This IS Shock Doctrine

“We now believe that the Spanish economy’s shift away from credit-fuelled economic growth is likely to result in a more protracted period of sluggish activity than we previously assumed,” Standard & Poor’scredit analyst Marko Mrsnik said.

The credit ratings corporations are attacking a country for ideological reasons, Spain (and note a left wing-ish government) wants to run its economy in ways that interfere with the financier’s business, thus they pretend in some scientific objective empirical fashion the nation is downgraded, it is smoke and mirrors. This is a political campaign by global corporate capital to reorder our failing democracies into helpless profit centres for their predation.

What a disaster for the people of Greece.
And what a triumph for Standards and Poors.

Because let’s be clear – Greece will carry on. Its people will survive. With support from Europe democracy will prevail in a country that has seen dictatorship far too recently.

And this then is a crisis created, in the main, by bankers – who put in place too many of the strictures inherent in the Euro; by libertarians who promote the hatred of the states and the poor regard for regulation that has denied the Greek government so much of the tax revenue it is owned and by financial institutions who (as Goldman Sachs seem to demonstrate, time and again) just love just situations to make short term profit at cost to ordinary people.

The UK will likewise be managed, the IFS cuts campaign began yesterday, again posing as some objective scientific empirical truth, it is nothing of the sort-

there’s no such thing as independence. The IFS is financed to promote conventional economic thinking on the UK economy. That’s a particular, and extremely normative view of our reality appropriately called neoliberal economics that prescribes certain outcomes irrespective of circumstance. So, for example, neoliberal economics assumes government is bad and the private sector is good, so it prescribes cuts. And neoliberal economics assumes tax is harmful to private income maximisation – which is a very narrow definition of well being – and as a result automatically rules out the use of tax increases as a mechanism for rebalancing the government’s finances.

Yeah, But They Really Needed That Billion

In 2009, the worst economic year for working people since the Great Depression, the top 25 hedge fund managers walked off with an average of $1 billion each. With the money those 25 people “earned,” we could have hired 658,000 entry level teachers. (They make about $38,000 a year, including benefits.) Those educators could have brought along over 13 million young people, assuming a class size of 20.



The 38 largest financial institutions on Wall Street will pay out a total of $145.85 billion in compensation for 2009, an 18 percent increase over 2008 and “slightly more than in the record year of 2007,” theWall Street Journal reports.

The UN launched an emergency appeal for $550m (£338m) yesterday amid an outpouring of worldwide generosity towards victims of the Haiti earthquake.

If the obscenely wealthy will not voluntarily fund relief needs then I believe it is morally imperative and justifiable to take it from them by force.

PS. And it would count as self defence for us and Haiti as the avatars of Capital are already unsheathing their Shock Doctrine.

Spot The Class War


The people of Iceland have not finished with their outrage at what they were suckered into, they are absolutely right to refuse to impoverish themselves in order to honour criminal banks’ debts. Of course the threats are coming thick and fast and expect the media to be full of negative stories of Icleandic evil but what they are doing is actually good for all of us, the free insurance we provide for banks, (keep your profits while we pay your losses) is nothing but theft. The full weight of global capital will be brought to bear on Iceland, if one country gets uppity and gets away with it the whole system might not seem so assured of its hegemony. It will not be easy and great economic violence will be done to Iceland if they hold firm and yes UK creditors will suffer (but all could be saved if instead of bailouts we had investment in the public commons) but if we let them be attacked it simply means our supine, submissive status to our own financial institutions will become even more entrenched, we may as well just open up a vein and offer them their fill. Michael Hudson has covered this over the last year, much better reading than the UK media manage, their unexamined nationalism and deference to orthodox neoliberal religion does not make for good journalism-

The Real Issue is Iceland’s Economic Independence Will Iceland be Handed Over to a New Gang of Kleptocrats?

Make Iceland Pay for Incompetent British Bank Deregulation! Gordon Brown Spills the Beans on the IMF

The Specter of Debt Revolt Is Haunting Europe Why Iceland and Latvia Won’t (and Can’t) Pay for the Kleptocrats’ Ripoffs

Banks Get Free Insurance

Richard Murphy:- I have been arguing since 2007 that UK banks should pay 10% more in tax than other companies. I argued at that time that this was the fee they owed for the state taking the risk of guaranteeing the deposits on which all banks (without exception) depend. That guarantee is still in place. It is why we, the ordinary people of the UK, bear the risk of banking now, for which we need to be compensated by way of additional tax payment.


BHOPAL, India (AFP) – Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak in India on Thursday marked 25 years since the world’s worst industrial accident with rallies demanding those to blame for thousands of deaths finally face justice. Residents and activists capped a week of commemorations with a march to the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, where on December 3, 1984 a cloud of methyl isocyanate killed up to 10,000 people in three days.

Studies released earlier this week showed the shanty towns surrounding the site were still laced with lethal chemicals that are polluting groundwater and soil, causing birth defects and a range of chronic illnesses. “The survivors of the tragedy, through these protests, are venting their ire against the state government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group of Information and Action.

Research by the Indian Council for Medical Research showed 25,000 people had died from the consequences of exposure since 1984. After those studies concluded, government statistics said 100,000 people were chronically sick, with more than 30,000 people living in areas around the factory where water was contaminated.

Criminal cases against former Union Carbide executives are pending in various Indian and US courts which hold them and Dow liable for the catastrophe. Amnesty International called on Dow to “cooperate fully in the ongoing legal proceedings in order to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.

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In other words, there are conditions under which we can be more altruistic, more generous, and more aware. But those conditions are killed by the act of purchase, of engaging with the world and its problems as if those problems were commodities, rather than political challenges that will be solved not by shopping, but by civic engagement.

Posted in Culture(!). Tags: , . Comments Off on Cost

USA Tops Financial Secrecy Index

Which means it is the leader in the elite’s class war against 99% of the people on planet Earth. Financial Secrecy Index.

The Bigger Picture

While some US liberals are rejoicing at the findings of this Pew poll that Fox news is seen as the most ideological network,


A larger point may be being missed, therefore I have helpfully added a corrective-

pewchomskyForest, trees, you get the picture. Gotta love the ‘Neither’ answers.

I’m Shocked…

Boris Johnson, who is leading the fight against a European crackdown on City financiers, faced accusations of being “bought off” today, when it emerged that more than half the money donated to his mayoral campaign came from the financial sector including hedge funds and private equity.

Johnson has criticised the EU’s so-called “hedge fund directive,” draft rules published in the spring which would limit debt levels for alternative investment managers, such as hedge funds, and force them to be more transparent.

Guinea Fragments

Does this story seem familiar, a former colony of Western occupiers, rich in resources, a chaotic struggle for power, an impoverished people, arms sellers making their profits, atrocities and other than the IMF/World Bank plans, no help offered, ‘investor confidence’ indeed.

Thousands of people have gathered at a mosque in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, to identify those killed in Monday’s opposition rally against military rule. Security forces struggled to cope with the crowds, after 57 bodies were taken to the mosque from a hospital morgue and lined up under nearby trees.

Cellphone snapshots, ugly and hard to refute, are circulating here and feeding rage: they show that women were the particular targets of the Guinean soldiers who suppressed a political demonstration at a stadium here last week, with victims and witnesses describing rapes, beatings and acts of intentional humiliation. “I can’t sleep at night, after what I saw,” said one middle-aged woman from an established family here, who said she had been beaten and sexually molested. “And I am afraid. I saw lots of women raped, and lots of dead.” One photograph shows a naked woman lying on muddy ground, her legs up in the air, a man in military fatigues in front of her. In a second picture a soldier in a red beret is pulling the clothes off a distraught-looking woman half-lying, half-sitting on muddy ground. In a third a mostly nude woman lying on the ground is pulling on her trousers.

The situation remains very unpredictable. The military is at risk of fracturing further while public finances, already in a parlous state, will likely deteriorate in the coming months. The junta may find their honeymoon period short-lived in the face of popular economic desperation.

Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains an underdeveloped nation. The country has almost half of the world’s bauxite reserves. The mining sector accounts for more than 70% of exports. Long-run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. Investor confidence has been sapped by rampant corruption, a lack of electricity and other infrastructure, a lack of skilled workers, and the political uncertainty because of the death of President Lansana CONTE in December 2008. Guinea is trying to reengage with the IMF and World Bank, which cut off most assistance in 2003, and is working closely with technical advisors from the U.S. Treasury Department, the World Bank and IMF, seeking to return to a fully funded program. Growth rose slightly in 2006-08, primarily due to increases in global demand and commodity prices on world markets, but the standard of living fell. The Guinea franc depreciated sharply as the prices for basic necessities like food and fuel rose beyond the reach of most Guineans. Dissatisfaction with economic conditions prompted nationwide strikes in February and June 2006.

In August 2003, a South African company, Alvis OMC, then a subsidiary of UK company Alvis and now a subsidiary of UK-based BAE Systems, signed a multi-million rand contract to supply the Ministry of Internal Security of the Republic of Guinea with ten “Mamba Mk3” 4×4 armoured “mine-protected” vehicles for immediate delivery from South Africa. A spokesperson for Alvis said these armoured vehicles would be used for “border control” in Guinea and that a three-week in-country training programme would form part of the contract.

On the other hand, the South African government should have been aware in 2003 of the foreseeable and significant risk that the security forces in Guinea would most likely use such vehicles to facilitate serious human rights violations if it granted permission for their export. The Guinean security forces had violently suppressed, in particular, demonstrations organized during the December 1998 presidential elections, the local elections of June 2000, and the 2001 referendum. Tensions were evident, and erupted again during the demonstrations of February 2004, November 2005, February and June 2006, and January/February 2007. Amnesty International has gathered information showing that the security forces in Guinea used armoured vehicles, including of the type imported from South Africa, to commit human rights violations while policing demonstrations held in January and February 2007 in Conakry. Photographs taken in Conakry on 20 January 2007 show the deployment by security forces of Mamba and other vehicles in the city.Film footage, reportedly shot on 22 January 2007 in Conakry, shows security forces firing on participants in a peaceful demonstration using what appear to be Mamba and other vehicles matching those in the photographs.

Apart from the armoured vehicles from South Africa referred to above, which would appear to be recorded under the UN trade data as being delivered in 2003, France has been a significant source of supply of military and lethal equipment to Guinea, especially cartridges for shotguns in the period 2003 – and again in 2004, 2005 and 2006, totalling a value of $6,213,611.Both Portugal and Spain have also supplied cartridges in 2003, 2004 and 2006 worth $246,388, and in 2003, $105,841 respectively.In 2005, Senegal delivered equipment under the category of munitions and cartridges and Turkey delivered firearms in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

On Wednesday, France announced it had suspended military co-operation with its former colony and said it was considering freezing aid to the country. But analysts say international bodies have little leverage as Guinea is a resource-rich, wealthy nation enjoying heavy investment from foreign mining firms.

Neoliberals Entrench In Germany But There Is Hope

Exit polls issued by German state television revealed that Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), had secured 33.5%, with the Free Democrats (FDP) taking 15%, giving a clear Bundestag majority of at least 308 seats.

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And For Those Who Get Skittish At The Mention of Class War

Executives at Britain’s top companies saw their basic salaries leap 10% last year, despite the onset of the worst global recession in decades, in which their companies lost almost a third of their value amid a record decline in the FTSE.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to admit for the first time that spending cuts will be needed, the BBC understands. BBC political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Brown would make his most explicit comments yet on spending choices in a speech to union leaders on Tuesday.

Why We’re All Going To Die

Because growth- FTSE 100 closes above 5000 for first time in almost a year !!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!!-is still the measure of whether things are going well or not. If this ‘crisis’ didn’t teach us anything then only mass die offs will. Boy, I’m chirpy. Cassandras debate.

Then that weird airport stuff, it’s either that sector grows and we all ration our lives to allow it, or we might *gasp* have stop going on so many totally frivolous flights. I mean really, is getting pished and whoring in -insert name of place where human flesh & dignity is sold cheaper than your locality- for a weekend really essential to life? We globalised the planet and it killed it dead.

But the public is not as stupid as the politicians think. They’ve noticed the disconnect between talk of global ecological disaster and a slight increase in taxes. It’s worrying that the How to Solve Climate Change handbook seems to be empty, except for the phrase “increase taxes” scrawled on every page in the chancellor’s handwriting. Meanwhile the government is doing everything it can to keep us polluting, encouraging airports all over the UK to grow as fast as they can pour the concrete and allowing adverts pushing unnecessary flights to grow alongside every high street.

You can’t discourage flying with one hand and promote it with the other without being rightly labelled a hypocrite. How is the public, up to their eyeballs in loft insulation and recycling boxes, to react to reductions from every other sector because the aviation industry wants extra runways at Heathrow and Stansted? How can you take this government’s claims to be serious about tackling climate change when you can’t leave your house without a billboard inducing you to splash out on a plane ticket? Even Ed Miliband – the person who is supposed to be sorting this mess out – doesn’t see anything wrong with supporting taxes on air travel while declaring that a bigger airport in his constituency would be great for the economy.

Posted in Stupid. Tags: , . 7 Comments »