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The Idiots Who Rule America

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Posted on Oct 20, 2008
AP photo / Henny Ray Abrams

By Chris Hedges

Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights. That it is still in power, and will remain in power after this election, is a testament to our inability to separate illusion from reality. We still believe in “the experts.” They still believe in themselves. They are clustered like flies swarming around John McCain and Barack Obama. It is only when these elites are exposed as incompetent parasites and dethroned that we will have any hope of restoring social, economic and political order. 

“Their inability to see the human as anything more than interest driven made it impossible for them to imagine an actively organized pool of disinterest called the public good,” said the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul, whose books “The Unconscious Civilization” and “Voltaire’s Bastards” excoriates our oligarchic elites. “It is as if the Industrial Revolution had caused a severe mental trauma, one that still reaches out and extinguishes the memory of certain people. For them, modern history begins from a big explosion—the Industrial Revolution. This is a standard ideological approach: a star crosses the sky, a meteor explodes, and history begins anew.”

Our elites—the ones in Congress, the ones on Wall Street and the ones being produced at prestigious universities and business schools—do not have the capacity to fix our financial mess. Indeed, they will make it worse. They have no concept, thanks to the educations they have received, of the common good. They are stunted, timid and uncreative bureaucrats who are trained to carry out systems management. They see only piecemeal solutions which will satisfy the corporate structure. They are about numbers, profits and personal advancement. They are as able to deny gravely ill people medical coverage to increase company profits as they are able to use taxpayer dollars to peddle costly weapons systems to blood-soaked dictatorships. The human consequences never figure into their balance sheets. The democratic system, they think, is a secondary product of the free market. And they slavishly serve the market. 

Andrew Lahde, the Santa Monica, Calif., hedge fund manager who made an 870 percent gain last year by betting on the subprime mortgage collapse, has abruptly shut down his fund, citing the risk of trading with faltering banks. In his farewell letter to his investors he excoriated the elites who run our investment houses, banks and government.

“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” he said of our oligarchic class. “These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

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“On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal,” he went on. “First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have [reined] in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government.”

Democracy is not an outgrowth of free markets. Democracy and capitalism are antagonistic entities. Democracy, like individualism, is not based on personal gain but on self-sacrifice. A functioning democracy must defy the economic interests of elites on behalf of citizens. This is not happening. The corporate managers and government officials trying to fix the economic meltdown are pouring money and resources into the financial sector because they only know how to manage and sustain established systems, not change them. Financial systems, however, are not pure scientific and numerical abstractions that exist independently from human beings.

“When the elite begin to think that money is real, the crash is coming,” Saul said in a telephone interview. “That is just a given in history. Because what they’ve done is pull themselves out of the possibility of looking in the mirror and thinking, this is inflation, speculation, this is fluff. They can’t do it. And when you say to them, gosh, this is not real. And they say, oh, you don’t understand, you’re so old-fashioned, you still think this is about manufacturing. And of course, it’s basic economics. And that’s what happens every single time.

“The difficulty is you have a collapse, you have a loss of face by the people who are there, and it’s not just George Bush, it’s very, very deep,” Saul said. “What we’re talking about is the need to rethink the departments of economics, of political science. Then you have to rethink the whole analytic method of the World Bank. If I’m the secretary of the treasury, and not a guy like [Henry] Paulson, but I mean a sort of normal secretary of the treasury or minister of finance, and I say, OK, we’ve got a real problem, let’s get the senior civil servants in here. Gentlemen, ladies, OK, clearly we have to go in another direction, give me some ideas. Well, those people don’t have any other ideas because at this point they’re about the fourth generation of what you might call neoconservative globalist managers, unfairly summarized. So they then go to the people who work for them, and you work down; there’s no one in there with an alternate approach. I mean they’ll have little alternatives, but no basic differences in opinion. And so it’s very difficult to turn anything around because they’ve eliminated all opposing ideas inside. I mean it’s the problem of the Soviet Union, right?”


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By elizabethe, January 7, 2009 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

“only when the incompetent political parasites are exposed and dethroned”...did not happen in 2000, 2004, and 2008….at ELECTION time when the incumbent two parties and the corporate corrupt media railroading of red and blue media cemented states were ALLOWED by the public to “rule.”

To dethrone? (IMPEACH BUSH, of course.)

Election time is when the best dethroning happens and a GOOD replacement is proven worthwhile and able to deliver the CHANGE needed to turn around the 89% who believe the country is off track.  Who can put the budget in the black and policies on track?  A candidate who would cut the military budget and put the balance where it belongs, for freedom, peace, and prosperity, and democracy for people, not corporate corruption.

Campaign season is when the dethroners were supposed to get public view.

Nader was DUE the PUBLIC VIEW as VIABLE and WELCOME.

But, the media didn’t want him. Corporate Corrupt media did not want democracy.

They call themselves mainstream and they tell US who WE are, but we are NOT THEM.  They don’t get that message.  So, we post on these internet blogs, but realize it is powerless, yet has to have some influence.

Moving forward with some germane historical insights that had the right value at the time it was offered in France, Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Man was born free, but is everywhere in chains.”

We were born in a country that has a good U.S. Constitution as amended, but Congress gave ILLEGAL POWERS to Bush, and the media let him and them.

Usurption at the ballot box for their voting patterns, certainly was supposed to net CHANGE.

But, the media insisted on INCUMBENTS as if welcome, and the chains are about to happen on January 20th, when the SECOND OFFENDER AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF OFFENSE AGAINST THE U.S. CONSTITUTION intends to lie under oath, obviously.  Obama is declaring UNWANTED WARS against the Constitution and against the will of the people who did not agree to what he wants to do, he is INCOMPETENT as suggested in the lead paragraph.  And, powerhungry without conscience, obviously.

How did we GIVE our freedom at a majority level, to the likes of Obama and Bush?

I DID NOT.

NADER DID NOT.

Those who voted for NADER assumed there was a proper chance his education (Princeton honors in International Policy, A.B. and Harvard Law school, honors, later acclaimed by the Law Review as the “most prestigeous graduate ever produced”, 1976 era limelight acknowledged for his achievements, real success by a principled advocate of earnest justice for Federal proper power…such as the EPA, and FOI, and Auto Safety Act…to name a few…Clean Water, anyone for that?  Clean Air…federal law, anyone for that?  THE MEDIA USED TO LIKE NADER.

What happened?

The media was supposed to be our WATCHDOG.

But, no they are the opposite, and in our faces. 

DEBATES that never happened, and should have happened, and that the two parties are as corrupt as the media—BOTH are EQUALLY against the mainstream public at a very real level.

Free?  Man is free if the U.S. Constitution as amended is upheld, in this country, it does provide democracy and laws to protect justice.

Political justice happens at the ballot box and the bums get voted OUT, not promoted.

Rousseau knew people allow the chains. 

But, the current happening is the need for the voters to demand democracy and force the truth of the SIX not TWO.  Every step, a REQUIRED redo…until JUSTICE is served at the ballot box.

Obama will NOT win.

He is incompetent and corrupt, ideally at a very “elite” level…and IF a MEDIA offers national presentation of SIX on the merits, the truth of democracy might prove the majority CAN CHOOSE WISELY, as Jefferson said, “If we think the people not informed enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them.”

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By elizabethe, January 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

This year, 2009, is not being entered with a proper democracy result.  What “Majority Rule” offered was Obama, if the public really likes corruption, then, yes, that is AMERICA TODAY.

Cyncicism toward the entire human race based on the media red and blue states when 100 million are registered outside the two parties and 62 million IN the two parties, is not a proper evaluation.

The majority who voted did not see the SIX not TWO who were potential Presidentially viable candidates before the voters on November 4th.  Baldwin, Barr, McCain, McKinney, Nader, and Obama.

Did Obama win the contest of SIX?

No, he did not.

The media won it for him, and they need to be forced to face what they are continuing to gleefully railroad in our faces as if it is OURS when it is not.

If the public had chosen with full and fair view (how hard IS THAT, really?) of the SIX not TWO candidates, how do you know who would have won?

Isn’t the proper contest REQUIRED before any decision as to cyncism is due?

The media OWES the truth, democracy was refused by the meddia and the majority allowed it, without knowledge that there were SIX on the ballot and the contest was due.

The OUTSIDE challenge to the incumbents of corrupt two party military offensives against this country and the world, is REQUIRED VIEW before voters, but the media refused!

Where did they get the right to pretend they delivered information enough to decide an AGENDA by a majority!

And, now we have Obama presented in the news with “no earmarks” and the media GLIB HYPE as if he is offering some strength when it is the opposite.

Earmarks tell who introduced the legislation.  No corporate lobbyists behind the legislator who has motive.  Corporate corrupt tyranny is before us.

The debate and the proper presentation was due for a TRUE contest and WHO KNOWS, just maybe the public would have voted for REAL CHANGE for PEOPLE against corporate corruption.

Democracy when actual, can deliver, and we did NOT have democracy just because an apathetic lazy majority who were not given choice allowed the tyranny.  They believed the media was being honest, and they knew they were refusing the challenge.  Voting ANYWAY, did not prove TRUTH of DEMOCRACY.

If given the proper opportunity to decide among six at an informed level, I believe Obama NEVER would win.

The outside challenge and urgent need to FIX the Bush hideous ripping and shredding of proper policy and upholding the U.S. Constitution and PEACE not WAR, would be CLEAR and DECIDED by a MAJORITY.

Obama is NOT offering any of those and he was an incumbent, and he is not capable of offering a balanced budget on track, he said before the election he wanted to attack Pakistan, and he also said enter and occupy Afghanistan, and the media SHORTSHRIFTED THAT INTENTIONALLY, they put it out there, but the gloss over it as if it is allowed, BY WHOM?  Not the public the media.

The media stinks and the voters stink, but true democracy when done, delivers a majority rule, and obviously if that majority rule proves integrity is voted for by a majority, then the picture would change.  Voters were not offered the democracy of choosing between SIX not TWO at an informed and proper and fair contest presentation level to net an honest majority agenda showing NOW.

We do not have that, because the media usurped democracy and the majority said fine, we are too lazy.

Obama is not offering to uphold the duties of President, and the media loves it.

I hate it.

I do not support the results.

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By the national gadfly, November 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

I referenced it in a posting today, on my blog The National Gadfly

I think that you are dead on.  Thanks for the good work.

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By sbhoj, October 29, 2008 at 10:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In the article above, John Ralston Saul says:

“There are a handful of people who haven’t been published in mainstream journals, who haven’t been listened to, who have been marginalized in every way…There are a couple of them and you could turn to them.”

To whom is he referring?

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By KDelphi, October 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

Well, the whole roof/ceiling collapsed! So..as I was reading over the posts…my hands are so cold, I can barely type!

I just noticed a couple of things…when I said that “Hillary and I could take an IQ test” (how did we get on that?? lol), I meant to follow it with “we might both get very different results, depending on all kinds of factors”. The only readon I “know her iQ” is because Yahoo! keeps beaming politician’s iQs at me everytime I log into my mail—lol.

“Starting your own business”(ie the quintsential “Am. Dream”) is not the same thing as the workers taking control of their work—“starting a business”, is , generally, a capitalistsic, individualistic pursuit.You can do that now, and politicians’ wil kiss your ass—“small busines” , “American dream”—but “snall bus.” seem to get bigger and bigger…

white tiger makes a couple of overlooked points, I think—why gold? Think about it. I mean, I know WHY it “developed that away” ( historically)—but, other than “shine” it seem pretty useless metal—I know i’m probably missing something—but the question, I think is a good one. (I have a penchant for “questions that are obvious, but seldom asked”)

I have one—if we live in a “meritocracy”, then , why arent the people who work the hardest paid the most? You really think Bush, Greenspan, etc. have “worked hard” all their lives (ever worked at all!)Waitresses work very hard—I did it for 5 years. I know that not as much formal education is required—but it is NOT easy! You had better know your math better than Hedge Fund managers, or your change will come up short!! Who gets to decide? Why do we let them? Why do profressors /teachers make so little? Nurses/ Social workers? Regular “soldiers” vs, mercenaries?

Someone on here commentetd about “railing at elites”—its strange how you seem to get those comments from—well, elites—and people who think that they wil be one someday. I dont think “getting to go to an Ivy League sachol” and “ending up working in the markets” (what—just woke up the one day??) necessarily merits your ridiculous lifestsyle—NYC is extremely esxpensive. You dont have to live there.If one is trying to drum up sympathy for the rich right now—good luck! Try a politician—they love you guys!

Why NOT keep people in their homes? (Well, I mean single families/people who bought a home to live in—just ONE) Because , the neo-liberals like easy targets—like the poor. You wil very seldom see them make any effort to lay the blame (please dont say “the blame game”—somenone IS to blame! And the saying is meant to distract you)at the feet of the people who fill their trough.

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By Folktruther, October 27, 2008 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

The problem is deeper, Anarcissie, than a lack of interest in cooperatives.  Americans don’t understand the relation and importance of power to their own personal lives. The simple truth about the power process subverts American ideology indoctrinated into people from childhood by the American learned and mass media. 

Therefore people are afraid to tell the simple truth about power because it is un-American, uneducated and ideological absurd, since it is incompatible with the mainstream truth.  An interest in cooperatives is part of more general interest in how people can increase their power against the American power structure.

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By Clash, October 26, 2008 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

We were the government long ago right up until the veterans of the World War Two became senior citizens. You see after the war the government had no choice but to listen to the millions of armed killers it needed during the war and when they returned politicians did not have the balls to not support them. Now that there all but gone we have forgotten.

Accept for the shining moments 1967-1972 we the idiots have let that power slip from our grasp again due to the greed of the baby boomers who sold us out for there golden years. Having fallen pray to the military industrial complex and the rise of corporate fascism that promised work hard don’t rock the boat and we will take care of you till you die.

Now as we can see that they may not be able to pull this off, to bad.

As a blue collar middle class worker I have watched the world that I know disappear. There can be no prosperity for the middle class without turning ideas into real objects and then selling them to others. WE don’t do that here any more. People like my self are to expensive and hell you can get the same thing done 10 to 20 times for half the cost and half the quality some were else.

Class war you bet no matter witch elitist punk gets elected. You see it is still us against them even after 3,000 years. It is just easier for most to forget the real history that brought us to this place in time. This democracy was born with the rifles in the hands of middle class men fighting for rich men’s rights not to pay taxes and it will probably end the same bloody way with the same middle class men trying to feed themselves.

We the People are the idiots ruling this country and we have no one but our selves to blame for the fate of this democracy.

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By Anarcissie, October 25, 2008 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Folktruther:
‘Anarcissie-Part of the reason that people don’e want to do cooperatives is because they see it as irrelevant and harmless, not possible as a viable alternative.

And it isn’t, unless there is a general strategy-and this means at this time in history a world strategy- to transform economic forms.  It is the lack of such a strategy which is largely the reason that marxists haven’t taken it seriously….’

There are lots of functioning cooperatives and communes.  The problem is not that they can’t exist or don’t exist, it’s that only a few people are interested in them.  In general, American workers haven’t shown much interest in taking control of their work.  I guess those who are interested start their own businesses and are thereby removed from the immediate experience of other workers.  World-scale cooperative notions do appear from time to time but they are so far removed from day-to-day experience there is not much reality to test the theories against.

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By Folktruther, October 24, 2008 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie-Part of the reason that people don’e want to do cooperatives is because they see it as irrelevant and harmless, not possible as a viable alternative.

And it isn’t, unless there is a general strategy-and this means at this time in history a world strategy- to transform economic forms.  It is the lack of such a strategy which is largely the reason that marxists haven’t taken it seriously.

But the US maight be the ideal place to start a historical movement of some kind, possibly including cooperatives.  The US is safe from military agression and its power system is so obsolete and reactionary and murderous that people might want some revolutionary alternative as soon as they fully realize what Amerian capitalism has in store for them.

But this requires the rejection of much of American ideology of the past, and the acknowledgement that a political counter revolution has occurred that is accepted by both parties.  A revolutionary alternative by the American people requires the rejection of the Neo-American power system.

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By WorkingMan, October 24, 2008 at 12:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting that McCain’s cries of “Socialism!” are falling on deaf ears. Mr. Hedges believes Obama is in the pockets of the corporate elite, but it is a matter of degrees, isn’t it? I’ve said it before. If you think there’s no discernible difference between the Democrats and the Republicans you have gone too far.

The mess we are in is the result of Nixon/Reagan/Bush I/Bush II. And a heavy dose of Greenspan, who said yesterday he might have been wrong about deregulation.

That Clinton did not reverse the tide is also true, and the repeal of Glass/Steagall and the decimation of welfare—among other triangulating moves—will not be judged kindly by historians. But a hostile Congress forces compromise, and Clinton did not leave the government in a debt-ridden shambles either. And let’s not forget The Family Medical Leave Act. The Americans With Disabilities Act. The Roadless Rule. Hillary’s valiant attempt to bring about health care reform. There are others.

I audaciously hope the coming Democratic majority will slowly turn the tide against “people as economic units” philosophy. And I think Mr. Hedges is wrong to endorse third-party candidates at this juncture in history. It’s not the entire system that is the source of the problem—it is the last 40 years of accepting as fact the notion that profits are the primary concern of a democracy.

The destruction of the idea of “the public good” is the offspring of Republican hegemony. That the Democrats were timid and weak in the face of overwhelming power does not change the fact that this mess is a Republican creation.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2008 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther: ’... Do you think that capitalism will permit another social system to challenge it unopposed?  This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it must have some political means, at least, to defend itself.  If capitalism can simply pass laws and effectively enforce them, no social alternative is possible.’

There is not much point in worrying about it if only a small minority of the people want to do it.  As I complained a few weeks ago, we can’t even get people interested in unions, much less cooperative businesses.  And so thus far cooperatives and communes have been pretty much allowed to do as they please in the United States as long as they stay within the liberal constitutional and legal framework, probably at least partly because they’re seen as irrelevant and in any case harmless.

Should that change, it would make a big difference how it changed and in what context.  Under conditions similar to the present, Americans still have various rights and cooperativists might be able to defend themselves in court.  Should things get a bit rougher, they would still have the right to keep and bear arms, which might make direct attacks too costly to contemplate.  But it is true that a totalitarian crackdown would pretty much put a movement toward an alternative out of commission.  I don’t have a fix for that problem at the moment.

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By Folktruther, October 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

I meant, Whte Tiger, that marxism dominated the progressive ideologies of the world in the 20th century.  It is now partially obsolete and progressives require a some kind of theory, possibly based on marxism, to replace it. Classical marxist theory, for example, did not give due poltical weight to race and ethnicity in uniting groupings.

Unfortunately, conceptual revolution in social science, to a much creater extent than did scientific revolution in the natural sciences, would subvert the power delusions that the Educated classes impose on a population to legitmate their power.  That is why social science is so evasive, corrupt, irrelevant to the power interests of the population, and so conceptually fragmented and complicated.  And that is why social science lags historically so far behind the natural sciences.
                  ***
I repeat to you, Anarcissie, what happened to the communists.  15 capitalist nations with three hundred thousand men invaded Russia to side with the Whites during the Civil War. Russian dead approached 14 million.  This lead to a seige socialism that resulted in gross bureuacratic deformations.

Do you think that capitalism will permit another social system to challenge it unopposed?  This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it must have some political means, at least, to defend itself.  If capitalism can simply pass laws and effectively enforce them, no social alternative is possible.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2008 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—what you say brings me back to my view that it is necessary to rebuild the social order from the ground up—or at least from pretty near the ground.  Suppose, for instance, that a lot of people had become interested in an alternative, cooperative economy.  Assuming the cooperative types weren’t violently suppressed, there would then be two social economies in operation, a more or less capitalist one and a more or less cooperative one.  (I would say “socialist” but I would be misunderstood.)  While the economies would not be sealed off from one another they would behave differently.  When this was noticed those in the cooperative economy might decide that they had to invent a different kind of money—one let us say somehow based directly on labor instead of intervening commodities or the power of the government to confiscate.  I am not going to specify how labor could be directly monetized, but stranger things have been thought of—there are proposals for money based on hydrogen, energy and computational power, among others.  Experience with labor money would probably lead to a different set of abilities and problems than we now observe with fiat money.  So maybe our money board would not find it as difficult to make the correct decisions about credit expansion as they have in the recent past.  We don’t know at this point because we have very little experience in anything but the status quo.

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By Allen Charles Report, October 23, 2008 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment

The Worldwide DEBT is the problem.

The best solution for the present economic crisis would be a REBOOT or restart of the entire debt system for the ENTIRE WORLD.

1. A data base listing ALL DEBT, government, business and personal needs to be created. The list would need to list the debt and debt holder with a bank that could make an accounting of the debt. Included would be all national debt of all nations, all mortgages car notes and credit cards for individuals. All outstanding bond and other debt for corporations, The idea is to list ALL DEBT of any kind owed.

2 . Every government on the planet would need to call a special secession of it’s legislature.
Using the same authority that governments have to use or create FIAT CURRENCY the legislatures and Central Banks need to authorize the creation of ACCOUNT CREDIT in an amount equal to all the listed debts in the world.

3. The Various governments and Central Banking Systems then need to make an accounting change equal to the debt in the form of an ACCOUNT CREDIT or CREDIT zeroing out ALL THE DEBT in the entire world, and crediting all debt-holders in the world.

The following day the economy of the entire world would restart and the Stock Markets of the world would react to the new renewed capital in the banking systems, the Capital now available to restart all business and the disposable income to the individual people would restart and grow the retail sectors and the manufacturing sectors of the entire world.                                     
Allen Charles Report
http://allencharlesreport.blogspot.com/

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By the white tiger, October 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

“Therefore it is necessary to formulate a theory or conceptual lanaguage that can be used as an ideology, succeeding the world ideology of marxism in the 20th century.”—folktruther

I don’t see how Marxism dominated the 20th century.  Certainly, the Soviet Union and China were nominally Marxist states but it is far more realistic to call them authoritarian.  And certainly capitalism reigned supreme globally in the 20th century.

It would be wonderful if a radically different paradigm emerged, but I don’t see it originating in the social sciences.  Perhaps, you could provide an example of innovations in the social sciences that point to a paradigm shift. 

And thanks Anarcissie for the monetary link tho’ I haven’t had time to read any of it.

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By Folktruther, October 23, 2008 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

You are quite right, Anarcissie, that people are not coherent as to what they want and believe, and this coherence is necessary for a democratic control of monetary agents. And for the power system as a whole.

Worse, people have been deluded, not least by economists, to believe in power delusions that are contrary to the reality-based truth.

Therefore it is necessary to formulate a theory or conceptual lanaguage that can be used as an ideology, succeeding the world ideology of marxism in the 20th century.  To generate an overall worldview of the power process in a way that serves the interests of the general population rather than that of the power structure. 

Otherwise people will continue to be deceived, cheated and initimidated as they are under liberal Democracies.

I think such a theory and transformation of worldview is possible over historical time.  A revolution in social science conceptually similar to the scientific revolutions in the natural sciences can be initiated in the 21st century, due to connceptual innovations associated with 20th century American social science.  And a global worldview instilled by the communication and transportation networks of global capitalism.

Such a truth revolution, in my opinion, is necessary for authentic democracy to replace the fake Democracy of the Western tradition.  The population of course will always be deceived by power, but it is possible to develop a better theoretical resistence to this deception. 

Otherwise, you are right,  there is no way for the population to control monetary policy in their long term interests.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2008 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Folktruther: ‘Not at all, Anarcissie.  We can have the money supply manipulatable if the population can control the agents doing the manipulating. Do you think it beyond the mind of man to devise a system to control money reps and an ideology that focuses attention on the crucial power components? ...’

Well, the same kind of minds that create the system are also going to be laboring to subvert it.  There might be a balance of power there.

The main problem I see at present with democratic control of the monetary system is that the people are not at all coherent as to what they want.  Many haven’t studied the way money works at all—and it is a bit technical and requires some reading—and in any case they have different values and goals.  For instance, when the present set of crises was brewing, I received a message from a mailing list in which some economist or other was arguing passionately for loose money.  (This was at the point where some of Bubbles
Greenspan’s monetary largesse was beginning to leak into the labor realm and drive up the CPI, so his successor was planning to raise interest rates.  As it turned out, that set off the subprime collapse.)  When the interest rates go up, supposedly investment and therefore employment go down; the poor need employment; etcetera.  Of course the poor also suffer mightily from inflation because they have the least power and it is hard for them to raise their incomes to account for inflation. 

Now, I was sort of horrified by this article because I could see the wreck coming, as could a lot of other people, yet he, an economist for Dog’s sake, either could not see it or didn’t care—he just wanted to make sure the poor had jobs.  Or whoever has the jobs that go in and out of existence according to the prime rate.  So suppose he and I were on the money board, how would we decide?  More money, lower interest, more employment, financial wreck further down the line, or less money, less inflation, less chance of a wreck?

One of the hard things about money is that it requires restraint.  There is always less of it than you want, or else it isn’t good for anything.  It embodies labor in a context of scarcity.  But the body politic, at least of the U.S., doesn’t seem to understand restraint—even supposed fiscal conservatives talk constantly about how they’re going to get or produce more and more stuff.  In the realm of money, this means running the printing press.

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By the white tiger, October 23, 2008 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

This is the least optimistic pronouncement I can remember in a long time:

“So I guess the choice is between having a fast economy with lots of stuff and world domination, along with crashes, environmental destruction, and a lot of fatheads pretending they’re smart because they can make money in a bull market, and having a slower economy with less stuff and fewer, shorter crashes, and probably forgoing world domination, too.”

If these are our only choices, we are really fracked.  I could live with less stuff, but less stuff and crashes, even if shorter?  World domination we can all live without.  So, there is no rational basis for a currency standard?  Currency is inherently irrational???  Wonderful. 

Going away now, depressed in the psychological sense.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2008 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

the white tiger: ’... Nothing back the dollar now except perception. ...’

In a sense that’s true of any form of money.  In the ancient world, money was associated with religion and magic—the word money itself comes from the Latin word moneta, one of the attributes of Juno, in the basement of whose temple Roman coins were originally minted.  Probably, the association of shiny metals and jewels with magic goes back to their use in shamanistic hypnosis.  Later, gold and silver became important to alchemy and were thought to possess interesting metaphysical qualities.

Present-day money, though, seems to be mostly based on the state’s power to tax and confiscate.  A dollar of other monetary unit is a claim on the total wealth of the territory and people the state that issues it controls.  Of course, that’s a rather vague quantity, but it’s a very large one, so it impresses people.

I find W. F. Hummel’s pages on money interesting and passably believeable: http://wfhummel.net/

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By Folktruther, October 23, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

Not at all, Anarcissie.  We can have the money supply manipulatable if the population can control the agents doing the manipulating. Do you think it beyond the mind of man to devise a system to control money reps and an ideology that focuses attention on the crucial power components?

We are simply suffering under the power delusion that we have lived under a democratic system in the US, when it is actually a plutocracy making the power decisions in their own interests.  kThe US has always been a Democracy by definition, no matter how many people were enslaved, imprisioned, disinfranchized and impoverished.

The situation has merely become slightly more visible to the Educated classes after the Bushite counterrevolution.  but there is no reason why a real democacy can’t be envisioned, and, indeed, article 5 of the constitution permits it legally.  The question then of the money supply, the mass media, the schools, etc can all be reconsidered under a modification of the American power system.

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By Anarcissie, October 23, 2008 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

OGP: ’... Unfortunately, Gold backing causes a fixed supply of money - a financial strait jacket- so the banking community cannot respond to the changing needs of commerce. ...’

Well, we have a dilemma.  On the one hand, people want to drive the economy very hard so they can work, work, work, and have more and more stuff.  So an inflexible money supply tied to a commodity won’t do.  On the other hand, as soon as the monetary system becomes manipulable, those in charge will start to manipulate it in ways that are destructive in the long term, but benefit some powerful constituency in the short term.  We had several layers of financial observation and criticism in the U.S., public and private, and it doesn’t seem to have done much good.  It certain didn’t prevent Bubbles Greenspan from enabling the recent monetary Ponzi scheme in real estate.

So I guess the choice is between having a fast economy with lots of stuff and world domination, along with crashes, environmental destruction, and a lot of fatheads pretending they’re smart because they can make money in a bull market, and having a slower economy with less stuff and fewer, shorter crashes, and probably forgoing world domination, too.

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By the white tiger, October 23, 2008 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

comment didn’t post.

I lost it but basically, I want to discuss how currency is backed.  Some of you seem to know.  Give us a tutorial.

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By the white tiger, October 23, 2008 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

from the beginning.  Some of you seem to understand this process better than I.  Others, who call for a return to the gold standard, not so much. 

If we understood how currency was backed better, we could understand the forces at work much more.  Recently, I read elsewhere that the US was on the ‘developed real estate’ standard in part under FDR in response to the Great Depression.  The same author explained that we have been on the ‘old standard’ for quite a while now, but oil shortages and the coming end of oil (not to mention that most of it resides outside US hands) makes that a dead end. 

Nothing back the dollar now except perception. I like the idea of backing the dollar with real world wealth, like food commodities.  I never understood why people would want to hold gold, silver or diamonds under an emergency.  You can’t eat them, and they inflate just like anything else. Hauling around a truckload of gold just to get your dinner is no solution to anything.  Gold is actually a limited use metal.  Too soft to do much with.  No real industrial uses for the most part. Silver is at least useful in some manufacturing.

Give me food, shelter and energy.  So basing currency on developed land is like basing it on shelter, right?  All those homes going into foreclosure are real wealth, before the are stripped of wiring and everything useful and turned into wrecks.  Then they are so much garbage that needs to be bulldozed. 

So why isn’t keeping people in their homes at all costs the priority?  Let’s forget about the ideological resistance.  Keeping them there keeps everyone’s property values up, keeps neighborhoods and towns and cities intact and gives people the where with all to continue to work, somehow at some useful job.  Why can’t we back the dollar with our developed real estate like under FDR?

But my most urgent question is: how to get a tutorial on the currency standards.

As far as Obama being under the thumb of all these forces, sure that is true.  However, as I said earlier, IT IS UP TO US TO ORGANIZE AND EDUCATE OURSELVES AND OTHERS AND CREATE AN UNDENIABLE POLITICAL MOVEMENT TO TURN ALL THIS AROUND.  The fascists around us will resist, infiltrate and generally do everything to stop this, but we have the very best change humanity has ever had to do this NOW.  We have the internet; we have masses of highly educated people ready to come forward.  We have a lot of resources.  We are not nearly as isolated as we were during the Great Depression. 

Times of great peril as also always times of great potential.

Give us that tutorial, please.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 23, 2008 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 23 at 6:11 am #

Still, there does seem to be something inherently wrong with the notion that you have the moral right to condemn another for where they put their private part for whatever reason.
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I disagree unless you add that if another person is involved, they are a happily consenting adult.

Clearly rape, forced sodomy, and statutory rape/sodomy are within Society’s right to interfere to protect the individual being victimized.

But between happily consenting adults?  None of my business. (Unless, of course, they are doing it in the park where I or my children are forced to witness it.  But then…we are not happily consenting, whether adult or not)

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 23, 2008 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

Cyrena and ITW

I’d like to throw this out to you for comment and consideration:

Seems that intellectual maturing toward becoming productive and socially positive individuals might include the process of filtering through and getting beyond the myths, superstitions and propaganda fed us early on—before we could think—by adults, namely preachers, teachers, parents and politicians.  Also seems too many people allow themselves to be stuck in the earliest stages of this maturation.

This teaches me something.  I should never get comfortable thinking that I have arrived on any issue, even as a 67 year-old, because, if I did, I’d probably be committing the same error preventing me from being fully human as I accuse those less developed than I think I am of committing.

Still, there does seem to be something inherently wrong with the notion that you have the moral right to condemn another for where they put their private part for whatever reason.

I like considering myself in your company on that matter.

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By littlehorn, October 23, 2008 at 5:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I didn’t take the time to read any comment, so I may voice something that’s already been said.

It is wrong to talk about stupidity when you mention the elite. The elite does not care, and never did. This is what makes them “stupid.” Because they do not consider our pain, as you say when you explain that there is a human reality outside of the market.

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By Ron Morgan, October 23, 2008 at 3:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey, speaking as a Capitalist this article makes some sense to me.  What should we do though?  I have always heard even though Capitalism is terrible it is the best and that Socialism has been proven to be dangerous by history.  I just don’t know.  Ron

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By Barry R. Nicholson, October 23, 2008 at 1:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s About the Greater Good of the Other, Stupid!/We are Still Controlled by the British (system).

“...we in the United States have adopted, and
been given the destiny, of creating the leadership,
to assist the rest of the world in becoming free, OF THE BRITISH, ANGLO-DUTCH LIBERAL EMPIRE, AND ITS PRACTICES.”

“Who’s the enemy? Who’re we gonna beat?” We’ve got one enemy to beat: the Anglo-Dutch Liberals.

http://larouchepac.com/files/pdfs/20081006-program-world-economic-recovery.pdf

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By vonbargen, October 22, 2008 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment

I was pleasantly surprised to note Saul’s use of the term “corporatism” to describe the effort “to push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies,” which is how Fascism (and Nazism) evolved.
Corporatism is a term used more and more lately by the left, apparently because Fascism has become vulgarized into meaning any totalitarian system so that its true meaning is obscured. Nevertheless, the privatizing of so much of what was the public sector, as epitomized by Halliburton, is Fascism, regardless of what euphemism is applied to it. 
What will be interesting to see is the way in which the new stake the government has in the financial markets will evolve. It would appear to be a reversal of the tide, but may turn out differently than we now assume.

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By Fibonacci Sequence, October 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment

The Idiots that rule America are the people themselves.  As those of foundational philosophical thought have said:  “The leader of a people reflects the heart of the people”.  What individual is not penny wise and pound foolish, in all my life I have seen the excesses of all I have known in areas they like while they scrimped or judged others in other areas.  The present conditions are demographic and plotted on economic models for anyone that studies such and not only listens to the lies of politicians. The present downward trend was accuratley charted as far back as 1992 by economist Harry S Dent.  Check his books out, say what you want but he has been dead on for more than a decade. No, this is not about idiot American leaders but demographic and economic models that all in the know are full aware off and if the masses would stop watching American Idol and Dancing with stars and do a bit of individual responsibility homework they would better fare in the coming economic storm that is a trough in the waves of capitalist economics and demographis and not the manifestation of the lack of some wand waving messiah who many ignorantly hope the current celebrity canidate to be.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 22, 2008 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

So, that brings us back to WHY should anybody care who marries someone else? Well, those who have this ‘problem’ obviously don’t want same sex relationships to benefit from same privileges that the law allows for in traditional civil marriages. Again, it’s NOT taking anything AWAY from them, and nobody is making them be homo rather than heterosexual. So, what else could it be?
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Why, indeed?  I’ve been married for over 20 years.  I expect only death to end our marriage.  How is a gay or lesbian marriage going to weaken that? By what mechanism?  We are two people who have been in love since the 80’s and made a life, a household and a family.  How can two OTHER people in a loving relationship, regardless of the genders of the partners in it, have any effect on me and my wife?

Who really thinks those people can hurt our marriage?
Who really thinks they will have more influence over our kids than we will?

I know I have posted that we should have only civil unions under law and let religions define “marriage”.  I don’t see that as inconsistent.

“Same-Sex Marriage” and “Anti-Abortion” are real push-button issues, but I think it’s totally irresponsible that people will risk our economy, our national security, our environment, and our freedoms because they don’t look beyond those two MINOR issues!

Yes, I know to the anti-abortion crowd, there’s no more important issue.  But I’ll tell you straight out: Turning America into a fascist state, or damaging our national security, or being unable to protect or help people in a natural disaster, is far, FAR worse and more important. It’s the survival of the nation.

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By cyrena, October 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Dr Know writes:

“..If I were elected president in a country that’s a big player in the world economy, I’d make everyone happy with my government by regularly passing out free stuff, including media stuff like computers and TVs, Xboxes, those new media phones, and cable so I could further spread my truth and stimulate supply-side…”

~~
Dr. Know…

I’m voting for you. But, can I just trade all of the media stuff (‘cept the new computer, since I need one of those too) for an RV or similar motor home? It can be ‘pre-owned’, and I’ll forfeit the cash payments too. I just need the motor home and the new (or refurbished) laptop.

Now THIS is of course what I’ve been recommending for ages. It’s a version of ‘let them eat cake’. (I think a different meaning from the original). In alternative dispute resolution, we (ideally) want EVERYBODY to eat cake. (the reality says it doesn’t always work that way, but it *IS* doable).

Anyway, what you’re really saying here, is that the Criminals totally F-ed up, because…THEY GOT TOO GRREEEDDDY!!!

That’s what ALWAYS happens to criminals. They can’t just steal enough of whatever it is to give themselves an edge, and leave enough for others who then wouldn’t even be likely to notice.

Nope, they always have to take it ALL, which of course pisses everybody off. And at the end, they even start pissing each other off, because the greed forces them to start stealing from each other. It’s the inevitable outcome. No honor among these thieves.

We were talking about this earlier today, in a different context, when I was startled to see all of the “Yes on measure A” signs here in my community. Measure A is intended to overturn the recent legislation allowing same gender marriage. The ‘slogan’ that goes with this position is ‘protect marriage’ or ‘protect marriage EQUALITY.’

Well, that’s like so much rhetoric. “Protect Marriage” for WHOM? And, what is it that’s really being ‘protected’ if this same sex marriage is over turned.

Well, what they MEAN, is that they want to protect their PRIVILIGE. In short, they don’t want same sex couples to have the same socio-ECONOMIC privilages as other traditional relationships. It’s *NOT* because it’s taking anything AWAY from traditional spousal relationships, so why would/should they care? In other words, why should I, as a straight person, care if two other people marry each other, (regardless of their sex) unless *I* wanted to marry one of them myself? Since I’m straight, I probably wouldn’t be interested in marrying any of them myself, since we’d obviously be of a different sexual orientation/identity.

So, that brings us back to WHY should anybody care who marries someone else? Well, those who have this ‘problem’ obviously don’t want same sex relationships to benefit from same privileges that the law allows for in traditional civil marriages. Again, it’s NOT taking anything AWAY from them, and nobody is making them be homo rather than heterosexual. So, what else could it be?

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By Maani, October 22, 2008 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:

Consider the following quotations:

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.” (Mayer Amschel Rothschild)

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.” (Woodrow Wilson)

“Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are US government institutions. They are not… they are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the US for the benefit of themselves and their foreign and domestic swindlers, and rich and predatory money lenders. The sack of the United States by the Fed is the greatest crime in history. Every effort has been made by the Fed to conceal its powers, but the truth is the Fed has usurped the government. It controls everything here and it controls all our foreign relations. It makes and breaks governments at will…The Federal Reserve (Banks) are one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever seen. There is not a man within the sound of my voice who does not know that this Nation is run by the International Bankers.” (Rep. Louis McFadden)

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” (Thomas Jefferson)

“We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a World Government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” (David Rockefeller)

Peace.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 22, 2008 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, October 22 at 12:10 pm #

Inherit The Wind—You are a few centuries behind the times if you think the physical integrity of commodities (used to back money) can’t be assured.  Commodity-based money has problems, but physical debasement isn’t one of them.
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Anarcissie:  I was responding to Paolo’s call for a return to gold and silver money as opposed to a commodity basis for supporting paper money, which is a completely different thing.  My objections to gold and silver coinage are legitimate, yet with today’s modern technology it would be far easier to prevent debasement. Still, what’s to keep the US Government from issuing a $100 gold piece (as currency, not bullion) that’s got 1/10 of an ounce of fine gold, and then saying the $100 gold piece will now have 1/11 of an ounce of fine gold? Debasement!

OTOH, I am fully familiar with the concept of a commodity backing paper.  When the Reichsmark went insane in the early 1920’s devaluing a trillion times, the Weimar government created a new Mark, called the Rentenmark (Land Mark) that was based on the agricultural product of the Germany, and saved their economy.

The idea is to create a numeraire.  You can do it with precious metals, or jewels, or cocoa beans.  But it’s all based on PERCEPTION.  Money is only worth what people think it’s worth, and nothing more.  In that same German Hyperinflation, people actually papered their walls with Reichsmarks since they were the cheapest stuff to use.

Want to be an instant millionaire?  I’ve got half a million upstairs.  Unfortunately it’s a 500,000 Turkish Lira note, worth maybe fifty cents! Plus the souvenir value.

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And regardless of these problems, it is clear that it is better to have that kind of backing than the sort of thing practiced by the Federal Reserve Bank in recent years.
************************************

Agreed. No argument.  Therefore you must be an ignorant lout like me.  Welcome aboard!

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By yellowbird2525, October 22, 2008 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment

you mention “if it were true”: google asparteme; & donald Rumsfeld; prev dept of defense; google “genetic seeds; google “floride” & find out that it is in our water supply cuz HITLER did it to poison the people; find out how many other countries have BANNED it & WHY; Ask WHY formaldehyde is used so agressively even in Baby’s shampoos; THEN ask why infants deaths are so high in the USA; THIS I have observed in my state: brand new low income apartment complexes built for illegals; 8 year licenses given out to illegals even being flown in from other states to obtain; while VETS get no medicine even for their hospitals; they have to use watered down meds; brand new cop cars everywhere; 100 new added to “state”; people do not have the RIGHT to water; they have a NEED for water; if they don’t have in 3 days they will die; THIS is the new motto of the “change” that is coming folks; the ST said 6 homes on 2 home lots; burned 100 acres they admitted to to “clear” for the huge amount of folks coming; this was mostly done before the “big crash”; whom if you look when reprimanded said: we are normally REWARDED: by the GOV folks; it is all a big SET UP; remember the Mormon children taken? Politicians tell it THIS way: legal citizens tore babies from mothers arms while they took refuge from them in church; THEY (we american citizens) are the TERRORISTS; and they are going to DEAL WITH US; Obama folks; isn’t it GREAT to live in this GREAT SOURCE of GOOD? Like I stated b/4; GOOD for WHOM and FOR WHAT???? certainly NOT the citizens of the USA; NOT for the Planet; & NOT for the people in Mexico; Canada; & every other country like Colombia; Iraq; Iran; Afghanistan; oh, and look back to the year 2000 & you will see where Ben Laden was critically ill & needed dialasis; YEP; Pakistan stated no one was even LOOKING for him; wanna bet he’s DEAD? And was never behind the twin towers any more than Saddam was?

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By yellowbird2525, October 22, 2008 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment

I have not read 1984; i am subscribed to natural news; & several other sites; I am well familiar with Monstano the most evil company in the world that could have only come about & existed in the most evil Gov in the world; they are the makers of Agent Orange; along with most chemicals etc; they said they are not going to lose $1 in this recession which a politician said “yes, some companies may not make as much $ this year”; our Gov as explained by a politician is a “tool” for businesses; if you read books: might want to check out “age of deceit” which shows how our nation under FDR KNEW about Pearl Harbor; had full advance knowledge & indeed BAITED the Japanese to attack us; it did NOT start with the BUSH administration; nor with the slime bag crooks of Clintons; read “unlimited access” re Clinton’s terms in White House to get a REALITY glimpse of what & who they are & how they “operate” as well as “the real Hillary”; also “license to steal” which told all about the stealing etc that went on in Wall St; full knowledge & consent of the US Gov; indeed, they took lessons from good ol Capitol Hill; http://www.pbs.org; check out Bill Moyers journal; crimes on Capitol Hill; to get REAL KNOWLEDGE of how this “democracy” works;

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By yours truly, October 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Change Is Possible

“How?”

“We elect Barack Obama president + such an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress so as to deliver us a fiblibuter-proof Senate.

“Anything else?”

“Yes we can.”

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By Folktruther, October 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

Inherit, you ignorant lout.  Certainly a group of men can and must be entrusted to create money, although the way it is done in the US is corrupt folly. A central bank must be communally controlled in some way,and be transparent to serve the common interests rather than the rich. 

The trustees should be elected in some reasonable electoral system and have to publically justify their monetary actions.  I point out that in China the largest banks are owned by the government, there are capital controls to prevent hot money from banging around, and the state is controlled by party bureuacrats.

This is far from good but also far from the US bad.  China has a far better economic system than the US. (Or Israel.)

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By OGP, October 22, 2008 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Anarcissie” and “Inherit The Wind” - The days of Gold-backed paper money were nothing to cherish. Google the words, “financial crisis wikipedia” and scroll to the bottom. You will find that there was a banking panic about every 7 to 10 years. How can this be if money was backed by GOLD.

Unfortunately, Gold backing causes a fixed supply of money - a financial strait jacket- so the banking community cannot respond to the changing needs of commerce. The result is either too much money in circulation (inflation) or too little (panic). Getting off the Gold Standard was probably a good thing.

I am certainly not a big fan of the FED. They are a club of self-serving Wall $treet tycoons. But they have (with the exception of 1931) managed to keep the system from collapsing or running away. This is quite a feat for a capitalist economy. Central banking is the price we should be willing to pay for the stability it brings, matching money in circulation to the current demand for the stuff.

Since the secret 1973 Kissinger deal with OPEC, we now are in the enviable position of having the US Dollar backed by oil, and we have the exclusive monopoly on it since our military will kill anybody who tries to use a different currency to pay for oil. Ask Saddam Hussein. I am not proud of this policy, but my feelings about it doesn’t make it less true.

The Dollar is truly the reserve currency of the planet. When some merchant in Thailand signs a contract to deliver 40 containers of rice crackers to a wholesaler in Burundi, that contract will be denominated in USD, even though neither country uses dollars in local commerce.

It is quite a racket, really - we print money (a $100 bill costs the govt 2.9 cents) - and the world demands it (because they need the oil and we’ll kill them if they use Thai Bahts).

Read “Dollar Hegemony Has Got To Go” by Henry CK Liu,  http://www.atimes.com/global-Econ/DD11Dj01.html. It was written before BushCo invaded Iraq, but it is just as pertinent today as it was then.

Welcome to the Global Empire of the USA. We don’t want to colonize you; we just want you to let us print your money and let us buy your (cheap imported) goods with it.

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By Anarcissie, October 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

Expat—I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me.  If one were to revert to strictly cash transactions—that is, if we went back to the (European) Middle Ages financially—our economy would still function, but at a much slower pace.  One result of that would be that the only way to get ahead to any significant degree without the use of violence or fraud would be to be born into the right family and inherit money and social position.  That in turn would serve to create a very powerful class structure antithetical to our supposed liberal principles, but it would lead to a significant decline in consumption, since the class system would soon reduce the lowest layers of the social order to subsistence.  However, neither the people in general nor present-day ruling classes, operative and wannabe, are going to agree with this sort of reversion under present conditions.  People do want to get ahead; when I look around at how my neighbors live, I wouldn’t dare to suggest that they take a cut, although I would suggest that they spend their money more cleverly.

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By Anarcissie, October 22, 2008 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

Inherit The Wind—You are a few centuries behind the times if you think the physical integrity of commodities (used to back money) can’t be assured.  Commodity-based money has problems, but physical debasement isn’t one of them.

And regardless of these problems, it is clear that it is better to have that kind of backing than the sort of thing practiced by the Federal Reserve Bank in recent years.

I don’t know what additional forms of regulation you have in mind, however.  When times are good, whatever sort of management is going on is going to be very popular with both the people and general and the ruling class, so that it will be politically inadvisable, if not suicidal, to blow the whistle.  That is why Greenspan was able to inflate credit and create bubbles for years and years.  Warnings were sounded, but those who issued them, including myself, were ignored or mocked.  The Administration, Congress and the financial community were happy to ride along on the gravy train until it fell off the rails.  I don’t see why people in the future will be any different.  What’s your solution to that problem?

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By Inherit The Wind, October 22, 2008 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Paolo, October 21 at 7:57 pm #

Hi “Inherit the Wind,”

A long and interesting post. It seems you agree as to the fact of mankind’s inherently corruptible nature. As I stated, no man or group of men can be entrusted with the power to create money out of thin air, and not abuse the power. Hell, I probably couldn’t be granted the power, and not abuse it. Even though I know all the ins and outs of creating fiat currency.

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No one can. Nor should be. That’s what checks and balances are for.

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So, is “regulation” the answer?

What is to prevent the “regulators” from getting in on the same con game? What is to prevent the “regulators” from gaining huge and immoral profits by manipulating the game of money and credit?
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You need multiple levels of regulation and they have to be from different places so they have a natural INCENTIVE to make sure what they are checking is right.  This isn’t really an answer to your question but a philosophy for how to address it.

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Much easier, it seems to me, to simply demand honesty in the monetary system.

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Easier to teach a pig to sing!

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Honesty comes in the form of a currency that cannot be counterfeited or inflated. That is, precious metals, which are the natural form of money that evolved over the centuries.
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Please do not be deluded into thinking that way.  Precious metals are simply valuable because they are a) relatively scarce and b) desireable.  A 20 cent silver coin is far scarcer than a Morgan Dollar but the Morgan commands higher prices.  Why? Demand! Value isn’t absolute.  It is no more or less than what someone ELSE is willing to pay for it.  We learned THAT the hard way selling a house 11 years ago!

Second, if you think precious metals cannot be counterfeited or inflated you are sadly mistaken.  Counterfeit gold coins have been created for millennia. In Russia they used to fill a hollow gold coin with a base metal that’s just as heavy.  What was that base metal?  Platinum! (no fooling—before platinum was more valuable than gold).  Debasing the currency?  Been done for thousands of years.  Say you have your official coin, a “Crown” and it weighs one Troy ounce, 24k pure gold, 33.something grams.  Then you say “well, it wears too much so we need to add copper to make it harder”.  So you add enough copper to make it 22K gold (Gold Eagles, Kruggerands, Mexican Onzas) but, unlike modern bullion coins, you STILL make it the same size. So, you have a little extra gold from each coin.  Then you make the coins a little thinner, or a little smaller, only 32.9grams (say).  Add more alloys.  And VOILA!!! You’ve debased your currency just as effectively as if you were printing paper money.  Kings did that. All the time.

People used to regularly clip the edges of gold and silver coins.  Again, do it enough and you have a quite a haul.  That’s why ridged-edge and lettered-edge coins were developed—to make the clipping blindingly obvious.

There is no fool-proof system.  Only checks and cross-checks, and cross-cross-checks can keep it mainly under control.

******************************************

My compliments. You are obviously a very deep thinking individual.

********************************

Thanks.  That’s far better than what I’ve been told recently, that I’m an ignorant lout. smile

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By Maani, October 22, 2008 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Not sure if everyone has seen this.  It’s precious!  A woman tries to make a citizen’s arrest on Karl Rove!

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2008/10/22/dnt.ca.rove.protester.kgo

Peace.

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By Alan, October 22, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

During the Vietnam era, Walt Kelly (in his Pogo
cartoon strip) paraphrased Admiral Perry thusly:
“We have met the enemy and he is us”.
Today we may say:
We have met the idiots who rule America
and they are us.

Our political culture:
name calling, trivialization, obfuscation,
dissimulation,bating,caricaturing,
reductio ad absurdum.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 22, 2008 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Good one!, Expat.

If free-wheeling credit is the problem and you fix it with more and more free-wheeling credit, you’re only postponing the inevitable. 

Find a reasonable level at which the world’s hungry can have a plumpy nut or two, be satisfied with not amassing obscene riches and have a good time. 

The poor, I think, only mind the rich insofar as the latter’s gaining their wealth negatively impacts the plight of the former. It would do everyone in the world a lot of good if only the poor had a little more, just enough to turn the negative into a neutral.

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By Dfresh52-X, October 22, 2008 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

My girlfriend and I are considered “elite”—we graduated from ivy league universities. She works in wall street while I, like the Joe the Plumber, am looking to take over a small private company that would be in Obama’s higher-taxed upper tax bracket.

Let me say a few things:
Many of our friends in wall street are not “fat cats”, but our friends’ managers are. Our friends graduated from presitigous and state colleges, got this job, and were trained to do things a certain way by people who started this job 25 years ago. They don’t have “free will”, they just follow out orders made by others. They are just trying to make a decent living like everybody else. Keep in mind that in NYC, making a lot of money means nothing when you are paying some of the highest rent, food, and utility costs in the entire nation AND are in a 30-40% income tax bracket. Our friend’s feel the attitude of many of their managers is to blame for this crisis—attempting to raise risk and debt-equity ratios to make money. They also think the American people are to blame for extending themselves to far. Our friends were smart enough not to buy expensive condos here even though they had the money because they know the golden rule not to never take on monthly payments that are more than 1/40 their annual income—they rented instead. Our friends are smart, caring, intouch people.

Our friends’ managers have been doing things one way for a long time. They are smart, cunning, and occasionally bad people because this means a giant year-end bonus. They have never done things any other way and now have very expensive lifestyles to maintain. These fat cats usually vote for McCain because they will be taxed less. However, many do not worry about this because they are smarter than Joe the Plumber. They know how to hide money in corporations and offshore bank accounts and are proud of their ability to find loopholes. These managers may be be very caring people, but they also have to make money to make that bonus.

They are just like you, but they happened to get a financial job that pays well if they do well. Its like how sellers in fashion stores try to convince you to buy anything and bother you no matter how much you dont want to be bothered. They just want to make a living and sometimes dont care about the little guy. You might do that to if trained right fo a long enough time.

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By Curious Orange, October 22, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

America has real enemies in the world who are watching as we become an easier target by the day. Our elected (or otherwise) leaders are not keeping American`s safe from the countries who would harm us.
The rush to sell out to the u.n. and global corporations has enriched a few at the expense of us all.
A 3rd party victory is our only hope

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., October 22, 2008 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

So long as fiat money is a medium of exchange with no roots in a real economy, there will be these kinds of blunders.

Value has no anchor. We have tried to give it an anchor in the will of the consumer. That works no better than giving it an anchor in gold or silver. Neither did value have an anchor in the minds of the capitalists, socialists, communists, and fascists. Each tried to tie value to an artificial construction of the mind. Even value in the mind of the consumer is fleeting and fake.

While the value of the average human being is questionable in terms of function and quality of life, it is a determinate value easily computed, if not easily implemented in a politico-economic mentality produced by greed.

The biologic function of one human being needs a certain value of calories and with a certain quantity of protein with traces of nutrients that sustain health and function. That is an average that has no relation to income, output, or mental acuity. With a range to include the newborn and the aged, it is possible to determine the needs for any population within manageable tolerances.

We must take value out of the minds of the greedy and the incompetent and put it into viable formulas applicable to production, consumption, and health.

Major grain products contain protein and calories easily measured and maintained. Fiat money should be based upon these facts. Let us say that a unit of fiat currency is the food value of the protein content and calories of those grains. Fiat value could be maintained by the enforcement power of government and an anchor in a constitution or world wide commerce. Everything that needs a value tag should be denominated in terms of the nutritional value of the lifetime labor needed to produce it and maintain it.

There is room for enough incentive in this plan to produce and to consume to motivate production and to stimulate invention. The anchor is a time value that would avoid inflation, boom, and bust. Surpluses would eliminate themselves in added value of labor and shortages would be overcome by added value of value of capital investment.

All derivatives except fiat money could be eliminated by manipulation of the stocks of stored production of food grains rather than by interest rates and open market activity in government and corporate bonds with no fixed value. Corporate ownership and profit would be measurable in human lives sustained and desires satisfied by real effort. Other value based commodities would take a value earned by the motivation to produce and to consume them, verified by quality control of government fiat.

Fiat grains might be soybeans, rice, wheat, and maize. These anchors would have value in weight content of protein and calories. All other human exchange would be based upon these values over unlimited time. They never change and the input value of human effort sustainable by them remans constant. As effort in production is reduced, luxury incentive is increased in terms of consumption. Leisure is supported by excess production of the means of support of human life.

Let some computer models be programed to examine this prospect and related concepts.

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By Expat, October 22, 2008 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

@ Anarcissie, October 21 at 7:55 pm;

But more importantly, you’d also have to forbid people to issue any kind of credit.  That’s a tough one.  And the result, if you succeeded, would be extremely tight money, something like the situation in the Middle Ages.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your posts are always a good, thoughtful read.  However, the above; not necessarily so.  Credit has always existed.  But not in the irresponsible way it does now.  The west has promulgated credit to everyone; the ability to pay has been irrelevant.  The coming credit card crash hasn’t yet hit; it’s the second wave of the financial tsunami, coming soon. 
I live in an Asian country just emerging from the third world.  Thanks to the west, credit cards are going out at an alarming rate and there is a growing problem of overspending and defaulting on the debt. 
When I first arrived here there were few credit cards outside of the very wealthy.  People had only the things they could afford (they payed cash for 90% of what they had).  If they needed motorized transportation they bought a motor bike for $900 to $1,000 USD and this was financed by the seller.  A car or truck was out of the question.  The average wage here is about $150 USD per month.  But with the advent of loose credit; poor people are driving $20,000 USD cars and trucks.  They eventually lose them, etc., etc., etc.
My point is; Americans have been sold and bought into the corporatist’s dream of having it all.  Frankly I have little sympathy for the foolishness of the American people. 
The only solution I can see is a return to a much lower standard of living that is sustainable and to stop this greedy foolishness.  We’re killing ourselves and we’re destroying any future legacy for our children.  A destroyed ECO system will kill us all.  He who has the most toys loses; big time!  That needs to be the new mantra!  Less is more!!!!

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By jporter, October 22, 2008 at 2:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I let this mess swirl around in my warped brain, warped by believing a belief I thought was true.  It seems to me we are ostracizing the wrong party when we pick apart our stupid leaders.  It is simple of course,  the stupidity of elected government officials, who start out being stupid, ineffective, ignorant of the street smarts needed to survive in any political climate.  We, the electorate, continue to elect those type of people.  We have other candidates for selection who could do a fantastic job in government, but because of some blemish or gouge to their personal body wrappings, they can never get elected because we need to have Mr. Perfect in office.  We all know that Mr. Perfect does not know a damn thing about anything.  To be perfect is to be stupid.  To be stupid is evidently one of the requirements of elected political office.  Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, October 22, 2008 at 12:27 am Link to this comment

@folktruther

“Yet Hedges doesn’t see that sooner or later (now, very much later) the majority will wake up and see what’s going on and, like a wave, move for change.”

Reminds me of the guy who told me and my business partner many years ago when we asked him, “how do you keep your help from stealing from you,” and he said, “I know they steal from me; I just want them to leave a little for me.”

The Republicans could have gone on indefinitely had they been a little smarter about how they looted our treasury and enabled Wall St.  That gets people fired up.  You can engage people in a couple years-long illegal wars costing trillions and killing thousands, shred their constitution and even steal elections, but you dare not interfere with their power to earn and buy.

I bet the next Republican administration will be a lot more careful about this, maybe passing out periodic but more frequent “peace offerings”, maybe even in the form of plasma TVs and gift cards or gas cards.  If I were elected president in a country that’s a big player in the world economy, I’d make everyone happy with my government by regularly passing out free stuff, including media stuff like computers and TVs, Xboxes, those new media phones, and cable so I could further spread my truth and stimulate supply-side.  Throw in a little cash from time to time, then people could go out and buy stuff my media suggested to them.  It’d be a win, win for everyone.  Think of it:  the UPS driver pulling up your driveway (which needs resurfacing) with a big box marked “A GIFT FROM YOUR PRESIDENT”

Look for this in 2016.  I think it’s the wave of the future. 

A 21st century chicken in every pot.  This is how government is supposed to work.  It would take very little to placate the electorate.  Why politicians don’t get that is way beyond me.  Why are half the people always pissed? Look at all the reasons for people to revolt.  Yet they don’t.  This tells me something and I’m just a country bumpkin.

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By samosamo, October 22, 2008 at 12:09 am Link to this comment

yellowbird2525, October 21 at 10:33 pm

You write as if you just read Orwell’s ‘1984’. I read it a couple months back and was quite impressed with the similarities of the book and the here and now which only proves that 1984 did not have to be in 1984 though it was starting to take hold in some ways which were mostly with the conservative control of the msm and the perpetual wars. If you have not read it or read it lately, pick it up and read it again, truly prescient on Orwell’s part.

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By yellowbird2525, October 21, 2008 at 11:33 pm Link to this comment

Our country is run by the Gov being a “tool” for corps & wealthy bribing them; then the PEOPLE pay for the bribes; & they cook the books by siphoning off millions of $ without doing a thing; THIS they claim is “democracy”; My question to EVERYONE is this: WHERE is the positive contributions to the well being of the PEOPLE and the PLANET? it does NOT EXIST in the USA. Sad commentary when we are brainwashed to “believe” that “we are free” and that “we are the “good guys” and that we are “great”; laws are put on the books for LOOKS ONLY; same for FDA; a POWERFUL POLITICIAN put ASPARTEME which contains FORMALDEHYDE one of the most powerfully toxic chemicals on Earth; it is used in salad dressings, sodas, etc etc etc; because they get BIG BUCKS from the chemical companies & the sister PHARMA. Then the Corp lawyers keep (just like the USA Gov does 2/3’s or more of “settlements”; and THIS enforced slavery, deliberate premeditated poisoining & killing of Americans is being FORCED DOWN THE THROATS of countries everywhere in the “name” of “democracy”. The PEOPLE have NOTHING; the PLANET has NOTHING. Just like Hitler’s day: the news is monitored & “scened” for the people; lies & false reports “appear” by “authority figures” as being true, or real; SHATTER the illusions; let’s get these incompete incapable idiotic liars OUT of our country by ridding ourselves of all politicians; let me ask you a ?: how is it that the Clinton’s made $20m in 1 year supposedly from “bill’s” lectures when he & she together or alone could not even bring in a crowd of 1,000???????????? Hey boy’s that’s where your tax $ goes; and READ what she has done; NOT what is SAID that she has done; what a tragedy of American’s everywhere that liars, deceivers, & deliberate harm is done to them; by their own Gov; hey, they brought top Nazi’s over; & working in the USA courtesy of your “lawless leaders” every single one of them is in effect today; including the #s which are going to be “Fed Id #s; for the American citizens; welcome to the “free” to be harmed in every possible conceivable way by the “leaders” of this nation;

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By samosamo, October 21, 2008 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

The title says it all for this post, almost. w is truly the idiot, global village idiot at that and congress has not shown any good since since forever. But all the others keeping w in line are the real power because it is all about robbery and they will keep stealing and keep stealing until the morning of 1.20.2009 if they allow the transfer of power to take place. So look for more bailouts and more rescues for the incompetent and criminal people that brought this terrorist attack to the shores of america and no prosecution for them either. So, in reality, the threat to our economic security, the major reason for a ‘war on terror’, was brought to us by our own home grown and elected terrorists and their corporate handlers and yet no one seems to give this any consideration when the sheriff comes to kick you out of your house or bernanke, paulson or greenspan(equally culpable)because they help bring on this ‘unfettered’ free market system that DOES NOT WORK!!!! we the people still accept them as our leaders and just hope that the stock market settles down and the country can return to its leisurely life style that everyone is so familiar with.

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By libertarian, October 21, 2008 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A few comments on the economic indicators released by the government. Inflation, claimed to be ~3% annual, is more like 25%. Electric rates have nearly tripled in New England in the last two and a half years, food and incidentals are up around 20% this year,etc. The figure Hedges cites for reduced consumer retail spending last month, a 1.2% reduction, is much more pronounced than that, with the holiday shopping season about to be slaughtered. A simple metric—look in the malls—where there were ten shoppers in every store before the gas crunch, there are maybe 5 or 6 now, and those buying less stuff. If I’m right about this depopulation of the malls, consumer spending has actually dropped 40-50% in two years. My way of staying afloat has been to trade gold etf’s and market-short etf’s, especially technology, which is about to get creamed if people don’t buy those high-priced toys this Christmas. Note that this is not any sort of recommendation to buy investments. It’s simply a caution to those who are thinking about buying stocks in such a tenuous finance-based economy. n

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By cann4ing, October 21, 2008 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment

By Chris Hedges

Our oligarchic class is incompetent at governing, managing the economy, coping with natural disasters, educating our young, handling foreign affairs, providing basic services like health care and safeguarding individual rights.

______________

Yeah, Chris but it has proven exceptionally adept at raiding the National Treasury, stealing elections, acquiring monopoly control of the public airwaves, exploiting the earth’s natural resources and deceiving the public.

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Paolo's avatar

By Paolo, October 21, 2008 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

Hi “Inherit the Wind,”

A long and interesting post. It seems you agree as to the fact of mankind’s inherently corruptible nature. As I stated, no man or group of men can be entrusted with the power to create money out of thin air, and not abuse the power. Hell, I probably couldn’t be granted the power, and not abuse it. Even though I know all the ins and outs of creating fiat currency.

So, is “regulation” the answer?

What is to prevent the “regulators” from getting in on the same con game? What is to prevent the “regulators” from gaining huge and immoral profits by manipulating the game of money and credit?

Much easier, it seems to me, to simply demand honesty in the monetary system. Honesty comes in the form of a currency that cannot be counterfeited or inflated. That is, precious metals, which are the natural form of money that evolved over the centuries.

My compliments. You are obviously a very deep thinking individual.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, October 21, 2008 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

Paolo: ’... If we move to a one hundred percent gold and silver coin system, and (most importantly) outlaw the banks’ dishonest policy of “fractional reserve” (aka “counterfeiting”), there is no way we could ever get into a “bubble” situation. ...’

Sure you could.  People could use gold to bid up the price on anything. Recall the famous tulip bulb bubble.

But more importantly, you’d also have to forbid people to issue any kind of credit.  That’s a tough one.  And the result, if you succeeded, would be extremely tight money, something like the situation in the Middle Ages.

I agree, though, that Greenspan’s monetary policies made things much worse, and that we do have to reconstruct some kind of monetary policy that can’t easily be inflated that way.  But there are many related problems, such as the U.S. budget deficit, trade deficit, deindustrialization, foreign wars, sacred defense budget, imperial grandiosity, and so forth.  These are probably what inspired the bad monetary policy and they won’t go away soon (unless something much worse happens).

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By Inherit The Wind, October 21, 2008 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

2)
Then it was the courts.  This was disgusting.  Despite the lie of “no litmus tests” that’s exactly what was done.  Truly shitty judges who deserved to be on the OTHER side of the bench in handcuffs were put up for all levels.  The goal? Corrupt the courts to favor Republicans and the administration REGARDLESS of the Law and the Constitution.

Then it was Congress. The Democrats were still thinking in more genteel ways.  When, with a slim margin insufficient to overturn filibusters, Cheney leaped FAR beyond his Constitutionally mandated power to say as President of the Senate he would FORCE up or down votes on nominations, despite that violation of the Senate rules.  And the Constitution DIRECTS each House to set up its own rules.  It was a GOLDEN opportunity to break Bush’s power and SHOW America what we faced.  Reid and the Dems caved.  They should have forced every purchase of paper clips for the clerks to need a vote, paralyzed the Senate, Congress and all bill-making work until the Re-Thugs agreed to follow the rules. They should have sued the Re-Thugs and made the Supreme Court decide.

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay was gerry-mandering, especially in Texas, create more seats for Re-Thugs for in excess of their popular representation.  PA has FAR more Dems than GOPs but somehow, the GOP has more seats than the Dems.  Gerry-mandering, supported by GOP-appointed courts.

Never in the history of the US has there been such a concerted 3-pronged attack to BREAK the checks and balances that had worked for over 200 years.

So my idea is to restore those checks and balances, make them stronger, tougher, less interpretable.

Let us outlaw signing statements and strictly control executive orders.

Let us set up stronger and tougher watchdog agencies like the GAO and give them authority to dig out corruption and political influence.

Let us set up new, formal procedures for vetting judicial appointments to assure they are going to rule on the LAW and not the party.

Let us set up Federal legislation that re-enforces how each House rules itself, defining the role of the VP explicitly, according to the Constitution.

Let us assume that we can balance off one side’s corruption from the other to fulfill the Founding Fathers’ dream of a government that overcomes the corrupt men and women who comprise it.

We aren’t going to change human nature in less than a few millennia.  So let’s change the systems to counteract their nature and exploit it for the common good.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 21, 2008 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

1)

Paolo makes a very interesting argument. I want to go a little different direction.

Let me start with a question and answer: What unhinges EVERY revolution and political movement after it comes to power?  The same thing: Short-sighted self-interest, ego, and the most obvious, corruption. 

Whether you have 3000 years of dynasties in Egypt, super-powerful and long dynasties in China, the Shogunate in Japan, the crowned heads of Europe, Democracy in Britain and the US, the 5 French Republics, German Weimar Democracy or Hitlerian Nazis, Soviet Marxists, etc, etc, etc.  They all founder and fail on the same thing.

Yet 220 years ago our Founding Fathers were on to something.  They actually EXPECTED corruption and cross-purpose conflicting interests.  Instead of expecting their system to function run by Godly uncorruptable men, they assumed just the opposite, and sought to set up a system to function through that, that was self-correcting.

And it sort of worked! Then came the corrupted stolen election of 2000, which beat out even the election of 1876 for nearly sinking our nation.  I believe only one thing saved us in 1976: Rutherford B. Hayes, who should NOT have been President, promised to only serve one term, and kept his promise.  It took a long time to be “fixed”, but I believe at that moment it was saved.

But in 2000, George W. Bush would NEVER have made such a promise.  The man should never have been President and we have PAID DEARLY for letting it happen.  He accelerated all the mistakes made since Reagan took office (or, if you like, since Johnson did) beyond the ability to repair or stave off further damage.

But Bush did something far worse that nobody since Jackson did, and even Jackson didn’t do it so vehemently.  Bush led an attack simultaneously on all 3 branches of government. In the executive branch, he weeded out bureaucratic professionals to replace them with political operatives, competency irrelevant.  Whether it was 24 year old with a BA vetting scientific paper for political correctness or a horse dealer in charge of FEMA.  And it was not just prominent US Attorneys. No agency was exempt or too small to notice. NOBODY was function without being controlled and watched by somebody totally loyal to Bush.  Zampolit in every agency.  Regulations became political favors for friends. An Ayn Rand nightmare.

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By OGP, October 21, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So we all don’t like the way the country has gone during the last 8 years. Or last 28 years if you start with Reagan. But it is foolish to underestimate (mis-underestimate?) one’s enemy.

These folks know and knew exactly what they were doing. It is no big secret that Wall $treet has run America since JP Morgan told Woodrow Wilson to help Britain and France win WWI or he wouldn’t get repaid. And that would collapse the American Banking System.

After WWII, for which we supplied 90% of the oil (from Texas, of course), and the majority of guns, tanks, and planes to help Europe destroy itself, we became the de-facto Western power. And the dollar became the de-facto global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods Agreement.

The Marshall Plan brought reconstruction to Europe and profits to American businesses and banks. Britain tried in vain to keep her empire, but after the Sinai fiasco when Ike threatened to dump America’s stock of pounds sterling on the open market, she relented, devalued, and knelt down to the new power across the Atlantic - AMERICA.

But the Brits and Yanks have always been close, though they may quarrel over their respective shares of the Anglo-American Empire. Now they are trying to take over the world.

The vehicle is, of course, OIL, that commodity we all are addicted to. A few years after Nixon closed the gold window, Kissinger cut a secret deal with the Saudis to make the US Dollar the SOLE oil currency. At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer because there really wasn’t any alternative, although OPEC has periodically brought up the idea of a “basket of currencies”. The US has discouraged this every time.

Fast forward to the present: The world is at or near “peak oil”, and we have watched the price per barrel rise from the $20s to $147 at the peak. Do the math and you will see how much American money this lets the FED print up WITHOUT being inflationary. Think about it - the planet uses 82 million barrels of the stuff every day. That means that, at $100, the world needs $8.2 BILLION just for oil. And, of course, it will get recycled into American investments (good bad or otherwise) which makes Wall $treet happy.

The only achilles heel was Iraq, the 2nd largest reservoir of oil in existence, 80 percent unexplored, and all of it near the surface and cheap to extract. So we had this guy Saddam who decided in November of 2000 to take Euros instead of Dollars for Iraqi oil. He was making this conversion while James A Bush-Baker III was counting chads in Florida. The case NOT argued in front of the cameras, of course, was that cheap oil not denominated in Dollars could bring down this house of cards called the petrodollar. We were printing money for nothing and trading it for real goods and services. It was our game and we didn’t want anyone else horning in on it.

So BushCo gins up a plan to capture Iraq. Wall $treet wants that oil SECURED. They don’t want it pumped - they want to KEEP it from being pumped. That is why there was no exit strategy. BushCo never planned to leave. Nor does McCain. And probably, Obama will find a way to leave enough strength there to make sure nobody defects from the policy of EXPENSIVE oil denominated ONLY in US DOLLARS.

Now comes the so-called “financial crisis”. This is another false-flag meltdown pre-arranged by Wall $treet so they can go in for the kill. (Note that the Brits never adopted the Euro.) What we have going on right now is a financial war by the Anglo-American bankers against the EU bankers. In the end, I know who will win, and the price they will exact will be the guaranteed global domination of the US Dollar. We have crossed the Rubicon with the invasion of Iraq. We have abandoned the founding fathers’ noble experiment of free men. They were escaping from an empire. We have now become one.

May God help us.

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By mayyouliveininterestingtimes, October 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

The type of in house or good old boy/girl network goes far beyond the examples used by Mr. Hedges.  As a scientist I have seen this same behavior for decades.  If you want to get grant money or publish your work you need to be part of the in group no matter how great your ideas and proposals.  This acts to limit research to areas that are those of interest to the in group.  This often channels research efforts into areas that are dead ends.  Many people think that it was this type of “Group Think” that led to the shuttle disasters.  Years ago it was described as a system similar to that of the Soviet.  Experts have to be good members of the party.

What I have never understood and do not to this day is how these people become members.  Even in the US National Academy of Sciences its is astonishing who is elected as a member and who is never elected.  Often the very best people in the field are excluded and some of the most useless scientists are elected.
Its an elite group without question but many of them are just like the clowns of Wall Street and American Politics.

I think its a special handshake they learn at birth because there does not seem to be any other logical explanation as to how these individuals are selected.

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By eileen fleming, October 21, 2008 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment

We have reached a dead end.

“We are here to make love to life. Yes, we are here to make love to life.

“Delight in creation and take your dreams into our politics and institutions. We live in the midst of a suicidal economy, motivated by love of money. We have reached a dead end. What we need to turn it around are hearts in love with life. How do we do it?

“We first must move from domination to partnership, and we begin by educating our young in awe and wonder, not how to take tests. Awe leads to reverence, which leads to gratitude, which will reinvent our species. This is the task of our generation: to regain awe. The three R’s need to be balanced by the ten C’s: contemplation, creativity, chaos, compassion, courage, critical consciousness, community, celebration, ceremony, and character.

“In community, people remain united, despite everything that divides them. In capitalist society, people are isolated, separated, despite everything that should hold them together. We are in the midst of an epic struggle between community and capitalistic society. We need a new narrative. It is the economy of materialism; it is the virus of affluenza that has weakened family life.”

excerpted from:

“The Revolution starts now, when you rise above your fear and tear the walls round you down.”-Steve Earle

http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=434&Itemid=147

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By Paolo, October 21, 2008 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

As a libertarian commenting on a somewhat left of center website, I know my remarks may not be taken kindly. But what the heck.

Of course Hedges is right that we have a gang of congenital idiots ruling Washington. This goes for both the bureaucracy allegedly hired to “protect” us, and the leaders of politically-connected businesses such as AIG, Shearson-Lehmann, and Bear Stearns.

But the solution is most emphatically NOT to put in an allegedly smarter group of politicians and bureaucrats to rule over us. The system Hedges describes is not freedom and free markets; it is fascism, in which politically favored businesses line up at the public trough, lapping up the favors while sticking money in the politicians’ pockets.

These politically connected businesses get to reap the rewards of profits (often based on insider knowledge of what the government is doing to pump up the money supply and credit), and “socialize” the cost of losses.

If you believe Democrats or Greens or even Libertarians would do a better job overseeing this unholy alliance, you need to go back and study some more.

The central crux of the problem is the fact the government and the quasi-private “Federal Reserve” has total control of our money, including the power to create it out of thin air and pump easy credit into the system at will. This is a guaranteed formula for booms and busts.

The solution, in part, is honest money. No human being or political group or central bank (or even a local bank) can be given the power to create money at will, and not abuse the privilege.

If we move to a one hundred percent gold and silver coin system, and (most importantly) outlaw the banks’ dishonest policy of “fractional reserve” (aka “counterfeiting”), there is no way we could ever get into a “bubble” situation.

There would still be idiots in the financial institutions, but the fact of honest money would prevent them from being able to bring down an entire economy. There would still be idiot politicians, but they would be constrained by the fact that they could no longer create money out of thin air, robbing each of us of the value of our hard-earned money.

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By Leefeller, October 21, 2008 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

As far as finger pointing goes, there should be plenty of pointing to go around, several things could be addressed to place the finger were it belongs. Let’s start with accountability, with our power of the vote, we should be addressing all our representatives with increased scrutiny.  When was the last time any politician accepted or admitted being accountable? 

So finger pointing needs to be stopped and accountability made mandatory, voters need to do their homework not as a right but as a duty of citizenship. Ignorance is no excuse.

Accountability would lay the groundwork for things which should be, this would mean the purging the halls of Congress of lobbyists like cockroaches at a New York, Chinese Restaurant. Politicians should be working for the people, not special interests.  Of course this will never happen, for I live in Never never Land where Elephants and Donkeys dole out Bull Shit.

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By Barry R. Nicholson, October 21, 2008 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“There are a handful of people who haven’t been published in mainstream journals, who haven’t been listened to, who have been marginalized in every way,” Saul said. “There are a couple of them and you could turn to them. - John Ralston Saul

One such person I would suggest be listened to is Lyndon LaRouche.

Save the Ad Hominem Argument until you have read/viewed/listened/and understood the material at

http://www.larouchepac.com/

http://www.larouchepub.com/eirtoc/index.html

http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/

At least go back as far as July 25, 2007 “The End of the Post-FDR Era” http://www.larouchepac.com/media/2007/07/23/webcast-party-leaders-are-faking.html

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By leilah, October 21, 2008 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Sams
“Much as Bush-hating media members conveniently ignore historical events that led to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, their current finger-pointing at the White House, John McCain, and all Republican politicians for the collapse of the financial services industry lacks any honest assessment of decades-old legislation that laid the groundwork for today’s problems.”

The right-wing people are always starting off with some off-the-wall-reference that is completely misleading.  I would like you to expand on the above statement.
As far as the mortgages go, who wrapped them up in Securities, rated them AAA and then sold them?
I think you omit that end of the story.  But, please expand on that as well.

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By felicity, October 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

Anyone interested in the ‘big’ picture of what Mr. Hedges covers should read “The March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman, published in 1984 by Knopf.

The book covers historical events from the prototype story of the Trojans, the Renaissance popes who provoked the Protestant secession, the British loss of America and the final chapter, America betrays herself in Vietnam. 

The thrust of her thesis is the pursuit of policy contrary to self-interest - thus the march of folly.

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By peacenik1, October 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American working class vote for their own executioners, that is, if they vote at all.  The recent primary in my area had a 27 percent turnout!

In general, they are not well informed on national or international issues.  They don’t seem to appreciate the need for a better U.S. educational system and a single-payer medical system so that American businesses will be able to compete on a level playing ground in the new world economy. 

Incidentally, a recent report in the U.K. states that British GPs are in the top 1 percent of earners in that country.  And I’ve read that 59 percent of American physicians would reportedly be in favor of a single-payer health insurance system.  So what’s stopping us?  Special interests?  Follow the money….

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By Political Insurgent, October 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

@jackpine savage

“Unfortunately, the entirety of the blame cannot be placed on the “rulers” of America. After all, it is a government of, for and by the people.”

I believe the America you’re referring to is the mythical one that exists in the constitution and several thousand people’s minds.

And you, Mr. Hedges, “I do not think George W. Bush or Barack Obama or John McCain or Henry Paulson are fascists.”

Maybe not, but they’re certainly enabling the movement. wink

Excellent article as always. To everyone who insists on forgiving the “educated” political elite, wake up, goddammit. There are two forms of stupidity: Clinical retardation which should not be referred to as stupidity because it is not true or polite; Display of willful or even blissful ignorance and/or indifference to the surrounding environment and/or inability to comprehend basic logic, such as the concept of gravity which society and economics rely on just as much as an apple growing from a tree does. I personally think the latter is the more horrific form of stupidity, especially when displayed by people we have no choice but/are supposed to trust.

- Insurgent

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By jashell, October 21, 2008 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment
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I really think you hit it on the head.  Our masters are indeed incompetent.  I also think your point about our institutions of higher learning failing us is spot on. 

To me, a core problem is how our leaders/managers are chosen.

What appears to be the main qualifications…

1. Resume from the right school and connections.
2. Ability to speak well in public. Bonus if Telegenic.
3. Ability to make money or the “appearance” of this ability.
4. Well above average self-preservation instinct.

It has always amazed me that 95% of people who get to the top of our large institutions are not exceptional in any way.

I actually believe that we have exceptional people who stand out from the rest. I celebrate those individuals - everything good in this world comes from them.  However, our method of identifying them within our institutions is deeply flawed.

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By diamond, October 21, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

Hedges is right about the virus but he underestimates the intelligence of those who have relentlessly spread it around for decades. These people are not stupid, if they were they would hever have been able to get into the University of Chicago which is where this particular virus began. Like an economic version of the plague it has been deliberately used to infect entire political systems all over the world. Particularly in Latin America but also in post-Soviet Russia before Putin and in England under Margaret Thatcher.

The people behind all this are not idiots, they only seem that way because what they do is so destructive but always remember it’s not destructive TO THEM. That’s the crux of the matter. They don’t rule for the common good but for a statistically tiny international clique of really rich and ruthless people. The same ones who ran a ten year campaign to destroy the Clintons, not because the Clintons were bad people but because they weren’t.  Like Obama they wanted to work for the common good. They immediately became the enemy. The only ray of hope in all of that was that the American voter re-elected Bill Clinton in spite of all the dirty campaigns they ran. That was when they decided they couldn’t trust the voters to choose the government any more and staged what was, in effect, a bloodless coup in 2000. They repeated the therapy in 2004.

To say they do not carry the entire blame is wrong. Consider their approach to deciding which Muslim country to invade for the purposes of creating a state of endless war so that they could impose their destructive and misguided laissez-faire economic policies on the electorate. According to Naomi Klein the names of several countries were in the mix: Iraq, Syria, Egypt and ‘Michael Ledeen’s preference, Iran’. One of their chief lackeys in the media, Thomas Friedman, claims he didn’t foresee the chaos and destruction that would result from a Middle East invasion. Yes, it seems like stupidity and would be, if he wasn’t lying. Friedman, like all of his kind, lies without a qualm. Of course they foresee the damage they do but Halliburton alone has made $20 billion out of the Iraq war and if someone’s getting rich then of course that makes it right. The failure is not of education or intelligence, in the end it’s a moral failure. A failure of imagination and fellow feeling. Oscar Wilde summed it up perfectly when he referred to people who ‘know the cost of everything and the value of nothing’. That’s what you’re dealing with when you consider the ruination of America’s social fabric,political system, its infrastructure, economy and moral standing in the world. You’re dealing with fanatics who think the law is for others. Nixon should have been jailed but wasn’t. This meant that only one head of a multi-headed monster was removed and some underlings went to jail. The result was that in 1976 when Gerald Ford was President, Henry Kissinger glided through the halls of power spreading his corruption with impunity, Dick Cheney was Ford’s Chief of Staff, Donald Rumsfeld was his Secretary of Defense and Kissinger’s Executive Assistant was ‘an ambitious young man named Paul Bremmer’. Thirty years later they decided to have a war and they called it the War on Terror. It’s not about stupidity, it’s about a fanatical free market ideology introduced and enforced by fear and deceit and the corruption of every public institution in America by clever, evil people who think the common man exists to fight their wars and pay taxes to finance them so the clever, evil ones can get extremely rich. It’s medieval monarchy by another name.

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By mill, October 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Hi, KDelphi

i’m a product of public schools - through my doctoral degree

all physicians are part of the elite, not just the best cardio-cutters

i agree that a few people in very important jobs screwed a lot of people with their greed, misinformation, confusion of self-interest with public interest

Mr. Bush is the most prominent of those imho, and he is not an elitist, in spite of his blue-blood heritage and educational exposure.  he is anti-intellectual and astonishingly uncurious about that which he manages as president

to rail against an entire category “elite” ... is just silliness ... and becomes dangerous when the Sarah Palins and the Mao Ze Tungs of the world decide they’re going to do something about those elites - Palin embodies ignorance and ridicules the well-informed.  Mao had the cultural revolution, which results in the deaths of some of the very best talents in China - who can fathom how that set back Chinese national interests?

I prefer CNN’s Anderson 360 approach ... identifying individuals who played very specific roles in screwing over the American economy and people ... without huffing and puffing about a whole class of talented people who help make this a better place to live ... those d-mned elitists y’know

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By AT, October 21, 2008 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Imbecile is more like it. Idiocy only denoted a temporary condition where due to bribery, one makes a bad decision. Imbecility is a congenital disorder that affected our leader Walker Bush since birth.

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By AT, October 21, 2008 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The reason we inherit all this mess is not just because our leader George Walker Bush and his fellow cohorts are just merely incompetent.. Walker Bush doesnt comprehend nor understand a subject in details (like the cost of tax`cut for example).Witness Tony Blair enagaged in a discussion of Lebanon with Walker Bush

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

cyrena—Once again, I dont think tha we disagree on much. I specifically said that I was NOT referring to any one person here. But, I do think that there is a “tinge” among “progressives” of being very “Imperialistic” about what education can do.

There are all kinds of intelligence, and , I’m sure you woudl agree. Most of it is uselful, as it was “placed” there by natural selection. But, it is, in general, only useful to the person possesing it , and his/her cohorts, unless it is combined with a sense of morality, compassion, decency, etc.

I just dont like it when people “educationally compete” when , the truth is, that formal education in this country is alot less open than the “everyone is equal here"people woudl like most people to believe.

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

FEN—LOL! I was trying to be sarcastic of course,. You know, IQ measures—“how well we take tests”?
Our middle class upbringing? We dont really know. Whether our parent were educated?

I dont know about Bill’s—I meant Hillary—hers is posted as 128. Kerry, Obama etc,. were all posted as in the high 120s.

IQ tests have alot more validity , when you look at the “extremes”. I mean , someone who scores above 135 or so, is almost certainly not “challenged”, as far as “IQ” goes., (This does not include emtotioanl intelligence, manual dexterity. etc.) Someone who scores say, 75 or below, is probably going to have problems. But, unless is it lower than 65, not necessarily. As Margaret Mead said, “When evolution decided that man needed a bigger brain, it wildly over shot the mark”. Intelligence is not necessarily highly correlated with happiness, nor is a lack of it necessarily correlated with unhappiness.

But, I can guaratee you that Hillary and I could take the test again (Stanford Binet? They use WISC alot more now, if they use the test at all)_—the military uses SB—and the latest results are not looking good, folks. But, of alot more concern, is the lowering of standards for violent felons.)

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By cyrena, October 21, 2008 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

KDelphi

“The facts are that fewer “born poor” and minority students make it to college, as make it to prison.”

We know this.


“...I am not denying the usefulnes of education—I just think that it is pointed to as a “solution for everything” in the uS, and, is often an excuse to say “well, he/she couldve done what I did”, when , of course , their life circumstances were different. What about people who are “not intelligent”? What have they done to desreve such scorn?”

In case it hasn’t come through in all of these miles of writing, I’ll reiterate what many here already understand…EDUCATION INCLUDES experience, and one does not gain such EDUCATION only in a school house. And, nobody is suggesting that.

We are also not suggesting that everyone who goes to college is ‘educated’ or even ‘intelligent’.

And, nobody is ‘scorning’ those who are *not* intelligent, unless you’re talking about the arrogant of the non-intelligent, who manage to attain positions of power that screw up the lives of so many others. I scorn them myself.

KDelphi, I know MANY intelligent people who have never been to college. And yes, we find MANY of them in prison. (at least here in the US, where one in every 10 adults is incarcerated).

The ULTRA intelligent can often find ways to educate themselves without any formal education. In fact, they usually do. It’s called making a way out of no way.

Yesterday, the BarackO kid came home from school with a gift. (except that he didn’t get it at school)
We have lots of rocks and stones around here. They are part of our natural gifts from MotherNatureHerself. The 6-year old had found (easily enough) a flat semi-oval shaped rock (smooth) and then a much smaller stone that was slightly more rounded. (like a small egg). He’d used to the small one to write on the larger flat one.

“I love you and me.” It was for our small little household. The ‘you’ was his mom, and me. He of course, was the ‘me’. That’s INTELLIGENT, and like I said, he didn’t get that ‘idea’ at school. Now he might have learned (in part) how to spell those words at school, and even how to form the letters. But, they use paper and pencil at school. He did the rock thing on his own.

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By Virginia777, October 21, 2008 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

(just kidding, but come on! lets get real, Chris Hedges)

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By Sam, October 21, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bill Clinton Agrees
Going very much against the media meme that the current financial crisis is all George W. Bush and the Republicans’ fault, Bill Clinton on Thursday told ABC’s Chris Cuomo that Democrats for years have been “resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was President to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsynspIqAoE

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By Sam, October 21, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Much as Bush-hating media members conveniently ignore historical events that led to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, their current finger-pointing at the White House, John McCain, and all Republican politicians for the collapse of the financial services industry lacks any honest assessment of decades-old legislation that laid the groundwork for today’s problems.

In particular, 1977’s Community Reinvestment Act which required banks and savings institutions to make loans to the lower-income areas in the communities they served.

Despite how integrally tied the current crisis is to this bill enacted by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by Jimmy Carter, no major media outlet other than Investor’s Business Daily and National Review Online mentioned it during last week’s market meltdown.

Going against the grain was a highly-informative editorial by IBD Thursday (emphasis added, h/t NBer Gary Hall, photo courtesy About.com):

To hear today’s Democrats, you’d think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.

These well-intended rules were supercharged in the early 1990s by President Clinton. Despite warnings from GOP members of Congress in 1992, Clinton pushed extensive changes to the rules requiring lenders to make questionable loans. [...]

Failure to comply meant your bank might not be allowed to expand lending, add new branches or merge with other companies. Banks were given a so-called “CRA rating” that graded how diverse their lending portfolio was. [...]

In the name of diversity, banks began making huge numbers of loans that they previously would not have. They opened branches in poor areas to lift their CRA ratings.

Meanwhile, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie the go-ahead to finance it all by buying loans from banks, then repackaging and securitizing them for resale on the open market.

That’s how the contagion began.

With those changes, the subprime market took off. From a mere $35 billion in loans in 1994, it soared to $1 trillion by 2008.

Readers are strongly encouraged to review this entire fact-filled piece to not only better understand the roots of today’s financial crisis, but also to get a sense as to just how absurd media accusations of this all being Bush and McCain’s fault are.

That said, from 1989 through 1995, I managed branches for two savings and loans: Imperial Savings, which got taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation during the S&L;bailout, and; Great Western Bank which eventually was purchased by Washington Mutual.

The pressure to comply with CRA was astounding, especially at Great Western as it was expanding throughout the country. Its ability to acquire other institutions was directly related to its CRA rating.

With this in mind, IBD’s views concerning this matter are spot on raising a very important question: if the role of news media is to inform the public, why does a LexisNexis search indicate that as this crisis came to a head last week, its connection to CRA, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton was almost completely ignored?

Would such a revelation make it difficult for Obama-loving press outlets to point fingers at George W. Bush and, more importantly, John McCain?

Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=306632135350949

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By Virginia777, October 21, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges, my adoration of you is being seriously challenged here!!

I am sorry that the American oligarchic class is finished. Too bad, they got what they deserved!

I remind you that this class was ALL white.

You are forgetting a very important element of this presidential race, and that is RACE.

There are people in this country who have had minimal rights - and not-all-that-long-ago (the 1960’s), very few rights at all! - and they are called African-Americans.

What do they care if the American oligarchic class is finished, good thing!!

Good thing for us all.

To say Obama is the same as John McCain is wrong!

He is most definitely not.

(you are seriously pissing me off here!)

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

FEN—I am not a “traditional psychologist” (I have an MS in Psych/Soc., and had a license for MSW—Social Work (civil service)for many years.

I did some group work, and, to be honest, I seriously considered your idea once. I was online a few years ago (I had to let it go for awhile, until my sister “bought it for me”)and thought that it would be good to have an online therpaist and group therapy. I was stil licensed at the time (insurance was to expensive to keep up, as well as continuing education), and, looked into it, but, if you are thinking of it in a “professional” sense (whatever that is) (vs. adn AA or informal group), the legal and/or moral ramifications could be horrible! lol

You know, you could mis-judge somone’s intentions, blah, blah. They could misinterpret yours. And, if someone seems to you to be “very dangerous”, you really have no way of contacting anyone about it You could remedy this with “prior” ID stuff, I guess. But I never followwed up on it.

I have “been on both sides of the desk” on this one, and I do not think that that is a “bad” thing.

But, I assume that you are talking about people like you and I—who are both obvviously as sane and sober as a pickle.

And, as far as just helping each other out—I think that it coudl be very useful and fill a need for people that cannot afford traditional therapy, or people who do not “need”/want it. (You can see that I am slightly “disillusioned” with traditional therapy, but I worked with segments that could not afford much of it—so that may be the main problem)

Until we have single payer…..

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By Louise, October 21, 2008 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

Living in denial. Something a very wise man said to me last night.

We were debating the reasons why so many still cheer for McCain. That percentage of voters who are stupid? Or maybe the small percentage who are just plain nuts. But “nuts” don’t vote. Most don’t even register. They bitch and moan, cheer on McCain, damn liberal commie bastards and love Rush, but ask them, “When was the last time you voted?” You might be surprised to hear, “I never vote, they’re all crooked bastards!”

So how does one explain the reality of where we are and where we’re going, and the McCain/Palin screamers? 

I look over at the smiling face of krystol and come back to that crazy thing. Only it’s a different kind of crazy. The crazy that votes. His brand of insanity belongs to that group Einstein identified. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Maybe that more closely defines our leadership than education.

In the case of political leadership in America, the completely insane are easy to identify, and they are very well educated!

So what is it?

I think my friend was right. I think America is and has been living in denial. And that can be very dangerous. That can lead to unjustified euphoria, or paranoia. That can lead to a conscious decision to not pay attention. That can explain why so many still, even with all the hoopla going on around them, never pay attention to the campaigns, only deciding when they get to the polls who to vote for.

There are as many excuses for this indifference and denial as there are people who exhibit it. One of my favorites is, “I’m to busy.” But I suspect that will change soon. I suspect all across this nation it’s changed already.

The man sitting at his desk choking back a sob, because he just had to lay off his entire staff. He just had to inform all the sub-contractors bidding on [or already awarded a job] that those projects will not happen. That hurts, because he knows that means hundreds of employees will be laid off. That means plumbers, carpenters, painters, engineers, architects and electricians, and the multitude of manufacturers and support staff needed to make that project happen, will not be getting the job they were counting on to carry them over this rough spot.

That man knows it isn’t a spot. It’s a huge spreading stain. He has been forced squarely into accepting denial wont carry the day. Not now. That man’s not stupid. He’s a victim.

And you can take that mans story and transfer it to the entire working base of this nation. From the manufacturer to the farmer to the car dealer to the hairdresser to the clerk in the store. When there is no money there is no work. It’s just that simple.

We need to be concerned that some of these folks, being caught up in their own world and not realizing what has happened, might make the mistake of believing McCain’s lies.

But then we have to take a close look at McCain and realize he doesn’t even understand what has happened! He is as out of touch with working for a living and dealing with people who do, as Bush is!

So he does the only thing he knows how to do. Call for more of the same. He may label it differently, but it comes down to exactly the same.

In McCain we have the perfect example of that insanity that keeps doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And to this point in time, McCain has not said or done one single thing to indicate, if he is president there will be any real difference.

He simply does not know how!

So maybe we have two problems. People who are educated but never had to actually work for a living. And people who are so buried in their work they haven’t paid attention.

And even now, we are all to many of us, still living in denial! I am the perfect example of that. I don’t know how I’ll pay my bills this month and here I sit typing, like that’s going to help! wink

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By Glen, October 21, 2008 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am afraid

It is not for myself;it is for those that will be alive to see the horror of civil war.

‘Brother against brother” This will be the worst kind of war. Both sides will feel just in it’s cause. The sincere belief that God is on their side will allow for wicked bloodshed.

If there is a second coming, this is the battleground.

They have been devieved into believing a false prophet. Thay took sides against the Church who wrote their book and have splintered the faithful into 100’s of dead branchs. They have swiftly removed our freedoms by the use of a common enemey. War feeds their coffers and fear keeps the drumbeat.

Self-rightous and sure they will lead us into the endtimes.

Upon this field of death we shall hope for the Lord to come and make right our souls.

I hate the hate I feel for the “reds” Love can only defeat hate. I pray I may be given the Grace to forgive our tormenters but for now I have hatred for the elite and the “shiny happy people” who allowed the past 8 years.

Peace be with you and your’s

Glen

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

The second one was supposed to be first.

It doesnt matter.

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By Gary Walker, October 21, 2008 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would also add the media to blame.  The media who has their own agenda to push.  No where in the main stream media do I see journalists exposing Obama for being in the pocket of Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae at the time McCain was on the floor of Congress begging members to support his legislation to rein in the lenders.  You wont hear it from Brokaw, Gibson, or the others who we depend on for information.  In the end, though, we have ourselves to blame for not educating ourselves, and for allowing those in Washington to determine our destiny.  Shame on us all.

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

TAO makes some good points, but, people seem to be being selective about what they “interpret”: some of his comments, on “individuality” and the “utter futility of looking inside the apparatus of containment for some means of getting free of it”.
Xntrk, you have some very good points, but, unfortunately , they are ones that generally tend to be brushed off by people who rely on education, any education, as long as it is standardized (no matter how indoctrinating it may be) almost to the exclusison of experience. (Anyone on this thread who thinks I am talking about them personally—is WRONG!) But, cyrena, I just have to say, that I do think that your “jab” at Seminary and Journalism school makes you sound a little self-righteous.
As Twain said
“I never let schooling get in the way of my education.”
Education is assumed to be the “great equalizer” in American life, making it a so-called “meritocracy”. The facts are that fewer “born poor” and minority students make it to college, as make it to prison…I am not denying the usefulnes of education—I just think that it is pointed to as a “solution for everything” in the uS, and, is often an excuse to say “well, he/she couldve done what I did”, when , of course , their life circumstances were different. What about people who are “not intelligent”? What have they done to desreve such scorn?
“The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.” (Twain)
There is also the throries of “multiple intelligence” http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm
Intelligence (whatever that is—IQ test measure something—but we are not all sure what—you really think thay I’m more “intelligent” than Obama, Clinton and Kerry? Cause that is what an IQ would say) ) and education are useless, without morality, compassion,and emotional intelligence. Education does not always import “skill” , either.

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By KDelphi, October 21, 2008 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Of course Hedges dosent cover all bases, and I dont agree with everything says. I think what Bush & Co have done was conscious to some of them some of the time. I do not think that any of these people are “stupid” , in the tradtional sense of the word.

It is not the case that a country must have a economic system that is either “capitalist” or “communist”. Nor a societal system of fascism or communism. But, choosing BOTH, differently applied to different classes—wil get you , well_ THIS. But lets say, we were only given the two, which would you pick? Who woudl you pick—Bush or Chavez? Quick now..

I do not understand the “Falwell beating up on socialism” analogy.

Hedges wrote the book , “American Fascists” in 2007. I think that it has occurred to him that the uS govt is approaching a new level of “fascism”. I have only heard a couple of people here touting voting for Nader.Given the two choices we have, I think that it is perfectly understandable.

Bush was not elected twice—I am not sure he was elected at all! Unless Kerry lost some other states he was reported to have won—BUSH DID NOT WIN IN 2004!~ There are some records on it, but Blackwell made sure that alot of evidence (and, btw, provisional ballots) were destroyed.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54512-2005Jan6.html

Congress Makes Reelection Official
Two Lawmakers Raise Objection To Ohio Balloting

By Charles Babington and Brian Faler
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, January 7, 2005; Page A04

Invoking rules that sometimes seem as quaint as quill pens, the House and Senate yesterday certified President Bush’s reelection despite a rare objection, which was intended to spotlight voting irregularities in Ohio and elsewhere….

...Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) interrupted the ritual roll call of each state’s “certificate of electoral votes” in a joint session of Congress, contending that Ohio’s results were not “regularly given.” The presiding officer, Vice President Cheney…”

And, it seems that the Green party tried alot harder then the Dems.:

“Earlier in the day, more than 100 protesters rallied in front of the White House to demand and, ultimately, celebrate Boxer’s decision to join Tubbs Jones in protesting the Ohio vote. They gathered in Lafayette Park, where speakers including Jesse L. Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb portrayed the November election as having been compromised by error and fraud, and demanded that the Senate do something about it….”

TAO makes some good points, but, people seem to be being selective about what they “interpret”: some of his comments, on “individuality” and the “utter futility of looking inside the apparatus of containment for some means of getting free of it”.

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By Folktruther, October 21, 2008 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Blue Eagle has stated the matter precisely, if unfortunately in a cyncial vein.  The Bushites have conducted a successful counter revolution in the US and locked in policies that fundamentally change the American power system. It is now disconnected from the American people.  Freedom and Democracy now refer to the American power structure’s ability to drive the American people into the ground.

The ruling Elite are not idiots: on the contrary people like Cheney and Rumsfield and Rove are very intelligent. But they are mentally diseased with power, identifying with power against the crucial interests of the people.  the historical problem is pathology, certainly not stupidity.  They are very clever.

Neither are the American people stupid, merely naive about power, which is at the margins of their attention.  Americans have been raised as little Dems or Gops and continue to identify with their heritage worldviews, as we do in religion.

But, in adddition,  we have been miseducated, misinformed and misentertained to identify with American power rather than identifying with the American people ruled by power. In addition, the power delusions of religious racism have been used to create power delusions, notably about Zionism, that diverts attention from American policy. 

The American people can’t accept the simple reality-based truth about the power process because it conflicts with American power delusions indoctrinated from childhood by the learned and mass media.  This is not the result of stupidity or ignorance, but of emotional denial. What is necessary to overcome it is not Education and Information, but de-education and de-information.  Because what we have and are being told by the American power struture is in crucial ways quite false.  And they tell us lies and instill this false counsciousness not because they are idiots, but because they seek to exploit and dominate us.

Hedges does not do the American people a service by atributing what is a major ideological problem to mistakes, ignrance and incompetence.

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By thewhitetiger, October 21, 2008 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama and the Dems in Congress did sell us out.  I don’t think Obama had any choice as an individual caught in the moment as he was.  To vote against it was political suicide.  To vote for it was mass murder. 

Obama in not quite the creature of the oligarchy that the piece suggests, but he is not outside it either.

The genius of his position and campaign is that it really has the capacity to respond from the bottom up.  So, if he wins and I will certainly be voting for him and very much regret that Hedges will not, the responsibility is on us to open the path before him and tell him that is where we want him to go.

The alternative, McCain/Palin, is true fascism.  I would not have thought McCain worse than Bush 10 months ago, but I now do.  He will destroy what is left of the country and when he dies, Palin will destroy the world.

The election is far from certain.  I call on Hedges and all like minded people to get their collective heads out of their collective ***** and vote for Obama, then work those same ***** off to move our country in the right direction.  It will be a lot of hard work, but we have no other choice.

Obama is not a fixed entity.  Neither are we as a group.  Things and people and groups can be molded. 

Bush is an idiot, even though it is no accident we have reached this point and his true aims are coming to fruition.  That doesn’t make him less of an idiot.  The aims, in and of themselves, are idiotic.

Deluding yourself that you will be happy in a world where you greed is unbridled is true idiocy.  Believing that the End Days are Upon Us, as the Christian fascists do, is true idiocy.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, October 21, 2008 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges point about being powerless is well taken. I remember what Margret Thatcher said: “there is no society, only families” ... a kind of summing up from the Tory, all the mean spirited notions put forward now by the likes of Sarah Palin.
A vote for Senator Obama is not much, but it MUST be done.

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By Alan, October 21, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In the grand sweep of history,
everything ends up ultimately
in the dust bin. (Just a paraphrase
of the Keynesian quip)

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By CrazyCracka420, October 21, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The fact that 60 million people don’t agree with REALITY (what Chris Hedges is preaching), doesn’t mean he’s not being accurate or his analysis isn’t correct, it means we are a nation of sheep.  Unable to think, only able to follow.

I totally agree we, the people, are the problem (we are the ones who put these idiots in power), but that doesn’t mean we can be the solution (look we put these retards in power, how can we, as a collective, suddenly do a 180 and stop being idiots?) Education is the only possible answer, and the education isn’t just book smarts, it’s the education to think with an open mind, which in today’s media and group think, the margin for people to open their minds, is getting smaller and smaller. 

I don’t know what the answer is (well I do, but it’s not possible to get 60 million people to suddenly say “What the f*ck was I thinking, these people don’t represent me”), but the solution isn’t going to come from the problem, I can tell you that much.

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By Kwaayesnama, October 21, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

What this nation needs at this time is two intelligent people to get us out of the predicament we are in. I will gladly vote for two intelligent men. I feel sorry for you if you think the answer to the worst economy since the great depression is the two morons GOP has chosen to save this nation. Intellect should count for something. We have a man at the top of the ticket that was in the bottom of his class intellectually. And the person that would be 1/2 a breath away from the presidency attended 5 colleges before she was able to pull together enough credits to receive her diploma from the University of Idaho. They might have a piece of paper, but do they have the intelligence to lead this nation in the hard times ahead? I don’t belive so. But what else is new we elected a moron to lead the United States of America and look where it brought us. Sarah Palin would be ½ a breath away form having her finger on the nuclear button. Do you trust her with your life and the lives of your children and grandchildren? I don’t! I’m sorry you can’t take a crash course in intellect. That is why this Christian, white, Republican, woman will be voting for Barack Obama.

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By mud, October 21, 2008 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

“Personally, I think the “Bush” gang have achieved everything they set out to do eight years ago.” BlueEagle.

Personally, I think you are spot on in your observation. And it is frustrating that the writer of this article is still barking up the wrong tree.

If raiding America’s riches, trampling on states rights and individual rights and using the United States Constitution for toilet paper were the real goals of this administration, it has certainly been the most successful administration in history.

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By the national gadfly, October 21, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

The author is right on target.  The dark ages are upon us again, if we allow theocrats, thieves and oligarchs to rule unchecked and unquestioned.  Violence is not necessary, but change most certainly is.

- gadfly

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By the-real-truth, October 21, 2008 at 7:05 am Link to this comment

Oh my. How gullible and naïve you really are. Here is a life lesson for you:

Aristocrats control the country. Obama represents the Democrat Aristocrats and McCain, the Republican Aristocrats. They might tell you that they are for the “common man” but that would be a lie. To be for the “common man” would mean that they are against the Aristocrat but that is simply not the case because the Aristocrats are the ones bank rolling their election.

Obama and McCain’s only purpose going forward is to protect those that elected them. Meaning, they will continue to protect the wealth of the Aristocrat.

Stop with the Obama mythology already. He is one of them, not one of us.

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By DBX, October 21, 2008 at 5:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Chris Horton—there IS a change underway in the economics field.  The Milton Friedman gang is all about “rational choice”, which they have rationalized down to being purely about money motivation.

The retinue of economists with which Obama has surrounded himself doesn’t buy into this.  They are “behavioralist” economists.  In other words, people who have read their Polanyi and know that social ties to one another are often more important than the chimera of the “market.”  Hence Obama proposing the most progressive reform to the tax structure since the Second World War; hence Obama offering a major public works program (in the form of his “green energy” job-creation scheme).

This is a hugely important development.  The question is, how effective will it be at taking on the levers of power in Washington, where rat choice still stands tall?

The biggest danger to an Obama administration is not his own education and background as Hedges alleges, it is the backward looking, machine-dominated Democratic leadership in Congress.  Without realizing this distinction, Hedges’ argument is useless.  Pelosi and Reid are still very much of the old school.  If Obama can take advantage of their inherent timidity that’s one thing, but if they use their inherent timidity against Obama’s policies, then we’re in serious trouble.

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By jeff, October 21, 2008 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Isn’t the 21st century going to be interesting.

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