Archive for November, 2008
Bernhard at the Moon of Alabama takes note of the ordered shift in news delivery policy in Afghanistan. The NATO agencies that deliver news from Afghanistan are now ordered to officially merge with military “Psy-Ops” operations. Thats the military’s psychological/propaganda arm that fabricates information in the service of military goals. From this moment forward, any and all news coming from military sources in Afghanistan is to be considered prima-faciea bullshit. Not that it wasn’t that beforehand, but now its officially on the record as such.
Today Robert Reich has a post up at TPM that addresses clearly some economic issues of national interest, that I’ve been framing recently, under the rubric of patriotic duty. While he doesn’t frame these issues as such, he does draw some inferences that might apply, in making a comparison between the prospective bailouts of GM and Citi Group:
Viewed from Wall Street, Citi is too big and important to be allowed to fail while GM is simply a big, clunky old manufacturing company that can go into chapter 11 and reorganize itself. The newly conventional wisdom on the Street is that the failure of the Treasury and the Fed to save Lehman Brothers was a grave mistake because Lehman’s demise caused creditors and investors to panic, which turned the sub-prime loan mess into a financial catastrophe — a mistake that must not occur again. So, by this view, the government must do everything and anything to keep Citi alive. But GM? GM is just … jobs and communities.
Reich goes on to explain that the bailout of the banks and financial institutions, because they are insured by the FDIC, are not directly a threat to the day to day economy, or normal banking activity. While on the other hand letting GM fail, would have a major impact on that economy:
So why save Citi and not GM? It’s not at all clear. In fact, there may be more reason to do the reverse. GM has a far greater impact on jobs and communities. Add parts suppliers and their employees, and the number of middle-class and blue-collar jobs dependent on GM is many multiples that of Citi. And the potential social costs of GM’s demise, or even major shrinkage, is much larger than Citi’s — including everything from unemployment insurance to lost tax revenues to families suddenly without health insurance to entire communities whose infrastructure and housing may become nearly worthless. I’m not arguing that GM should be bailed out; as I’ve noted elsewhere, GM’s creditors, shareholders, executives, and workers should have to make substantial sacrifices before taxpayers should be expected to sacrifice as well.
Nonetheless, Citi is about to be bailed out while GM is allowed to languish. That’s because Wall Street’s self-serving view of the unique role of financial institutions is mirrored in the two agencies that run the American economy — the Treasury and the Fed. Their job, as they see it, is to keep the financial economy “sound,” by which they mean keeping Wall Street’s own investors and creditors reasonably happy
This is what I’ve been trying to get at. The auto industry, is arguably, the largest functioning and productive sector of the American economy, employing millions and actually producing tangible wealth, while the financial sector can make no such claim, they produce nothing but paper. Why is it that capital is so sacrosanct in America? And why does capital have no national obligation?
In the political equivalency post I questioned the moral and patriotic pass the wealthy are given when it comes to the economy. That they assume no duty or responsibility whatsoever to country when it comes to the when and where of their potential investments – even if, as is now the case, the country is suffering from a fallout of investment, that can be considered (as John McCain declared) an important matter of national security. Media Matters has now taken note of how this issue has taken a new twist among the right wing talkers, who are now blaming Barack Obama for the climate of dis-investment, and labeling the current economic crisis “the Obama recession”.
Setting aside the totally absurd factual reality of this assertion, along with its sources – who’s main task in life seems to be spinning patently ridiculous fabrications in order to snowball the rube wingnut population into volunteering themselves to a life of squalor, so the rich get richer, and thinking of it somehow, as duty to country – the narrative is now picking up enough speed to be noticeable, if not dangerous.
Ironically, and in keeping with the veterans theme of the previous post, this new narrative can be seen as an evolution of the “support the troops” rubric so popular throughout the Iraq war. That it was our duty to support the troops in whatever ( possibly horrific) duty the civilian government tasked upon them. And following, became at least Un-American, if not actual aid to the enemy, to question the methods and wisdom of the policy itself.
By calling the current economic collapse the Obama recession, they are not only removing any responsibility from the wealthy for either creating the crisis or coming up with a solution to it, and transposing it on to Obama’s presumed policies. Which in their view are Un-American, because they advocate increasing the tax burden on the rich. The central implication of which is, that the rich, and all their unquestionable cart-blanc machinations are synonymous with what America is. And anything that questions their wisdom and authority is Un-American. Especially Barack Obama who created the Un-American recession, simply by thinking it.
Siun at Firedoglake has initiated a link up conversation with Mohammed Ibn Laith, a poet and member of the Sadr trend in Iraq. Not sure, but its the first such open dialogue with a member of Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement I’ve ever seen on the web. Because the Sadr trend is the most misunderstood interest in Iraq, I can only hope this kind of thing will continue. Good on you Siun.