being held open and arms are being twisted out of their sockets right now.

This would be the perfect time to get that little bridge or airport you always wanted for your district, cheap.

by melvin on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 02:02:20 PM EST
Does anyone find it ironic that George Bush, having built his Presidency around 9/11, is now completely undone by a financial 9/11 of his own making?

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 03:54:27 PM EST
The real question is: what does Obama do next - on the presumption that he is elected?  Does he too become co-opted by the Global capitalists [...] ?

What planet are you from? Obama was co-opted a long time ago. If he wasn't, he would have been eliminated as a presidential candidate the way Edwards was, for making a few populist noises.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Mon Sep 29th, 2008 at 10:36:31 PM EST
Dateline: U.S.A., November 1932, unemployment at 30%, depression ravaging the country for some time.

News alert: Hoover gets 40% of the votes.

Analysis: the repgunants are and have always been an immovable force for unhappiness and decay in the U.S.A.

by Quentin on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 05:01:09 AM EST
Or the 70% who had jobs saw the repugs as their best bet to protect them from the 30% who didn't.  The worse things get, the more people cling to what they have and look to their politicians to keep all others "barbarians" at the gate.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 07:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... jobs plus low voter turnout from the 30% without still spelled a big victory for FDR.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 01:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because most people - not the greed is good brigade - can be inspired to vote for what is good for the country, and not just for themselves.

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 02:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... what got FDR in was a large minority of people able to vote for what was first and foremost good for the country, and a large minority that normally do not get the opportunity to vote for what was good for them getting that opportunity, and the two minorities added up to 60%.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 02:56:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, Frank. Thanks.
Too late for me to rec it on Kos, but still a great summary.
The key questions are,
--When will the plundering become obvious enough for real change to happen? Which leads one to "What are the real preconditions for change?"

--Can a leader like Kennedy or FDR really change the system enough to snatch the keys to the safe from the 0.1% who have scraped off so much money?

Jerome did a diary called "Some Lessons from Bailout Week" that got some good comments, and I tried to address these questions there:

What will it really take?

The evidence for a shadow CIA assasination of Robert Kennedy is quite good also, so your concerns for Obama's safety are good ones, and are mine also.

For those who don't want to read the comment, I think it will take HARD TIMES for change to come, and I think Obama might be able to rise to the occasion--just might.
Time will tell....

Hard times- an oral history of the great depression, by Studs Terkel
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 08:36:52 AM EST
Listen to John Beecher's interview (above)to get a sense of what it will take.
Who among us has the guts for this?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 08:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The truth is that no one has any real experience of this because we have had a period of unprecedented prosperity since 1945 - some local/regional wars and recessions notwithstanding.  There is almost no appreciation of the realities of poverty, untreated but treatable disease, homelessness, civil disorder, mass political repression in western Europe or the USA.

But despite all the above, we still have political processes in place which can create a way forward - but it takes time, and that is in short supply right now.

Vote McCain for war without gain

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 09:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you listen to the interview?

The experience is there.

What Studs Terkle writes about in his many incredible books is the world outside the box--OUR box--the world that is experienced every day by the other 85% of the human race.

That period of prosperity you speak of has been very unevenly distributed. Lots of people know how to live --very, very thin, with little fooptprint and less cash.
And the people Terkle interviews had the added experience of going from prosperity to disastrous decline, and their ways of coping are revealing. And their government (as the interview shows) did an incredible job of coping, in some ways, and blew it in others. Look at the interaction, the feedback--the Roosevelt BrainTrust was winging it, learning on the fly.

A near-perfect classroom--which will sadly not be heeded, I fear.

I got this great idea, Harvey-- it's a round thing with a hole in it, and you take this stick--
I call it a "wheel".


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 01:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard it.  I was referring to the popular experience of most current voters - not the experience captured by historians, oral archives and academia.  It has always amazed me how little FDR seems to be revered in the USA.  It seems almost as if he is considered an unfortunate anomaly in the otherwise almost unbroken line of macho, white, protestant, militaristic, conservative, ruthless, authoritarian, egotistical, hubristic and borderline pathological types who seem to dominate the genre...

Vote McCain for war without gain
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 01:46:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems almost as if (FDR) is considered an unfortunate anomaly in the otherwise almost unbroken line of macho, white, protestant, militaristic, conservative, ruthless, authoritarian, egotistical, hubristic and borderline pathological types...
That would be because he was just such an anomaly. He was on track to be just what you describe when he was struck down by polio.  The disease and the recovery had a deeply transformative effect on FDR.  The TV movie Warm Springs, with Kenneth Branagh playing FDR catches the essentials quite well.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 06:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ah, studs, my main man...

terkel, btw.

the conscience of america.

charles kuralt, bill moyers, few of that calibre...

'the good war(?)' was fabulous, as was 'working', where he interviews people of all walks about their work.

the happiest at his job was a stonecutter...

cannot say enough good about this man, studs terkel, a truly noble human being, in the highest sense of the word.

thanks geezer a paree!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 30th, 2008 at 01:59:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries