Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Contempt For Rove, Contempt for Wall Street and Contempt for the Shock Doctrine

So there is no gas for the second day in a row in all of Western North Carolina. Apparently people are convinced the sky is falling. And as the Shock Doctrine kicks into full gear, with Paulson rigging the first stage for either McCain's far worse debt explosion, economic apartheid and privatizing of Social Security or Obama's neoliberal, neo-Clintonian, Robert Rubin trickle-down-light, Karl Rove gets a free pass to rig the D.O.J. and escape with more immunity than has ever been granted anyone in his position in the history of America. Unless Congress votes to hold him in contempt before they adjourn at the end of this week.

After pointlessly signing the above, well worth listening to Naomi Klein on Democracy Now:
I’m also arguing that this is only stage one of the shock doctrine. They’re getting this—they’re lobbying for this huge bailout, obviously, but this bailout is a kind of a time bomb, because it’s all these bad debts, and they are going to explode on the next administration. I mean, we know that the Bush administration has already left the next administration with huge debt and deficit problems. They’ve just exploded those, expanded them. And what that means is that whoever the next president is is going to be inheriting this economic crisis that is being exacerbated by this bailout.

So, in the case of McCain, I think—if he’s the president, then I think we know what he’ll do, because we know he wants to privatize Social Security, which is something that Wall Street’s been wanting for a long time, another bubble. We know he has said in the next—in the first 100 days of his administration he’ll look at every program and either reform it or shut it down. This is really a recipe for economic shock therapy. So, while you have all of these trivial issues being discussed in the election season, I think what we could—what we’re really—you know, under the surface, they’re actually being quite clear. They’re going to take—if they take power, it will be in the midst of an economic emergency. They’ll invoke that emergency to push through very, very radical changes. So, you know, what I’ve been saying is, this is not four more years of Bush; it’s much, much worse in the case of another Republican administration.

But there’s huge problems for Democrats, as well, if they win this election, because, you know, we need to only think back to the situation in which Clinton took power, where he ran an election on an economic populist platform, promising to renegotiate NAFTA. Then there was an economic crisis. Clinton came under intense lobbying by people like Robert Rubin, who’s also advising Obama right now, and by the time he took office, he had embraced economic austerity.

So, people need to understand these tactics, need to put pressure on the candidates, the parties, and reject this tactic. And I’ve actually been really heartened, Amy, that people are onto these shock tactics and aren’t falling for it. And, you know, to the extent that we’re seeing a little bit of spine from the Democrats, it is only, as Chris Dodd said, because they are hearing it from their constituents. So people need to keep up this pressure right now.

there is pressure being put on Congress from Democrats who—you know, we’ve heard the proposals to cap executive pay and to have a moratorium on foreclosures. It’s coming not from all Democrats, but from some. But there’s something going on on the Republican side, where you have people like Newt Gingrich, and you also have the Republican Study Committee, which is a group of very influential Republican lawmakers who are saying that they’re opposed to the bailout, and they also have their wish list. And I think it is that it’s not that they’re going to oppose a bailout completely; it’s that they want economic changes, right-wing, pro-corporate economic changes, attached to a bailout. So, Newt Gingrich has his list. He’s got eighteen demands. But I think even more important than that is the Republican Study Committee, and I raise this because they’ve just issued their ransom list. It starts with suspending the capital gains tax, privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suspending mark-to-market accounting, which is the rule that requires companies to assess their assets at current market values.

So, what’s so stunning about this, Amy, is that here you have a crisis that everyone seems to agree is borne of deregulation, and they’re actually calling for more deregulation. We have a situation where the debt is exploding on American taxpayers, and they want to suspend corporate profits—sorry, corporate taxes, which is actually what might defray some of those costs from regular taxpayers. So it’s an incredible display of opportunism. And this is what I mean by stage two of the shock doctrine. The first stage is just the bailout, but the second stage are all of these radical reforms that are going to be invoked in the name of the crisis that the bailout is creating, whether it’s pushed through right now or whether it’s pushed through later.

But what’s important—you know, Amy, in the book, I talk about—I start the book with a quote from Milton Friedman that has really made the rounds a lot lately, which is that—and this is a Friedman quote—that “only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change. And when the crisis occurs, the change depends on the ideas that are lying around." And then he goes on to say, “That, I believe, is our basic function: to keep the ideas ready until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” So I think it’s really important for people to look at the ideas that are lying around.

There’s enormous corporate lobbying going on to, for instance, eliminate the post-Enron collapse regulations, to actually say that the way to save the American economy—you know, you heard Henry Paulson equating—still equating the interests of the financial sector with the interests of everyone else. We know that’s simply not true. But it’s that—precisely that logic that then is used to say, OK, these are the—this is what the financial community, this is what the corporate world needs in order to revive the economy: they need less regulation, they need less taxation.

So, we should be really, really wary of this claim that we’re hearing that free market ideology is dead, that this marks the end of, you know, of capitalism. You know, I’m sorry, that is not the case. It may be going dormant for a little while to rationalize these massive bailouts, but it will come roaring back, and the crisis that is being deepened right now through these bailouts will be invoked for even more radical deregulation, privatization, tax cuts and so on...

I don't think we can stress this enough...Henry Paulson ["Mr. Risk" himself, former Nixon administration pal] is one of the key people, one of the top people responsible for creating the crisis that he is now claiming he will's this state of regression that we go into...Henry Paulson has been cast as an economic Rudy Guiliani, saving the day, impartial, bi-partisan, a strong leader....Henry Paulson is...bailing out his colleagues [and himself].

As for "Dems that don't suck" as Corrente aptly puts it, watch Marcy Kaptur.

No comments: