Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gaming Blame & Change

Listening to back to back spiels earlier today from both Obama and McCain on the latest economic "crisis" and reading a few liberal bloggers comment on the why and how of it all - it's obvious most of the public depend on their favorite icons to tell them what to think and who to blame.

For instance, some folks were connecting McCain and the Keating Five to the current banking mess. Huh? Do people really believe they can lay the blame on any and all members of the opposition? Are these folks 18y/o, on their first job and new to grown-up life?

Economies always go through boom and bust cycles, a-l-w-a-y-s. Some cycles worse than others. Today's economic atmosphere is similar to the 1970s and '80s - although not as bad, yet. That's right, not as bad, yet. The misery index for 1980 was 22%, today it is 11.3 and climbing.

If you want to blame particulars for today's crisis you could go back a few years. To the Carter reign when money lending change began. Back to the DIDMCA (Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980) cosponsored by democrat senator William Proxmire and signed into law by Jimmah Carter. Jimmah said, "As you know, under existing law, which this bill will change, our banks and savings institutions are hampered by a wide range of outdated, unfair, and unworkable regulations." That's right - money changers were hampered, dammit.

The "crisis" was banking/lending and real estate back then too. (Why do we never have a crisis that would be good for us - say a crash of the fast food industry, the fall of BigPharma drugging grampa's erectile dysfunction and little Johnny's ADHD industry, or an utter and complete collapse of the entertainment industry?)

Then there was the "Tax Reform Act of 1986" also known as the Bradley-Gephardt bill, Bill Bradley and Dick Gephardt, both Democrats. Touted as fair and sensible tax reform - it was to close tax shelter loopholes and reduce taxes. It was the era of yuppyism and beemers and mergers. Garn-St. Germain didn't help things either.

The "pay-off" for these bipartisan works and dozens of other monetary bills and acts, was to benefit everyone, even if the US ruling class had to outsource and offshore every job not nailed to the floor, and give Joe Average more "service" work (flipping burgers and wiping butts for minimum wage). And wouldn't ya know it, at the same time we had to import illegal workers to do the jobs Americans would not do - you know, like construction, landscaping, farming, housekeeping, nanny work .... and taxes rose on the lower classes from 11% to 15% - oops.

Meanwhile back at the White's House ,Clinton was signing Nafta and shafta. Clinton continued the Reaganista dreams, as overseer of central-bank autonomy, deregulated markets, liberalized capital flows, free trade, and privatization. Not to mention spending your tax dollars to bailout other economies such as Russia, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Most bailouts were under the auspice of the IMF but the US holds a lot of "quota" and voting power for who does and does not get loans.

The IMF, along with World Bank, are dirty words in "progressive" circles, although most followers carrying those "down with IMF/WB" signs are quite clueless as to how the world works. Sometimes I wonder why all the hue and cry because The World Bank is pledged to the UN-backed Millennium Development Goals, to reduce poverty - a goal and organization which progressives claim to support and look to for UN approval.

Critics of IMF/WB argue that loans and long-term agreements lock countries into aid dependency. Shusssssh - kind of like the locked in welfare dependency here in the 'hood. And the World Bank was good enough for Obama's flowerchild mama to work as a consultant for .... so by golly it should be good enough for today's progressives.

It is the developing world and giants such as India and China who want more IMF/WB powers. So while progressive anti-globalization icons are shouting down with IMF/WB their goal is not to end globalization but to make it better globalization. With them in charge of doling out the money - just changing the faces of the money changers.

Pinkster Medea Benjamin calls IMF/WB and WTO the "unholy trinity." In this interview she preaches the usual sermon about putting more money into public programs, otherwise known as the war on poverty, which we know is a failure, and by the way all the "humanitarian aid" from do-gooders has killed more people in Africa than the US military ever will.

The trendy election cycle mantra for grassrooters is mo' money for infrastructure and healthcare. Infrastructure - what does that mean to Joe Average? Roads, schools, hospitals? Don't ask me why healthcare and infrastructure were not hotly targeted for "change" when the Clintons, the democrats, and progressives were living in the White House for 8 years.

National Priorities has an interesting interactive chart. Pull down the State and city and see how much the median income family spends on defense, education, health, etc. Not mentioned is how much tax refund the median income family receives, if any. The top 4 costs on locations I checked were the military, health, payment on national debt, and anti-poverty programs, in that order. Education and social services held the 5th spot.

You can also select and see what the trade-offs would be. For instance, if the State of California used the FY 2009 tax cut for the richest 10% for housing instead - they could provide 44,000 affordable housing units. Who will pay shady contractors for rehabbing the units every couple of years is any one's guess. Nor is there any description of the size or type of units this trade-off would provide or how many years would pass before taxpayers get to fund gentrification of the area. See Cabrini Green and Obama. "Affordable housing" is feel-good code for da projects and/or other shoddy government housing.

The costs of the military, health/education, welfare, have remained pretty constant the past 15 years, at least according to this chart.

But be afraid, very afraid - because fear and blame are all that motivates the public to vote every 4 years.

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