Thursday, February 26, 2015

Euro Foie Gras

From Wikipedia: "Foie gras (Listeni/ˌfwɑːˈɡrɑː/French for "fat liver") is a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. By French law,[1] foie gras is defined as the liver of a duck or goose fattened byforce-feeding corn with a feeding tube, a process also known as gavage. In Spain[2] and other countries outside of France it is occasionally produced using natural feeding.[3] Ducks are force-fed twice a day for 12.5 days and geese three times a day for around 17 days. Ducks are typically slaughtered at 100 days and geese at 112 days.[4]"

The contract of adhesion the "Institutions" of the Eurozone are in process of imposing on Greece is nothing less than financial gavage: fiat money conjured by the divine right theocracy known as the ECB is force fed to a nominally sovereign state to engorge its liver into the only delicacy in the body of state suitable for consumption by the Eurozone Finance Ministers. The remainder of the carcass will be butchered and sold at market.

The treasury in combination with a central bank is the motivational power center of a sovereign state. It is the place where the decisions of state get boiled down to the pure nutrient of money deployed to the larger body to energize its actions. I have above referred to this as "the liver". But to do that I've italicized nominally with regard to sovereign. Lets look at the nations suffering from the tender gavage of the ECB in Europe and see what they have in common, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Nominally sovereign and democratic since independence in 1916, Ireland has never shaken the economic yolk of its historical antagonist across the  Struth na Moile. This lack of real economic sovereignty is what joins Ireland with our other three subjects.

Greece, Portugal and Spain were all well within living memory military dictatorships. Military dictatorships like hierarchy and generally serve to preserve a particular elite, an oligarchy, at the expense of the larger societies they actually, not literally, command. In shaking free of this overtly exploitative governmental form, our three remaining subjects all agreed to nominal republican, that is to say loosely, democratic forms of government. The looseness comes from the constraints on that democratic form with regard to its power over the "deposed" elites, the militarys and the oligarchies they supported. The constraints being that no legislative act of the democratic body can in fact impinge on the conserved privilege of that elite.

In a healthy State, the liver distills political direction from the representative executive and distributes the peoples' money, for that and nothing else is what fiat money is, to motivate human action along the vectors outlined by executive decision based on legislated funding. This includes taxation, the tool by which the healthy liver drains away toxins in the system. Our variously corrupted nominal sovereigns all experienced a marked inability to collect taxes from the old oligarchy. This of course only increased the effective power of that oligarchy over time. What Syriza ran into at the start of this week was the concerted efforts of the combined oligarchies to maintain their protected position. Should Greece be allowed to reform, to actually tax its oligarchs, why no oligarchy anywhere could possibly be safe. The blunt terms imposed could not state more clearly that the force feeding must continue until the goose is ready to slaughter, and slaughter it will be because there is manifestly no way the goose can survive.

The body is to be "privatized" sold off more or less at a bankruptcy auction. The liver, however, will continue to be forced Euros because the delicate stomachs of Northern Europe's banks can't digest anything real anymore, only the false fat of bailout cash tube fed through the livers of bankrupt and dying nations can sustain the monumental and lethal greed of the oligarchy that has seized the lever of money power in Europe. If you pull the tube from the goose, the only way to preserve the oligarchy would be to directly feed banks the peoples money which would reveal once and for all that fiat is in fact the peoples money and that banks no longer actually do anything to deserve it. Syriza? Podemos? Who? Someone, somewhere soon must pull the feeding tubes and let Western Finance finally purge itself of the NeoLiberal lard that has bloated its body these last thirty five years.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Greece, Ukraine & NeoLiberalism

I suppose my worldview is somewhat Manichean, but in it, despite darkness, light always remains. As such I accept that the Original Sin of the American New Deal was the Jim Crow South of my childhood. Be that as it may, the export of the New Deal to the ruins of Europe at the end of World War II was incapable of hauling that historical dereliction with it. The Europe structured by The Marshall Plan was one of political Democratic Socialism overseeing a socially constrained Capitalism, the basic form of the New Deal superimposed on the devastated civilizations of Europe and Asia.

Roosevelt was unable to impose his liberalism thoroughly on even the American system and by extension, even less so in the devastated domains of American victory in the war, a challenge that fell to his less than visionary successor, Harry Truman. While Marshall ended up directing the reconstruction plan in Europe along the lines of the New Deal, MacArthur had a more royalist vision in Asia where he whitewashed the atrocities of Hirohito and reupholstered the Japanese Imperial throne. This darkness and light infected US foreign policy from the armistice until the 2000 election when the darkness gained full control of the foreign apparatus of state here.

This contest of darkness and light began in Greece and let us hope it will end in Ukraine. While the State Department dubbed Orwell and Hemingway as "premature anti fascists" for their Republican sympathies in the Spanish Civil War, George Polk pioneered "un-American activities" by supporting Republican efforts in Greece against US funded militarist authoritarians in the post war struggle for the political alignment of the Balkans. Polk was on the right side of civilization then and had his side been allowed to succeed the miss-rule of US puppet oligarchs succeeded by a CIA installed Military Junta may not have saddled the hard working people of Greece with the onerous debts with which they now struggle.

The Democracy that returned to Greece with the end of military rule in the 1970s was a nearly pure NeoLiberal one where the powers of violence embodied by the military and of money embodied in a deeply corrupt elite were both beyond electoral reach. Seen at the time as a necessary compromise that would allow Greece to advance to more normal European structures and status over time, it is now clear there was never any attempt at such an advance. In fact the form that government took at that moment has been the NeoLiberal ideal toward which increasingly the darkness of US policy has encouraged all its "allies" to evolve.

Between 1946 and 1980 the forces of darkness and light struggled for control of US foreign policy with darkness descending on Syria in 48, Iran in 53, Guatemala in 54, Indonesia in 58, Iraq in 60, Chile in 70 and Argentina in 1976. In all these instance, while the US rhetoric was about freedom, the actual policies that ensued were about political control for economic extraction with popular living standards suffering severely in all these nations while corrupt elites prospered. This was policy outside our direct dependencies where Marshall and MacArthur offered structures that integrated with the American system . These clandestine interventions external to our sphere of direct control offered a taste of what was to come as Neoliberalism came home to roost.

Wherever effectuated, the New Deal was enormously successful and popular, solidifying a new American middle class and creating them from scratch in Europe and our Asian dependencies between 1946 and 1980. To the extent that America has any positive associations abroad, it is the result of these policies in that period. The traditions from that period at home were strong enough to hold money power in check even through the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, but when the darkness at State drew foreign policy neophyte LBJ into Viet Nam while he was struggling to finally deliver on the "promissory note" of emancipation and the eradication of poverty, the post war structure was stretched beyond its resiliency.

In passing Civil Rights legislation Johnson shattered the New Deal political coalition permanently: Southern conservatives could only countenance economic justice for their bigoted white brethren and balked at economic inclusion for blacks, shifting the South within a half generation from bedrock Democrat to bedrock Republican and setting the Republican Party on the racist and economically exclusionary path it has been on since. When Nixon, ironically the last liberal American president, ended the convertibility of the dollar under the Bretton Woods system in 1971, dislocations began that would unravel the economics of the New Deal as well.

By the 70s, Americas business elites were chafing against the popular control of economic direction embodied in core Roosevelt era legislation. At the US Chamber of Commerce, a private association of business leaders, Lewis Powell penned his infamous memo that outlined a program that can only be described as a private assault on democratic participation in the economics and politics of the US

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Housing Does Not Cost To Much

Housing doesn't cost to much, people are to poorly paid. Housing does not cost to much because planing and construction regulations make it too expensive. Housing costs to much because lack of regulation, lack of protection for working people, has allowed incomes to collapse so low people can no longer afford healthy diets, healthcare, even healthy lives, housing included.

Zoning exists to ensure that what gets built is of appropriate quality and location to house the citizens who deliberated and enacted the regulation. The answer to shortages of housing of such quality is infrastructure investment to build the systems to support more distributed density as required by demand for housing in proximity to sources of income. Of equal important is jobs, sources of income.

Building Codes do not cause buildings to cost to much, they cause them to be built safely and to be safe. Declining wages cause housing to cost to much. Building Codes exist to prevent unscrupulous people from building and selling dangerous buildings or building them in ways dangerous to the people doing the actual work of building. If no one can afford safe buildings, societies resources are not being adequately distributed. There is certainly plenty of wealth in our society, it just does not find its way to anyone who actually works on anything real.  

The labor market has been "de-regulated", a euphemism for the removal of protections for workers from the exploitation of bald market power by corporations and other employers. Proposals to apply the same euphemism to construction and planning would simply make cities and buildings less safe for people who work on real things or have been displaced from employment by deliberate policies that stem from the belief that dis-employing people is an appropriate way to control inflation.

This policy of keeping prices down by preventing people from earning a living creates the appearance that safe, well designed and constructed housing in appropriate locations is an extravagance we can't afford. Our world only gets better when our policies are set to improve it. To the extent we set policies to improve the lot of the already wealthy and comfortable, the lot of everyone else deteriorates. What we can not afford is to waste the lives of our population. Housing does not cost to much, unemployment and underemployment does.

Underpaying the American work force as we have done since the 70s makes housing cost to much. 

Human Aren't Lazy

Humans aren't lazy. Laziness must be taught. Show me a lazy person and I'll show you someone who learned somewhere that effort was a waste of time and that no real benefit would come of it. This usually happens in schools. This is a tragedy, almost beyond belief.

Have you ever known a pre-school kid who wasn't a bundle of energy and excitement? It kills me to admit that I've known several and they were products of brutal and dysfunctional homes. Every other kid I've ever known hasn't learned that life isn't worth the effort until they began to attend schools, and most managed to maintain interests outside despite them.

One must patiently demonstrate that hard work yields no meaningful rewards over a sustained period. Negative feedback helps, verbal abuse and threats of physical punishments, occasionally the punishments too, help. The purpose is to prepare consumers to engage in meaningless drudgery to afford expensive necessities made that way deliberately to require consumers to engage in meaningless drudgery so that some corporate executive or share holder can skim off whatever real value is created by meaningless drudgery.

There are plenty of jobs that this has been a suitable preparation for, our current "recovery" features them and almost nothing else. And we continue to teach kids to be consumers rather than creators despite all those corporate executives and share holders having decided they should not pay people for meaningless drudgery, it would be better to get interns to do it on their parents dime. To repair this will require a comparable investment to that mal-investment we call "education" in showing people that to the extent they make efforts to improve their lot, they will benefit materially and psychologically from their actions and the harder they work the more they will be rewarded.

The good news is that wherever this has been tried, it has worked. If people are allowed real benefits from making the world a better place, they will make a better place in it. The problem for executives and shareholders is if you allow this, people will decide for themselves what makes their lives better and likely won't want the bullshit goods and social structures corporate profits depend on.

Apparently our corporate titans at Davos would rather have the mass of humanity simply die than give up the control they impose through their economic dominance. There is no other explanation for the corporate indulgences in every facet of our current economic model. Everything we need to make the world a better place is in the hands of people who are quite happy with things just as they are, and if you're not happy with this best of all possible worlds, for them, you are quite free to starve, or get cancer, or robbed or whatever misfortune you can't afford to avoid.

It is a set of decisions made by the powerful to allow us to better ourselves, or to insist as they now do that our efforts be directed toward bettering them. Having invested over the post Buckley vs Valeo era in the necessary modifications to our governing structure to optimize all its branches for the needs of corporate executives and the commercial empires they control, these executives and business institutions have apparently decided it is better that most people just quietly die off rather than improve the world.

We don't have to let this happen, though its so far developed that whenever organization to oppose it starts, corporations and the government they own coordinate both propaganda and police action to disrupt, discredit and re-direct. And of course, the people most victimized by these changes are just those who have learned helplessness in school, those who have learned to be "lazy" because nothing has ever worked for them. None the less, trends that can't go on for ever, won't.