Volatility

March 26, 2010

Desperation Stage for the Bailout

 

Yesterday before Congress Ben Bernanke agreed that the Fed’s balance sheet is now over $2.3 trillion. He lamely said he dreams of its someday returning to its pre-Bailout level below $1 trillion.
 
We see the contradiction. Today the Bailout looting is primarily laundered through Fannie and Freddie MBS buys, and the Fed has been the main repository of this toxic junk. Taxpayer money is thus directly stolen by the government and handed over to the banks, while the worthless paper received in return is meant to prop up the worthless paper already on the banks’ balance sheets.
 
There’s no other “market” participant here, because there is no market. The market wants to deflate. Only the zombie banks and their government stooges are artificially resisting reality.
 
So how can the Fed stop buying? There’s no one else to prop up MBS values, and no one else to artificially goose “new sales”. Doesn’t that Fed balance sheet have to keep bloating, as the main bloat of the reflation?
 
A measure of the intractability of these knots is how banks and the Obama administration are being driven, very much against their will, to extreme measures to try to prop up the mortgage market.
 
Their baseline has been clear all along. They want to reflate the bubble, and failing that they want to stabilize prices and extract as much revenue as possible from distressed borrowers. So the scam was always to pretend to want to help borrowers, while they were really just stringing them along, getting them to keep making payments they couldn’t afford for as long as possible before the inevitable foreclosure. Most of all they try to prevent borrowers from walking away from the mortgage while there’s still any blood left to squeeze out of them.
 
Any government who really wanted to help borrowers would empower bankruptcy judges to impose writedowns of principal (cramdowns), and if any kind of government backstop was to be provided at all (which it shouldn’t be), it would be predicated on requiring writedowns of principal, where the lender would have to take the bulk of the loss, with the taxpayer assuming only minor exposure at most.
 
But this government has demonstrated its bad faith all along by actively repressing bankruptcy cramdown empowerment, while enacting only a phony mortgage modification program, which was never meant to produce more than a token number of permanent mods. Instead it was meant to use the application process and temporary mods to string along all these borrowers, while the whole process was guaranteed by the taxpayer. Direct handouts for the lenders are even a part of it. The whole thing’s simple consumer fraud and embezzlement, along with some direct theft thrown in.
 
Yet reality’s avenging sword in the form of debt deflation has been too fiercely wielded for this lame program to suffice. The market’s still melting down, delinquencies are still rising, and new data indicates that we may be reaching a tipping point on the willingness of people to walk away.
 
Historically, even those who are deeply underwater on their mortgages only rarely walk away if they’re capable of making the payments. In my previous series on strategic defaults (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5) I discussed the reasons for this. The system’s actions are predicated on this. That’s why so far the HAMP was available only to people who met a certain threshhold of distress, and why in general lenders have been willing to get serious only once someone is already delinquent 90 days or more. The only time they ever get serious about modifying anything is once they think the borrower has become a real risk to walk away.
 
By contrast, those who are merely underwater but are believed to be able to afford the payments are never the recipient of help, but instead get the moralizing propaganda treatment, “you should pay your debts; you’ll be a bad citizen if you walk way”, and the rest of it. This is because historically the data supports the expectation that if those in negative equity can afford to keep paying they will.
 
But as I said, there’s some evidence this may be changing. That’s why we’re seeing some shift in what banks and the administration are willing to do. Reality is dragging them along, slowly, kicking and screaming.
 
The new version of the Obama scam has the same goal as the old one: Prop up zombie bank balance sheets and reflate the bubble. But now they say they’ll not only continue with the old policy of temporary reductions in payments, but they’ll try to convince the lenders to make some principal writedowns as well. Here’s the key measure of their desperation: Their previous policy pretended to help only those already “distressed” (those already in the delinquency labyrinth, those whose credit scores were already getting whacked, those who might be reaching the end of their willingness to not walk away). Now for the first time they say they’ll try to do something for the 11 million (20% of those with mortgages) who are merely underwater.
 
Meanwhile Bank of America is following Citi in pretending to extend its own mod program.
 

The bank said it would reach out to delinquent borrowers whose mortgage balance was at least 20 percent greater than the value of the house. These people would then have to demonstrate a hardship like a loss of income.

 
So BofA has now on its own reached the point Obama reached a year ago, and from which Obama now feels he needs to retreat somewhat. I guess that’s an indication of how the banksters are the most hard core psychopaths, while their government flunkies are weaker and somewhat more vulnerable to public and reality-based pressure.
 
The new administration plan, while still unclear in the details, will plunder the taxpayer all the way, including using perhaps $14 billion of TARP money. We should be clear that even if bowing to reality requires them to actually really help some underwater borrowers:
 
1. This is done only for the profit of the insolvent banks;
 
2. All such help, and any writedowns the banks actually undertake, is subsidized 100% by the taxpayers;
 
3. It’s doomed to fail anyway at propping up the bloated price, let alone reflating the bubble.
 

This much was clear, however: the plan, if successful, could put taxpayers at increased risk. If many additional borrowers move into F.H.A. loans, a renewed downturn in the housing market could send that government agency into the red.

The F.H.A. has already expanded its mortgage-guarantee program substantially in the last three years as the housing crisis deepened. It now insures more than six million borrowers, many of whom made minimal down payments and are now underwater.

 
Since “a renewed downturn in the market”, AKA the market continuing to return to a reality-based level, is inevitable, we can confirm that here the government is simply trying to socialize on the taxpayer bank losses it considers inevitable.
 
So with this we have an indicator that the administration is being pushed along by some sense of reality, even as Bernanke glumly ponders the Fed’s balance sheet. How can it be true that the HAMP wasn’t sufficient and needed to be tweaked so that the benefits don’t fall 100% to the banks (but according to the new plan more like 99%; the point is that they’re grudgingly facing the fact that to help the banks at all they may have to actually help a few real people, or else see the whole mess go down the tubes as strategic defaults reach a tipping point; as the Guiso-Zingales-Sapienza study found, walking away is highly contagious); how can that be true, but it also be true that the whole Bailout can be laundered through the Fed? It can’t be true. These are recursive iterations. The MBS scam, the whole laundering process from the GSEs and the FHA up to the Fed and Treasury, with the hapless HAMP trying to do emergency repair work in the innards, is a tottering Tower of Babel.
 
They keep building it higher, more top heavy, while frantically trying to patch up the crumbling foundation, using up their duct tape, then scotch tape, and now they’re down to the band-aids.
 
Reality is banging on the door, and is now calling up the battering ram. How long can they keep the door barred?
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March 24, 2010

Funhousing

 

Housing sales are again slumping after last year’s uptick, even as more units are being put on the market, according to the NYT. “Again” is a tendentious term, since only last year’s homebuyer tax credit artificially propped up sales in what’s otherwise now a three year decline. That’s the reality-based process which is being hindered by the temporary tax credit extension, now set to expire on April 30. If they want to keep this zombie propped up, they’ll have to extend this again and pretend again.
 
As with everything else, this tax credit may help a few random buyers (but is probably setting up most of them for underwater status), but is really yet another looting of taxpayer money for the benefit of Wall Street, to help prop up the toxic crap on the banks’ balance sheets. It’s another part of the Bailout.
 
The NYT piece refers to the “triple-whammy of bad news”, slumping sales, increasing inventory, and its likely depressing effect on prices. “If that proves to be the case, it could slow the broader recovery.” It’s hard to see how ideological capture gets worse than this. There is no “recovery” at all, let alone a broad one. The price effects they talk about are the natural, inexorable result of an insane bubble now deflating. There’s no way to recover from that until the deflation is complete and reality has reinstated itself.
 
Meanwhile all government policy has zero purpose and zero goal other than to try to reflate the bubble for as long as possible, while in the process conveying as much public wealth as possible to Wall Street. In a comment thread at Baseline Scenario I just read how someone says his Wall Street acquaintances are crowing about how 2009 was their “best year ever”. This is the year after they had intentionally crashed the economy for their own profit. And now their brazen looting of the country has no bounds of even political tact. They know they’re protected by simple government force. As Obama said a year ago, “I’m the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Indeed, surely by now the people would deal with these bandits as they deserve.
 
Nothing could be more clear. We live under foreign occupation. The Wall Street banks and the filth who staff them are simply alien. They’re not American citizens and they’re not human. They’re foreign predators with their claws clutching our hides and their snouts stabbed into our veins, sucking our life blood.
 
Meanwhile this is a rogue, traitor government, dedicated only to enabling the tyrannical occupying power. Shall the name “Obama” supplant that of “Quisling” as the eternal personification of contemptible, shameful treason? It will if there’s any justice in the world.
 
So what was this government up to yesterday? The criminal cretin Geithner crept before Congress again to discuss this housing price and bank balance sheet issue. Namely, the government using Fannie and Freddie as its Bailout bagmen of last and permanent resort.
 
The NYT obliquely acknowledges how a theoretically infinite Bailout has been instituted off the government books and utterly beyond accountability to the law, the constitution, or the people.
 

The government has so far spent $126 billion bailing out Fannie and Freddie. Republican criticism over the absence of a plan for the institutions escalated when the White House released a budget in January that said only that the administration “continues to monitor the situation.”

 
They learned accounting control fraud from the best, since the whole GSE MBS buy-and-convey scam has been set up for one reason only, to let the banks carry worthless garbage on their balance sheets at sufficiently fraudulent values that they can report fraudulent “profits” and their officers can directly steal in the form of fraudulent “bonuses”.
 
The administration is pretending to want to find a new way to loot.
 

On April 15, the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will publish a list of questions seeking comment on the appropriate role of the government in housing finance, as well as the design of mortgage products and protections for consumers who use them.

 
Yet under Congressional questioning Geithner had nothing new to say, just the same old boilerplate lies.
 

The lack of specifics frustrated several lawmakers, one of whom, Representative Bill Posey, Republican of Florida, lashed out at Mr. Geithner, saying, “We can’t wait forever to find out.”

Mr. Geithner replied: “You won’t have to wait forever. We’re starting today the necessary process of figuring out what Congress and the executive branch would like to do to reform the housing finance system.”

 
So after one year you’re “starting the process”. Well, I guess the process mentality, if it’s going to do anything at all, has to at least “start”. But in your case I think there’s a more significant reason you haven’t “started”.
 

Mr. Geithner suggested that the administration was waiting for the economy to stabilize before deciding on a plan. Fannie and Freddie back most of the nation’s home loans and are managing the administration’s $75 billion loan-modification program.

Next week, the Federal Reserve plans to complete a $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage-backed securities, a major test of the recovery’s staying power. If mortgage rates were to quickly rise afterward, the Fed might have to step back in.

 
“If” mortgage rates rise afterward? Everyone thinks they will, since we know that in spite of all your lies from day one of the Bailout, these banks will not lend. Only Fed and Treasury MBS buys, as well as the contrivance of the tax credit, have kept this market functioning at all.
 
And we know the part about “waiting for the economy to stabilize” is the same old heads-I-win, tails-you-lose trick. You can’t reform anything during the crisis. On the contrary that’s when you need to gut all existing reforms. Disaster Capitalism 101. Meanwhile if things ever actually do stabilize, they’ll turn around and say there’s no need to change, “don’t rock the boat”.
 
Waiting for the economy to stabilize? Whatever happened to “not letting a crisis go to waste”? We know what happened. We know how they used the crisis. They better pray there’s no justice in the universe.
 

“I don’t think there is a credible argument that we can abolish, put out of existence, these institutions today,” Mr. Geithner said. “That would not be responsible.”

 
This little worm is the last one to lecture anyone as an authority on responsibility. We can assume as a law of reality that anything he or his masters say is the epitome of irresponsibility, criminal cover-up, and incitement to further crime.
 
The gist is that the administration is claiming it wants to get beyond the Bailout and government subsidy of the big banks via the housing market:
 

Mr. Geithner vowed in his written remarks that whatever form the overhaul takes, Fannie and Freddie would change. “Private gains will no longer be subsidized by public losses, capital and underwriting standards will be appropriate, consumer protection will be strengthened and excessive risk-taking will be restrained,” he said.

 
But in the same breath he directly contradicts himself and admits they have no idea and no intention to change anything:
 

He added: “There is a quite strong economic case, a quite strong public policy case, for preserving and designing, some form of guarantee by the government to help facilitate a stable housing finance market. But it can’t be the one we have today.”

 
There are no such cases. Reason, morality, and common sense would indicate, and history proves, that Obama, Geithner, and all corporatists, are idiots and liars. Government intervention in housing markets has been purely malign. It was always undertaken with malignant motives – proximately, to favor interest groups like the banks, Big Auto, and the Big Builders; more broadly, to co-opt the potemkin middle class, place it on the treadmill of debt and therefore into a state of intense socioeconomic dependence and vulnerability, and in that way enforce social conformism. Its effect has been to enshrine the evil model of suburban sprawl and the personal car as the perverted form of our “civilization” and generate this debt-indentured pseudo-“middle class” as the socioeconomic base. Thus our physical resources have been uselessly destroyed, our environment has been trashed, our real economy and real social stability have been gutted, and in particular our rich heritage of small farming has been wiped out while the rich farmland itself has been physically destroyed for the sake of highways, strip malls, and subdivisions.
 
By coincidence the NYT (really the Reuters Breakingviews blog) on the same page has one of its infrequent skeptical pieces on the mortgage deduction, the main tool of this government market distortion.
 
This deduction is simply the current tax credit writ large. Its goal is to drive people to buy bigger houses than they need or could, according to any reality-based market, afford. This artificially drives up housing prices, as well as the costs of borrowing in general, including for those who might actually want to borrow money for some constructive purpose. It’s a version of Gresham’s rule – bad money drives out good. In general, in a kleptocracy bad policy everywhere drives out good, bad people drive out good, everywhere everything that is bad drives out what is good.
 
Of course, even a “skeptical” MSM piece has to know its limitations.
 

Economists have been pointing out these distortions for years, but for politicians, advocating the elimination of this deduction is seen as suicidal. One problem is that an immediate elimination would probably pull down house prices, the last thing the already weak housing market needs.

 
If you’re here to tell hard truths, then why are you waffling on this one? Housing prices are still bloated and have a great distance to go to get down to reality.
 
The piece recognizes the impasse:
 

The danger comes from the lower purchasing power that higher taxes would bring. For the couple who used to be able to afford a $400,000 home, the maximum purchase price would fall by 11 percent. The $900,000 home would have to drop about 21 percent in value to offset its owners’ higher tax payments. That sounds like an invitation to open another chapter of the financial crisis.

 
You mean it contradicts the insane, hysterical attempts to reflate the bubble. It contradicts the way they try to permanently interrupt the crisis, to keep it from doing what it has to do, and from what it must and will do in the end. (And thanks to this government, when the final dam break comes, it will be far more explosive than it needed to have been, since all they’re doing is forcing that much more pressure to build up.)
 
We should have let the fever run its course, let the breached dam drain, let the bubble deflate, write off all the worthless toxic garbage, let all the Wall Street rackets go down as they deserve to and will have to in the end.
 
Sure, it might have been rough. But by now we’d have that part overwith. We’d be restoring morality, justice, sanity, and health to the system.

March 22, 2010

Post Mortem

 

Well, I’ve written plenty on this vile reactionary health racket bailout. I don’t have much desire to say much more now. So just a few words.
 
Everyone agreed in principle that the system was broken, yet instead of chucking the whole thing they all agreed to further entrench the existing broken system. Instead of real reform they entrenched the existing abuses. They doubled down on organized crime.
 
Don’t let any of this scum get away with comparing this to how Social Security was imperfect to start with but was then built upon. Social Security was structurally headed in the right direction from the inception, and only needed scaling. This reactionary entrenchment of the private parasite heads in exactly the WRONG direction. It builds the parasitic tollbooths into fortresses. It further scales up the inefficiencies, insanities, rent extractions, and crimes.
 
Today I read this piece on the complete failure of Afghan police training for nine years now. How they’re still handing out “contracts” to the likes of Blackwater and DynCorp, the same who have stolen so many billions already. The piece quotes some would-be reformers offering suggestions on how the process could become more rational and cost-effective.
 
They don’t get it.
 
The whole point of the Afghan war, as with every other federal project, is to set up extraction points for well-connected gangs to steal taxpayer money. The government loots on the gangs’ behalf, serves as bagman, hands over the cash. The “contracts”, whatever they’re supposed to be for, are merely fraudulent pretexts. Nobody actually cares if they’re ever performed. Halliburton and Blackwater themselves are indistinguishable from Mafia capo regimes, or from the Bloods and the Crips.
 
(If anyone needed further proof that the Obama and Bush administrations are identically corrupt down to the very details, the piece says that the “Space and Missile Defense Command and Contracting Office” of all people will be placed in charge of adjudicating the Blackwater-DynCorp turf squabble. I don’t know how they became the bagman of choice, but such idiocy is common in kleptocracies. Indeed, that’s a classic symptom. Then again, “missile defense” was always a world class scam, so maybe scamming’s all that office has ever done.)
 
The piece quotes DynCorp saying that the US military isn’t good at training indigenous police. I’m sure that’s true. But here’s a memo from reality: If your military, because of the systemic way you set it up, isn’t good at a particular mission, that’s a strong indication that the mission itself is unsuitable and unnecessary; that it doesn’t involve your real interests. So the conclusion you should draw is to reject the mission.
 
But of course this system does the opposite – if the existing structure’s no good, just pile corporate contracts atop it. Build a corporatist Tower of Babel. Because for this system, a kleptocracy, the real mission is always privatization and looting. Always. In every single case. 
 
That’s the only reality-based explanation for the Global War on Terror. Any system which actually had the intentions and goals this system claims would act in a completely different way.
 
In the same way, the only way you can impute any rationality or sanity to supporters of this health racket bailout is to assume their main (and perhaps only) priority is to maximize profits for the rackets. Short of this motive, support for this bill can be ascribed only to ignorance (of what’s really in it, and of regulatory history), cult insanity, and the standard “progressive” cowardice.    
 
Another of the idiotic “progressive” hack delusions is the way they keep comparing what we have in America today – a gangster cesspool on the verge of overt fascism – with times and places which were/are not at all like that.
 
Like the comparison with European countries. How can one look at a system that evolved organically among people who still had some sense of a society, and think you can derive a template from that example, and then superimpose it on America’s gangland free-fire zone? News flash – American insurance rackets are nothing like European non-profit private insurance companies, however similar they may seem on paper to the delusionally myopic.
 
It’s like Krugman trying to compare Canadian bank regulation with what can be done in America. He’s also made the vicious, lying health racket comparison.
 
This, like everything else by now, is the battlefront of corporatism vs. anti-corporatism, tyranny vs. freedom.
 
Those who claim to support reform, but who sold out single-payer, and stand by their betrayal today, are traitors.
 
We know, once and for all, that this system is incorrigible and terminal. The Federal government will never again do anything good for the public interest, or indeed anything which is not a further assault upon the public interest. The American people from here on have to view this government as a foreign, quisling puppet regime. Something to be ignored and evaded as a rule, actively resisted where necessary, and distrusted and rejected always.
 
It follows that there will never be a significant good piece of federal legislation again. So it’s best if no significant piece of federal legislation ever passes again. I’d really hoped this bill would fail, but oh well..
 
At any rate, from here on gridlock is our best outcome. The optimal situation would be for Democrats to retain the White House and smaller majorities in both houses. Small enough that on account of their own squabbling they wouldn’t be able to pass anything if the Republicans maintain obstructionist discipline vs. a Democratic president. (By contrast, with a Rep president it’s far more likely that enough Dems would cave in to allow Rep legislation to pass. It happened all the time under Bush.)
 
It also follows that the filibuster and all other procedural obstructions are now good things.
 
If that sounds too grim, too pessimistic, just think again about health “reform”, or finance “reform”. Obama and the Democrats came into 2009 with big majorities and an overwhelming mandate to pass real reform legislation. Single payer was theirs for the taking. Castrating Wall Street was theirs for the doing. The banks and the Republicans were on the ropes and could do nothing. (The Reps to this day can still do nothing.)
 
So what they actually did in both cases – claim that nothing but meager anodyne tinkering could be done, and then not even do that, but aggressively empower the rackets further, turning both “reform” processes into disaster capitalist plundering expeditions – empirically proves what the Democrats will do under the circumstances which are strongest for them. And we already saw during the Bush years what the Republicans will do anytime they have the chance.
 
So it’s over – the federal government, both Washington parties, and we can throw in the mainstream media, are a total loss. They are now enemies of the people and will never again be anything but that.
 
It’s a hard, cold realization, but one we have to endure. There will never again be any constructive action in America but new, decentralized action from the ground up.
 
One thing’s for sure. Now that this monstrosity has passed, if they really go ahead and try to enforce this mandate (it kicks in several years from now; you can gauge their bad faith and their cowardice by how they don’t want it to kick in prior to the 2012 elections) people need to start preparing themselves to become health insurance outlaws, because even millions who would go along with it if they could afford it will not be able to afford it. There will exist, for official consumption, “subsidies”, which in reality will never be even remotely sufficient.
 
So there, perhaps, is a small, still hazy bright spot, an opportunity in the crisis. Since economic relocalization and the spread of the informal economy are already freedom imperatives, and will be forced upon us by circumstances anyway, perhaps here’s a political pivot for making a virtue of necessity. We can speak the truth – that resisting this mandate will be not only something the system forces upon us, but a positively righteous fight against tyranny, a fight for freedom.

March 21, 2010

Candles

Filed under: Poetry — Russ @ 4:39 pm

 

The wand of gentle fire which burns
Alone amid the emptiness
Is more than a million suns to me,
Because I dream you struck the flame,
Which looms as the first light I have seen
After thinking I’d be forever blind.
The lullaby the soft breeze sings
Is more than the music of the spheres to me,
Because I dream you whisper the song,
Which lures as the first gentle music I hear
After this eternal desolate silence.
The song and the flame, one communing torch,
Dance as one harmony across the stars
Spinning the constellations to light,
Mapping the vaults of night with diamond dust.
This intertwines the dreams I’ve dreamt
In my voided soul, which suddenly isn’t void.
For this first dawn I’m compassing
Radiates from your eyes.
 
Now mecca coheres and spells the prayers I venture
To comprehend your dreams,
To find the words which could spark your heart
And set fire to your eyes
That you’d also see my light,
I’d sit profound and mute for five years at the tree,
To wait for the words to commune.
And they’d break, and the fire you painted
Would inflame a fierce new life.
Where the day before has painted the abyss,
Your day could paint my soul renewed,
To disperse the fever dawns which broke with cries of mourning,
For the loss of dreams amid garish lights,
For the night’s quiet fires
That sadly burned themselves away
In the quiet pilgrim’s sight –
It could all change with one word we say,
As we refuse to let it all die away.

March 20, 2010

Birthday

Filed under: Freedom, Health Racket Bailout, Relocalization — Russ @ 4:50 am

 

How about that – today’s my blog’s birthday. 🙂
 
I guess the system didn’t pack it in yet just because I’ve been on the case, but I’ll keep plugging away at it.
 
There’s so few of us who recognize the necessity and the possibility of non-linear change. As a rule it’s pretty lonely recognizing that. And yet the days we’re going through now are the best, last chance humanity is going to have.
 
It’s unfortunate that most of those who by all rights should have been fighting like wolverines to seize this opportunity, and celebrating every moment of the fight, instead chose to throw away everything they had ever claimed to believe in for the sake of a fraudulent political expediency. This is the latest example of throwing away freedom for the sake of security and ending up with neither.
 
The question is whether you start from the fact of what you wish to achieve, and what you wish to avert, and then try to find the action that gets you there; or do you instead start with a defeatist assumption regarding what’s possible, and the paltry belief that getting “something”, no matter how anemic, compromised, and fraudulent, is better than running the risk of losing the good fight for a real principle; do you even start with a misguided, anachronistic good-civics delusion about “moderation” and “compromise” being good in themselves, and then set your goal and if necessary diminish your feelings and principles, according to these wretched tactical shackles?
 
But compromise is only a tactic, not an intrinsic good (and self-compromise isn’t even a tactic, but unilateral surrender). It’s good if it helps accomplish something good. But where it cannot work, and where it’s only a fig leaf for cowardice or treachery, it’s an evil. And the fact is, we live today in an uncompromising age. Thus those who by nature want to compromise have no future.
 
This person that many call a “president” came into office with a unique opportunity to really fight for real change, if he’d only had the ideals and courage to believe the people when they said they voted for Change with a capital C. I know I would have taken them at their word. I’d have staked my presidency upon my belief in the people and my acceptance of the mandate they gave me.
 
Then we would have found out if for once Shock and Awe can work in the right direction. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.
 
(As we know, Obama was simply lying when he claimed he’d bring change, and even in the rare instances where he might want to do something he lacks the spine to follow through. Thus in every single case, with no exception, he either acted directly as the agent of evil, as in the case of the Bailout, the Permanent War, and the health rackets; or he caved in the moment he was resisted, as in the case of Israeli settlements.
 
Obama never intended to seize his chance, and now it’s gone. History will revile him for his failure, at the same time monstrous and pathetic.)
 
Yet in the biggest sense the opportunity is still there for non-linear change. Not from the top down, but from other directions. I’ve always believed real change is desirable in this corrupt world, and nowadays it’s also the only politically possible path. The old rules have been proven once and for all no longer to work. Today the reformist rut is a dead-end ditch.
 
The only chance of achieving breakaway speed is to shoot for the stars.
 

“Il nous faut de l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace” – We must dare, and again dare, and forever dare. – Danton

 
The road of boldness is the only road there is. Otherwise one must fester motionless in the ditch. Setting the most radical goal is also the most politically practical strategy. Meanwhile nothing could be less practical than setting some picayune “pragmatic” goal.
 
Always remember the rules of the struggle today:
 
No matter what policy or “reform” you advocate, the enemy will always fight it just as hard. There is no compromise unless you compromise yourself. There is no reciprocation. Whether you want to fight for a $2 trillion stimulus or $700 billion, much of it in tax cuts, is your decision, but the enemy will fight either just as hard. Whether you demand single-payer or bust, or whether you settle for a toxic mandate with zero cost controls, is your choice, but you’ll have to fight just as hard for either. (If anything, self-compromising only makes the fight harder. Appeasement always only encourages the enemy, while launching a full uncompromising attack would discourage him.)
 
The enemy’s resistance is a constant. They’re pure feudal obstructionists and reactionaries. So when you negotiate with yourself, the way they did on health “reform”, the only thing you can possibly accomplish is to pointlessly define down the goal you claimed to be fighting for.
 
But either way, the enemy will fight just as hard.
 
So do we believe in real political change? However we discuss that, we must be clear that however possible non-linear change is, by-the-books gradualist change is not at all possible. This is all the more reason to set a great goal and fight for it as the baseline, without any initial concern over the surface political “possibility” of it.
 
When you set a visionary goal, you mobilize, you galvanize the best people. You get the momentum of the best people. Meanwhile setting a wretched, puling, miserable, submissive sell-out goal demoralizes everyone involved. The very radicality of demanding the best could set the tone that it’s a new day, that we should dare to dare, while setting the snivelling, abject goal simply reiterate the status quo, business as usual. Who’d be willing to fight for anything under those circumstances? In that case the sane, reasonable thing would be to give up.
 
Either way, which way you choose, you get the inertia of the best or the worst.
 
(Also, I imagine for many their assessment of the possibility is largely driven by their perception of the desirability. As I’ve said before, many lying “progressives” are actually neoliberal ideologues who in fact side more with Dick Cheney and Lloyd Blankfein more than they do with any true reformer.)
 
In the end, what does it avail one to set small goals he probably can’t achieve anyway? What’s the point of action if he relinquishes the principles which set him in motion in the first place; if he even comes to attack and sneer at those principles where they still exist in others? What was the point of it? Where it’s not a calculated sellout, it can only be nihilism.
 
But if we cherish our principles as our immutable core, as the victory we’ve already won, and where only we can defeat ourselves by betraying ourselves; if we honor our principles by setting in their name a great goal; and if we then fight for that goal, if necessary to the death; if we do these things then even if the struggle fails we’ll still have won the victory history honors the most.
 
History and nature fight on our side. Time has run out for the system’s ability to prop up the debt zombie; the energy has run out for them to keep growing their consumption/destruction level, or even maintain it anywhere near its current level.
 
So those of us who truly rage against the injustice, immorality, ugliness, and destructiveness of the corporate order have a friend in physical and economic reality itself. On every level our cause is moral, rational, reality-based, and simply right.
 
This will be humanity’s ultimate test. Will mankind seize the opportunity, use the structural crisis as the lever for total transformation? Will energy descent mean the final social ascent to the truly human age of decentralized positive democracy and freedom? Or will we submit meekly, lazily, despicably, to the system’s own version of the wind-down, to a new feudal Dark Age?
 
The choice is ours.  

March 19, 2010

Action Roundup 3/19

Filed under: Relocalization — Tags: — Russ @ 7:29 am

 

After a week of nastiness out there, I want to end with some better news.
 
The number of states, cities, towns, and other entities who are exploring or undertaking action to break the big bank stranglehold slowly grows.
 
The state of Washington has enacted legislation to make credit unions “eligible public depositories.” In Maryland the governor has sponsored legislation that would give preference to in-state banks for handling state tax dollars (hmm, the executive actively fighting for legislation he claims to support – now that’s a concept likely to blow the minds of Obama cultists). Minnesota has several bills pending which would favor small banks and credit unions for various public deposit accounts and functions. In New Mexico they’re considering legislation to require that state accounts be deposited and managed at in-state banks. The city of Los Angeles is already enacting such a provision. New York City is considering placing a portion of its monies with smaller banks. (When even the mayor of Wall Street itself feels the need to at least claim to value the idea, it means something.) There are many other such moves being made or pondered. So we see how, although the federal government is utterly beyond redemption, a lost cause, democracy just might have a chance in some of the states.
 
Meanwhile the Move Your Money campaign is expanding, according to the campiagn’s online coordinator Dennis Santiago of Institutional Risk Analytics. He talk about the increase in the number and geographical breadth of zip code searches at the site. He also describes how the scale of the money being moved is expanding:
 

During the initial wave, we saw a lot of people shifting smaller checking accounts over to local banks or credit unions. Now, our surveys are showing the banks are beginning to see people with substantial amounts beginning to take action. They needed some time to prepare to move more assets, but that’s beginning to happen. There are several banks now reporting that they’re seeing five-figure, six-figure, in some cases seven-figure transfers.

This is very different in character from the earlier “I just want to open a checking account to make a political statement phase.” Now we’re seeing larger, smarter money making moves.

In addition, the movement is morphing even further in that you have state, county and municipal governments now considering whether they can take advantage of something like this. They want to shift their operating and investment accounts from national banks to local ones. This will create an acceleration effect on their local economy by causing their money to circulate locally.

That’s actually a very powerful and classic economic amplifier if a dollar shifts around inside a local neighborhood before it drifts off to the global economy. That’s just very good for local economies.

 
This is great to hear, since 70% of Americans, and 90% of savings, are still deposited at a big bank. That’s “doing business with the enemy”, according to the article that asks, “You’re Still Keeping Your Money in a Big Bank? What’s Wrong with You?” Those numbers, and the difference in those numbers, show how most depositors, and especially a higher proportion of depositors with larger accounts, are still working with the occupying foreign invader. People need to see how that’s really what’s going on here. The gangsters are demanding protection money, and some of that is extorted by the government goon, but some of it, the money you repose with these big banks, is the part of the extortion you voluntarily pay.
 
It’s been abundantly proven that the big banks are not less expensive or more efficient or creators of better value (or of any value whatsoever) than small banks. Here’s yet another, small but telling, piece of evidence to add to the pile.
 
According to a study performed by Time2Talk, at banks with less than 150 branches the average time it took to reach a consumer service representative (averaged over calls made at different times of the day) was 1 minute 37 seconds; at banks with 350 or more branches, the time as 2 minutes 13 seconds. At the big banks they reached a CSR within two minutes 56% of the time; for smaller banks the figure was 76%. At 29% of credit unions and community banks they got through in less than 30 seconds. This never happened at a big bank. The Time2Talk website has a tool for comparing data on banks in your area.
 
More localities are fighting back vs. big bank bad citizenship. In this sighting, Broward County, Florida, is excluding Bank of America as manager of their next bond sale, to punish it for its poor record on mortgage mods in the county.
 
(Now, the county’s own premises – that we need to reflate the bubble and keep the debt machine going – are part of the same disease. But they’re at least recognizing that even according to the debt economy premise, the big banks are malign.)
 
Finally, we’re in the midst of the AFL-CIO’s “Good Jobs Now, Make Wall Street Pay” protest events, running from March 15 to the 31st. The union’s demands: that Wall Street’s big banks must “pay their fair share”, stop fighting regulation, and resume lending to Main Street. (That link lets you find a rally nearest your location.)
 
These demands are of course political ideals, not concrete demands. We know that regulation is a lost cause, that the Bailout’s “Main Street” propaganda was just a Big Lie, and that Wall Street would sooner die, and will indeed force us to eradicate it, before it would ever pay its fair share.
 
But that’s not how I look at protests these days. I’m just glad to see people motivated to get out on the street. It’s the spirit we need to fire up. People know Wall Street itself is impervious to bottom up pressure short of all-destroying force. The point is to look around and see one another, hear one another’s voice, comprehend one another’s outrage and will to take real action toward real change.
 
So each of these things looks small by itself, and if you add them all up it’s still small, compared to the monstrous power of the corporate system. But this vast edifice is really a necropolis. The Great Pyramids were mausoleums. The surging golem is really the soon to be eroded statue of Ozymandias.
 
Meanwhile the real green shoots, the kind of shoots I described here, are gathering strength, intensifying life. They are ascending. All the best people see and believe in what we need to do. We know the enemy is doomed. His tottering Tower must fall once and for all. But as Nietzsche wrote, what’s hardest is to maintain the courage of what we know. Most of the time it all looks so dark.
 
But however dark the night, we know the sun will rise again.

March 18, 2010

Trickle-Down and Globalization, Levels of the Lie

 

Trickle-down has been the ineradicable Big Lie of forty years. We’ve long known that all the claims of neoclassical economics, globalization, and financialization were lies. We should proceed immediately to liquidate all concentrated wealth. The only reason it was allowed to accumulate in the first place, the alleged value it created, was that so much of it would “trickle down” that everyone would end up better off.
 
But we now know what a Lie this was. We know the wealth never trickles down and was never meant to. There was never any social value in its accumulation. On the contrary, the extraction system has been purely destructive for all except the rentier parasites. It was stolen property right from the start, and it remains stolen property. Yet the lie continues, for the obvious reason that it’s the only way for the parasite class to hold on to this power and wealth, and because the brainwashing runs deep. Even after everything that’s happened, most people still believe their own well-being somehow depends upon a kind of handout from the rich. (And that they themselves are magically going to become rich someday.)
 
Trickle-down, AKA supply-side economics, or more accurately voodoo economics (to believe in its empirical truth in defiance of the dispositive evidence of its falsehood really does require a bizarre kind of religious faith), is also an expression of corporatist ideology. Believing in trickle-down, or at any rate supporting policy based upon it (most of the “experts” and pundits who still shill for it can’t be so dumb as to still actually believe in it), indicates one’s belief that the purpose of an economy, of the wealth the people create, and of society itself, is not to produce goods to meet needs, and it’s not the people’s well-being.
 
Rather, the purpose of all economic activity is to generate wealth which can then be expropriated for the benefit of a few big corporations and rich investors. The people should then be allowed to receive only what the rich see fit to let trickle down. The purpose of civilization is to provide the rentiers with a foundation and fortress for their looting.
 
So the people have no right to the wealth they and only they create. They should have everything they produce confiscated, and should receive back only what the feudalists calculate is in their own interest.
 
Who are the proponents of trickle-down today? Republicans, yes. But Democrats and “progressives” are just as ardent. Out of either criminality (as social fascists) or their cowardly escapism of the process mentality, they’re just as much a band of Reaganite warriors are the Reps are.
 
The health racket bill is a prime example. Any human principle, that basic health care is a human right, what decent people would provide for themselves, and part of the core competency and purpose of society as such, was purged from the “process” at the outset, replaced by the corporatist mindset.
 
Even sincere “reformers” still believed that the correct model is to retain the system set up for the profit of the rackets, but to try to craft a bill which would cause more benefit to trickle down to “users”, you know, patients, who also happen to be the workers whose wealth creation allows any system to exist at all, but who are considered not to be entitled to directly benefit from the wealth they themselves created.
 
We see the same ideological dynamic on every other front. The most ponderous example is the Bailout, which was explicitly sold according to the premise that the only way Main Street can be helped is if Wall Street is handed trillions of dollars of taxpayer money, some of which can then trickle down to Main Street.
 
Since every cent of these trillions is Main Street’s property in the first place, why couldn’t all of it have just remained on Main Street? If this government is an American government and not a quisling regime, why couldn’t it have organized a direct Main Street “bailout”, leaving the bank rackets completely out in the cold where, according to the capitalist textbooks, they should have been left?
 
There are no true answers to these questions. You’re simply not supposed to ask them. They’re not even pertinent to Republicans and Democrats, because all elites agree that Wall Street isn’t there to serve anyone but Wall Street, while the very purpose of Main Street is to be Wall Street’s cash cow. Only Wall Streeters are Americans, according to this rogue political and media class. We the serfs should simply feel honored to serve as raw material for such a majestic machine, and be grateful for whatever trickles down.
 
Even on job creation, with real unemployment headed above 20% (reject the scam U3 number), for the government to directly create jobs is out of the question. No, so-called “jobs creation” has to take the form of tax breaks for employers, the benefit of which is then supposed to trickle down. Never mind that here too it’s been proven that “the market” will hire however many workers it thinks it needs to hire, no more, no less, no matter what tax breaks exist or don’t exist.  So at best this kind of indirect artificial job creation does the same thing as if the government created the jobs themselves, but adds a rent-seeking toll booth in the middle of the transaction. This is done for no reason other than corporatist voodoo ideology. It’s the same with the student loan disbursement mechanism, where a pure bloodsucking parasite is gratuitously inserted between the government (i.e. the public’s money) and the recipient (i.e. the public). Why is getting rid of such an obvious criminal scam so difficult? Because of shared conservative and liberal ideology. They believe nothing’s valid if a private toll booth isn’t involved.
 
Reps and Dems, leaders among conservatives and liberals – that’s really what they all believe.
 
Even if there was ever real innovation and top-down wealth creation (which is doubtful), we know as fact that by now there is no longer any such innovation. All sectors are mature. By now all wealth creation, 100% of it, is by the people. So by now the super-rich are and can be nothing but thieves and parasites. They create nothing. But let’s say for argument’s sake that they still create something, and that trickle-down is both true and a morally acceptable way to organize society. In that case:
 
1. The contract would be, for the sake of their wealth creation, we tolerate their existence, and the benefits trickle down to us.
 
2. But as we’ve seen with the health care debacle, with the financial collapse and the Bailout, with job destruction, wealth concentration, the gutting of the safety net, and so many other things, nothing is trickling down. On the contrary, what little we had is being stolen or trashed.
 
We can never emphasize it enough, to the eternal dishonor of the scum who support this insurance racket bill: Even basic, decent health care doesn’t trickle down.
 
3. So what good are they? Not only are they worthless, and not only are they harmful, but they broke the contract. They are dealbreakers, cheats, welshers, betrayors, traitors.
 
So if you ever believed in this deal we supposedly had, you should be all the more outraged. They’re not only parasites but criminals, they’re predatory and above all useless, worthless.
 
If anyone denies this, then what could possibly be the point of having society at all? What could be the rationale for the forbearance on the part of the non-rich, the toleration of the existence of these parasites? What reason can anyone give for why we shouldn’t get rid of them? If we get nothing out of the deal but exploitation and rage?
 
Why don’t we have the leisure economy by now? Why don’t we have wealth equality? These were the things the textbooks promised. This was the hype of technology. It’s because every textbook elided the lie – there is no “capitalism”. What we have is feudalism; everyone seeks monopoly or oligopoly, and having attained it the monopolist then just seeks to hoard power and wealth. So-called primitive accumulation, using one’s power position to steal, is really the most modern practice (while true capitalism, if it ever did exist, is one for the antiquarians).
 
Everyone in “authority” who ever says this is a capitalist system (or a democracy, as I’ve discussed elsewhere), is simply a liar.
 
They’ve had decades in power for their neoliberal ideology. They’ve had decades for their promised “benefits” to materialize. We know today every promise was a lie.
 
It’s been quite a pivotal week for neoliberalism, trickle-down, and the whole scam. In addition to the climax of the legislative debacle, we have the ongoing Lehman saga and the newest phony foreign adventure, the propaganda war over currencies heating up with China.
 
Lehman’s accounting fraud, and the government’s collaboration with it, are simply symptoms of the whole financialization scam. It was always based on looting, but indirect looting is getting harder because debt bubbles are harder to come by, the more the real economy is gutted. As the housing bubble blew up, and all that toxic paper became worthless, what choice did Lehman have? What choice did the Fed have? Every day the same stark choice presents itself to the criminal class: Figure out a way to prop up insolvency by figuring out new ways to lie and steal, or else admit defeat, divest yourselves, return the stolen wealth and power to the people. Since they’ll never voluntarily do the latter (reality will eventually do it for them), they can only keep lying. That’s why the trickle-down lie has been enshrined as the centerpiece of their ideology. They have no other idea.
 
That’s been the Gordian knot throughout. The knot they refuse to untie, which they can only desperately try to keep from unravelling, or the rope from breaking. They’re all Lehmans now. The two intractable knots, the toxic assets and the rogue political system, need a new Alexander to cut them. Nothing else can suffice.
 
The same scam is playing out on the globalization front. Debtor and creditor countries are squabbling over currency pegs and manipulation, and everyone has the same solution: I’m OK, you’re screwed up, so you change. The whole thing’s a joke, since Chimerica is a fused organism, and a stateless globalism elite divided against itself cannot stand.
 
The problem this spat is meant to provide escapism from is that the American consumer peasantry is depleted, while China will never be able to replace it out of its own peasantry. So among the elites, nobody knows who’s supposed to buy all the crap, even if they can figure out a way to keep providing debt to keep the factories humming. Globalization has accomplished on the grand scale what Walmart accomplishes in town after town. When you destroy all the real jobs, then no matter how low your prices are, and no matter how much consumer debt you can prestidigitate into being, eventually the consumer well is spent.
 
So just as Walmartization gutted the local economies of America, so globalism’s fractal Walmartization has gutted America as a whole. Now the parasites of America and China are struggling to find a wormhole out of this trap, but all they can do is point fingers among themselves. At least they can hope to buy some political time by providing their respective peasantries with a foreign scapegoat upon whom to blame their economic woes. It’s the same old xenophobia scam.
 
Just like with the zombie banks with their toxic “assets”, so here too there is no solution which would preserve the wealth and power of these persons. The existential insanity of the finance sector is an iteration of the same insanity of globalization itself.
 
Here again, it’s not “the US” vs “China”, but the American people vs. the parasite which has hijacked America, which is the same as the parasite which has hijacked China. The globalization elite is rootless and psychopathic, the same as the domestic elite, simply at different levels of iteration. And they all tell the same trickle-down lie.
 
Trickle-down, as the unifying idea of the Washington system, shared alike by Republicans and Democrats, is the antithesis of the freedom ideal, of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, the pioneer spirit. Nothing good in this world ever came from the top down. All productive labor comes from the bottom up, and all worthwhile action as well.
 
Most of all: No “management” is ever necessary. In principle socialism was supposed to mean not just nominal worker ownership. The core is active worker self-management. That’s the essence of positive freedom in the economic sphere. That’s the core revolutionary ideal, and it suffuses every prism, every perspective. Relocalization of the economy, of politics, of culture, of energy production and distribution, of food production and distribution. The real solutions everywhere to our political and resource challenges boil down to the people managing themselves.
 
Meanwhile the core of reaction, of stagnation, of the feudal mindset, is managerial elitism. Conservatives and liberals alike agree that only formally educated (and preferably monied) “elites” like themselves have the capacity to be managers. It’s the same autocratic ideology which claims that intelligence and wisdom mystically inhere in power and money. Today this elitism is the mysticism of Wall Street and the Fed, the Washington political and media elites, ramifying on out through all other sectors. Scientism and technocracy also play into it. Centralized, hi-tech, complex systems, of course pilotable only by management and engineering elites, themselves supervised by “executives”, are the only way anything can be done, according to the Big Lie.
 
This tyranny is unsustainable. Economics and resource limitations doom it. But until then, if we meekly acquiesce in our lot, we shall become ever more enslaved. Before then we must reassert ourselves as human beings. Freedom must speak. As much as it is within our hands, we must revolt to break out of our doglike position waiting for the stale crumbs and poisoned water droplets to “trickle down.”

March 17, 2010

Insurance Rackets, Lost Reform, and the Process

 

The final push on a health rackets bailout and stickup puts me in mind of Eric Hoffer’s lines:
 

The well-adjusted make poor prophets. On the other hand, those who are at war with the present have an eye for the seeds of change and the potentialities of small beginnings.

A pleasant existence blinds us to the possibilities of drastic change. We cling to what we call our common sense, our practical point of view. Actually, these are but names for an all-absorbing familiarity with things as they are. The tangibility of a pleasant and secure existence is such that it makes other realities, however imminent, seem vague and visionary. Thus it happens that when the times become unhinged, it’s the practical people who are caught unaware and are made to look like visionaries who cling to things that do not exist.

On the other hand, those who reject the present and fix their eyes and hearts on things to come have a faculty for detecting the embryo of future danger or advantage in the ripeness of their times. Hence the frustrated individual and the true believer make better prognosticators than those who have reason to want the preservation of the status quo. “It is often the fanatics, and not always the delicate spirits, that are found grasping the right thread of the solutions required by the future.”

 
Those who call themselves “pragmatic” really want the status quo. To have ever said demanding single-payer was “not politically possible”, when it obviously was if everyone who claims to want reform had simply stuck together and demanded reform, has always been code for not wanting single-payer, for not wanting reform, for wanting the status quo only.
 
In the case of these status quo-mongers, they don’t actually feel secure, and things don’t seem to be very pleasant for them. But at least, and at most, they have the pleasure and the security of the status quo itself. Thus, as Hoffer described, they are completely blind to the realities of a radical kleptocracy and a revolutionary situation, with such vast potential for the best and the worst, but with nothing but failure and shame falling upon those who still dream of “incrementalism”, the “process”, their spineless, contentless notion of “pragmatism”, which is the least truly pragmatic stance imaginable, as it has no present and no future. 
 
The only measure of wanting something is demanding it and fighting for it. if you don’t fight for it, that’s proof you didn’t want it. Indeed that you oppose it.
 
If you want to fight, there are two options. You can stand on principle and judge prospective results according to it, or you can define the acceptable result and fight with the intent of accepting nothing less than that result.
 
But liberals with their “pragmatism” do neither of these. They claim to either hold a principle (like “reform”) or demand a result (like the “public option”), but they really care only about going through the punctilious motions of a process solely in order to reach the formal end of that process (getting a bill, any bill, which has the word “reform” on it), without reference to principle or result.
 
This process of enacting legislation which deals with the health insurance system has been extremely messy and deranged right from the start. The combination of a president’s heady but vacuous rhetoric, his incompetence and spinelessness in action, his absolute failure as a leader, leaving the process in the hands of a cesspool of gangsters and psychopaths, resulted in something like the medieval Dance of Death. Especially once the scam political bubble of the “progressive bloc” popped itself, it seems like the tension released itself in an orgy of racketeering and vandalism. Everyone competed to root out any aspect of the bill which could have been any good while loading it up with as many thefts and assaults as possible.
 
The result is clear. No sane person thinks any of its “regulations” or “subsidies” will ever be effective. It contains loopholes to ensure rescission will continue, while its complete lack of cost control will render the vaunted ban on discrimination against pre-existing conditions de facto void.
 
Every restraint on the thugs has been removed. The centerpiece of the bill, the real reason the whole process was set in motion, is the individual mandate, the roundup of a conscript market to ensure extortionate profits for the insurance racket. They have no market competition as it is, and no regulatory restraints on the protection money they demand. The talk of removing their antitrust exemption, a no-brainer from any sane point of view, is just empty talk. The ONLY restraint upon them, other than the limits of economic reality itself, has been people’s refusal to pay this protection money. But under this mandate the rackets will no longer have to compete even with non-participation.
 
Meanwhile, in an environment where Medicare itself is under assault, no sensible person thinks the promised “subsidies” for those who can’t afford this mandate to buy a worthless policy (another toxic asset) will ever sufficiently materialize. Hacks like Krugman who say so are just conscious, brazen, damned liars. The bill has also become a vehicle to gut the hard-won insurance benefits of many union workers. These benefits are part of their wage, every bit as much as the nominal wage itself.
 
(It will even try to gut access to abortion. Though it’s obviously true that there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats on the economy, war, or civil liberties, abortion is the kind of thing where the voter supposedly has an immutable choice.
 
Well, apparently not. Apparently the Dems will happily sell out on this as well. That’s where liberal cowardice and the process mentality gets you. Women’s groups who sold out on single-payer have rightly been reminded of the bitter lesson, “First they came for the communists, and I did nothing because I wasn’t a communist….” As always, if you’re willing to compromise one core value to preserve another, you’ll end up with neither and deserve neither.)
 
So in a nutshell: The bill has zero value, while serving as a weapon of union-bashing. Most of all, it would greatly add to our already miserable servitude. I’ve said before, we have to vow to refuse to comply with this vile roundup. It’s already guaranteed that tens of millions will be financially unable to comply with it. So this bill, if it goes forward, will create a vast class of literal outlaws, existential criminals. Such people are then at the mercy of the wayward tyranny of a capricious system. Any of them, through bad luck, personal vendetta, or arbitrary enforcement, will at any time be vulnerable to the equivalent of debtors’ prison.
 
[This is the way things will be, unless we turn it into civil disobedience and an underground economy on an organized scale. The informal economy is the answer to every other problem as well, and is going to have to vastly expand regardless. The more that people are conscious of this and resolve to do it systematically, the better off we’ll all be, both in providing for ourselves and defending ourselves against any sort of criminal, including racketeering government.]
 
So that’s where the “process” mentality gets us. There was nothing unpredictable or accidental about the way this end has been reached. It was hardwired into the system right from the start, given the toxic alliance of kleptocrats and “progressives” who were carrying out this process. This guarantees that reform will be gutted and replaced by crime varnished with flimsy, ugly lies.
 
We see the process mentality in action today as embarrassed supporters of this wreck struggle miserably to parse how its features add up to a marginal improvement. Even an electron microscope would only highlight with greater definition the fact that this bill is a vehicle of corporate tyranny. That it will do nothing but further entrench the racket and further empower its assaults upon us.
 
That’s the core issue here, freedom versus tyranny. A real reformer resolved to fight would have started with the principle that decent basic health care is a human right, and that such basic decency is a core reason we even have society in the first place. Our freedom is inextricably bound up with our humanity. For the sake of both we must resist and destroy tyranny.
 
So real reform would never accept anything which fell short of that imperative, let alone this bill which fights on the side of the criminals, against our freedom and well-being. Given this outcome, there’s no way one can deny that either the claimed reform principle was a lie from the start, or else “progressive” fecklessness abdicated this principle along the way and surrendered to “process”.
 
As I said, this outcome was preordained given the personnel. To bloodless wonkery, the very idea of a philosophical and moral objection to a gangster stickup is incomprehensible. Instead, they’re paid, or they force themselves, to parse the process, assuming dogmatically that if a process is called “reform” then it is reform (since no other measure of reality is available to the process mentality). Given that congenital mindset, there’s no conceivable outcome on whose behalf they couldn’t come up with a pack of lies to justify it. And so it is in this case.
 
They don’t (can’t) understand that wonkery can only ever be a means to what should be a humanist end. The moral objection, the refusal to pay off these rackets, goes to the core of what it is to be human. Process is never anything more than a tool. The goal is supposed to be reform. But as we’ve seen, the process/wonk mindset is far more easily converted to the ends of crime and tyranny.
 
To their eternal shame this is the fact: If everyone who wanted reform would’ve demanded single-payer, we’d have it. But when they unilaterally caved in, when they commenced by negotiating themselves down (and of course they could only negotiate with themselves since there was no strong opponent), all the enemies of reform starting with Obama had them right where they wanted them. Everyone knew that once they started out so spinelessly, they’d never put up a real fight on any line.
 
Again the lesson is clear. Activists, reformers must break completely with the Democrats and with the liberal “leadership.” We must recognize the absolute, permanent failure and moral dishonor of the “process” mindset and the Orwellian “pragmatism” lie. We must shun all who still propagate such lies.
 
The way ahead is clear. The principles are freedom, economic self-determination, socioeconomic community self-reliance. The enemy is corporatism in all its forms – economic and political.
 
Since the human ideals and the great cause no longer exist within the system, it follows that we can fight it out only on fronts outside the system.

March 16, 2010

Social Fascists Part 2

Filed under: Corporatism — Tags: , , , , , — Russ @ 7:10 am

 

In an earlier post I discussed Obama and the liberals’ self-imposed mission to rehabilitate all Bush/Cheney policies and enshrine them as the business as usual baseline for this government and economy going forward.
 
This provokes the question of why they’d want to do such a thing. By that I don’t mean questioning the obvious fact that today’s Democrats and liberal leaders are just as much corporatists and warmongers as Cheney and his Republicans. I don’t mean questioning the fact of the infinite chasm between their public interest rhetoric and their gangster actions. These facts are incontrovertible. They are laws of nature, insofar as the currently existing polity is the existing state of nature.
 
But I do want to ask, who, really, are these people? Why are they history’s worst traitors? The term “social fascist” originated with the Comintern in the latter 1920s and received wide currency in the 30s. The premise was that social democracy, because it refused to support the full revolution as the only effective anti-fascist course of action, was therefore a tacit variant of fascism itself. This was exemplified in the recurrent pattern of nominally “leftist” governments making deals with the far right against the real left, most poignantly in the case of the new “socialist” Weimar Republic in 1919. To this day liberals whose preference is to lean right have the blood of Rosa Luxemburg on their hands.
 
Today things are, in a sense, worse. Today’s sellouts can’t make even a quasi-serious argument about the strength of the Right or the alleged destructiveness of the “hard” Left. Today any “right” with a capital R can accomplish nothing the Democrats don’t let them accomplish, while no revolutionary Left exists at all. Today when Obama and his liberal teabaggers behave as overt, aggressive Bailouters, neoliberals, corporatists, strikebreakers, warmongers, and police statists, there can be no doubt whatsoever that they’re following their bliss. This is their true vile nature.
 
(A recent proposed “deal” was Cass Sunstein’s proposal that the government and media should aggressively seek to counteract and even directly censor “conspiracy theories”. Although cloaked in politically ecumenical language, the system’s actions prove clearly enough that we can read, “dissent from the left”. We can be sure the target is blogs like this one, rather than right-wing talk radio. This is borne out in the disproportionate treatment, from governments, police, and the media, doled out to real protestors, as opposed to the teabaggers. The latter consistently get away with much more aggressive behavior while receiving far more respectful treatment. The MSM also consistently overcover teabagger events, and overstate their numbers, while ignoring or downplaying the events and turnouts for progressive protest. Can you imagine what would happen if a “socialist” brought a gun to an Obama event?)
 
Today we know that privatization, looting, and trickle-down is their characteristic economic policy, their truly cherished ideal. Obama truly is their Leader, as he represents the epitome of liberal Reaganism.
 
So why do they identify as Democrats and “liberals”? Why aren’t they Republicans? (To begin with, why do we still have the one-party dictatorship split up into two factions? Most of it must be leftover inertia from the old days when there were some actual differences in the parties’ socioeconomic visions. By now they must also figure that the pattern of inverted totalitarianism better fits a sham two-party pseudo-democracy than an overt one-party state like the old USSR.) There has to be lots of cynical calculating going on (for example, Wall Street’s streetwalker in the House Melissa Bean seems to have chosen being a Democrat over being a Republican out of sheer calculation). I bet a lot of it is also the result of temperament.
 
I’ve always figured that man for man Reps are more likely to be conscious criminals than Dems are. If Dems on the whole are both psychologically weaker and have more book smarts, both of these would lead to their wanting to find ways to square things with their flimsy conscience.
 
Their weakness also manifests in their incapacity for real anger where it comes to what should be questions of principle. If a prominent liberal claims to hold a principle, and then finds that principle under vicious assault, he’s more likely to compromise on the principle than fight hard on its behalf if the fight would require his real hatred for the enemy. (As I’ve personally experienced, liberals don’t even like calling an enemy “the enemy”.)
 
For example, in a recent piece Paul Krugman repeated his frequent sigh for “reasonable conservatives”. That’s for his psychological well-being. He needs to believe in them because to a social fascist like him the real Left is usually the real problem. So whenever things get tough, like for his beloved health racketeering plan, his preferred course of action is to make an alliance with the Right. His stance on health “reform” is a textbook example. He applauds the corrupt secret deals the administration made with all the rackets involved in order to produce this monstrosity. But I guess by nature he’s not cynical enough to do this easily. He really wants to feel like he’s a good guy, on the side of good public policy. So he’s personally just as much as politically invested in thinking there’s such a thing as “reasonable conservatives.” That would give him cover for his own corporate advocacy, that he’s not so obviously in the company of only the most vicious gangsters.  
 
Most liberal nabobs are also cowards. They’re scared of anything, like corporations, which has real power, or even of things which are powerless but can still make noise, like the Republicans in 2009. This cowardice manifests generally in a willingness to live under the thumb of gangsters. Very rarely does a “progressive” actually acknowledge that the beleaguered way of life, the imperiled value, is freedom in itself, prosperity in itself, and the problem is the rackets themselves, and that the great war must be fought out on this line, or lost.
 
One particular symptom of this kind of cowardice is the constant refrain that Obama “inherited” the Bailout and the Permanent War. A free human being would never accept such an “inheritance”. He’d disavow it. He’d fight as hard as he must to redeem the situation and place the full blame and cost on the heads of the criminals responsible. He’d make them pay, politically, financially, in the dock, and on the gallows, for everything they stole and all the pain they forced upon the innocent.
 
We know that Obama and his hacks are in fact consciously among the criminals. But this can’t be the case for the rank and file cultists. Only sheer cowardice and spiritual weakness in general can explain the abyss between the ideals they proclaim and the crimes they support. That’s what makes them liberal teabaggers.
 
(The definition of a teabagger is someone who, regardless of political affiliation, being non-rich lets himself be Astroturfed into fighting for the rich against his own people. So who’s worse?
 
Is it those who claim to want freedom and the Constitution but who support the fascist Sarah Palin, with her fascist wars and “Patriot” Act? Who call the neoliberal Obama a “socialist”?
 
Or is it the Obama hacks and cultists? Those who are either too dumb to understand that Obama has done nothing but continue every Bush/Cheney assault, or who openly demonstrate how they’re just Democrat party hacks who never had a problem with Bush policy but only with the fact that it was Bush doing it.
 
Either way, they’re empowering Wall Street and increasingly overt fascism.
 
So it’s two kinds of Astroturf hacks, while those on both sides who think Obama’s a “progressive” or a socialist, differing only in whether they applaud or attack this lie, are just the same idiot.)
 
And with the hacks we get to the worst of the lot, the sheer cynical traitors. These are Democratic politicians and operatives, as well as many, perhaps most, among the “activist” leadership and in the media. These are the neoliberal cadres who willfully support corporatism, who truly believe America should be a dictatorship of big business and big money, with sham elections for window dressing. Reagan, as channeled through Obama, is their perfect Leader. His sociopathy and perfidy, his supercilious elitism and technocratic wonkery, reflect perfectly those who call themselves the “creative class”. This is the real social fascism.
 
These are the purveyors of the Big Lie of “pragmatism”, which is their Orwellian term for the bloodless tyranny of clinical process. (I’ll have more on “the process” in the next post.) These are the whitewash brigade for all of Obama’s lies: That he never promised “change”, transparency, to purge corruption, to restore the rule of law, to redeem civil liberties, to demand a public option as part of health reform, to withdraw from Iraq (and they lie about the scope of the Afghanistan focus he spoke of, which didn’t remotely foreshadow the massive escalation upon which he’s embarked). They also propagate the pro-Bailout lie that bailing out the insolvent big banks was necessary to “save the economy”. Where this lie doesn’t spring from sheer ignorance, it really means, “without the big banks, there’s no predatory globalization” or “there’s no corporatist economy” or “the elites can’t effectively refeudalize and reduce the people to serfdom.” That’s always what Obama, Geithner, and their lackeys all the way down really mean by, “we had to save the banks.”  These are the Astroturfers who round up the liberal teabaggers for the Democratic party.
 
They epitomize the classic fascist mentality in another way. The most vile type of subhuman filth is the kiss up-kick down type, the type of the cowardly bully. In our corporatist system, this is the most common type, in politics, in big business, in the MSM, in academia. This is the default type among Republicans, and it has become the most common type among establishment Democrats as well. Thus it’s not surprising that the one “fight” Obama and his slimy little thug Emanuel are willing to engage, the one they downright enjoy, is where they get to beat up on the “retarded” progressives, knowing that these as well are cowardly, self-defined weaklings, just on an even lower level, and will cave in under assault even where in theory they have the strength to fight back.
 
That’s why under the slightest, most idiotic pressure from Glenn Beck, Obama threw a real activist like Van Jones overboard, and why Jones meekly slunk away. It’s the same Dem-side cowardice at different levels. And it’s why, on the contrary, no level of pressure from the public interest side could ever get Obama to willingly part with capital criminals like Geithner or Bernanke. Because to side against them would mean to side against entrenched power.
 
The hacks often propagate the lie that this is a “center-right country”. What this really means is that the Democrats, the liberal organizations, and the MSM are to the right of the people, but try to convince the people that each individual one of them is atomized and wrong. It’s demoralization propaganda.
 
Meanwhile, the system is so rigged by now against the people, against any attempt to really engage in democracy, that for now the hard-right status of government policy is a given, but these scum hacks represent that outcome as a natural, democratic one. They try to render the results of their crimes against democracy a self-fulfilling prophecy. They strip you of any meaningful vote, and then if you vote for a stooge candidate or skip voting altogether, they claim your action either validates the system, or in the case of non-voting that you voluntarily removed yourself from it.
 
So what are they really? In the end are they progressives or corporatists? If a corporate environmentalist had to choose between Bush or EarthFirst!, which would he choose? These health “reform” hacks, who apparently want a fully corporatized system but with a human face or some such notion: If they had to choose between Bush and fully socialized medicine, which would they choose? If the Civil War were to start today, with clearly demarcated battle lines, and 50-50 odds, and they had to choose the side for which they had to fight, and the armies were infused with the respective spirits of Cheney and Proudhon, who would they choose?
 
So it was this combination of personal weakness, cowardice, and cynicism, operating over decades of an increasingly corrupt system, which debased whatever public interest spirit that may once have existed among this leadership into social fascism. By now the liberal fascists are almost indistinguishable from the rightist variety.
 
Real citizens, real freedom fighters, those who truly want to save America, must reject the Democratic party and the liberal establishment, including those who masquerade as independent activists but whose actions prove them to be party hacks, corporate shills, Astroturfers.
 
As for them, it’s funny how truly angry these hack apparatchiks are becoming, now that the real people are refusing to listen to their criminal lies anymore. That real progressives will no longer accept being treated as the personal property of the vote-buyers, to vote as the purchase decrees. That freedom-loving Americans see through their corrupt, corporatist agenda. That, whatever comes with the future, one thing which has no future whatsoever is the Democratic hack sellout, as represented by Obama, Emanuel, Krugman, and the sellouts and liars all the way down.
 
Tell the hacks to have fun in 2010. Have fun in 2012.
 
After that history will never see the likes of them again, and good riddance.

March 15, 2010

Crime Fighting You Cannot Believe In

Filed under: Freedom, Mainstream Media, Scientism/Technocracy — Russ @ 11:37 am

 

If you truly care about fighting crime, there’s only one target in your sights. All the action is on Wall Street and radiates out from Wall Street. So if someone like Obama attitudinizes as a crime fighter but his priority is not to bring the Wall Street gangsters to justice, we can peg him immediately as a fraud. He and anyone like him has zero credibility, zero authority, zero legitimacy as a “crime fighter”.
 
So we can see what a stupid, cynical fraud it was for Obama to go on “America’s Most Wanted” of all places to squeal and peep about how he wants to get tough on crime. This is yet another moronic attempt on his part to play to the teabagger types who will never vote for him under any circumstances. He simply will not learn. (That’s the prime piece of evidence that for all his book smarts he basically has a mediocre intellect, that he’s incapable of learning such a simple lesson.)
 
This ploy would be just amusing in a trivial way except that it’s being used by the MSM as the pretext for totalitarian propaganda.
 
If the alleged subject is fighting crime, you might wonder why we’d need DNA evidence to prosecute Wall Street criminals. We know who the perps are. And even if we didn’t already know, investigation of white collar crime seldom requires the services of a physical forensics team.
 
So if someone’s going on about “crime” and yet his obsession is a DNA database, we have to question the priorities, the motives, the real agenda of the author and of those who gratuitously publish him.
 
Evidently Yale Law School is a totalitarian think tank. Or at least the NYT sees it as such. Today what they consider “fit to print” is a manifesto calling for the forced extraction of DNA from all Americans to be stored in a totalized database. The author, a sniveling little John Yoo-wannabe, takes all the corporate media’s fear-mongering and uses it as justification to demand that the price of citizenship should be nothing less than the complete surrender of our humanity.
 
The “crimes” in question are never specified, but they’re definitely NOT the kinds of crimes committed by the rich. On the contrary, he mentions “blacks and Hispanics” so often that although he’s supposedly trying to find a “fair” way around the de facto racially biased database that collecting the DNA of all arrestees would establish (this is the scheme Obama pandered on AMW), we have to take it as code indicating that the real agenda here is social control as such.
 

A much fairer system would be to store DNA profiles for each and every one of us. This would eliminate any racial bias, negate the need for the questionable technique of familial search, and of course be a far stronger tool for law enforcement than even an arrestee database.

 
Has the word “fair” ever been used in a more Orwellian way? This is actually typical of the liberal type of fascist. Most liberals have no problem at all with tyranny and slavery as long as it’s done in a “multicultural”, “politically correct” way.
 
(That’s also typical of the “liberal” MSM. This neoliberalism is the core NYT ideology, for example. Did they actively commission this op-ed the way they did the one lamenting how the Global War on Terror isn’t killing enough civilians?)
 
The apparatchik writing this makes a lame pass at privacy concerns. This is in keeping with the bourgeois fetish of negative freedom detached from any frame of reference. But we know that anyone who is so cavalier about the absolute destruction of positive freedom, of human dignity, will also in the end assault and surrender all personal, private liberty as well.
 
We know that no human being could write something like this:
 

As a practical matter, universal DNA collection is fairly easy: it could be done alongside blood tests on newborns, or through painless cheek swabs as a prerequisite to obtaining a driver’s license or Social Security card.

 
“Painless” – only for castrated slaves and fascist twerps like him. I’m a human being, and I would find such an assault and affront to my person, my dignity, my freedom, to be intolerably painful. But the likes of him could never understand such values, because they’re human values.
 
We must resist these attacks, which are bound to get worse for as long as the system exists. I know one thing – as a human being, I’m not willing to submit to this kind of regime so subhumans like this slave or anyone who agrees with him can feel more secure against “crime” (though as I said, they don’t care at all about real crime). Fuck them. Fuck them forever. Since they’re so terrified to live as human beings and not as slaves, I wish their worst nightmares upon them.
 
The piece also includes a concise statement of the totalitarian inertia of technology in itself:
 

Provided our privacy remains secure, there is no excuse not to use every bit of science we can in the fight against crime. The key is making sure that all Americans contribute their share.

 
As I’ve said before, the very nature of technology induces a default mentality in the slave mass which says, “If technology can be used in any way, no matter how extreme, no matter how tyrannical,  it should be so used. Period.” Most of them never even stop to think about it. That’s what makes them born slaves and mere impotent appendages of tech. And that’s why they and technology itself are such useful tools in the hands of corporatism.
 
So there you have it. They say they want to fight crime, yet mysteriously fail to fight the biggest, most obvious crimes. That proves they don’t really want to fight crime, and their real agenda lies elsewhere.
 
This whole argument is a perfect case study for the following facts:
 
1. We don’t need techno-totalitarianism ever, for anything; because
 
2. The real crimes of the real gangsters are committed in broad daylight. We have full knowledge of the crimes and the perps. The only thing we need is the political will to bring them to justice.
 
3. Therefore, techno-tot arguments always come from those who really do not want to fight the real crimes; who are in fact agents of the real criminals. As always, they want to turn us against ourselves. They want to misdirect our focus away from the real crimes and against our brethren, and in the process they want to help further destroy our freedoms and entrench their tyranny. That’s why Obama went on “America’s Most Wanted”, and that’s why the NYT solicited this supplementary manifesto.
 
Meanwhile all real Americans must reply, sorry thugs. We’ll stick with the Constitution and with the Founding values of America, which include that you have no right to search anyone, anywhere, without probable cause.
 
It’s a measure of how far gone we are that such a founding value is now considered the radical demand.
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