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Europe’s permanent austerity crisis will soon be America’s

3:25 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

The European and U.S. problem is not only the year-after-year reality of high unemployment and slow or negative growth, it’s that results be damned most of us ‘still’ believe in austerity. The masters have reason to believe and even love austerity, because they get rich off moving wealth from the middle to the top, but dammit most of us chumps believe too. Read this December 14 U.S. Rasmussen Report and weep:

Overall, 73% of Likely Voters nationwide believe the federal government should cut spending rather than increase it in reacting the nation’s current economic problems. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just 18% are looking for an increase in spending.

That’s crazy in this economy, but it’s what 73% believe.

The belief in the medicine that will kill us is so pervasive it of course infects the news. An example is an article on tighter EU budget rules that will take effect on January 1. The common sense of this is plain: the rules if followed make austerity permanent because they prevent application of Keynesian solutions to economies in deep recession, as more and more European nations are. Here are paragraphs two through four with my comments between each paragraph:

Finalized in March, 25 of the 27 EU member states accepted a “balanced budget rule” in the compact to ensure that governments would no longer run the massive budget deficits which drove the debt crisis and nearly sank the euro.

But of course the original crisis was a ‘banker stupidity on a monumental scale’ crisis, and it was the multi-trillion dollar bank bailout — ‘required’ by European and U.S. big banks after they bet everything on the real estate bubble — that created those debts and continues to do so. But that history has been disappeared and now, for all mainstream readers, we have a debt crisis. The economies of the European south, of course, were not deficit-ridden before the bank bailouts. And in fact debt — deficit spending — is the only way out of austerity. So news on our current economic crisis describes the solution, ‘debt’, as the problem. Are you getting why I describe the European austerity crisis is permanent?

The Fiscal Stability Treaty also laid down penalties for those who breached the rules to limit deficits and debt, providing for a degree of central EU oversight to keep miscreants in line.

Damn, keep in line you juvenile delinquent, you ‘miscreant’ — synonyms include wrongdoer, criminal, villain, rogue, sinner, rascal, scoundrel, vagabond, reprobate, malefactor, blackguard, and evildoer. An economic minister who applies the standard Keynesian remedy to his country’s austerity-generated recession/depression is a scoundrel? Michael Hudson becomes Hudson the Rogue, Paul Krugman The Malefactor Krugman, were either allowed to determine economic policy.

And this is just the news, no intended agenda, just an inside the brain look at how most people think and what they believe. How do you escape disinformation so deep and multilayered? You don’t?

Notably, the balanced budget provision has to be written into national law, and preferably, enshrined in the national constitution, to make it very hard to change or get around in future.

Yeah, ‘enshrine’ this madness baby, make it ‘very hard’ for common sense anti-recession measures, the only ones that will work, ever again to be employed inside the EU. Economic austerity permanent, anyone?

And it is not just 73% of the population, or their news sources, that believe in the austerity lie. It’s also epidemic among most of ‘the mainstream left’: for example, Howard Dean, labor boss Andy Stern, and the ‘leftist’ Guardian’s finance editor. Bill Black writes (emphasis added):

It is hard enough countering Pete Peterson’s billion dollar campaign to inflict austerity and unravel and privatize the safety net. Peterson funds myriad front groups. We also have to counter the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, which dominates Treasury, OMB, the Justice Department, and the office of the Chief of Staff and favors austerity and unraveling the safety net. We should not have to deprogram progressives indoctrinated into repeating neo-liberal economic dogmas.

And yet we must, but that would only be a first step and without practical impact. Let’s face it, despite the catastrophic and consistent bad news everywhere produced by austerity policies and neoliberal economics, we’re _losing_ the influence battle. Badly. And so, uh, see the title of this article. Read the rest of this entry →

Richard Trumka, sounding like a toady or a whimp

3:54 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

The AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka and Glenn Greenwald both reacted to the appointment of Bill Daley as President Obama’s chief of staff, and the former could learn a helluva lot from the latter. Trumka’s statement doesn’t mention that Daley’s full-time job before being hired by Obama was ‘too big to fail’ bank lobbyist, or that he headed the Clinton administration charge for NAFTA and will likely try to do the same for the Korea Anti-Fair Trade Act (KAFTA). Heck, Trumka’s so whimpy he doesn’t even mention Daley’s name. Anyway, here’s the complete statement by a supposed leader of America’s workers:

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On White House Chief of Staff Appointment
January 06, 2011

The president is of course entitled to choose a chief of staff in whom he has complete confidence. Yet President Obama and his Administration will ultimately be judged by results — whether the economy recovers robustly and begins to generate good jobs on the scale needed to improve the lives of working people.

The president needs a chief of staff who will reach out to diverse constituencies and make sure that the voices of ordinary Americans are heard in the White House. We are hopeful that the new chief of staff’s priority is to achieve the strong economy that working people desperately need. This is the time for strong leadership from the White House to invest in America’s future, create millions of good jobs, safeguard our retirement security and health care, strengthen workers’ rights and the role of the unions, and reform our flawed trade policies to restore America’s place in the global economy.

In contrast, read Glenn Greenwald, who after hemming and hawing for a year or two has recently gotten himself pinpoint accurate on who Obama is:

Daley is a reflection, not a cause
By Glenn Greenwald
Friday, Jan 7, 2011 07:08 ET

Few things interest me less at this point than royal court personnel changes. I actually agree with the pro-Obama/Democratic-Party-loyal commentators who insist it doesn’t much matter who becomes White House Chief of Staff because it’s Obama who drives administration policy. Obama didn’t do what he did in the first two years because Rahm Emanuel was his Chief of Staff. That view has the causation reversed: he chose Emanuel for that position because that’s who Obama is. Similarly, installing JP Morgan’s Midwest Chairman, a Boeing director, and a long-time corporatist — Bill Daley — as a powerful underling replacing Emanuel isn’t going to substantively change anything Obama does. It’s just another reflection of the Obama presidency, its priorities and concerns, and its overarching allegiances.

Greenwald talks about Obama the way Labor and its supporters need to, as a hopeless cause at this point. As many as possible need to get that, so we then can move to the next step: how to effectively oppose the two-corporate-party system. Trumka has a fairly big megaphone, and could help lead many in that practical direction, and if he did so that alone would empower labor and scare the corporate owners of our political system. Otherwise, things will just get worse and worse.

One way in which they’ll get worse is in the ‘giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the country’ area. Here’s Laura Flanders on KAFTA:

Daley was Clinton’s NAFTA czar, charged with pushing through the free trade agreement past furious Labor voters and a reluctant Congress.

Now there’s a new trade deal, with Korea, hovering over Congress, and despite opposition from a trans-partisan coalition that runs from Rep. Ron Paul to Sen. Sherrod Brown, it looks like Obama’s turning to an expert to ram it through.

And what’ll that mean? The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Korea deal will ship 159,000 jobs overseas. Who needs to beat up on unions, as we noted yesterday, when you can simply ship their jobs out from under them?

Finally, here the best brief summary of where we’re at, in a comment by karlmarx20 under the most recent blog post by Paul Krugman, the one showing the fell-off-cliff-in-2008-and-still-at-bottom civilian employment-population ratio:

I am an old man but if I was younger I would get out of the U.S. as soon as I can. The corporate and private deficit has mortgaged our future not the federal debt. It will take six to 10 years to deleverage to reasonable levels because of private indebtedness. Attacks on labor which brought us a 5 day work week and paid vacations. Militarization of the society, hollowing out of engineering and science and manufacturing, an income distribution rivaling Brasil which is a mark of shame there. We are now a third world country with a bloated military and nobody seems yet to notice.

No one in power seems even to be listening, much less doing anything to get us out of this ongoing economic and unemployment crisis. But hey, let’s start with what should be an easy one: Shouldn’t at least Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, sound like a fighter for the working men and women of this country? Instead, we get a big heaping full of whimp.