Thursday, January 03, 2013

Some conspiracies are open

There's an old saying among hermeticists: Telling someone a truth he isn't ready to hear is worse than lying. I hope that adage has it wrong.

In this column, Dean Baker tells the American people some basic facts which many will find unwelcome. He explains why the nation has become obsessed with fixing the debt -- which is obviously a serious problem -- at a time when we should concentrate on restoring prosperity.

Yes, there's a plot afoot, a plot to mislead the people. A not-very-secret group has been fixing the terms of our debate. But you'll never hear our nation's numerous conspiracy buffs (most of whom are Libertarians) talk about this network...
The Campaign to Fix the Debt, a nonpartisan organization involving many of the country's richest and most powerful CEOs, sets out to do just that. It has become standard practice in Washington for Wall Street types and other wealthy interests to finance groups to push their agenda.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt involves the CEOs themselves directly stepping up to the plate and pushing the case for cutting Social Security and Medicare as well as lowering the corporate income tax rate.

It's clear what's going on here. We don't need any conspiracy theories.
CEOs from both political parties have openly come together to demand cuts in Social Security and Medicare, two programs that enjoy massive political support across the political spectrum. The wealthy are joining hands without regard to political affiliation to cut benefits that enjoy broad bipartisan support among everyone who is not rich.

President Barack Obama has an opportunity to show real leadership. He should explain to the public the basic facts that all budget experts know: We do not have a chronic deficit problem. The big deficits are the result of collapsed economy.
The Libertarians want us to believe that lowered (or eradicated) taxes on the "job creators" will create more investment and more jobs. That's a lie.
In fact, if anything, investment is surprisingly strong given the large amount of excess capacity in the economy. Measured as a share of GDP, investment in equipment and software is almost back to its prerecession level.
What isn't back to prerecssion level is consumer demand. That can be created by making sure less money goes into the Lichtenstein and Cayman Island bank accounts of the super-wealthy. We need to put the money directly into the pockets of working Americans, through the creation of jobs programs.

Here's the part Baker doesn't tell you -- the part that I have a hard time admitting to myself.

One could argue that Mitt Romney might have more easily found a path toward that very goal, a path unavailable to Barack Obama. During election season, Romney sounded all the familiar alarms about the deplorable state of the American military and the need to invest more heavily in Defense. All of those alarms were nonsense, of course. We're armed to the teeth -- hell, we're armed to the tonsils. Clearly, Romney hoped to use military Keynesianism as a jobs creation engine.

Of course, Romney (like Dubya) would have run that engine on borrowed money, not increased revenues. Republicans are allowed to do things like that.

Or is that still the case...? When Dick Cheney said "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he spoke before the advent of the Tea Party. I'm convinced that our ruling elite now includes a number of people who don't particularly care if American prosperity ever returns, even by way of a new arms build-up.

But that thought really does take us into the regions of conspiracy theory.
Comments:
We don't need to pull the tinfoil hats out of the closet to realize the propaganda machine is in full tilt. Yesterday the frigging NY Times ran an article on the rousing success of. . . Latvia. Then went on to cheer the nobility of sacrifice and suffering.

Latvia with a 5-10% emigration rate, 14-17% unemployment and 30+% extreme poverty number is touted as the gold-standard of austerity schemes and neoliberal economic policy. You can't make this stuff up. And this is what passes for journalism.

NY Times' article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/europe/used-to-hardship-latvia-accepts-austerity-and-its-pain-eases.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Yves Smith has an excellent response at Naked Capitalism.

One need only listen to the talking heads [if you can bear it] to see how the meme of 'shared sacrifice' is making the rounds, all the Chicken Little themes being reinforced ad infinitum.

To quote a classic Charles Pierce line:

"F**k the deficit. People got no jobs. People got no money."

Tomorrow, I understand the job numbers will be celebrated--the upswing reported in glowing terms. The real question will be quantity vs quality. Full time jobs, livable wages?

I suspect not. We're being led to slaughter.

Peggysue
 
I recently discovered that the text of Pentagon whistleblower Ernest Fitzgerald's 1989 classic Pentagonists is online. If it's a conspiracy, They are playing the long game.

"As of this writing [1989], government actuaries estimate that Social Security surpluses will, unless there is an economic collapse, rise to the trillions before the inevitable downward trend when the Baby Boom generation begins to retire in the 2010s. The constant danger, of course, is that an administration faced with the hungry demands of the Pentagon will begin reneging on the deal with the old folks."

http://www.naderlibrary.com/lit.pentagonists.17.htm
 
Social Security is the last depository of easily accessible capital waiting for the Capitalists to swindle it into their private bank accounts. If George W. Bush and the Republican Congress had succeeded in 2005 of "privatizing" Social Security. $2.5 Trillion would have vanished in 2007 and 2008. Gone just like the equity in your homes and the pensions invested in Goldman Sachs.

The Rich want! That! Fucking! Money!

And they will do whatever they have to, to get it.
 
The propaganda never stops. Yesterday the NY times ran an article stating that the primary problem in the US is that outdated old constitution. It didn't mention unnecessary wars, wasting hundreds of billions every year on pentagon toys that don't work, turning the country into a police state with an army of perverts employed at airports, or allowing multi-billion dollar corporations to get away with paying little or no taxes for years. It also didn't mention throwing away trillions to pay off the gambling debts of wall street's high rollers or sending more trillions to prop up banks in Europe. The Federal Reserve has got your back, if you're a billionaire banker. Our great-grandchildren are expected to pay interest on the "money" that the Fed has given away.

If we just weren't burdened with a constitution, we wouldn't have nearly 50 million people living on food stamps and only 63% of the labor force employed. And that includes part-timers and people on minimum wage.
p.s. Krugman is an idiot and a shill for the status quo. If the government's spending more than they take in is the key to prosperity, why is the whole country broke?
 
Perhaps the collapsed economy was the plan, or at least an inevitable feature of the deliberate financial choices made some decades ago.

At the minimum, we can confidently say it was precipitated by a titanic financial fraud, echoing many prequels.

More maximally, we may remember, so as to rehabilitate, the hoary and allegedly discredited tomes of Engels and Marx, which averred the dominant economic system was doomed to self-destruction from its own internal contradictions.

Whether it's the crisis of falling profit margins, or the predatory parasitic results of the debt money system, or the enormities wrought from their misbegotten miscegenation, may not exactly matter.

Of graver note, the alleged social construct savior arising from their prior brinksmanships-- the social welfare state-- appears unequal to the task, as the 'democratic West' lies prostrate on the ground.

We need a new politics and a new economic paradigm. Fascism raises its hand to volunteer. One hopes another hand will be raised as well.

XI
 
Do you really mean "hermeticists" or hermeneuticists? Hermeticists are devotees of an ancient religion based on Hermes. Hermeneutics is the study of language and meaning.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Corby -- technically, hermeticists are people interested in a set of writings attributed to the mythical Hermes Trismegistus. In practice, the term is applied to anyone who studies Western esoterica or mysticism.

On occasion, I will allow myself a certain looseness of definition.
 
Another report from the propaganda front: NPR was selling the payroll tax cut scheme. With one passing mention that this was how social security's funded, and that the cut was meant to be a holiday not a permanent cut, they went on and on about how some struggling families grew used to it and how this "tax hike" was affecting them. They sawed the hell out of the violin strings while interviewing some couple whose wife may have to go back to work because of this "hike." Most irritating of all was how they butchered basic English grammar while making the pitch for how hard this "tax hike" was going to be "for he(sic) and his wife."

 
Can someone remind the morons at Rigorous Intuition that not all conspiracies are Gubbamint conspiracies. The crypto-nazis over at RI have 30 plus pages of bullshit on the Sandy Hook shooting..everything from "Blackopz", mushy links to Laura Knight J.(whose husband from Poland came over to the USA to work for Darpa BTW), and links to all of those jokers at VeteransToday.com.

There is a guy over at RI named divideAndConquer who just made a bullshit post over there blaming the Gubbmanints for the Sandy Hook shooting.

Do these idiots ever consider the possibility the Gubbamints is being destabilized on purpose by these events by people that don't like the Gubbamint? Probably not, because RI is full of those same idiots and a handful of Gatekeepers cleverly minding the these grey wolves masquerading as sheep over there.
 
A society based on profit-making can't last forever. There ain't really no shared comparative advantage in exploitation.

Many people reading this will know the Rockefeller and Shoeshine Boy story. Let's say fuck the media's five-minutism, and avoid imagining we're managers telling the team what to do in the interval, or expert commentators, and take a longer view.

Consumerism is very very closely bound up with debt.

The whole historical epoch from the 1930s to now has been a Shoeshine Boy period.

In principle I share this blog's support for non-military Keynesianism and job creation schemes, but it isn't going to happen.

From the point of view of the ruling class (and who else's point of view assumes the necessary continued existence of wage-labour and capitalism?), there's massive over-employment (take a look in any office block), and it's time for a MASSIVE CULL OF THE LOWER ORDERS. Hello Malthus.

Hoard food!
 
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