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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anti-OWS propaganda and the myth of austerity

We now have an entire website devoted to anti-OWS propaganda. And a very professional job it is, too -- yet, oddly, the folks behind it offer no clues to their identity. Instead, we read this:
The mainstream media’s obsession with the leftist movement in America is preventing them from objectively reporting on the facts surrounding the ‘occupy’ movement. Most Americans who rely solely upon the mainstream media for their news have no idea of what is actually taking place and why.

Our goal is to educate the public on the real facts behind the OWS movement by reporting stories most people won’t likely see or hear from the mainstream media. It is our hope that this information will help people form a more honest perspective on the ‘occupiers,’ many who are seeking to destroy the American way of life.
Ah, yes. We all know how obsessive the mainstream media are in reporting "the leftist movement in America." In 2003, as you no doubt recall, our cable news shows were just filled with commentators protesting the invasion of Iraq. Throughout the entire run of Ted Koppel's Nightline, they actually allowed Noam Chomsky on camera...what was it, twice? Obsessive indeed!

At the moment, the lead story on OWS Exposed concerns Caitlin Curran of NPR, who was fired from her job because she held up a sign during a protest. What makes this act of brazen bias both despicable and conspiratorial is the fact that her talk show is... by Public Radio International and WNYC Radio in New York, and supported in part by the taxpayers through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Of course, the same may be said of William F. Buckley's program, which ran for decades. Not to mention Wall Street Week. In fact, it can be (and has been) argued that NPR is more conservative than FOX News. The "radical" label fits Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter a hell of a lot better than it fits Garrison Keillor.

Caitlin Curran shared hosting duties on NPR's The Takeaway. If you think this is Marxist propaganda, you're a freak.

Incidentally, I like the sign she brandished (to your left), even if it is a bit wordy. (What, no footnotes?) You won't see many teabaggers display similar erudition.

That sign hardly strikes me as a threat to the Republic. In fact, the refusal of media figures to deliver that message has posed a very serious threat indeed. As Skydancing points out:
The time to worry about the thieving was before the crash. While it was going on. Then it would have been possible to stop it without crashing the economy.
Back to OWS Exposed: I can't help but be amused by the suggestion that the protesters seek to "destroy the American way of life." According to a recent poll, only four percent of the OWS protesters support a radical redistribution of wealth, while five percent support Rick Perry's inane flat tax proposal.

"I am the 4%!" Although I am not an OWS-er, you can count me among the four percenters: Radical redistribution of the wealth created the post-war middle class in America. From Joshua Holland's The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy:
In 1928, just before the Great Depression, the top 10 percent of the population controlled 49.3 percent of the nation’s income, leaving nine out of ten Americans to share the other half. By 1953, the bottom nine-tenths shared 67.7 percent of the economic pie. It was an economic sea change.
From Ha-Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism:
In short, since the 1980s, we have given the rich a bigger slice of our pie in the belief that they would create more wealth, making the pie bigger than otherwise possible in the long run. The rich got the bigger slice of the pie all right, but they have actually reduced the pace at which the pie is growing.
Austerity: Paul Krugman received much attention for this post about how Iceland fared well by ignoring the neoliberals who demanded austerity.
The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.

This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.

Some economists weren’t convinced. One caustic critic referred to claims about the expansionary effects of austerity as amounting to belief in the “confidence fairy.” O.K., that was me.
Skydancing, cited earlier, offers her ideas as to why austerity has become our national watchword:
The other unspoken, non-rational motivation is the equally simple one that austerity for thee but not for me is a great way for the rich to get richer. That, too, may be unmentionable, but it is not mysterious.

The point is this. Once the emotional roots of a non-rational stand are recognized, there’s a chance one could deal with it. It’s only a chance, but without that understanding, there’s none at all. Understanding allows us to start fighting the right battles instead of the distractions.

For instance, bankers are professionals, so they hang an economic story around their outrage. They come up with theoretical underpinnings for why austerity is such a good idea. None of those pins stays in place when examined, but they don’t care. And that is the hallmark of acting on feelings, just like an ordinary human being.
I'm going to offer a more radical theory. What follows may annoy those who insist on a scrupulous adherence to Godwin's Law, but I don't give a damn.

Austerity was Weimar Germany's response to the Depression. Bruening, von Papen and Schleicher offered strictly libertarian (or, to use then-current terminology, classical) economic responses to the crisis. The German people, on the other hand, had come to appreciate the successful social welfare programs grudgingly granted to them by Bismarck, and they became infuriated by the removal of those measures. The failure of Germany's austerity program gave Hitler his chance to seize power. Austerity made extremism thinkable.

No, I'm not screaming "The Nazis are coming!" Rather, I'm making the same point that Naomi Klein made in The Shock Doctrine: If you're an ideologue, and if you want to restructure a society in a radical new fashion, you must hit people so hard they can't think straight. You need as much general misery as possible.

Austerity is the misery-producer par excellence. Austerity never created a job. Austerity did not create the great American middle class. I believe that the apostles of austerity know this history very well. These people want a crisis.
One way to debunk the OWS as commies theory is to point out that during the Eisenhower administration tax rates on the rich were at an all time high.

Are Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage accusing him of being a closet Marxist?
There were two austerity posts up yesterday and one was by me, however, the one you quoted was from Quixote! So, Quixote deserves the credit for all those wonderful thoughts!

I apologize, Kat. I changed the reference to just "Skydancing" so readers will (I hope) read both posts.
Methinks your issue with OWS Exposed is that when the harsh spotlight shines on and aggregates the collective behavior of "the 99%", their behavior diminishes and drowns out their goals.

And it might lead people to actually see that OWS is every bad thing that the Tea Party gatherings were accused of but never were.
Oh, j. You're cute. So you're saying the OWSers are libertarians? Because in my book, that's the worst descriptor in the language.

But every time I criticized the baggers, I signed my name to my words.
Nope, Never said that...don't even know how you even inferred that. My only point is that the Tea Party was demonized by you and the left for it violence and "violent rhetoric".
However, when compared to OWS, it is pretty simple to see in which camp demonstrates, by word and action, the preponderance of violence and violent rhetoric.
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