by The Other Katherine Harris
Oct 11, 2008
The Big Grab, Part I: First they came for the play money. Now it’s down to life and death.
In another burst of startling candor, Sir Alan “the Iraq war is largely about oil” Greenspan admitted who’s running the world. Discussing fiscal meltdown with the Financial Times, he stated: “The danger is that some governments, bedeviled by emerging inflationary forces, will endeavor to reassert their grip on economic affairs. If this becomes widespread, globalization could reverse, at awesome cost.”
Sickening viewpoint, isn’t it? Most of us see mass hardship as “the danger” of financial crisis, but the sociopaths in charge fret only about a backlash by sovereign nations against transnational schemes that harm their citizens. The “awesome cost” of which Greenspan warned is merely damage to the fortunes of global predators, who scorn democracy, crush real competition and prize only money and power, feeling no bonds of patriotic loyalty or human empathy. Any doubts? Greenspan has been on record since 1974, calling capitalism “not only efficient and practical, but also moral,” because those whom he deems “parasites” must “perish as they should.”
Among acolytes sharing the former Fed chairman’s scorn is one who posted this comment to a Huffington Post blog last October, calling himself “Plutotoo”:
“… (W)hat happened to the money supply…from 2003 to 2006 is so self-evident … that I find it shocking that it need be explained at all. Everyone in the investment world is well aware of how this worked (and we all made a huge amount of money directly from the rate-cut rape of Americans’ savings and assets — not to mention pushing the real estate bubble, i.e. flipping new homes).
“Briefly, what happened was that, by 2002, as the economy was failing, we desperately needed all Americans to take the money out of their savings accounts and home equity and spend it … We accomplished this by making them feel rich by slashing interest rates — as Bonddad explains above. It worked great for nearly four years.
“Then, sadly, Americans spent all the money they had … They’ve also maxed out their credit and their FICO scores stink — so they’re worse than useless. They are a drain on the economy.
“When Bush politicians go on TV and mention tax cuts as the reason for the boost in retail spending (aka the economy) those of us down on the trading floor just roll our eyes. Yeah. Right. It doesn’t matter to us, though. We took the American people’s savings and invested it for ourselves — in Halliburton (in Dubai) and in foreign currencies held offshore. AND we hardly had to pay any taxes at all on our enormous profits (thank you. Mr. President!).
“All’s well that ends well — at least for the Plutocrats.”
Just who the real parasites are is becoming clearer to more people daily. We’re in the present mess, precisely because governments LOST “their grip on economic affairs” to this gang of remorseless predators: banksters, corporate magnates, buyout pirates, hedge-hogs and their minions, who’ve savaged working people not merely for the past 8 years but for a generation — ultimately recreating a level of economic inequality not seen since 1928 (and previously associated with the Robber Baron 1890s and the eve of the American Revolution).
For our elected officials finally to smack down these kleptocrats would be a hallelujah moment for the rest of us.
Indeed, when the so-called “Doha Round” of trade negotiations collapsed this summer — thanks to India and a few other governments that insisted on feeding the hungry instead of letting the “free market” starve them — working people everywhere should have danced in the streets like the Londoners in Scrooge’s filmic nightmare, singing “Thank you very much!” at word of his death.
Another sign of countries’ reasserting their right to decide how business is done within their borders is a dramatic drop in loan biz for the World Bank/International Monetary Fund swindlers. Profoundly corrupt since the Reagan years, those institutions use draconian lending terms to dismantle social services and force privatization of industry, resources, services and infrastructure. Worst of all, they’ve callously destroyed self-sustaining agrarian economies around the world, creating dependence on imported food, and undermined health and sanitation spending so severely that a TB spike literally follows in their wake. (For more about the perversion of development financing, please see Greg Palast’s account of a talk with former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz and read Naomi Klein’s illuminating book, The Shock Doctrine.)
Latin America, first to be pillaged, was first to rouse, oust the looters’ pet oligarchs and strongmen, cease pandering to international tycoons, organize humane sources of finance and aid the needy. This, of course, is why our corporate-owned politicians are vilifying the new leaders there as communists and terrorist supporters, and pouring billions of US “aid” dollars into destabilizing those populist governments. Russia was likewise on the victims list, pauperized by profiteers in the ’90s, which explains why Putin’s hopping mad and throwing the country’s restored wealth and power around. Georgia and Kosovo are the banksters’ latest poster children, gleefully impoverishing their folk and signing away their patrimonies to enrich local elites and foreign investors. Here in America, many of the same aims were attained slowly, by stealth until the effects could no longer be masked, only denied by liars and the deluded.
In terms of raising popular awareness further, there’s a silver lining behind today’s recession cloud. To focus the mind and will on solving urgent problems, nothing works better than actual pain — provided it doesn’t go so far it cripples us, making an effective response impossible.
That, lamentably, is set to happen next.
As Shrub’s era of misrule ebbs and a depression looms ahead, the predators are engaged in the biggest heist of all time. They already control most of our discretionary funds (mainly in the form of debts incurred because we aren’t paid enough to live on), so now they’re out to monopolize life’s essentials, too. No matter how poor we get, we’ll always need to live somewhere, go somewhere and get something to eat and drink — and there the moguls will be with their hands out, charging us for shelter, every sort of energy, roads, bridges, public transport, food and water.
So many scary schemes are afoot that I’ve been cataloging them for months, meaning to sound the alarm with a detailed guide to everything we should get busy opposing. However, now that they’re also requiring us to eat their vast gambling losses — while, in the name of “reform” meant to protect taxpayers, also pushing to consolidate regulation of investment activity in the US under the Fed, demonstrably a handmaiden to the international banking cartel — this brazen stroke moved to the head of my list.
Their lightning raid on our Treasury (or, rather, on its remaining ability to borrow) is the strategic equivalent of what Shrub and His Thugs are trying to pull off in Iraq, by binding subsequent administrations to agreements made now. If carried to its $700 billion conclusion (and more likely beyond), the banksters’ stickup will prove more than sufficient to achieve the Republican dream of cutting off social spending in America — because no future leaders will be able to afford any! This would almost surely kill prospects for universal healthcare and a “green jobs” initiative, and could jeopardize Social Security and everything else a civilized nation is supposed to collect taxes for, possibly even public education.
They knew we’d hate the banksters’ bailout like poison, so Homeland Shock Troops were set in place this month. On call 24/7 in Georgia since October 1, this brigade from Iraq is equipped with an unprecedented arsenal of “non-lethal” weaponry, in case crowds anywhere in the US are deemed “dangerous” or “unruly”. When last I checked, it was no crime to be an unruly American. How things change.
Together with the grand theft ramrodded through Congress, installation of a praetorian guard last week constituted quite an October Surprise. But we’ll get another big surprise soon — as far-fetched as using our troops against us on our own soil was, until Shrub rescinded that ban last year. The coming punch was also thrown by Shrub, as the first US president ever to allow the intrusive indignity of an IMF evaluation of our economy. This story came to light in June, reported by Der Spiegel and Aussie columnist David Hirst. (You wouldn’t expect our corporate media to report it, would you?) “As part of the assessment,” Der Spiegel stated, “the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the major investment banks, mortgage banks and hedge funds will be asked to hand over confidential documents…(and) required to answer the questions they are asked during interviews.”
Sounds like more information than the Congress gets, let alone We the People! The über-banksters’ probe is presumably underway, since it was to begin during Shrub’s last year, although he won’t allow the group to complete its work and make demands until after he’s out of office. We can easily imagine what they’ll prescribe for us, based on what they always dictate, which is profoundly destructive for all but the ultra-rich. Here’s a précis of what they’re doing to the UK (where more people work as servants than since the Victorian 1860s). The Brits’ Thatcherized economy, like our Reaganized one, has a crying need to build demand and reduce debt by creating worthwhile jobs and increasing working people’s wages meaningfully after a very long dry spell, but the IMF orders Gordon Brown to hold pay down and keep privatizing everything in sight, under threat of losing their ability to borrow. Even if a nation doesn’t have World Bank loans, the IMF can screw it over, through its historically strong influence on all lending.
A showdown in Washington with the IMF/World Bank wrecking crew was anticipated before long, but not that one. Congress has to okay their sale of gold reserves to keep the IMF’s doors open, since its loan biz has deservedly dropped to nearly zilch, and Dems were expected to approve only on condition that they cease behaving like Sniveley Whiplash and start doing some good for the poor again. Obviously that isn’t the outcome the grillionaires want. So, instead of coming before Congress hat in hand, the emissaries of international corporate rule may well stride in with guns blazing, even though their painstaking X-ray of our financial troubles is slated to continue until 2010.
Getting back to plagues already on our plate, I’d planned to craft a thorough compendium of 11th hour grabs, but it’s no longer possible. Addressing the lunatic financial industry bailout adds layers of complexity, besides which more foul excrescences sprout daily, like toadstools after a rain. Even before the 2004 election, James K. Galbraith wrote in “Plutocrats Go Wild” that Shrub was focused “on making long-term — and, he hopes, irreversible — changes to taxes and social programs; foreign policy; and the government’s capacity to regulate the environment, natural resource use and corporate behavior.” Since then, that thrust has hardly let up for a minute. As Pete Dreier put it last December,
“Virtually every week since he took office, the Bush administration has made or proposed changes in our laws designed to help the rich and powerful while harming the most vulnerable … putting the middle class at greater economic risk. The list of horrors can be so numbing that one can lose sight of the cumulative impact of these actions … (which) add up to the most direct assault on working people, the environment and the poor that the country has seen since the presidency of William McKinley over a century ago.”
Today the pace and scope of Shrub’s final (we hope) depredations far exceed those observed by Galbraith and Dreier — so, reluctantly, I’ve taken the decision to present this material in parts. If you’ll bear with that inconvenience, we’ll see by phases how diabolically all the parts fit together — capped by the banksters’ demand for a mind-blowing Mulligan (to be detailed in The Big Grab, Part II: The Quadrillion-Dollar Derivatives Bomb).