The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Monday, March 24, 2014

"The Gift" that lives on the Grift: Capitalism has devolved into Enforced Austerity.

 I'm crushing their hopes, I'm crushing their hopes.  

In Nabakov's last Russian-language novel, "The Gift", a story about an author's unsuccessful attempt to become a renowned author, Nabakov, a White Russian who despised the revolution, and most of humanity, to judge by his statements on the contemptible nature of everyone but the Aristocracy, he has nothing but snide derision for what he referred to as "Communist Austerity", meaning, of course, not the deprivation of the working classes of all the profits of their own labor, but to the restrictions imposed on the wealthy such that they couldn't extract and ship elsewhere all the monies flowing into their pockets while the rest of their countrymen suffered and died from easily treatable diseases, such as starvation and pneumonia. The austerity of Capitalism, as is now being imposed on all of humanity, even in the richest of nations and the most productive of economies, is calculated to never end, as it's based on the continuous and everlasting flow of the fruits of workers' labor to the least productive and most money-grubbing sector of the public, ie that sector which considers itself above the term "public", as that refers to such non-entities as you and me. They are the prime concentrators of "Private" wealth, the vast store of which is amalgamated into oh-so-public debt, in the form of Treasuries.

So as the likes of Paul Krugman chastise the public for the "Paradox of Thrift", exhorting them to spend all their, ridiculously monikored, disposable income, which they, of course, don't have, all the ramifications of what he warns against is apparent in the graph below, yet, which Mr. Conscience of a Gliberal, never mentions:

To whit, that as you can see from even the most cursory examination of the chart, it is quite irrelevant whether or not you or I keep or spend every nickel of what we make, because it amounts to such a tiny percentage of the wealth of the nation, which has been amassed over a generation or so into the hands of a very small coterie of plutocrats, whose tenacious grasp on it will never be loosened one iota.

The most remarkable thing about this intense funneling of the Nation's productivity into the accounts of the few elite, is the supposition, by the vast majority of baby-boomer-aged Americans, of its being simply happenstance. They were alive and working adults when Ronald Reagan cut taxes on the richest Americans and then increased War-readiness spending by an unprecedented degree using borrowed money. That is essentially the same thing as paying the rich an increased interest rate on their hoard while decreasing their liabilities, as it was, as it always is, the rich who are physically incapable of spending the vast sums that the Treasury was already shoveling into the semi-sized rigs they back up to the back door of the Fed (which, as Both Greedspan and Bernanke demonstrated, is the lapdog of the Plutocrats).

But because the finesse of finance, and the workings of money are seen as the nonintellectual, uninteresting province of small-minded drones and the mendacious bourgeois, liberals, many of whom I would try to engage in discussion for years during the Reagan,/Bush nexus, and even holding true to this day, never deign to involve their thought processes in even the most obvious of economic truisms, such that, as mentioned previously, someone as erudite on the subject as Paul Krugman, can actually rail on about the "Paradox of Thrift" without the slightest notion that when all the money is in the hands of such a few people, it has the same effect as the majority of people living thriftily and salting all their earnings away and not spending them. But that's exactly what handing it all over to the rich does: brings on an intractable deflationary depression, one that no amount of austerity, will cure, but will in fact, make permanent, as it was always meant to do, which is precisely why it was the required remedy for all the so-called Asian Tiger Economies in the first place. Keeping them paying off the debt assumed by Their plutocrats, leaving them unable to ever rise out of what the IMF and World Bank so liberally besotted them on, a la South America before that, as the US engaged in what's basically resource extraction, one country after another.

The only reason anyone cares anything about this now, is that it is the Western OECD nations who are the target of this austerity and are experiencing exactly the pain that heretofore we had been imposing on other economies in order to maintain our standard of living even as our energy supplies dwindled. It is simply Neo-Colonialism, much safer than the old way, as you can cover your tracks, and public rancor in the peripheral economies is aimed at those you put into power, allowing, as in Egypt, for example, you to simply wash your hands of them once they've served their purpose, and even to tsk-tsk at them disapprovingly for the dictatorial abuses for which they were chosen to be the ones in power in the first place.

It is for this reason that the events in the Crimea are so ludicrous, or at least the US reaction to them. It would seem that our current president has assumed that his predecessor succeeded in making the world "Safe for Hypocrisy", but contrarily, he failed utterly and simply made it far more manifest to everyone but his fellow country men who somehow believed his nonsensical blather. Because that the Russians bully their neighbors into submitting to their ascendant power is as true as that the US does. The only difference is that the US insists that it be considered as some kind of kindly benefactor that does everything for your own good, when in fact it operates the same as it does domestically, to ensure that the reigning elites not only maintain their ascendancy, but extend its tentacles, squid-like, into every economy on the globe, sucking the life out of every economy into theirs where they can then extract it at their leisure. Or, to put it more simply, by asking a question, What exactly about the term "Full Spectrum Domination' do you not understand?

It is only because the baby-boomers I mentioned earlier, (the vast majority of whom have neither ever heard of, know what it refers to, nor understand the significance of  the phrase, "The Washington Consensus"), never experienced the more totalitarian aspects of their own government that they still believe the Democracy Now, and Power to the People nonsense that the Federal government blandishes around the world, because they were born and raised in an economy in which the rich were being taxed at a rate commensurate with the amount of  largess they were receiving from the Mercantilism policies of the Central Government. That has now more than stopped, it has reversed, such that all the accumulated savings in the shape of infrastructure, libraries, and middle-class savings are being constantly sucked back into the vacuum of limitless power and EMH--inspired untrammeled greed.

So whereas the austerity Nabakov chafes under when it is imposed on the upper classes can be bribed and lobbied away or avoided via corruptible politicians, bureaucrats, and officials, that imposed by a hypocritical, lieing, deceitful minority onto the majority is intractable. Because, as it is denied even by those who mean well, such that they can exhort you to go out and spend because it's good for the economy, even though it is ruinous to you personally (but don't worry, here, have this credit card; go ahead, buy that car @ 0% interest for 6 years; don't worry, sign now for that house that the Fed has worked for more than 5 years so as to inflate its price beyond anything you can reasonably afford's all good!), which, by the way, is in complete contradiction to their stated belief that each person, by caring only about themselves, is what makes Capitalism work, instead, all of a sudden you're
supposed to ignore what's good for your own circumstances and spend every penny you own , and lots more you don't, for the good of  the economy: Ask not what The Economy can do for you, but what You can do for The Economy.

Given these dynamics, the talk of recovery is exactly that: talk. Austerity only brings more austerity, only this time, a fact Nabakov would approve, it stays where it belongs: on the backs of the lower classes, or what he would refer to as the peasants.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Yes, you Can, But if you do I'll break your arm ...

In the words of the Plutocracy's puppets: "Suck it up."

Okay, that was a bit harsh, but when my mother used that phrase to try and get us kids to differentiate between the meaning of the phrases "Can I?", and "May I?", she was just trying to cause confusion in our little brains, so as to make us think, and we all ended up attaining adulthood with our limbs intact. But when John Abraham uses the term in his rebuttal to Matt Ridey's article in the WSJ denying the dire impacts of Climate Change, he makes the same error that we did as children. By stating in his concluding remarks that,   "By investing in smart, renewable energy, we can create the economy of the future", he apparently has forgotten that what we CAN do and what is actually possible for us TO do are as far from one another as my mother's radical statement implied.

Why I believe this is because Abraham uses his own form of Denial when he insists on his belief that the world can just decide to change the way in which it obtains and uses natural resources, specifically, in this case, energy resources. As my perception of history in the latter part of the 20'th century deviates substantially from that of my fellows, I feel I should start with a quick synopsis of it, because it is as radically different from the MSM version as it is from Howard Zinn's.

Because my Grandfather owned and ran The Wannalancit Garage in Lowell, Massachusetts, I was aware of cars and motorization and the associated smells and dangers and complexities from a younger age than most of my peers, and I noticed things, such as the Joads' possession, despite their crushing poverty, of an automobile. This contradiction, and its continuation into every aspect of American culture, has fascinated me ever since. The movies and TV are replete with it. Somehow people without the wherewithal to buy food, always have the means to purchase petrol. There's no dilemma, such as that faced by the Maggie Smith-portrayed character in "Private Functions", of having a vehicle, but no funds to buy 'juice', as she called it, such that, in that film, they sold the very tires from under it, as rubber was also in short supply, and therefore one could get a good price for it, presumably allowing one to pay far less when the car could actually be driven, and buying new tires then.

What all this meant was that, when I first heard Lord Curzon's exclamation that we won the War(s) "On a wave of American oil", and put that together with the truism that Capitalism is basically economic warfare, I came up with what, to me, was the natural correlation, that we won the economic War on a wave of American Oil. Sooooo in 1971, when the US reached peak oil, and could consequently no longer flood the world with its overproduction, bringing prices down so low as to rid the oil industry of its competitors (OPEC is not very original; they learned that ploy form us) the Nixon decision to go off the gold standard, and the subsequent Arab oil embargo, were all related phenomena in my mind, and all implied the same thing: that US supremacy economically was challenged because at it's heart, it was a petroleum-based ascendancy, one that derived huge benefit from the fact that those who occupied the land under which that oil was found, had simply been pushed off it like so much topsoil onto reservations.

So although Watergate is given priority as the main reason a Jimmy Carter presidency was made possible, the Nixon environmental regulations and EPA and other Republican supported mandates that took into account the fact that there were actually people choking on the fumes, and getting cancer from the byproducts of industrialization, the oil interests liked the JC approach to Saudi Arabia, that echoed FDR's so much that it became known as "The Carter Doctrine", and stated that any threat to the intensely conservative Islamic Saudi regime (the adjectives conveniently left out) would be considered an attack on American interests (a statement Putin and his cronies would be wise to dust off and remind the world of, seeing's how there was no cultural, religious, military, or political reason for this umbrella protection, it was a pure power grab based on only one resource: OIL).

But the Iranian Revolution and Reaganism created a more appealing set of circumstances for what was still referred to as "The Seven Sisters" and the rest of the upper class of America, and Ronnie was made president in his stead, and here is where the US took, not only Carter's installation of solar arrays off the Whitehouse roof, but an irreversible step toward complete hegemony and domination of the world that heretofore had been unparalleled and indeed, impossible, for any state that wished to call itself a Democracy.

The growth in the size of the Federal government that took place under Ronald Reagan, all financed with massive amounts of debt, while simultaneously clamping down on the private sector, via the Fed's control on interests rates that gave ascendancy of badly run, but state-funded, via the DOD, enterprises, by a president that ran on the platform of 'getting the government off our backs", and the propagator of the sentence, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help", as a harbinger of snafu's, over Companies that had no Federal contracts, caused the failure of so many businesses that the country was pushed into recession, even as the government sector flowered from the unprecedented flow of funds, from the "fiscally conservative" Republicans' militarism and greed. Because, to bring about his intended denouement of the Soviet Union, it was always part of the plan to effect a huge financialization of the economy, as, just as we think of Dick Cheney as the real power behind GW, it was his father, the former director of the CIA, who ran real policy behind the Reagan administration albeit in a much more 'behind the black curtain' style, his invisibility cloak kept snug around him.

Because what all this militarism was about, what all this investment was about, as reflected in his childish admiration for Margaret Thatcher, was an overarching plan to intensify oil exploration to such a degree that the world would be awash with the stuff, enabling the US to once again bring the price down so dramatically as to crash the USSR economy and crush the liberal Welfare State by depriving it of its revenue, and restore the Aristocracy to its pre-WW2 ascendancy. Because, although you and I were unaware of the Hubbert curve, and its implications for the future of wealth production and distribution, and the attendant dangers of Climate Change that such a a pell-mell rush to dig up and burn as many fossil fuels in as little time as possible, would engender, the Rich, my dear friends, were not. They knew full well what Hubbert's curve meant, and to them what it meant was a need to consolidate their power, tighten their grip on government, buy up every form of public discourse, and mute all opposition to their activities, even to the extent that before the outcry against the 1% became commonplace, any one, such as I, who gave voice to what was being done right under our collective noses, was, not only unheeded, but disdainfully ridiculed, never more so than by academics, and the left, to whom, anything hinting of finance, money, currency, or the markets, was just tooo pithy for them to  have to condescend to  understand. Like manual labor itself, it was simply beneath them, and so they fell right in line behind most of Reaganism and its destruction of working class jobs, because, well, we should all be CPA's and screenwriters, and software engineers, as those jobs would never be the provenance of anyone in third world countries, their citizens being all uneducated and all.

So, Mr. Abraham, whereas "By investing in smart, renewable energy, we CAN create the economy of the future", the fact remains, as the debacle of the Obama presidency is proving, we won't, because now that Democracy has been irretrievably destroyed, and been replaced by a Plutocracy of individuals for whom the entire economy of the globe is run, there is no reason for anyone in a position of power to facilitate the transition from something that works, because as long as they are in ascendancy, for all intents and purposes, from their point of view, it works, to something that is entirely suspect. That the rest of we undeserving peons are left out of this new Neue Weltordnung, is not only not a problem, it's part of the final solution, as explained by this Offer-ing of Chris Hedges:

"Offer, the author of “The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950,” for 25 years has explored the cavernous gap between our economic and social reality and our ruling economic ideology. Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” As we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, accompanied by economic stagnation and decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It is used to justify the escalation world-wide of repression, all supposedly as an effort to sustain a vision that does not, and never has, or will, correspond to the real world.

So, Mr. Abrahams, we can, but no, we may not, and if we try, they will break much more than our arms, because, thanks to us, they have unlimited arms to array against anyone who has the temerity to oppose their Neue Weltordnung.