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Freedom, Money & Control

5:00 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

Money is violence

Our system of money visits violence on people.

Economic sanctions are an obvious example:

In case you’re not video enabled, here’s a transcript of a portion of the conversation between 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl and Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on May 12, 1996:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: ‘We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?’

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: ’I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.’

What Stahl and the ghastly gasbag Albright are discussing are the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq allegedly in order to compel Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and pay reparations, but more likely the unstated plan was to induce the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

Economic sanctions are the weaponization of money. Government talking heads call this “soft power,” because apparently arranging for the slow, wasting death by starvation and disease of hundreds of thousands of children is a lot nicer than bombing them or sending soldiers to terrify and shoot them.

Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz had a particular gift for expressing the barely repressed beliefs of the most reprehensible people in the country. According to Wikiquote, Butz said two memorable things while Secretary, one was the tasteless, racist joke that got him fired, the other was the following:

Food is a tool. It is a weapon in the U.S. negotiating kit.

In one of the most brutal examples of the use of this technique, the Israeli government, with the complicity of the US government have for years kept the Palestinians’ economy in Gaza “on the brink of collapse.” As the Israelis kept the economy from performing, they made a “calorie count” to “put Gaza on a diet.” Israel’s sanctions and periodic bombings of Gaza have largely destroyed Gaza’s water infrastructure and “hundreds of thousands of people are now without water.”

The people of Gaza were guilty of “voting while Muslim,” and had chosen the wrong party (Hamas) at the polls. Hence the starvation diet and economic warfare:

There can be no doubt that the diet devised for Gaza — much like Israel’s blockade in general — was intended as a form of collective punishment, one directed at every man, woman and child. The goal, according to the Israeli defense ministry, was to wage ‘economic warfare’ that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas.

While these are shocking, overt uses of the power of economic systems, there are more subtle and refined means of using economic power to coerce and subjugate peoples that are often brought to bear. Economic sanctions, by depriving people of their means of survival through the manipulation of money and goods is a means of an elite asserting control over a population. While these techniques are used as a tool of foreign policy or in tandem with wartime goals, this is far from the only situation under which these techniques are used by elites.

Class War and the Existential Leash

Mainstream economists tell us that our capitalist system is an efficient way of distributing goods and services. Our system of money allegedly allocates resources to people as they need and want them. These mainstream economists often sing the praises of markets as promoting freedom. Within mainstream thought, the accumulation of money has an association with positive morality noted across a spectrum of opinion ironically from the atheist Ayn Rand to devout Christians influenced by Calvinist thought.

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Can Working People Be Saved From Obama’s Brilliant Plans?

6:45 am in Uncategorized by joe shikspack

President Obama has done a brilliant job for the 1%

Under Mr. Obama’s leadership, after a tremendous, near utter collapse of the economy brought about by a corrupt finance sector, trillions of public dollars have been poured into the coffers of bankers. One recent study showed that the big banks got an annual government subsidy of $83 billion dollars a year – equal to the amount of their alleged profits. Hold onto your hats, another recent study, by Chris Whalen and endorsed by noted economist Nouriel Roubini demonstrates that the subsidy is much larger, at least $780 billion dollars a year:

$360 billion in Federal Reserve subsidies, by creating an artificial “spread” in interest rates

$120 billion in federal deposit insurance (through the FDIC, backed by the Treasury)

At least $100 billion in government-guaranteed loans, especially mortgages

At least $100 billion in monopolistic advantages in the secondary market for home mortgages

More than $100 billion in fees in the over-the-counter (OTC) derivative market. (The lack of capital required in these transactions and other special dispensations from the Fed provide the zombie banks with unlimited leverage and almost no public scrutiny.)

The first study indicates that the too big to fail banks are barely breaking even and they are getting fat and demanding on our largesse; the second study indicates that they are indeed not profitable at all. They are nothing but corporate welfare queens with a large budget to purchase politicians.

Those purchases of politicians have really paid off, not a single banker has gone to jail for creating the catalyzing event of the, “great recession,” and those politicians are working hard for the banksters to prevent regulations from taking effect.

The headline news is that the big banks appear to be solvent again (at least as long as nobody pokes around too much); the banking sector is pretty much back to business as usual, with large profits and great pay and bonus packages for the bankers.

In fact, Wall Street bonuses are up as jobs decline:

One upside to downsizing on Wall Street: Cash bonuses jumped 9% to nearly $121,900 last year.

Total bonuses rose 8% to $20 billion, according to New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. That’s a reversal from 2011, when bonuses fell 19%, to a revised tally of $18.5 billion. …

Wall Street profits in 2012 didn’t just rebound — they tripled.

So while Wall Street is riding a wave of prosperity, the 99% who pay for their prosperity are getting screwed. Surprise!

101 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have Jobs

The Obama administration and the legislators are bending over backwards to make sure that the 1% are flush with cash, but doing little or nothing for the working people:

The jobs recovery is a complete and total myth. The percentage of the working age population in the United States that had a job in March 2013 was exactly the same as it was all the way back in March 2010. … [T]here are now more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job. But even though the employment level in the United States has consistently remained very low over the past three years, the Obama administration keeps telling us that unemployment is actually going down.

In fact, they tell us that the unemployment rate has declined from a peak of 10.0% all the way down to 7.6%. And they tell us that in March the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% even though only 88,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. But it takes at least 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So how in the world are they coming up with these numbers? Well, the reality is that the entire decline in the unemployment rate over the past three years can be accounted for by the reduction in size of the labor force.

In other words, the Obama administration is getting unemployment to go down by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans simply do not want jobs anymore.

Anyone who can read a chart or a graph can see that actual unemployment has remained quite stable during Mr. Obama’s presidency:

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For more complete information about how the Unemployment numbers are cooked, see my previous diary, “President Obama’s happy numbers and the reality-based community.”

Obama’s Brilliant Plans Benefit 1% Handsomely

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