Friday, October 23, 2009

Frontline Episode Shows How Neoliberals Enabled Economic Collapse

Frontline's latest episode called "The Warning" presents information on the history of over-the-counter credit derivatives and Brooksley Born, the head of the CFTC who cautioned that these unregulated financial instruments (over-the-counter derivatives) created a major risk for the economic markets. According to the Frontline sources, Alan Greenspan reportedly said he did not favor prosecution of fraud in this market that grew to $596 Trillion in derivatives. When Born decided to prosecute anyway, she was marginalized by FED Chairman Greenspan and Clinton Treasury officials Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. The episode also notes that Timothy Geitner, now the US Treasury Secretary, was also part of the male-dominated neoliberal contingent.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Banks Continue Assault on Working Class

The working class continues to be assaulted on several fronts. While many of its sons and daughters are pawns in the economic draft for US imperialism, working class people have also faced a chronic economic malaise. Law professor Elizabeth Warren notes, the middle-class have been hollowed out:

"So you've got, effectively, flat income in this time period with rising core expenses; housing; health insurance; child care; transportation, now that it takes two cars to get everywhere, two jobs to support; and taxes, because you've got two people in the workforce and we have a somewhat progressive taxation system. So that families are spending a lot more on what you describe as the basic nut."1

As Warren notes, the neo-liberal elite have been bailed out while the working class face greater vulnerability. As my time line indicates, this war on the working class has been systemic and lengthy. Sometimes the injuries are from a thousand cuts, such as the recent plan of Bank of America and Citigroup to begin charging annual fees to customers who pay off their credit card balances each month.2



Sunday, October 11, 2009

US Empire Engaged in Murder Suicide

The US continues to occupy Afghanistan, with no exit strategy and no final objective. Historians note that the area is littered with the remains of the Macedonian, Mogul, British and Soviet empires who suffered great losses in their occupations. MSNBC reports that a significant majority of the warriors are not "Taliban", but a variety of recruits from the area and elsewhere (Chechnya, North Africa, Pakistan) sympathetic to the cause of pushing out the US Empire.1

In the meantime, US and NATO occupying soldiers are caught in the dilemma of killing civilians or facing death themselves as they help support corrupt governments there and in the US. To make matters worse, the US occupation exists between India and Pakistan, two nuclear rivals.3

According to former NATO Commander General Dan McNeill, 400,000 troops would be necessary to control Afghanistan. Others estimate that a much larger force, perhaps 660,000 troops, would be needed to secure the area.2 Currently there are about 100,000 US and NATO soldiers there and the Afghan military consists of about 190,000 soldiers. Canada plans on removing its 7500 troops by 2011.4


Saturday, October 10, 2009

From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

Rep Marcy Kaptur Urges Working-Class People to Stay in their Homes

Is non-violent resistance necessary to enable democracy in the US? Bill Moyers interviews Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur, a brave woman who has told her constituents to squat in their foreclosed homes. Banks such as Wells Fargo, BOA, and JP Morgan Chase continue to prey on working-class people as the housing crisis continues. In the Moyers interview, Rep Kaptur also says that Tim Geitner and Larry Summers are incapable of creating the changes necessary to fix the system and that President Obama needs to replace these shills for the banking industry.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Elites' Solution for Working-Class Medical Care: Don't Get Sick

US Congressman Alan Grayson has apologized to the 45,000 or so Americans and their families who die prematurely due to lack of medical care. It appears that the US will continue to be perhaps the worst post-industrial nation in terms of health care--and yet the most expensive. The biggest winner in this neoliberal lottery appears to be the insurance companies, who either maintain the status quo of overcharging and rescission or profit from an additional 30 to 40 million customers if the health care bill passes.

Friday, October 2, 2009

US Police Use Sound Cannons to Silence Democratic Protests

Police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania assaulted protesters with sound cannons during the latest G-20 meeting.* This was the first time that the weapons have been used against US civilians. According to Democracy Now, the weapon, known as a Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) is manufactured by American Technology Corporation of San Diego. The device was used at 144 decibels which has as much sound pressure as an improvised explosive device. Quoting the Washington Times, Amy Goodman added:

“With the help of Homeland Security grants, police departments nationwide looking to subdue unruly crowds and political protesters are purchasing a high-tech device originally used by the military to repel battlefield insurgents and Somali pirates with piercing noise."

*Please see the 12-30-08 entry on US military preparation to use force against domestic resistance.