Saturday, August 22, 2009

Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Bail?
You betcha!

We are constantly being assailed, from all sides; the for profit media, government spokespersons, the talking heads on radio, TV and the inter-tubes, that there are companies and concerns that are “too big to fail”. They are “too big to fail” because, should they collapse, the economic reverberations would be too dire to contemplate. Therefore, due to their economic and political size, if they are in danger of failing it is incumbent upon the government (i.e., the taxpayers) to bail them out.

There is an excellent article today by Dave Lindorff, “Whatever Happened to Antitrust?”. He points out very clearly how much of the problems that the economy is now experiencing comes from the relaxation and non-enforcement of many of the antitrust laws. Many of these antitrust laws date back to the Theodore Roosevelt and Taft administrations. Unfortunately, this relaxation and non-enforcement of these antitrust rules cannot solely be laid at the feet of Bush the Lesser. It was during the Clinton administration that a premier anti-trust agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission, was abolished in 1995.

Additionally, IMHO, the entire concept of “too big to fail” is perverted and largely an aspect of the “American way of life”. The entire idea of “mass production” has morphed into unsupportable gigantism. Gigantism, by definition, “ a condition characterized by excessive growth...” (emphasis added). Certainly, mass production has led to lowering of price and increase of availability of most commodities. However, this very lowering of price and increase in availability has led to overproduction. For example, were we to produce fewer automobiles the prices of cars would go up. However, that would in turn mean that vehicles would be kept longer, maintained better and people would, of necessity, place a higher value on the vehicles they have. People would, in turn, stop thinking of cars as disposable commodities, hence slowing the rate of cars being junked.

Ah, I hear you say, “But! That would mean a slow down in growth! Our economy would crash!” Well, yes, the consumerist version of our economy would crash...and more the better! A great deal of our economic problems come from that self same consumerist economy. As we have become ever more a “throw away” culture, we have amped up the use of natural resources. As it is, the U.S. has only about 4% of the world's population yet we use about 25% of the world's resources! This while, all during the Cold War, we went about the world selling the “American way of life”. Now, that China and India are becoming more wealthy and aspire to the “American way of life”, one can readily see that that situation is insupportable. Were the rest of the world to adopt the “American way of life” at this moment, it would require 4 more Earths to supply the current world population! There are no other Earths out there to provide those resources. There are two and only two possible ways out of this predicament. Either the Earth's population, ourselves included, will have to drastically cut back on their consumption or drastically cut back on the world's population. Yes, neither is a very palatable choice but, that's what we are stuck with. We must go back to a time before Edward Bernays and his heirs and their public relations forced America (and the rest of the world) into our present consumerist culture, back to a pre-consumerist world. A world where a citizen's worth was not measured by their consumption. A world where one didn't discard perfectly good items simply to get the “latest and greatest” gadget to replace it. A world where items were economically reparable and where you didn't have to discard an otherwise operable item for lack of a replacement gear. Frugality is still a virtue.

Also, if we were to slow “economic growth” and bring back the idea of frugality and repairability, there would be a growth in the real economy, i.e., local appliance repair shops, local repair facilities of all kinds. Slowing “growth” is not a bad idea. Cutting back on consumption is a good idea. Promoting population control, worldwide, is a good idea. A modicum of sanity by politicians and polities would be a good idea. I fear it won't happen until material circumstances force it upon us.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Beware what you decide to believe in...

Perhaps now, with the ginned up, phony “outrage” (in many cases, paid for and subsidized by the mega corporations of the health care combine), people may understand where this commentary is coming from. Let me take, as an example, such as Rachel Maddow, who in general I highly praise and like.

OK Rachel, like many, many media types (but, especially liberals) was in full throated support of the “Iranian Twitter© Revolution”. This is understandable, Iran has a repressive, theocratic regime which, among other things, suppresses womens' rights and those of other despised minorities such as the GLBT community. So Rachel, as many other commentators, loudly applauded and supported the ongoing protests in Iran that have been Twittered and Facebooked and MySpaced around the planet. However, is Rachel aware that the mechanism used to unseat Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953 was this self same one? Are Rachel and the myriad other commentators who have loudly and strongly backed the Iranian “revolution” aware that the current demonstrations follow, almost exactly, the game plan enacted by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. (Teddy Roosevelt's grandson) in Iran in 1953? The plot that Kermit and his CIA cronies used was to stage massive street protests (riots) by segments of Iranian society disaffected by Mossaddeq's reforms. There are now (and always will be) segments of society that are disaffected. If any confirmation of this is needed, one need only reflect on the fact that, even at its nadir, G.W. Bush and his (mal)administration garnered over 20% (>60,000,000) approval ratings. If even a sizable portion of those 60,000,000+ people had turned out in street demonstrations and those were reported as the demonstrations in Iran were reported, an outside observer, with little or no knowledge of the internal situation in the U.S. at the time, might well reason that the majority of Americans actually supported G.W. Bush, Darth Cheney and their policies. They would be sadly mistaken but that would, nonetheless, be their takeaway of such demonstrations and reporting.

Another variant of this kind of flawed reasoning is displayed by many, many commentators who loudly lauded the various “color” revolutions in Yugoslavia and the post-Soviet sphere. Even such luminaries as Thom Hartmann have repeatedly lauded and noted with approval those manufactured “revolutions”, again, being wholly and abysmally ignorant of the situation on the ground. Caught up and washed over by the “news” coverage of the For Profit Media, Hartmann and others huzzahed these “revolutions” as honest reflections of the “will of the people”. What is often omitted from his and other commentators' evaluations is the fact that the “revolution” in Yugoslavia as well as the myriad “color revolutions” is the fact that they were ALL covertly (and, sometimes, not so covertly) supported, organized and funded by either the U.S. government outright or through various NGOs (“non-governmental organizations”) such as the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, to name just two. What is often forgotten is that both of these NGOs were founded under the Reagan administration, primarily to take over various formerly CIA functions such as encouraging and facilitating “regime change”. It should also be noted that the Soros Foundation also has had a hand in the Yugoslavian and other “color revolutions”. The IRI, NDI and Soros Foundations were all instrumental in establishing, organizing and funding all of these various color “revolutions”.

As was the case in the Venezuelan “overthrow” of Hugo Chavez, there certainly was a resentful core to the opposition to him. What was hardly ever accentuated in the U.S. press, this opposition was, primarily, the upper middle and upper classes who had been forced by Chavez to relinquish a tiny bit of their choke hold over the economy to the wider society. Much as was the situation in Cuba in regards to Castro, much as is the situation in Honduras with President Manuel Zelaya. Certainly, those who stand to lose power, money or position in a society are going to be upset, that goes without saying.

Again, if some outside observer, ignorant of the true dynamics on the ground, were simply to judge on the basis of “news” reports, they would have to conclude that the majority of Americans fervently and vehemently detest the very idea of change in the health care system and its delivery...and they would be very wrong!

So, this warning applies to all who rush to judgment with but a minimal, partial and/or media generated opinion, “Beware what you decide to believe!”
Byzantine Blog