Archive for the ‘Naomi Klein’ Category

Understanding the Greek Economic Crisis…or is it Chicago?

July 24, 2015

Don’t gloat.   Coming to a town hear YOU! You think malfeasance  isn’t happening where YOU live?

https://www.google.com/#q=California+Town+bankrupted+by+corrupt+officials. This is about Vernon California. apparently, their neighbors saw these guys getting away with  this, so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Bell_scandal.  This is about Bell, California, where the town rulers, elected officials, bankrupted the town before the feds could save it.  You have to remember that lots of  actions are legal if they are not illegal. While we  are supportive of laws chasing drug dealers and addicts around,prosecuting welfare and food stamp fraud…. keeping lawyers employed—we are ignoring the important stuff …because it is boring until WE  get pummeled.

I was listening to an economics professor on the radio talk about what the problem is in Greece.  He said the Greek people aren’t lazy, but their  socio/political system is so inefficient, most Greeks work  2 jobs. He also  claimed that it wasn’t because  Greeks didn’t pay taxes—as the wealthy in all countries get away with not paying taxes.  However, in the USA & much of Europe, there has been a huge middle class that pays property taxes.  This is not the case in Greece, or many countries (it was not the case in Malawi when I was an urban planner in Blantyre in  the early 1990s, nor was it in Egypt—where  people were allowed to occupy unfinished buildings and not apply for  occupancy permits…so not be on the tax rolls).

The economics professor claimed Greece was in trouble because the European (etc) investors continued to  prop up banks making bad loans.  Bingo!

Sound familiar?  Did any bankers go to jail when they did that to  the USA in  2008 at the end of Dubyas years? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Job_(2010_film)  Charles Ferguson’s  2010 documentary reminds us that—no—we Americans footed the bill.  Puerto Rico is going through the same thing (albeit partly because of being overly generous to her citizens)., but I live in Chicago, where our aldermen and state senators ‘borrowed’ from public employees  pension funds ( http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/07/roots-of-the-chicago-teacher-pension-crisis/) for fripparies:  rodeos,  chandeliers, offices, statues, junkets….and never paid it back— or never put the $$$ in in the first place—taxes we paid!!! & we  stupid citizens not only have to pay AGAIN—but the assholes who did this are now receiving pensions themselves!  Here is the  right  wing take on our situation:http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/07/how_democrats_pillaged_chicago_toward_bankruptcy.html  It’s not just the patronage army, it’s our politicians.

In the past…before the internet…when things got so dire…there were revolutions.  This is how the socialists came to power in many places.  This may seem far afield, but Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  keep calling for reforms.  The only way to  fight the  malfeasance is un-elect the  rascals and get ourselves a new set of rascals…and as citizens…support the government watchdog agencies and cut politicians pensions.

I am an anarchist. Let’s start with that.

August 31, 2012

Those  who know me would say, “Of course!”  Let’s get serious.  What does being an anarchist mean?  Are we the same as libertarians?  We share so many of the same values, it’s really hard to tell, but  the difference  is how we get to the end result of the government falling away. Karl Marx developed the theory that labor would organize itself, and labor unions would run the government.  That’s it in a nutshell.  As we Jews say, the rest is commentary.  This was at a time when labor was not really organized, and the thought was that labor would organize as industrial unions, not business unions, like what we actually have.

Anarchists  don’t believe in no government. They believe in small government—like the libertarians do.  We aren’t generally violent people, although the  writers of American history would have us believe Sacco & Vanzetti were  bomb throwers (it couldn’t possibly have been the police starting a riot…)

I came to anarchism through industrial unionism… syndicalism…and the Industrial Workers of the World. For those who don’t know anything about the Wobblies, you might get Patrick Renshaw’s book, or rent Warren Beatty’s movie, Reds (which is part documentary & interviews with old Wobs, as we were called).

We believe workers should run the economy…the government, and that the boss is useless.  I would general digress now about how difficult it is for dog groomers to work for non-dog groomers who are business owners, and who want to exploit our labor, but this is not why I am blogging about anarchism.

The problem is…that our needs in modern, urban, society are complicated and require full time oversight.  This would leave little time for economic activity to support our community’s needs:  planning, developing, and caring for infrastructure, energy resources, schools and education, health care, security, and information  communication  and distribution.

So—we have an overlay of bureaucracy to take care of  stuff’. They have to get paid, so we tax ourselves.

But then..the dynamic changes, and the politicians we elect seem to think that they really provide an added value, as do the employees they oversee that are working for us. They get much better benefits than the rest of us, including their pension plans…and the result is, of course, that so many government entities are now declaring bankruptcy.

I am an old lady now. The billions we could have spent on  teaching teachers to teach science, to provide health car  cradle to grave, to develop and renewable energy resources… we spend on the wars in Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia (but not Rwanda)…so people could be free?  We allowed the people we elected to underfund out schools,  pander to teachers’ unions (how ironic is this?)deny us health care as a human right (unless we live to be very old), bail out banks & AIG—the insurance company too big to fail—in place of environmental and economic security…what is this about?

We parrot that the USA is the greatest country in the world, and  we are, essentially, as bad as the Russians: buffoons to the rest of the world.

I am not sure what the solution is, but  now that we have the internet, I would think it would be easier for people to get more information and be a little skeptical about what we all think is the conventional wisdom.

Who Pays? What Does Being ‘Middle Class” Mean?

August 2, 2012

What does it mean to be ‘Middle Class’?  Does it mean you are not rich…but not poor? That you can pay your bills and don’t have more debts than assets?    That you can save money for retirement & can afford 1 vacation a year?

What does it mean when  journalists and reporters talk about the middle class…here and in other countries?

When I was in graduate school, over 20 years ago, I was shocked to learn that being considered middle class was actually based on your level of education.  Not your  income!  It had nothing to do with how much money you had.  Your level of education actually gives you some social/economic mobility.  That’s the important thing.

I had thought it meant  living in a house with electricity, running water, and  a phone. Also, having good health or access to healthy care.  Apparently, it doesn’t.  Nor does it have anything to do with the amount of debt you carry—-witness the many college students graduating  and carrying well over $50,000 in debt!

When I was in India, I was invited to the home (well, actually, the apartment, on the fifth floor of a walk-up) of a middle class couple. The husband and wife both had masters degrees, but no car, no refrigerator. That means they had to shop for groceries every day.  They DID have a TV…but heck:  I was  working in a squatter community where people didn’t have running water, but many households had TVs. You see, the men folk like to watch the cricket & ‘football’ matches…so owning a TV is more important than owning a refrigerator. I could only think , They both have masters degrees, and this is the best they can do?  500 square feet on the fifth floor, no air conditioning, no refrigerator?

I learned, as an undergraduate, some of the indicators that a nation was developing towards a middle class tax base.  They had to have a literate populace (in the 1970’s, Tanzania had a literacy rate of over  90%).  Most households had to have access to communications infrastructure.  They had to have access to at least primary health care.

The theory is…that if people have their basic needs met, they have the  social and economic mobility to create wealth, and a tax base that supports infrastructure that in turn—supports more  economic development. What a great theory.  Matter of fact, it is what all governments are based on!

Unfortunately, for us 99%, none of the economic theorists ever addressed what would happen if the overseers of our government infrastructure—our politicians—spent more than we took in:  on wars, toys, vacations, perks, PENSION PLANS for themselves that are better than Social Security.  & if we 99% had to pay more of a per centage of our incomes in taxes to support  such frivolity than we could save or spend on our own pursuits we would no longer be…middle class. Oh, wait, …it works ok in  the Scandinavian countries. Oh, right—they aren’t supporting wars, and corruption….

So…what do we do?  If we were smart, we would tax the rich.  In fact, the rich would either tax themselves, or get rid of the rascal politicians & get a new set of rascals—because the funny thing is….if  there is no middle class to buy what the rich sell…..there aren’t any rich, either. There is a limit to (economic) growth.

We are now, in the USA, at a terrible crisis. We’ve destroyed the  natural environment, &  are heading towards a population crash.  Too many dimwits have too many children, because they are clueless & this is the way they have always lived. The kids  aren’t learning anything useful in many urban schools, so they become criminals to survive.  Due to our    communications infrastructure, the predators among them can easily corrupt  and destroy naive middle class youth—& they do—with METH.

We really have to get organized to address this.

Is Greece a Failed State? Transparency International! Hello!

November 10, 2011

A few years ago, I  visited Egypt.  Amazing  country.  Thousands of miles of absolutely nothing, punctuated by  areas of intense beuaty, and a  long  area along the Nile of human history.  Incredible.

One thing I noticed, as we drove along, was the  many unfinished buildings. In fact, one of the hotels we stayed in (in Luxor) had a totally unfinished floor.

I asked the guide about this, and he told me that you don’t have to pay property taxes until the building is finished. You can occupy the building, but you don’t have tyo pay taxes.

Ah, yes.  This is how it is in much of the developing world.  That’s the law.  & so their infrastructure crumbles.  You wonder, “How do they exist?’  Foreign Aid.   The Europeans, the  Americans. even the Chinese.  It’s a way to build relationships.a  But it’s also a way to keep the corrupt in power, and the irony is that this foreign  aid is supposed to benefit  the citizenry.  The stand off is, it benefits the politicians, & the  citizenry don’t have to be mature and pay  for what they need.

Granted, a lot of the citizenry won’t be home owners, they will be renters, and they could not afford an abrupt change —because  their landlords will pass on the increase to the renters.  Many will either  take in  ‘roommates’ & over populate the property, or become homeless.

I saw this in Malawi, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.    I saw it in India, where the homeless/landless canp out  in front of the gates of the wealthy.  We are seeing it in Greece.

I have a friend whose father is Greek, and she has spent  a lot of time in Greece.  She rolls her eyes when you ask about  why you can’t get someone evicted for nonpayement of rent (possession is 9/10ths of the law…& squatters pay off  the people  who would evict them).

Many Greeks go to other countries, make a lot of money, & return to Greece to retire, as the pensions are so favorable….for Greek nationals.

The fact is, the only difference between the Greeks & the Africans is, the Greeks are  mostly cuacasian.

So,  even though the rest of Europe, the EEU, knew that was how the Greeks operated,they welcomed them into their economic community. It made no sense, unless you  would be funding them with other peoples money & making a commission.

I remember when  Transparency International sent  representatives to the African Studies Association conference. The officials, formerly of the ‘World Bank‘   told us how they were going to work with  developing governments to  bring good governance and respect for ‘rule of law’, so they could borrow more money after they had squandered ( and because they were tricked, in many cases—-I refer you to Naomi Klein’s  excellent book,Shock Doctrine:  the Rise of Disaster Capitalism) what they had already gotten.

I recently read a review Adam Gopnick, the New Yorker writer, wrote on The Wealth of Nations.  He highlighted  the notion that it benefitted buyers and sellers to act with integrity.  it was part of the deal…yet the people in charge of doling out money for investment seem to be…unclear on the concept.

Before I went to Egypt, I traveled in Malaysia.  Malaysia is an amazing country.  Very high rate of literacy,   excellent health care system (hey. compared to the USA…) modern infrastructure.  It seems that these people have a different view of transparency and capitalism than the Europeans & Americans.  This country is what America would be like if we hadn’t invested in wars instead of ourselves.

In the next few weeks, a super committee will present to the Congress of the United States  a way to close our bazillion dollar deficit. They are going to raise the eligibility age for  social securlty and medicare, and most likely eliminate the tax deduction for home mortgage ingerest and  real estate taxes.  They will NOT—you wait & see—lower their own salaries or pensions, nor will they  eliminate foreign aid or cut military spending.  We will still have a department of education that  realy  doesn’t do too much to improve the quality of lives in America.  In fact, we will still have all the government departments that repackage our tax dollars & send it out.   Very high income people—the 1%—will not be asked to pay more for anything.

& we will still have people like Cain, Bachman, & Perry having a degree of  credibility becaus they are not Obama, and because most Americans are  exhuaseted, frightened, and innumerate.  I don’t know hwat the solution is.  You can’t  undo  what all those who didn’t have integrity  did to create this mess.

 

Capitalism won? (The Occupy Wall Street movement)

October 19, 2011

This is a bit or a reworking of a post I made about a year ago.  I decided to do this because…just when you think the economy can’t get any worse, it does.  & for those who  thought  Obama was a socialist, the whole Solyndra fiasco (coupled with AIG & bailing out the auto industry—again—-) should prove  he is either clueless about economics, or as greedy as any other capitalist on the Hill.  Add to that  a continuation of  foreign military aid to dictators.  There is no excuse for this, & he put  the  means of getting to energy self sufficiency further back than any of the tea partiers could possibly have.

The problem is that our math & science education in the US is so terrible, but we do a wonderful job of making people patriotic. What does this have to do with anything? Well, most Americans  can’t do more than add & subtract, and they even have trouble with that.   They  don’t understand where all the money we pay in taxes goes. It’s supposed to pay for infrastructure, salarlies for elected officials, pensions,  and the people who  provide services that don’t make money for us directly—but whom we need so the rest of the economy that does make money can function. But  the  politicians/elected officials   make it pay for pork.  In many communities,  any warm body in a classroom will do—even if that warm body doesn’t know math or science.  Part of the problem is that many people who are specialists in math & science can get much better paying jobs in  industries:  computer science, medical, engineering… with a lot less aggravation….

I’ve been told that it’s the teachers unions that prevent math and science teachers from being paid more. But that is not the  only reason. I did my master’s project on implementing  better  math and science teaching for  development, & the reason the qualified math and science teachers do not get paid more, or better working conditions is…there is no political will…& the reason for that is,  the people who could address this:  you, me, our neighbors,  are too lazy to  be organized and meet, and nag—for  a pay differential to  attract better qualified teachers,  In  Chicago,  if  the Chicago Board of Education can’t find teachers, they either  have a literature teacher teach science, or  don’t offer the course.  That’s also how the Chicago Community Colleges deal with the issue:  courses not offered.  Meanwhile, the principals, chancellors, and the  higher ups in the bureaucracy can find plenty of cash to pay themselves…just no money to pay for people offering to teach scarce skills.  Makes all the sense in the world, right?

This is important, because if you don’t know math, or basic science, you can’t understand economics.  Economics is the science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth.  But it’s nor really a science—it’s more of a philosophy.

About 10 years ago, looking for a better way to make money without spending years in school, I looked in to brokering cash flows:  payment streams. They are traded among investors.  It works like this:  Say you agree to  payments—like a mortgage.  A 20 year mortgage  is 240 monthly payments.  It was—& still is— legal to by certain payments in that stream. You could buy payments 15 through 125, or  payment numbers 128, 146, 238, etc.  It didn’t matter.

My question was….what if the mortgage got paid off early?  Or was defaulted on?  Would you get the principal and  no interest?  How would you ensure this if the mortgage was sold several times?  Ah…this was the rub.  I realized that I didn’t have the back up capital to be involved in this industry.  I chalked up what I spent on learning this to ….education.

Years passed, and the  mortgage/cash flow industry (as it was known) continued to develop  creative financing, and it was legal because it was not illegal.  The  real estate appraisers were in collusion with this, and the term for this slice and dice was ultimately called the credit default swap.

The only ones who made money on this were the investors who  hedged bets against this—like Michael Burry (who was profiled by Michael Lewis in his recent book. The Big Short).  Because we are innumerate, and can get high school…& then get college degrees without being able to balance a checkbook,  we and our neighbors were tricked into buying houses we and they could not afford because  the mortgage brokering foxes running the henhouses told us and them  they COULD afford those houses when common sense said we and they could not.

Never mind that if they added up what they paid for utilities, groceries, clothing, insurance, CABLE TV, gym membership, eating  out, vacations, GETTING THEIR HAIR & NAILS DONE,  saving for retirement—and my very favorite:  getting the dog’s hair cut—- they’d see  that all this cost more than they brought into their households as income.  They could not afford the house (tho the dog’s haircut was the first casualty of real life in their faces…)

Nobody ever brought up:  what if the prices of gas, insurance, food, PROPERTY TAXES. or a repair to their homes—went up faster than their pay?

Nobody counseled them, or us.   This just could not happen. It’s a free country.   Bit,  this is how capitalism works.

When I started making mortgage payments over 30 years ago, I was not living so close to the edge…and since the  economic crash of 2008, I am living precariously close.  I’ve had to do some fancy footwork.  I can see right now, though, that  I can’t afford to  live in the house I live in now when I retire unless I win the lottery.

My biggest concerns are energy costs and property taxes.  Our governments are too bloated, and our elected officials are really too clueless.  Otherwise, how can you explain that , despite a federal deficit, we have money for wars, foreign aid, and to bail out banks & large industries?  What would have happened it AIG —too big to fail—had failed? How would that have affected me?   Locally, how did the city of Chicago, and the state of Illinois set up pension programs for themselves & state workers, based on a funding dream, not reality?  In fact, in Chicago, how did the union officials who  ‘worked’ maybe a week,  become eligible for both government & union pensions?  How could that possibly become legal when  virtually everyone else has to be on a job at least a year to be eligible for a pension?

Thanks to the internet, we can now see h0w other countries fare in terms of budgets…especially  when they are not fighting wars.

Let’s get a grip.  For decades, due to the concept of credit, we had the largest/strongest economy.  That is no longer true.  As long as people were willing to pay interest on loans, and had the integrity to pay the loans back, capital kept growing.

My grandparents  were first generation Americans, and raised my parents to believe that the USA is the greatest country.  For decades, we has the strongest and most diverse economy. That is no longer true.

There are a lot of people who have a vested interest in keeping you and your children misinformed.

It makes no sense that our prisons are filled with drug addicts, the stupid, and homosexuals (really), but there is no room for the truly dangerous.  It makes no  sense that the politicians can decide what to pay themselves and how many people to have on their payrolls, yet allow major industries (banking, health insurance, law) to influence what laws we have.  It makes no sense that people at the Securities and Exchange Commission  saw that Bernie Madoff had a huge pyramid scheme going, & nobody stopped the guy.

You might wonder how I started thinking about how all this works.  It started by  having to deal with people who impulsively bought pets they weren’t prepared to care for.  They didn’t have enough information, and  the law didn’t require sellers to give them information. It’s just too easy to acquire a pet animal!  But that’s how capitalism wants. It doesn’t meet needs, it creates wants!

Think about this:  if everyone who graduated 8th grade  had to demonstrate numeracy:  understanding a profit and loss sheet, or a budget, or how to balance a check book, and what diapers cost and how many a child under 2 years old goes through…we might have fewer people having kids and losing their homes.   I guess we’d have fewer people graduating  from high school, too…& college—with thousands of dollars in debt & no job.

Now, what does this have to do with  understanding economics .  The concept is actually pretty simple, to start out:  to run a business—any venture, you need inputs:  materials, knowledge, energy, labor, marketing, distribution, and savings for re-investment . All these inputs cost money.  So you have to charge more for the product or service than you spend to create the product or service. Simple.   So…how do you decide what to charge? Every  industry is different.  In some industries, you charge double your inputs…to make sure you have money to re-invest, and profitsWho gets the profits is the rub.

Karl Marx, the layabout philosopher supported by his father-in-law, Fred Engels, said the bosses  take too much  and exploit the workers (in a nutshell), and that soon, the workers would not make enough to support themselves.  &, by golly!  He was a visionary!

So, after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, & the  newspaper editors proclaimed that Capitalism won (because the  corporation that ran  the Soviet Union had to be bailed  out by the World Bank, who paid the same people who got themselves into the mess , to become oligarchs), we 99% had to go along with it.  We  pay everyone as long as they privatize their infrastructure & the elites can benefit.

But it wasn’t capitalism that ‘won’, as  Naomi Klein documented in her amazing book, Shock Doctrine:  The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, because capitalism got an unfair  bail-out from the World Bank that only benefited elites, who, she documented, proceeded to destroy what was left of their economies.   It wasn’t my imagination. It actually happened.   In her book, she also documented what is now called The Third Way—and that is the way of workers cooperatives, that  share the profits left over after re-investment.  The Third Way is also how citizens  keep  elected officials accountable…but  in other countries, they’ve done a lot better job educating themselves than Americans have.

You would think that Warren Buffet and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would now spend their billions helping create that Third Way, but no, alas. it’s not in their interests.

Were I  not  having to make a living, I would be out protesting with the 99% , the occupy Wall Street protesters, who,  as inarticulate as they seem to be—with no ‘leader’— are starting the conversation.They were  born after the civil rights movement, after the Viet Nam War (interesting, that no  Afghanistan & Iraqi veterans against the war have emerged, like the Viet Nam Vets against the War).

We have to make this way of thinking the conventional wisdom.  Now, as for the  people who have lost jobs, who are looking to learn new skills:  if those skills don’t include learning to grow your own food  and do home repairs,  that new learning  will be a waste of time for the foreseeable future.  I really feel for  all the kids getting into debt to pay for college, betting against the future. What a shame.

Even Nixon said, “We are all Keynesians now” and that was back in the 1970’s.  It’s proven..infrastructure does not pay for itself, but there is no return in paying for wars and military aid to dictators, when our  own infrastructure is crumbling…and nobody has asked any of the Republicans how they plan to pay for infrastructure, when you can see, around the world, where infrastructure has been privatized,  everyone’s standard of living has fallen…amazing that the rich think they can buy their way out of a community.

If you think this blog makes sense, please send the link to everyone you know, including your elected officials (who, had they any integrity, should be taking a 50% pay cut, & reset to the 1970s).

Book Review: Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein

September 21, 2011

I didn’t go to college right out of high school, I sort of relied on my boyfriend (ex-husband after a while) to  point me in the right direction  regarding  my political  thought development.  He was a philosophy major and economics minor in college.  What did I know of communism, socialism, Keynesianism or anarchism.  In fact, we were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies), and  our group’s philosophy was  anarcho-syndicalism.  That means we believed in  government owned by the workers—the people who made  things work, the producers.  You’d never know it if you got all your information from  privately owned media:  Google ‘worker collectives’, or even ‘Employee Stock Ownership Plans’ and you may find some successful examples.  In any case, the cold war was sputtering out, and would  continue to for another 20 years or so..more of a trading of insults than a war. In Chile, Pinochet had Salvador Allende killed, and the  fact that he was assisted by our CIA was no secret.  Our government was telling us citizens that Chile was not a democracy, because the wrong guy won.

While you are at it, Google “Marshall Plan” and you will find out that is NOT what the USA has been implementing since  we’ve decided to meddle in the economies of so many countries.

But what did it matter?  It was the 1970’s.  We had declared victory in Viet Nam and left. We could still make our rent &  other expenses on a week’s wages (as long as 3 of us split the rent) &  I didn’t think about health insurance, or saving for a rainy day.  I was too immature, too unsophisticated, to understand the economic system.  Fact is, due to the  entire  group of educational systems in the USA is a make work project for teachers, few of us know how economics works.  You can  ‘graduate’ from primary school and not know compound interest, how to start a business or do bookkeeping,  basic, vital economic concepts.  I found them teaching this stuff in Kenya in 1987.  I know I learned it in the late 1960s. What happened?  Why aren’t parents demanding that their kids be able to function?  Because they’ve been sold a bill-of-goods that their kids are educated if they major in liberal arts.  So much for that…when even a toxicologists can’t find a job, we know we are in trouble…We don’t even know what questions to ask about how our government spends out money.

Klein starts her history of how we allowed  Dubya (President Bush the 2nd) to not  provide immediate help to the  victims of Hurricane Katrina.  She describes how   we (American citizens…after all, having a democracy, WE are responsible for the mayhem)  support so many domestic companies and foreign leaders who really  don’t believe in democracy as we generally think of it.

She describes the orchestrated  overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973…the CIA assisting Pinochet with guns and money,  and destroying Chile.  Why did the CIA do this?  Even though he was democratically  elected, he nationalized  natural resources (the copper mines) for the public good.   Because Allende was a socialist and  Pinochet was a Chicago School free marketeer…. Really.  It’s a fact.  Sen.Bernie Saunders in Vermont is a socialist.  He hasn’t been offed because he doesn’t have that much power. How many of us knew what was happening with out tax $$$?

Is that an excuse?  Are we Americans off the hook? Do we really not understand why the rest of the world hates us?  But,  why individuals in the countries that ‘hate’ us want to take the gamble & try their luck here? Then, remember when Poland chose democracy & threw out the old communist regime?  Well, Klein painstakingly documents (copiously footnoted)  how  the World Bank/IMF insisted on an immediate sell off of  every state owned entity…and they(our government employees doing this on behalf of us..) did the same in Russia, South Africa,  Thailand & much of southeast Asia,  and now Iraq.  In Russia, the Communist Party  oligarchs were allowed to buy the  entities they ran.  In Iraq, they were prevented from bidding.  She  goes into detail how Paul Bremer, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld  totally destroyed the  all of Iraq, making it appear that Saddam Hussein  did this, when WE did this to them & the citizens there know it.  In fact, she describes how they started electing governing councils, and Bremer sent in our army to stop them from doing democracy on their own.

It is 2011 as I write this. President Obama  is either unable or unwilling to embarrass the rich, the Republicans, and bring vital change. Seems he  thinks  our  economic policy as we act and implement abroad is fine.   The American congress is now  deciding how, exactly, to dismantle the  home mortgage  interest & property tax deductions, and makes sure nobody can get by on the  social safety net of Social Security.  We’ve got a bunch of free market senators and representatives who do not know  either history or economics,  thinking—no—KNOWING —they are next in line for largesse.  Their  pensions will NOT be cut, and they will join the corporate boards of all the companies who will benefit by what Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize Winner, called,  a colossal transfer of private wealth into public hands. comparable to Russia’s giveaways to the oligarchs.    His book, Freefall (published by Norton in 2010) is also worth reading. He had been an Obama supporter…

Kinda makes you sick, doesn’t it?  There have recently been news reports (and it was on National Public Radio, which I believe  reports more truth than any other media in the USA) that  about 25% of Illinois homes (my state) are in foreclosure.  1 in 4.  This means so much. It means  a lot of wealth (equity) evaporated.  That money was what people were using to reinvest in the economy.  It’s gone.   If the rich don’t  throw around more,  the economy will never come back.  Not in 10 year, not in 20.   This is it.  Those are families who got dogs groomed, had their hair & nails done.  People who shopped for clothes as a recreational hobby! No more. Orthodontia for the kids?  Please…

You really can’t complain about what is going on  if you don’t understand what is EXACTLY going on.  The book  was published in 2007 by Henry Holt.  I am sure you can get it on Amazon if your local used bookseller (please support them, first, or  all you will have is Walmart & no choice in what is available for reading, except the internet), and if you want your kids to have jobs anywhere in the world, start emailing your elected officials–particularly your senators, representatives, & President Obama and tell them no more  defense spending or foreign aid until we reinvest in ourselves.  You’ve got nothing to lose. It’s all gone…