Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 16, 2008

Further Ideas For A New Financial System

Citadel Hedge Fund Falls 30% on Bond, Stock Losses

Paulson Signals Hedge Funds Aren't Currently Eligible for Government Money

US hedge funds suffer heavy withdrawals

Investors pulled at least $43bn from US hedge funds in September as market turmoil led to unprecedented withdrawals, an analysis by a leading research house shows.
...
Withdrawals can lead to a vicious circle in the markets, as funds sell holdings to return money to clients, depressing prices and prompting further redemptions.
...
A fundraiser for a major hedge fund said the period “between now and December 1 is a sort of death march” for the industry.

The chief executive of a leading alternative investment manager said he expected the hedge fund industry to shrink by 50 per cent in coming months – with half the decline coming from withdrawals and half coming from investment losses.
...
The industry, which manages close to $2,000bn, has experienced outflows during only a handful of months previously, including a small outflow in April of this year.

A $2 trillion industry will shrink by 50% to one trillion. Half of that because people want to get out of them. To pay out the hedge funds will have to sell assets they currently hold into falling markets.

That is an additional $500+ billion of asset sales still to come which guarantee that there will be no sustained rally in the stock markets at least until the end of the year and likely much longer. Instead markets will fall further for everyone, including your pension fund, because leveraged hedge funds now need to sell.

Why do we have totally unregulated hedge funds at all? Do they add value to the societies we are living in? How?

If we build a new financial system, should we do away with these? In my opinion yes. We should not have unregulated and unsupervised entities gambling with the financial systems that are supporting our real economies.

Some other still developing thoughts for a new financial system:

  • Complexity prevention: Ban derivative deals except between buyers/sellers of the underlying asset. (Farmers and millers should be allowed to deal in grain derivatives ...).
  • Cheating society prevention: No regulated financial entity shall deal with tax-havens.
  • Too big to fail prevention: Any financial entity with a balance sheet total of more than 20% of the GDP of its resident country must split into two or more independent entities.
  • ... (more ideas to come)

The libertarian in me hates complex regulations. There are much simpler tools available to prevent certain behavior especially between greedy parties. With regard to tax havens one can for example simply declare any financial contract with them against public policy and thereby unenforceable if front of a court. That will not prevent all dealings with them. But soon enough too many folks will get burned in such dealings and without recourse will never again get near to them.

Please add your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Posted by b on October 16, 2008 at 16:19 UTC | Permalink

Comments

With apologies to Maestro Bernstein.


Deeeeeeeeeeeear sniv'ly Ben Bernanke
You've got us in a jam
This bailout hanky-panky
Is quite the corporate scam
The cronies that you've covered
The asses that you've kissed
Yah, you betcha, nat'rally we're pissed!

Gee, Mister Bernanke, aw gee, Mr. Hank,
Please promise me there's dough in my account at da bank.
Gee, Mister Bernanke, don't run out of luck,
Deep down inside, we know we're f*cked. (we are f*cked)
We are f*cked, we are f*cked, we are flat-broke f*cked
Just like eggs, our savings have been sucked.

Posted by: catlady | Oct 16 2008 16:59 utc | 1

Ban lending, at least for private people. When you want to buy something, you bring the money, or you can go screw yourself (of course, this implies a major reform of the superior education system in several countries, but then the "take 40K of debt to go to college" was batshit crazy to begin with)

No more "credit cards", since people can't get any loan, debt, credit. People probably could still be able to get debit cards to get money from ATM or pay directly with them, but once your bank account hits 0, it's over.

Loans are limited to business and states. A bank cannot loan more than what it has as deposit. No more leveraging possible at all. As with people buying stuff only when they can afford them, banks won't play with money they don't have anymore.

Stock value of businesses will entirely depend on their real activities, therefore no offer/demand system based on trading shares on the markets. The value of any business will now indeed be based on the real worth of a business, its properties, yearly earnings and the like - basically, what the account books report at the end of the fiscal year.

Shares can't be sold for one year after you bought them. Not only will speculation through fast exchanges be impossible, but basically all speculation except the long-term one will cease.

Round up all the higher levels of finance-related firms - banks, insurances, trading businesses and the whole bunch of speculating scum - and shoot them on the spot. No need for trial, history and reality are delivering their verdict right now for all to see. Confiscate all their wealth, use it to erase all public debts on the planet, and redistribute what's left to the people. (to which extent it'll be done on a partly national basis or an entirely global basis probably needs some further discussion and pondering)


Of course, these are just proposals for a mild reform of the financial system - which basically aims to entirely annihilate the current economic system and brings major changes for western societies (I mean, without credit, suburbia is dead and most cars will end up sold for scrap metal - both outcomes inherently good and desirable). And I'm well aware that they mean a massive slowdown of global and local economies, with people at long last only living on the way of life they can truly afford; though ecologically speaking, such reforms and their consequences are absolutely necessary, and are probably far less than what is really required to save the day.
Some people probably guess that my actual solutions would be far more radical than that.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 16 2008 17:55 utc | 2

Clueless Joe! _You're_ gonna be Jeezus, throwin' the moneylenders out the temples! Blessed are the cheesemakers!

We could also just keep on keepin' on, and let Ma Nature solve all these minor difficulties. Hail Eris!

Posted by: catlady | Oct 16 2008 18:10 utc | 3

How about *clearly labelled* banks?

one, deposit bank, 100% guarantee, that charges for its services; two, local bank that invests (full transparency) in local stuff, with all the mumbled right thinking guff, risks outlined; three, investment bank at your peril, four, financial services - mergers, acquisitions, trusts, fiscal dodges, links with insurance, offshore finance, etc. (Or some division like that.)

That would go a long way to protecting the small holder and preventing various frauds by making regulations easier to implement and more transparent as categorical distinctions would be clearly made. This proposal is mild and set in the present landscape.

In a way such distinctions already exist, and will be reinforced in the future.

So where is Marx when you need him? ;)

Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 16 2008 18:46 utc | 4

CJ,

we could just ban paper money and return to a system based on gold coins. That would simplify things entirely. Wanna go to college? Cough up the shekels. Need a car? Likewise. No derivatives, no hedge funds, no mortgage-based assets, just medieval economics.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 16 2008 19:08 utc | 5


Clueless Joe @2

You’re a man after my on heart. Everything you say (well, almost everything) is pure gold, but—you come out with that in the wider world and you’d be gunned down in the street. There’s just too many vested interests out there who want the system to go on lurching from boom to bust and my feeling is that that is the way it’s gonna stay for several centuries to come. In the mean time I’m archiving your comments to use as reference for the future.

Posted by: emma | Oct 16 2008 19:09 utc | 6

All good ideas, but nothing people do will matter until the legal industry is cleaned up, and changed from a for-profit industry back into a system of justice. Don't understand why more attention is paid to the lawyers who are at the core of all of these scandals. Without a functioning legal industry it doesn't matter what the rules and regulations are, since they won't be enforced. How can any average citizen sue any corporation if the lawyers require $5000-10,000 up front, and more as they go?

So my first reform would be capping legal fees, say at $100/hour. That's still way too much (they don't deserve any more than teachers or police officers make), but it would at least be a start. And limiting their share of settlements to 10%, which is the global standard. I believe that the US isi the only country that allows more than that. My second reform would be to institute automatic auditing of all law firms with gross annual receipts over $1 million, including auditing the personal taxes of all partners. My third reform would be a powerful three-strikes-you-go-to-jail law for white collar crime, focusing on lawyers and financial types.

Without the rule of law there is no civilization.

Posted by: mike | Oct 16 2008 20:09 utc | 7

Robert Polin Economics Prof University of Massachusetts at Amherst says this

This is certainly a huge crisis for Friedmanite economics and neoliberalism more generally—which all along was the ideology that touted free markets and deregulation to privatize profits, but to come begging for government bailouts when the inevitable crises emerged. This is certainly not the first financial crisis under the neoliberal regime. There have been regular severe crises since the 1987 Wall Street crash. These crises were all quelled through Federal Reserve/Treasury bailout operations. Whether or not this crisis will mean the end of the neoliberal era will depend on political mobilization — specifically, how successful the left will be in building coalitions behind an agenda that combines egalitarianism with a stable financial system. I would say this: if the left is unable to defeat neoliberalism now, and build some version of social democracy or “leashed capitalism”, then we will never do it.

In other words now is the time to be proposing alternatives. If the pols and greedheads are allowed to set the agenda without human input we will be truly fucked. I don't see leashed capitalism as a viable alternative however. That is the model usually proposed but it always morphs into something like the current mess.

Mainly because "your representatives" are flat out dropping little knot holes at the suggestion of their K Street mates. Tiny little changes that will grow to become major thruways for the greedheads to sate themselves at everyone else's expense.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Oct 16 2008 20:10 utc | 8

Clueless Joe,

That was excellent, and I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Sprockets | Oct 16 2008 20:49 utc | 9

mike,

My third reform would be a powerful three-strikes-you-go-to-jail law for white collar crime, focusing on lawyers and financial types.

We could go farther than that: set up roadblocks near gated communities, country clubs and other resort areas where white-collar gangstas are known to hang out.

"Could we see your driver's license, your registration, your tax returns and records of your politcal campaign donations for the past three years, please? Just a random check."

That would put the Fear of God into them...

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 16 2008 21:07 utc | 10

Commentary No. 243, Oct. 15, 2008

"The Depression: A Long-Term View"

The characteristics of a Kondratieff B-phase are well-known and match what the world-economy has been experiencing since the 1970s. Profit rates from productive activities go down, especially in those types of production that have been most profitable. Consequently, capitalists who wish to make really high levels of profit turn to the financial arena, engaging in what is basically speculation. Productive activities, in order not to become too unprofitable, tend to move from core zones to other parts of the world-system, trading lower transactions costs for lower personnel costs. This is why jobs have been disappearing from Detroit, Essen, and Nagoya and factories have been expanding in China, India, and Brazil.

As for the speculative bubbles, some people always make a lot of money in them. But speculative bubbles always burst, sooner or later. If one asks why this Kondratieff B-phase has lasted so long, it is because the powers that be - the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and their collaborators in western Europe and Japan - have intervened in the market regularly and importantly - 1987 (stock market plunge), 1989 (savings-and-loan collapse), 1997 (East Asian financial fall), 1998 (Long Term Capital Management mismanagement), 2001-2002 (Enron) - to shore up the world-economy. They learned the lessons of previous Kondratieff B-phases, and the powers that be thought they could beat the system. But there are intrinsic limits to doing this. And we have now reached them, as Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke are learning to their chagrin and probably amazement. This time, it will not be so easy, probably impossible, to avert the worst.

In the past, once a depression wreaked its havoc, the world-economy picked up again, on the basis of innovations that could be quasi-monopolized for a while. So, when people say that the stock market will rise again, this is what they are thinking will happen, this time as in the past, after all the damage has been done to the world's populations. And maybe it will, in a few years or so.

There is however something new that may interfere with this nice cyclical pattern that has sustained the capitalist system for some 500 years. The structural trends may interfere with the cyclical patterns. The basic structural features of capitalism as a world-system operate by certain rules that can be drawn on a chart as a moving upward equilibrium. The problem, as with all structural equilibria of all systems, is that over time the curves tend to move far from equilibrium and it becomes impossible to bring them back to equilibrium.

What has made the system move so far from equilibrium? In very brief, it is because over 500 years the three basic costs of capitalist production - personnel, inputs, and taxation - have steadily risen as a percentage of possible sales price, such that today they make it impossible to obtain the large profits from quasi-monopolized production that have always been the basis of significant capital accumulation. It is not because capitalism is failing at what it does best. It is precisely because it has been doing it so well that it has finally undermined the basis of future accumulation.

What happens when we reach such a point is that the system bifurcates (in the language of complexity studies). The immediate consequence is high chaotic turbulence, which our world-system is experiencing at the moment and will continue to experience for perhaps another 20-50 years. As everyone pushes in whatever direction they think immediately best for each of them, a new order will emerge out of the chaos along one of two alternate and very different paths.

We can assert with confidence that the present system cannot survive. What we cannot predict is which new order will be chosen to replace it, because it will be the result of an infinity of individual pressures. But sooner or later, a new system will be installed. This will not be a capitalist system but it may be far worse (even more polarizing and hierarchical) or much better (relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian) than such a system. The choice of a new system is the major worldwide political struggle of our times.

As for our immediate short-run ad interim prospects, it is clear what is happening everywhere. We have been moving into a protectionist world (forget about so-called globalization). We have been moving into a much larger direct role of government in production. Even the United States and Great Britain are partially nationalizing the banks and the dying big industries. We are moving into populist government-led redistribution, which can take left-of-center social-democratic forms or far right authoritarian forms. And we are moving into acute social conflict within states, as everyone competes over the smaller pie. In the short-run, it is not, by and large, a pretty picture.

by Immanuel Wallerstein


Posted by: constant | Oct 16 2008 21:22 utc | 11

it is not a pretty picture - but class war has that propensity to be very ugly, indeed - it would make the riots of la & thos in the banlieus here look like fêtes

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 16 2008 21:37 utc | 12

thank you catlady, soundtrack!

ralphie set up roadblocks near gated communities, country clubs and other resort areas where white-collar gangstas are known to hang out.

sling me a double bartender.

Posted by: | Oct 17 2008 0:11 utc | 13

Look, the answers towards building a new financial system lie in how one conceptualizes the existing problem within the current financial system. More to the point, can a fair or equitable financial system be built in a world based upon outmoded orthodox economic concepts and systems, unlimited growth, private profit devoid of externalities, unbridled militarism, etc.; a world where FDR’s “Four Freedoms” have been commodified, to be sold back to those who can afford them?

Wallerstein, in his recent homage, “Remembering Andre Gunder Frank While Thinking About The Future,”( http://www.monthlyreview.org/080630wallerstein.php) thinks not; that is to say, capitalism is dying and what exactly will arise to replace it is unresolved. Nonetheless, he reminds us, “Left agendas are actually complicated things to construct. For one thing, they are really constructed in three different time frames, which I shall call long term, medium term, and short term. Many of the arguments that pervade left discussions about left strategies confuse the three time frames, and therefore debate at cross purposes.” The long term concerns capitalism’s ultimate replacement, yet “The short term is more interesting. We all live in the short term. Everyone is concerned, indeed very concerned, about the short term. We eat, dress, work, sleep, make love, and survive in the short term. We also are happy or sad, give offense or are hurt, entertain or are entertained in the short term. The short run is what most people think of as life. And for a large number of people, perhaps even for most people, the short term is not a political phenomenon. This is probably an error in perception on the part of those who think of themselves as apolitical since in fact the pluses and minuses of our lives are very much and continuously determined by changing political realities.” Furthermore, “No movement with a middle-run left agenda will have any chance of obtaining the popular support it needs if its advocates refuse to choose the lesser evil that meets the needs and expectations of the larger populace. People live in the short run, first of all. And most people are quite “realistic” about what they need here and now. No amount of promises about the middle run will wash with most people if their needs in the short run are ignored.”

So, we must be clear, as leftists, what our ultimate goal is and what our time frame is in constructing solutions.

Secondly, debating arcane details of financial minutia and engaging in flame wars with suspected “trolls,” as exemplified in the prior financial thread, is to miss the big picture. (For the record, I thought that Vaudois behaved reasonably and asked reasonable questions, and it seems that no one was willing to concede that they didn’t understand the ins and outs of IR finance – I certainly don’t.)

We can’t solve the current problems if we don’t agree what they are. I find referring to texts to be useful here. Certainly, everything written on Counterpunch, particularly Mike Whitney and Michael Hudson, has been helpful. Then again, so has everything written by William Engdahl (essentially his next book), over the past year -- Engdahl takes the contrarian position that the crisis has been pre-engineered according to an agreed upon script (crisis, reaction, solution), but other than that there is broad agreement. Tabb, in Monthly Review (http://www.monthlyreview.org/081006tabb.php), “Four Crises of the Contemporary World Capitalist System” outlines the deeper structural causes: Financialization, Imperialism, new centers of power, and resource sustainability.

The general agreement on the proximate cause, as I understand the general consensus to be, is one of solvency, not liquidity. Solvency problems can be in part be addressed by the usual remedies: allowing failure, transparency and improved reporting, nationalizing whatever cannot be allowed to fail, and re-instituting shareholder lawsuits. It has already been stated that liquidity solutions will only exacerbate short and long-term structural problems, while allowing a small cadre of “banksters” to walk away with fortunes. Walden Bello’s “A Primer on Wall Street Meltdown” (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/bello031008.html), concisely summarizes all of this.

Third, along with concision of solution timeframe, we must be assured that the solutions proffered help real people. Here’s John Belamy Foster, in an interview with Argentina’s Pagina/12 (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/foster101008.html):

Página/12: Which sort of policies should the government implement to sort out this crisis, extending beyond the financial market?

JBF: I don't think anyone knows how to "sort out" or stop this crisis. What we are seeing is a lot of improvising while the house is falling down around us. There is no possibility of avoiding a very severe world economic crisis at this point; the object has shifted to avoiding a deep debt deflation as in the 1930s. We are facing one of the great crises in the history of capitalism; nothing this bad has been seen in advanced capitalist world in eighty years, since the Great Depression itself.
My own view is that the sole object at this point -- though it is hard to imagine this in the United States at present due to the weakness of labor and of working-class organizations in general -- should be to reorganize social and economic priorities to meet the needs of those at the bottom. It is a fact that the U.S. economy over decades has drastically weakened the conditions of the wider population, which is at the root of the whole problem. So addressing those conditions is the real key. But even if that were not the case, the goal of those who identify with the great majority of the population, with the working class, the propertyless, the poor, should be clear: to put the employment, food, nutrition, housing, health, education, environmental conditions of those at base of society first. This is simple humanity and justice. Why flood the financial world (which means first and foremost the rich, the near-rich, and corporations) with trillions of dollars ultimately at taxpayer expense, probably to no avail, when something might be done for the greater population? Marx said, in one of his ironic moments, that the only part of the national wealth that was held in common amongst all the people was the national debt. If the wealth is not shared, why should the public take on more debt, supporting the opulence at the top while the great majority of the people are seeing their basic conditions deteriorate? Let the system take care of itself; let us devote our public resources to the people. More good would be accomplished that way. Of course what this means is a reactivation of class struggle from below; something we haven't really seen in the United States in a long time. I ended a lecture recently by saying that the working class in the United States could learn a lot from how class struggles have been waged in the streets in Argentina. You may think your working class has not accomplished all that much, but from our perspective things look different.

In other words, as leftists, we should be more concerned about the problems of working and non-working people, not Wall Street financiers. It is a measure of how devoid of compass the left currently is that most so-called “left” blogs are almost exclusively concerned with the health – financial and moral -- of their antagonist oppressor class. (Why is their crisis more important than working peoples'? -- again hijacking the agenda and already miniscule public and media debating space)

A range of reactionary solutions put forth (and lauded!) on this blog only underscores the point:

CluelessJoe (truly): ”Ban lending, at least for private people.” Not only does this consign millions who live paycheck-to-paycheck to starvation, it also denies them housing leading to mass homelessness. Worse, solutions like this reinforce fallacious MSM memes like: “The problem is people are irresponsible with money,” rather than detailing the precipitous drop in inflation adjusted take-home pay over the past forty years, combined with the catastrophic lack of emergency illness safety nets. In truth, few would screw around with their credit ratings in this country until it was the last option before the street.

B (several times): Tear down several million homes. This would only maintain an unsustainable housing bubble and keep the average mortgage payment at equally unsustainable ratios of people’s falling take-home pay. Additionally, it would be an ecological catastrophe and leave several million homeless.

The real answers are fairly obvious and pedestrian -- perhaps that is why people overlook them in favor of poorly understood financial arcana. Below are a few suggestions, in relative order of importance:

· Repeal NAFTA
· Half military spending and replace it with more economically redistributive spending which meets real needs -- healthcare, education, conservation, alternative power, etc.
· Institute a “Tobin,” or some other, tax on all financial transactions. This would raise hundreds of billions and prevent computerized speculation. Consumers pay tax on all of their purchases, why not investors?
· Repeal all tax cuts of the past forty years.
· Separate banking from investment again. Support community banks and localized re-industrialization.
· Increase the safety net bringing millions back into the consuming class.

Anyway, you get the idea – it’s not the arcane corporate banking supports that help ordinary people; it’s the right to a decent living, shelter, healthcare, clean and safe food water air environment, and a sustainable future. Feeding the vultures only buys into a reactionary fictitious capital FIRE framing of reality: one which is anything BUT reality-based and sustainable.

Finally, as so many have said better than I: Our real problems on this planet are holistic and intertwined (for instance, military spending affects worldwide pollution which affects arable land and agricultural harvests which affects health outcomes, etc. All parts are interconnected.), our solutions must be too! To solve isolated financial failures without a big-picture framework in one's mind of the kind of world one is attempting to create, is only to engage in the most ineffectual kind of whack-a-mole games with life itself. Leave tinkering to the tinkerers; let them try and crazy-glue the unsustainable. The world is crying out for real architects now.


Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 0:40 utc | 14

Also:

The Global Financial Crisis Has a Social Cause, Too: the World of Low Wages:
An Interview with Emiliano Brancaccio
by Waldemar Bolze
Emiliano Brancaccio is a professor of labor economics at the University of Sannio, member of Rifondazione Comunista, and advisor to the largest union of Italian metalworkers FIOM-CGIL.

You maintain that the financial crisis is not purely a technical financial phenomenon but has a social cause. Why?

The starting point is the weakness of the labor movement, which has made a world of low wages possible. However, this world is structurally unstable, which we are now beginning to experience. Today every country tries to keep the wage level low, thereby diminishing the domestic demand, and must find foreign markets for its own products.

This mechanism has worked for the last ten years because the United States has functioned as a "vacuum cleaner" for surplus products of other countries. And not because the wages of American workers were so high, but because a huge private debt was accumulated in the United States. The system led to workers paying their mortgage debts with new loans and paying the interests on the loans with new credit cards.

Could such a fragile credit structure actually hold?

It was nothing other than a time bomb, which has now exploded. The consequences are once again passed onto workers and employees, while executives of Wall Street, who manufactured these explosives, could even profit from them.

Take, for example, the Paulson plan. It stipulates that the government is to buy the risky assets of investment banks and in return place fresh money at their disposal, leaving a possibility that the banks, once the storm has passed, can regain their titles. If the government pays high enough prices, the bankers can eventually pocket a nice profit at the expense of the state budget.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 0:47 utc | 15

Chillax everyone, Sure, You're Getting Screwed...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 17 2008 0:48 utc | 16

Welcome back, Malooga! You've been missed. Thank you for the above - many of the thoughts I've been having myself. Really: if not now, when?

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 17 2008 0:57 utc | 17

Catlady! You rock!

I just now am catching up and still pondering the many thought-provoking comments in this thread. Very happy to see Malooga posting.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 17 2008 1:21 utc | 18

This makes sense to me: Capitalism hits the fan

As for financial reform, how about this? Creating New Money: A Monetary Reform for the Information Age (PDF warning: 378K)

Posted by: Iowan | Oct 17 2008 1:30 utc | 19

malooga

i am glad you are here

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 1:39 utc | 20

malooga!

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 2:18 utc | 21

iowan

tho a little problematic, thanks for the wolff

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 2:26 utc | 22

In my view, none of the problems will be addressed without banning the Federal Reserve and central banking. So long as a cartel of private banks can manipulate the money supply, there will be boom bust cycles and collapsing bubbles of all kinds. Regulations will not stop it. There will always be ways around them and besides, the money men will have more influence over congress and hence they will be the ones to write the regulations.

The neoliberal model is not the same as free enterprise. It is pure corporatism where the Government is made partner with the big companies to bilk the taxpayer. Judging by the EU's 2 trillion bailout, it appears allegedly socialist Europe has the same problem.

Please take a look at this video. It may seem oversimplified, but its a great place to start and then read the book.

Posted by: Lysander | Oct 17 2008 2:48 utc | 23

we need a new paradigm. the concept of socialism has been so demoralized and demonized. i'm not sure if that is the complete solution/answer anyway. re should be to reorganize social and economic priorities to meet the needs of those at the bottom., instead of the mindframe of putting these people first, can we change the framing? trickle down doesn't work for a number of reasons not worth mentioning. but at the same time the idea of strengthening the base and building up from there is a non starter that will be rejected by the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' crowd. but seriously what is it that most americans are worried about?

if we are going to start w/a new model, can we have a social agreement to strengthen certain basic necessities first and foremost? rather than the idea of putting ordinary people 'first', why not frame it as the necessities of the poor, are really the necessities of all of us. the expenses for this is a drop in the bucket compared to defense.

what if we had a social contract embracing a form of socialism for certain basic needs? then i think people would be more accepting of rampant capitalistic greed going wild. i know this sounds extremely naive, but frankly most people have no idea what's really going on. they just know they have been ripped off and they will being paying for the bailout at the top while there is no safety value for them. so if there is going to be restructuring going on..what are the basics we all require? can we agree to a social contract for education? we've had one, nobody seems to hate the idea of free education, and that's socialism. we agree to socialism in our fire departments, police, etc.

while we are debating this trillion dollar debt and how to curb and regulate investors, why not set guarantees so at least if people are going to be in debt and flat broke they can have health care? why do we have to fight for decades and the top gets 'rescued' in a matter of weeks?

this is what bugs me the most. we've been programed against socialism, and sure it bugs me the percentage that gets extracted from paychecks, but face it, most of that does not benefit us. it gets recycled into 'security' for energy. energy we have to pay top dollar for once it shows up at the pumps and heating bills. everything else is a side show. the defense budget trumps all at the expense of us, not the corporation who are first in line building their megastores wherever the fed teet is flowing. give people a basic sustenance and they will get off the backs of the investors. people want to work especially where it benefits their communities. we don't want to work in iraq or afghanistan. what is happening now is the group at the bottom, who don't have the basics, is growing. if you want growth and innovation and creativity take away the fear of starvation of illness and shitty schools.

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 3:05 utc | 24

I think I loathe the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' crowd as much as the bankers at this point. Pathologically selfish, magical thinking solipsists the lot of them.

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 17 2008 4:42 utc | 25

Further Ideas For A New Food Distribution System

Stick with plays you might actually slice in a goal.

1937! 70 Years! Enough said!

Posted by: Dáil Éireann | Oct 17 2008 4:45 utc | 26

Further Ideas For A New Labor System

Stick with plays you might actually slice in a goal.

1922! 85 Years! Enough said!

1902! 105 Years! Enough said!

Posted by: Lothrop Stoddard | Oct 17 2008 4:56 utc | 27

Hang’em High says Israel Shamir:

This is exactly the time to remember why America’s Founding Fathers enshrined the people’s right to own and bear arms in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Thank God the ADL did not cancel it yet. These arms are not for robbers: they are given to enforce justice when all other means fail. Aux armes, to arms, as the French said when giving this treatment to their tricksters. America has a great tradition of instant direct justice enforcement, this Hang’em High call of the Westerns. Heed it now!

Let US soldiers come back from unneeded wars and remote bases all over the world: their real enemy is in their own country. In the ringing, still relevant words of Lenin, let us turn the imperial war into a civil one, against the greedy bastards. Instead of charging taxpayers, turn the US into a billionaire-free zone! The billionaires, these greediest rats, gained most from the Great Pyramid; pauperise them. Nullify their bank accounts. The disappearance of trillions of dollars from their electronic bank accounts will drive the value of the greenback up; your salary will become real money again!

If we assume that more than half of all billionaires are proud members of the Israel Lobby, it will also solve the Middle Eastern problem. To be on the safe side, confiscate all the assets of the Pyramid-builders: of Paulson and Bernanke, of Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs executives, and of President Bush who allowed it all to happen. Peace will come to Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq; Americans will again become proud of their country. Such mass confiscation will restore democracy in the US: the next candidates for the Presidency will not go hat in hand to AIPAC to declare their fealty. The defeat of Greed will turn people back to God; the eliminated ballast will allow for national medical care, social security and free education for all. Instead of being a disaster, the financial collapse offers a unique opportunity to fix all America’s ills. Do not miss it!

Posted by: estouxim | Oct 17 2008 4:57 utc | 28

True dat Tantalus,

it's the same, 'get off your pity pot', 'the poor will be with you always', 'get a job', nobody ever gave me nothing; quit your whining, crowd. Materialistic, self centered soul wounded 'I got mine fuck you' mentality. Always based in fear and un-compassion. With roots in the protestant work ethic. "Magical thinking" Indeed. God shined on me, you must deserve your lot, horse shit. Their justice is a mockery.

Fact of the matter is, nobody ever gave them anything because, they themselves never gave anything back. Reciprocity isn't even in their vocabulary.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 17 2008 5:22 utc | 29

Excellent insights and comments.

The American paradigm, always, is make it on your own or die on the trail, pardner. John Wayne, Marlboro Man, the lone cowboy. Real Americans don't ask for help, and don't accept it.

Sure, there's always a sense of Murkans going forward together, but only the way a ship full of pirates and loot runs glorious before the wind, victory in hand. The abundant resources of a new continent provided endless riches for the taking, and then the tremendous economic and manufacturing strength created during WWII let us go steal riches from the whole wide world, bring that shit home, and spread it around knee deep right here, right down to the janitors and mechanics. Plenty for everybody who knows the wide end of a shovel from the other end. Voila! middle class.

Capitalism now runs into physical limits on global natural resources, and into serious economic competitors. Military adventurism has become for the first time a net expense to the empire, instead of profitable pillaging. At the same time, capitalism's natural tendency to suck all monies up to the top and freeze them there in a very few hands has reached apogee. The shit out here isn't even toe deep anymore. The money is in deep storage, and so the great capitalist engine of infinite debt creation has seized up.

The empire is dead.

"Long Live the Empire," Mr. Paulson, does not address anything but the feathered nests of your pirate pals, suddenly fearful of losing any of their loot.

Just as banking, insurance, the airlines, and the auto industry are being nationalized in order to survive in any form, so will it be for the fundamentals of citizen consumers, or they won't survive in a governable form.

Providing healthcare, education, food, fuel, and jobs to Americans will become nationalized, will become the daily business of the government, or there will be no government. No, not even a totalitarian government.

The money for looking after voting Americans will come from where it has gone to -- the pockets of the ultra wealthy. It didn't leave the planet, you know. It just needs to be shoveled out where it came from.

Does anyone in the American ruling class know the wide end of shovel from the other end? No matter. It will come to them just as Churchill predicted -- "The Americans can be relied upon to do the right thing, after all other options have been tried."

The Paulson plan of attempting to save the international ownership class so that they can proceed on their way to owning every blessed building, barn, factory and financial firm and loose stack of fiat currency there is -- will mean only the fall of every government that pursues it. The system of capital accumulation into few hands has reached the point of self-destruction. It not only has to stop, it will stop, along with the global economy, and then national economies.

Once people grasp that they can 'eat the rich' they will do so. Once people grasp and declare that the first business of the nation -- every damned day -- is seeing to its own families, its own people, before any international relationships or military adventures, then a government will form along those lines.

Any government short of these concepts will have to survive, and operate, in a bunker.

Posted by: Antifa | Oct 17 2008 5:42 utc | 30

The American paradigm, always, is make it on your own or die on the trail, pardner. John Wayne, Marlboro Man, the lone cowboy. Real Americans don't ask for help, and don't accept it.

somewhat of an oversimplification, no?

the TVA and the UAW, not to mention the Marine Corps, IBM, and the underground railroad are all iconic forms of Americana, none of them being particularly tied to legends of the loner whatever their good or bad points.

Posted by: citizen k | Oct 17 2008 7:01 utc | 31

it appears allegedly socialist Europe has the same problem.
Europe isn't socialist. If it were, you'd have scores of bankers and traders in jail by now, and most banks nationalised.


sure it bugs me the percentage that gets extracted from paychecks
This is the real problem with people. Where do they get this idea that their paychecks is fully deserved, and that their wages are 100% legitimate? Because the goons who made millions off hedge funds surely didn't deserve any cent of it.
Once people understand the whole system, not only banking, but the way what they do is valued and paid has no basis in reality and is totally subjective (which means both that some people clearly get far more than what they do and deserve to get, while others get far less), we'll be on the right track.
But at the end of the day, we must all face that stark reality: our paycheck definitely isn't *our* money.

Posted by: | Oct 17 2008 7:55 utc | 32

I'm way too sleepy to post, sorry. 32 was me.


Malooga: well, most of my ideas have ulterior motives and goals that go beyond a mere reform of the financial sector. In the case of banning all lending, the intent should be obvious: to annihilate once and for all any "consumer-society" and to bury the whole American way of life. The world isn't a huge store where anyone can picky anything he wants. People have to face the fact that things are far and few and that scarcity rules, particularly with nearly 7 billion humans around. As the saying goes, the things you own end up owning you.

Besides, most people are sheep and as long as they're not facing starvation, they won't pick their gun and shoot bankers, lawyers and politicians - which is probably the most sorely needed habit in the West nowadays.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 17 2008 8:00 utc | 33

to annihilate once and for all any "consumer-society" and to bury the whole American way of life. The world isn't a huge store where anyone can picky anything he wants. People have to face the fact that things are far and few and that scarcity rules, particularly with nearly 7 billion humans around. As the saying goes, the things you own end up owning you.

Your view of society is ultimatly neo-Malthusian, similar to various Peak-Oil "activists" who arose from the woodwork (Kunstler), having never done an activist thing before in their lives. So they rail at poor people and the plastic gee-gaws they buy while they have no problem buying the finest newest digital thigamajigs for themselves, or jetting off to Europe -- all of which consume far more resources, but in a less "tacky" way. Who are "picking" anything they want: the rich, or the poor? Useless and reactionary, and socially regressive.

Most people I know buy what they need to live, and live several paychecks away from losing it all. Retired friends have watched in horror as their pensions and savings have evaporated, forcing them back into the workforce until the day they drop dead. Catastrophic illness has wiped out million dollar nest eggs and plunged the comfortable middle class into poverty.

Again, the shallowness of analysis leads to a shallowness of solution. The fact is that the US has just about successfully obliterated all genuine leftist thought.

Let's start to address the "American was of life" locally. Capitalism creates conditions of excess labor. So, here where I live, both parties support more "smart growth" to produce more "jobs." Leftists support billion dollar submarine building boondoggles to bring "high-paying skilled jobs." It's insane, unsustainable, and the powers that be won't be happy until the entire state is paved over and collapses into a giant slum, as detailed throughout the third world by Mike Davis.

But no one organizes for a social contract, for localization, to kick out the Walmarts and Costcos, to support local farms, to support the poor, for single-payer health insurance, against NAFTA, and for supports for local industry.

Globally, if we stopped attacking the world, specifically Africa, and supported local subsistence agricultural, not GMO corporate export model agriculture (as is being implemented under the radar in shock-doctrine Sudan), there would be little starvation in the world, people would be less stressed, and birthrates would fall.

The two issues above are inexticably related, and so are the solutions.

We must ask why the more developed the world gets, the more insecure it gets. Bucky Fuller calculated that there was more than enough to go around and that production efficiencies were making it possible for people to work less, but the reverse has happened -- people are now working three jobs and can't survive. We must think deeply about why this is so. It is the result of a long series of policies pushed by the rich over the past four decades. It is no mystery. The answer is again almost trivial: rolling back those neo-liberal policies one by one.

Imagine that America stopped growing. Instead of spending 40% of your adult life paying for shelter, it could be defined as a right and provided for free. Imagine how much productive labor would then be released to provide for the poor, needy, sick, re-build infrastructure, ameliorate pollution, etc. It is all how we conceive the world.

Our solutions are limited by our vision of a sustainable relatively egalitarian world, not by the artificial "boundaries of the permissible" into which our thoughts are channeled by the omni-present spectacle corporate media. (A media which will always blame the poor for their misery and laud the rich for their "philanthropy.")

Surely you have read Monbiot on the catastrophic global warming effects of jet travel. Why not limit all Americans to one jet trip a year, forcing the rich to walk back and forth to their seven homes?

But if you prefer to attack the life styles of poor people and call yourself a leftist, that is your right.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 14:06 utc | 34


heres another : given some of the loony assumptions that were so casually taken for granted by financial institutions such as:

a) the housing boom is going to last for ever. Or at least until all our mortgage-related assets are paid up
b) theres never going to be another severe recession again
c) interest rates are never going to rise again
d) we can regulate ourselves
e) we can maintain high ratings (this whole process really needs to be cleaned up)

but these financial guys are'nt dummies & hence it seems one big reason why they kept building up this monster is :

1) they all knew all along that they were doing essentially the same things, using essentially the same poor (but lucrative) models/assumptions & the same inputs & hence if/when the dam broke, they were all going to go down together.

2) the gummint is'nt going to let us all go down together

and this applies to other financial sectors too -- mortgage, hedge-funds, broker-dealers ... In order words, 100% collaboration went into building a massive single-point-of-failure. This is dangerous herd-instinct / safety-in-numbers behavior that can be prevented by taking steps to increase diversity in the banking/financial sectors:

1) if a bank deals in higher-risk instrument A, it must not also deal in higher-risk instrument B

2) every financial institution is subject to a RANDOM & comprehensive audit by an independent body (or regulatory body) & the results are made publicly available

3) make it easier for new categories of banks to emerge and also open up areas monopolized by the legacy banks to the new banks

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17 2008 14:18 utc | 35

Most people I know buy what they need to live, and live several paychecks away from losing it all.

Really? Purely anecdotal, of course, so I will match your anecdotal observation with my anecdotal observation. Most people I know purchase a substantial amount of junk, regardless of their demographic. You make some valid points about the hypocritical Volvo-driving liberals, but it doesn't preclude the urgency of Joe's point, and that is if we don't implement a resource based society now, globally, then we are truly fucked as a species, let alone all the other species on the planet. This is why socialism cannot be the answer. It's the same as Capitalism when it comes to resource management, it just depletes and allocates in a more egalitarian fashion.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 14:52 utc | 36

But if you prefer to attack the life styles of poor people and call yourself a leftist, that is your right.

I bet you didn't even intend that most excellent pun, did you?

Funny thing is, the farther left you go, the closer to the far right you are, it's just a matter of jumping a small gap. The spectrum is not a flat line, but rather a circle that is almost enclosed, but not quite. On one side of the unenclosed gap resides the far right, and on the other side of that gap resides the far left. It's why Straussian Trotskyists, former Leftists, so easily morphed into the far right Neo-Conservatives.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 15:02 utc | 37

Peak A Boo@36
if we don't implement a resource based society now, globally, then we are truly fucked as a species, let alone all the other species on the planet.

great highlight of another loony assumption. The assumption that we have "infinite resources" is actually far loonier than anything than we can pin on the bankers.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17 2008 15:23 utc | 38

The assumption that we have "infinite resources" is actually far loonier than anything than we can pin on the bankers.

some resources are finite, some aren't. sun, mind, undiscovered philosophical paradigms. why do we accept old ideas need to be the roadmap to get to the future? the idea resources are finite and the challenge will always be how do i get my piece of the pie, or my group get a piece of the pie. the pie is finite. the idea of the pie has solidified. the idea of a 'piece' has solidified. how did this happen to us as a species? does a wolf think in pies? try to get a piece of the wind, a piece of the river or a piece of the sky.

we've all bought in to this idea the oil is the almighty because those who own it covet it, we all do. oil is so last century. the new inventions will be those an individual or group can harness independently that will not require work/labor to sustain.

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 16:02 utc | 39

Malooga @ 14

IMO, much of what you cite is generally credible. But w/all due respect, I really don't see any of that making a difference right now. From everything I've seen, a crisis-generated-effort to accurately explain to US public the nuts & bolts of what's happened has barely made it to the starting line. Mass obfuscation of cause(s)... not to mention same for extraordinary US economic & currency weakness, has drowned out a matter of fact accessment of conditions.

You quote Wallerstein as saying... "capitalism is dying and what exactly will arise to replace it is unresolved." I've seen some of the better econ blogs (BIGPICTURE & NAKED CAPITALISM to name 2) go one further, saying it's already dead.

With all due respect, I don't think so. First of all (IMO), just as a traditional version of conservative has in practice morphed into this bizarre, neocon/libertarian/total-bull-shit narrative that distorts (or makes up) reality and hammers it home to public through media saturation (Jonah Goldberg/NRO crowd for example) while entirely ignoring reality of executed events (fraud) on behalf of those who pad their pockets. The whole Iraq thing... on every level, from Powell's "clear and convincing evidence" to "embedded reporters" (Judy Miller) literally creating false narratives (eg. staged toppling of Sadam stature, Chalabi's US sponsored army photo-ops, the Jessica Lynch movie "rescuing" her from evil Iraqis portrayed as keeping her prisoner/no medical treatment etc. when in fact she was exceptionally well cared for... they saved her life. And she wasn't fighting off terrorists w/her machine gun, her gun was jammed. She wasn't attacked, her tank crashed. On & on it goes... breathtakingly so.)

WRT current "economic crisis", we are barely into this thing yet (at least on this side of pond) the same masquerading narratives are all over the place. Media across the country (including local "paper of record") has printed (verifiably bullshit) explanations of how the mortgage meltdown was caused by CRA mandated loans... a complete falsehood (FOX has peddled this a lot, as has WSJ/NRO/WeeklyStandard/Limbaugh etc). Several US lawmakers have said the same in interviews and on Senate floor.

There were 2 hearings on capitol hill yesterday that covered this issue specifically:

Senate Banking Committee (Sen Dodd) here and here. Panel includes Arthur Levitt.

Sen. Harkin chaired: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee
Topic: Role of Derivatives in Current Financial Crisis

I would encourage people interested in breaking down how this unfolded in US to watch these, particularly 2nd DODD link above. In particular, I was shocked by testimony of Jim Rokakis describing (now defunct) mortgage company after mortgage company's lending practices which, in part and on massive scale, made ALT-A & SP/VRM loans to 10's of 1000's who qualified for standard fixed rate loans. The deal here: originator got 3-4% commissions on the former, about 1% on the latter.

He also testified about their attempts, going back to '05, to get action on this stuff from Ohio US attorney(s) (FED). In short, Bush faught for and SCOTUS supported the premise that FED law superseded state's, thereby disallowing OHIO's attempts to legislate and prosecute this stuff in process. Further, the FED's refused to prosecute any of it, according to Rokakis, who said the FEDs had "heard nothing... no complaints from the banks" (sheesh) therefore saw no evidence of a crime.

I knew about the VRM/ALT-A loans,I didn't know they were peddled, en-masse, in this manner.

In short, CRA had virtually nothing to do w/this (I've got tons of links from FED studies, 3rd party FED commisioned reports, and others). McCain has been saying on the stump all week "we know F&F caused this mess"... F&F did not cause this mess, not even close. McCain has said F&F made all these bad loans. F&F doesn't make loans, they buy 'em from originators.

On & on it goes...

I've seen no reporting on these hearings anywhere... not a whisper (Maybe on The HILL?).

And while we aren't even through the 1st phase of this thing yet and while congress/FED has appropriated approx $1.25t, the public footing this bill is not being told what caused the thing. "The niggers in inner city" they'll blame it on to anyone who'll listen.

Meanwhile, after receiving +/- $1.2t in last 2 weeks, yesterday's WSJ (Section A, pg 3: "AIG Seeks to Soften Oversight" by Elizabeth Williamson) lays out very aggresive AIG lobbying efforts, both on capital hill and state legislators/regulators. From the article:

"They're trying to reintroduce things that are superflous and get in the way of implementing (the SAFE*) act", said Thomas Gronstal, Iowa's superintendent of banking. "Basically, they're just objecting to having to be regulated... I frankly thing that takes a lot of gall, given what the industry has done and what we're trying to do."

Beyond that, their lobbying is primarily on behalf of mortgage originators, the goal of which is to maintail -0- regulation so they can.... do the same thing all over again?

So AIG is bailed out for a $t+, and using $m(s) from that kitty to finance lobbying directed at preventing legislation to prevent this shit from happening again.

...

We're in the midst of financial crisis on unbelievably massive scale, right plum in the middle of huge presidential election. And in public, media, and pundit class... bullshit. No accessment, not determined forensic accounting... just bullshit.

Pure bullshit.

...

What's my point?

We aren't even close to acknowledging real problems in this financial mess... self-interested parties (eg. in perpetuating these fraud cycles) w/lots of $$ and lots of media control, creating a lot of fictitious public mass/inertia which, if successful, is going to perpetuate all the causes.

Most of US public does not understand any of this, and they don't know that they don't understand it.

If China, Russia, Japan (etc.) decide $USD no longer worth anything and call in their Treasury (and other) bonds, US is broke... completely belly up. But until (if?) that happens, I see no evidence... -0-, that this misnamed US ENRON style capitalism is dead or even close. If anything, it looks to me like they're already reloading for another stealth assault.

So authors you cite are intersting, maybe thoughtful... have some good (and IMO) some questionable ideas. And it's all on the backpage of action... not even the periphery, and none of it is part of the calculus in how this will turn out (in USA at least).

I see very, very little evidence which inspires confidence we, as a nation, are going to get this right.

*SAFE Act... some backround here. In short, it's recently passed Mortage loan oversight regulation.

(...)My own view is that the sole object at this point -- though it is hard to imagine this in the United States at present due to the weakness of labor and of working-class organizations in general -- should be to reorganize social and economic priorities to meet the needs of those at the bottom.

Posted by: jdmckay | Oct 17 2008 16:26 utc | 40

does a wolf think in pies?

Oh annie. How I do admire you!

Posted by: Hamburger | Oct 17 2008 16:32 utc | 41

This is why socialism cannot be the answer. It's the same as Capitalism when it comes to resource management, it just depletes and allocates in a more egalitarian fashion.

Very well argued, with incontrovertable empirical evidence. Let's all agree that socialism in any form can't work, and that the people who produced the July Monthly Review devoted to the planet's ecology, or James Petras' article on 21st century socialism are just a bunch of daft fruitcakes barking in the wind.

Funny thing is, the farther left you go, the closer to the far right you are, it's just a matter of jumping a small gap. The spectrum is not a flat line, but rather a circle that is almost enclosed, but not quite. On one side of the unenclosed gap resides the far right, and on the other side of that gap resides the far left. It's why Straussian Trotskyists, former Leftists, so easily morphed into the far right Neo-Conservatives.

Oh really? You obviously were not here for last years discussion of the Political Compass, which depicts the poltical spectrum in a slightly more analytical way. As far as the S.T.s, again you repeat another facile media meme. Morph means change. Left means equitable and sustainable. What evidence do you have that the policies of the Perles, Wolfowitzs, Krystals, etc. have any connection whatsoever to anything which can remotely be called leftist?

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 16:37 utc | 42

Most people I know purchase a substantial amount of junk, regardless of their demographic.

Again, all the plastic gee-gaws on Joe Six-Pack's lawn at a yard sale do not add up to the hydrocarbon gross weight and emissions put out by one round trip to Europe taken by a wealthy person. What is your solution - monitoring everyone's purchases, or are you trying to say that the poor are not really poor because they have a pile of junk?

I bet you didn't even intend that most excellent pun, did you?

Anyone familiar with my writing knows how carefully I choose my words.

Honestly folks, I only posted becase I felt that things were getting really off-base here. I had several years previously written a piece envisioning what the left should concern itself with which went over like a lead balloon. I know that this blog continues from Billmon's liberal democratic blog, (Boy, would I appreciate a sustained piece from him on the financial state of affairs now!), and I am aware that I, along with comrade r'giap, and a few others represent the extreme left of this blog. I have seen a few regular posters deepen their understanding of events over time, but most never take the time to read the basic texts and current authors, but prefer to use this forum to let off steam about the outrage d'jour. The last time I attempted to discuss a text in depth, Bookchin, I was shouted down by slothrop's cryptic ad hominems.

B continues to offer incisive reporting and reveal unexpected connections, but often it is hard for threads to develop and critically analyze a line of thinking without the static.

Everyone would do well to meditate on Wallerstein's thoughtful -- and non-didactic -- piece which I alluded to above.

For those who are more concerned with current affairs, here is an illuminating take on last year's conflict in northern Lebanon's Naher al-Bared refugee camp which adds to our understanding of events there.

b, you should link to Chris Floyd's buddy, Arthur Silber, in the blogroll. I know he is struggling now and not writing much, but his analysis penetrates deeper and his moral compass is clearer than anyone else on the blogosphere.


oil is so last century.

What does this mean? Oil is vital to the immeadiate survival of 4 Billion people on this planet. It will be around for the rest of my lifetime. If there is to be a more sustainable energy source and bio-chemistry, oil will be the bridge to getting there.

Enough contrarianism for now.


Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 16:38 utc | 43

from tangerine in the other thread what's changed

With the exploitation of oil, the combustion engine, and the understanding and use of electricity, nuclear power, the environment is still a stage that can be exploited mindlessly and will automatically furnish what it conventionally needed or ‘right’, expected, usual. ‘Money rents’ will, it is judged, perform, as the borrowers, through economic expansion, will be able to stump up (inflation etc. set aside), they are a good investment, usury pays - all forms of ‘credit’ and its ‘packaging’ honest or nefarious - upfront or diced and sliced and touted by pimps - are winners, a good deal, safe.

the concept wealth is 'harnessed'. power is 'harnessed'. freedom is 'harnessed'. energy is 'harnessed'. yet each of us knows that which is limitless is most valuable. why can't government be tasks with creating sustainable systems that eventually don't cost anything to produce an outcome.

banks are a storing mechanism for excess. those who control the banks have some inherent right to use our collective wealth to make 'order' in our world by waving some magic wand and creating concepts to use finite resources as building blocks to illusions that harness us. then they trade and wheel n' deal illusions.

wtf. energy should be free and i don't mean that in the sense it should be socialized economically. i mean ideally it shouldn't cost money, anywhere. anymore than the wind costs money or a sunny day costs money. as a civilization we have to solve not only the energy problem but the mental adjustment that we have accepted energy as something to harness and sell. why do we accept heat as a 'product'? it may take another 100 years but eventually man will find solutions for this. people have bought into the idea it takes 40 hrs of work to sustain their life. wtf. it should take 10 or 3. work is not life anymore than sleep is. imagine a world where everyone bought into the idea sleep was a commodity you had to pay for. we'd all think this was crazy yet we accept other necessities as commodities.

free energy.

i've gone off my rocker!

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 16:41 utc | 44

thanks hamburger ;)

oil is so last century.

What does this mean? Oil is vital to the immeadiate survival of 4 Billion people on this planet. It will be around for the rest of my lifetime.

yes, for the immediate survival but only because that is what designs of the last century centered on. it is a passing phase, one that is very dangerous to our planet. it is also finite and certainly won't be around in a few hundred years. yes, it will be around the rest of our lifetimes. sometimes we have to think of solutions for or children's lifetimes.

malooga, i always value your presence here even when it's over my head.

Posted by: annie | Oct 17 2008 16:55 utc | 45

Annie, thank you, that is exactly what a resource based society should be....and we need it now, because we're at the tipping point.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 17:14 utc | 46


on new categories of banks/financial institutions see @35:

if given access to cheap Treasury funds, FDIC coverage, as well as the appropriate authorizations all UNDER STRICT REGULATION, entities like paypal (& other similar financial companies) could easily do to the legacy banks what Dell has done to IBM, Compaq & Apple.

And "Joe the Plumber" would be able to get a 90-day business loan from paypal at a much better rate. Because paypal is far more efficient and has essentially no overhead compared to legacies like JP-Morgan.

Also, paypal might even place "Joe the Plumber" on its paypal-preferred-tradesman list allowing Joe to earn "barter points" from providing plumbing services to paypal subscribers. Joe would be able to spend his barter points on new tools from ebay.

Joe should probably be required to get a state-license first though.

and paypal could become a force in many financial services without having a single derivative on its books.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 17 2008 17:17 utc | 47

@Malooga - welcome back and thanks for your thoughtful writing. You have been missed.

Posted by: b | Oct 17 2008 17:35 utc | 48

Anyone familiar with my writing knows how carefully I choose my words.

Wow, you're a real hoot...and quite full of yourself. You may choose your words strategically, but your tone has a mitigating effect. The arrogance of your inflection will only serve to obscure and diffuse any point you're trying to make. Most people, outside of the choir, are just going to see a chimp beating his chest.

And please, you drum up a few within the Socialist movement who advocate sustainable ecology to prove Socialism is an environmentally friendly ideology? Plenty of similar examples can be proferred from the capitalist side of the aisle (see Thomas Friedman, whom I despise), yet it doesn't necessarily follow that Capitalism is an environmentally friendly ideology.

I prefer a world with no aisles, and sides, thank you.

Behold below the shit that pours forth from Mr. Friedman's mouth, or should I say his fingers, by virtue of his ass.

http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/15/opinion/web-0415edgreen-full.php>Thomas L. Friedman: The power of green

I can only guess why you cling to oil though, Malooga. One word might describe it; Venezuela, the great current socialist example, and its economy is predominantly dependent on oil revenue. If you care anything for Venezuela, and its people, perhaps you and your fellow socialists can convince them to use the lion's share of the proceeds from oil sales to ween themselves off the stuff, or else all gains will be lost.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 17:41 utc | 49

Annie, your mention of oil reminded me of a post I read at CorrenteWire.com last night, posted by DCBlogger (who has a great series at the site on single payer healthcare legislation already in the House, HR 676: US folks, you may want to call your Rep to get on board)--which gave me chills. It links to a piece titled "5 Pieces of Advice for the New Paupers," and describes an experience with actual lack of resources and money. Cold became a major issue for the people involved--hence the chills.

And, right now, for millions of Americans, oil is the only way to heat their homes. In the short term, they can't get off it. In the long term, will the US help them to get to alternative, renewable energy sources?

Bush has a very "green" set up at his place in Crawford. But he was rich and had help from other richies, so he could afford it. In this country, people freeze to death still. Indians on some reservations have terrible difficulty staying warm and staying alive. (Chavez tries to help them and other poor. I have no idea how far his low priced oil goes to meet the needs, but BushCo hates him.)

This is also making me think again about the quote in Comment 8 above--if it's not now for improving the econ system, it's never.

It did take the Great Depression for progressive and liberal ideas to be put into effect by FDR--to save capitalism. I don't see Obama as a New Dealer type, btw, so I'm feeling a tad pessimistic....

Posted by: jawbone | Oct 17 2008 17:43 utc | 50

I prefer a world with no aisles, and sides, thank you.

When the class war is over, we'll wake you up. Same for the real wars. Meanwhile prepare for structural adjustment ala Argentina. Just hope you don't have to care for any aging parents; it might be cheaper to butcher and eat them while they are still warm. And, of course, you don't have to worry about a job, since I'm sure you make a fine living doing socially meaningful work, unlike the 25% of Americans too "lazy" to support themselves.

Attack Venezuela all you want, if it makes you happy. (I think you're just jealous.) At least they are not the greatest killer of trade unionists on the planet, shooting people on the streets with impunity, like their neighbor, US puppet Colombia. As it is, Venezuela has improved the lives of its people tremendously over the past eight years while USukans lives are falling into the shitcan. When their large neighbor to the north (whose poor they help with subsidized oil) stops threatening them, they will have even more resources. The US's military budget dwarfs Venezuela's oil revenues, so the difference in values is clear.

In any event, I don't have the answer to the problem of humanity on this planet, but it sure as hell isn't managed capitalism, or whatever other type of "middle way" "without aisles and sides" you are peddling. (What does "without aisles and sides" mean anyway? Are the frogs of the planet going to sit down with ADM, Paulson and the military industrial complex and come up with a solution that they "can all live with?") My crystal ball reveals little more than growing suffering and death for much of the planet. Not a happy vision.

I don't cling to oil. Our dependency upon it is a fact. Changing the patterns of our energy use is possible, but it is very complicated, involving many tradeoffs (cf. Denmark) -- no country, industrialized or otherwise, has weaned themselves of it -- and I will not debate it in one-line zingers. In any event, there are 14 markers of our ecological overshoot more important than "peak biotic oil," which is used by the meda to obfuscate the matter, (similar to Al Gore's work). Global warming, species extinction, chemical, biological and radioctive pollution top the list.

I have no more time or patience with this tit-for-tat easy one-liner strawman crap.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 18:45 utc | 51

Hmm... post seems to have disappeared.. repost.

I prefer a world with no aisles, and sides, thank you.

When the class war is over, we'll wake you up. Same for the real wars. Meanwhile prepare for structural adjustment ala Argentina. Just hope you don't have to care for any aging parents; it might be cheaper to butcher and eat them while they are still warm. And, of course, you don't have to worry about a job, since I'm sure you make a fine living doing socially meaningful work, unlike the 25% of Americans too "lazy" to support themselves.

Attack Venezuela all you want, if it makes you happy. (I think you're just jealous.) At least they are not the greatest killer of trade unionists on the planet, shooting people on the streets with impunity, like their neighbor, US puppet Colombia. As it is, Venezuela has improved the lives of its people tremendously over the past eight years while USukans lives are falling into the shitcan. When their large neighbor to the north (whose poor they help with subsidized oil) stops threatening them, they will have even more resources. The US's military budget dwarfs Venezuela's oil revenues, so the difference in values is clear.

In any event, I don't have the answer to the problem of humanity on this planet, but it sure as hell isn't managed capitalism, or whatever other type of "middle way" "without aisles and sides" you are peddling. (What does "without aisles and sides" mean anyway? Are the frogs of the planet going to sit down with ADM, Paulson and the military industrial complex and come up with a solution that they "can all live with?") My crystal ball reveals little more than growing suffering and death for much of the planet. Not a happy vision.

I don't cling to oil. Our dependency upon it is a fact. Changing the patterns of our energy use is possible, but it is very complicated, involving many tradeoffs (cf. Denmark) -- no country, industrialized or otherwise, has weaned themselves of it -- and I will not debate it in one-line zingers. In any event, there are 14 markers of our ecological overshoot more important than "peak biotic oil," which is used by the meda to obfuscate the matter, (similar to Al Gore's work). Global warming, species extinction, chemical, biological and radioctive pollution top the list.

I have no more time or patience with this tit-for-tat easy one-liner strawman crap.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 17 2008 18:52 utc | 52

I will say this. Regardless of our involuntary, or voluntary, political persuasions, and where we reside on the political spectrum/compass, shape of it aside, it would be foolhardy to eschew the notion that formal economies around the world are on the verge of collapse. What does that mean for us? Will we all starve and vanish because formal economies can no longer adequately provide? Perhaps not. Although living standards may be a bit meager by comparison, at least we will be a lot closer. Toothless, perhaps, and a fraction more odiferous, but we will get by due to a thing called the informal economy...something much more prevalent in the undeveloped, and developing world. Of course, we in the West are at a great disadvantage. So many years of incredible prosperity have stripped us of any sort of informal economy, so the adjustment will be substantial and painful. In this respect, the poor who have walked amongst us for so many years, unnoticed, pitied, or contemptible, depending on one's perception, will now have the upper hand, because for them, there will be no adjustment, just more of the same, except now with some new, less uppity neighbors asking to share their bowl for a change.

http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.typepad.com/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http://www.mail-archive.com/futurework@scribe.uwaterloo.ca/msg04564.html>Teodor Shanin on "Peasantology" and the Informal Economy

Researchers began to notice that there was no economic explanation for how the majority of the population survived. They didn't own land. They didn't seem to have any assets. According to conventional economics they should have died of hunger long ago, but they survived. To understand this, researchers looked at how these people actually lived, rather than at economic models."

The peasant's way of life was completely the opposite of how a
human being in an industrial society survives. They didn't have a
job, pension, steady place to work or regular flow of income...
Their aim was survival rather than the maximisation of profit."

In the former S.U. there are no signs of mass hunger and the
services by and large have not collapsed. Considering the chaos of
the formal economy, this is remarkable. Teachers still go to teach
and scientists go to their laboratories even though they may not
have been paid for six months. Under normal economic rules, there
is no explanation for this. Why would they go? The answer is that
their 'jobs' help maintain social and family networks that allow
them to survive outside the collapsed formal economy. They might
grow vegetables in the institute gardens, use laboratory equipment
or run their own small businesses, run taxi services with company
cars or just trade in skills and goods among their fellow workers.
Sociologists can understand this, economists cannot.

We find in the former Soviet economies that while officials are
trying to privatise the economy, most people are living in the
informal economy that is neither communist nor capitalist... The
peasants survived not through socialism, but through the informal
economy.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 19:03 utc | 53

Malooga @ 42

Truly, welcome back. Thanks for reminding me about Bookchin. I went back and checked out this old thread - is it my imagination, or are we missing this depth and substance these days? Anyway, found 'Listen, Marxist!' to be a huge eye-opener, as I've been thrashing around trying to define my own largely instinctive political thinking. Alas, I write fiction, not theory (!) so I've never dared to jump in on threads like the above. But I have missed, so very much, the intense education of those debates. Would it be hopeless to wish for their return? I hope not.

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 17 2008 19:28 utc | 54

Malooga, you know, I agree at the very least with 80% of all you wrote, don't take me for some crypto-ubercapitalist.

In fact, I'm glad you just mentioned In any event, there are 14 markers of our ecological overshoot more important than "peak biotic oil,", because I was just coming back here to point that. I don't target consumerism only because it wastes oil, but because it is a criminal endeavour that destroys every single natural resource on the planet. There are some rare metals that are nearly exhausted because they're used in the PlayStation. So, like your markers (they remind me of Jared Diamond's Collapse, by the way), I'm annoyed when I see everyone scared of global warming, then pundits and many people seeming relieved when some goon comes and claims it isn't that serious; because global warming is just one of the numerous environmental catastrophes waiting to come and wipe out mankind.

Surely you have read Monbiot on the catastrophic global warming effects of jet travel. Why not limit all Americans to one jet trip a year, forcing the rich to walk back and forth to their seven homes?
I basically am of the opinion that a daily use of motorised car is bordering crime against humanity.

I still am of the opinion that our problems aren't limited to wealthy elite of millionaires going on vacation on their private jets every month. Yet I'm absolutely convinced that any solution to our problems require the wiping out of this entire class, in a way or another. But alas, I still think even this won't be enough. There's a lot of resources consumed by the 6+ billions of not-elite people - and too often when we consider the majority of not-dirt-poor Westerners). If I rant against cars or suburban nuclear-family houses, it's not because I just want some ruling elite to have the privilege; it's because in my opinion no one should get such criminal, wasteful and uber-polluting gimmicks, and the whole society has to be rethought in a different way.


jawbone: It did take the Great Depression for progressive and liberal ideas to be put into effect by FDR--to save capitalism. I don't see Obama as a New Dealer type
I've said it before, I think. I don't think it does matter if Obama can be FDR redux or cannot. What matters truly is if Obama can be the US version of Gorbachov. That is, someone who can oversee the decline and possible collapse of the mighty empire without going postal and burning the world in a WW3 nukefest. We got lucky with the Soviet one, let's hope we'll get lucky with his American counterpart.
As you can guess, I'm with I. Wallerstein and his recent (though he probably already stated it years ago as well) comments that capitalism will soon be over and what truly matters, what is crucial now that we know that pondering various versions of capitalism is a useless waste of time, is to decide what the next system will be. We must ponder this, define what its features should be, and be prepared for the end of the current system - and prepared to fight for a new on. And indeed better be prepared, because there are some (let's hope they're just a few) on the far-right who've come to the same conclusion, and they seem to make ready to hit when capitalism falls. (though, actually, I have a grimmer view of the future than Wallerstein, because I fear that environmental collapse of some kind could bring far more trouble than the mostly economic causes of collapse and paradigm shifts he considers)

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 17 2008 19:37 utc | 55

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5SWQJWm6Tg>I have to admit, it's funny, but unfortunately, the jokes on us. It kind of reminds me of Bush joking about the weapons of mass destruction.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 17 2008 20:14 utc | 56

malooga

you are writing so clearly, so thorouglly - i am extremely thankfull. & iam sure i am amongst many who appreciate it at this moment i am only capable of barking so the work you bring is so, so welcome

it would seem that trools that arrive here - do neither the work - nor understand the contexts - a quick glance at your writing here would have shown quite clearly where you stand on that peculiar kind of left that delights in its own avantgardism

wonderful work - as is that of debs - who swings wide but who often like the great sonnly liston, connects

the trolls who arrive here - for me only serve to highlight the precision of b & the research of many others. sadly i do not bring so much to the table but that moment will pass but i read everything

thank you again

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 20:15 utc | 57

tantalus @53 - yes, seems like as crucial a time as any to revisit & explore the (non-financial) issues raised in that & similar threads. who wants to write something up & kick it off? and we haven't seen citizen for some time now - hoping all is well

Posted by: b real | Oct 17 2008 20:21 utc | 58

incorrigible communist , that i am - i have been reading a zizek edited book -'reloading lenin' - & reading a little of the young feller himself. i'm really struck by the resonance of lenin on what is happening today - it has more resonance for me today under these conditions than when i was not unlike you comrade akavian

it is the only time in my lofe - where reality would make reformism be seen for the treachorous treatise it actually is. i witness so much suffering in my work here - & it has got a great deal worse in the last year(for example in shelters - immigrants are obliged to leave after a day or two or risk - the flics - more & more of the populations who arrive with profound pathologies & the attendant addictions). the casualties of the class war only too visible. i am frightened for these communities already under such great stress & i worry if i possess sufficient capacities to aid them

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 20:29 utc | 59

another drink for malooga...

I too have noticed the discourse here waning somewhat. It's always nice to have you stop in. I think people are tired, worn down by jackals, wolves in sheep clothing, willing accomplices and useful idiots. After a while, you just want nay, they just grind you down where, (perhaps, I'm speaking for myself) you buy into their game hence my throwing away my vote on Obombma like I did last week via absentee ballot.Which is a story unto itself.

Or perhaps, it's the Unbridgeable Chasm, and lack of vision Murray speaks of.

"One fundamental goal of any well-crafted indoctrination
program is to direct attention elsewhere, away from
effective power, its roots, and the disguises it assumes
."
Chomsky, 'Deterring Democracy', 1992

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 17 2008 21:41 utc | 60

The history of human thought recalls, -- at least in the recent past -- the swinging of a pendulum which often takes centuries to swing on a macro level, and decades on a micro level for instance repub/demo or Janus, the Roman double-headed god after a moment of slumber come a moment of awakening. But the inveterate enemies of thought and imagination, the govt, the law giver and the priest soon recover from their temporary defeat and by degree's they rewrite their codes and doctrines to adapt them to their new needs. Whatever it may be in so far as they are in control.

Ever reviled, accursed, ne'er understood,
Thou art the grisly terror of our age.
"Wreck of all order," cry the multitude,
"Art thou, and war and murder's endless rage."
0, let them cry. To them that ne'er have striven
The 'truth that lies behind a word to find,
To them the word's right meaning was not given.
They shall continue blind among the blind.
But thou, O word, so clear, so strong, so true,
Thou sayest all which I for goal have taken.
I give thee to the future! Thine secure
When each at least unto himself shall waken.
Comes it in sunshine? In the tempest's thrill?
I cannot tell - but it the earth shall see!
I am an Anarchist! Wherefore I will
Not rule, and also ruled I will not be!

-JH Mackay

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Oct 17 2008 22:25 utc | 61

i wouldn't be anywhere near as judgemental dear uncle, - when we wander to a dkos - or any of the simulacra of sites like dkos - i am overwhelmed by their infantilism, the poverty not only of their discourse but also of their 'dialogues'

b has been so sharp on any number of issues in the last couple of months - the fantastic work on capital, & the collapse of capital, on pakistan, the work on georgia - first rate - i am quite proud to be associated with this site with that kind of work

& all the researches you & many others do

perhaps it is true that we have been fatigued even frantic but the dilogues here have always, always taught me something

the mere existence of this site & its community is a light for me

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 17 2008 22:35 utc | 62

@CluelessJoe 54:

I'm not trying to attack people -- in this case, you personally -- I'm only trying to attack half-baked, and non-holistic ideas.

I encourage people to see consumerism as a social construct -- and a pathological one at that, infecting the weakest of us -- rather than a marker supporting prejudicial feelings of superiority. How much more does the average worker have to earn in soul-deadening jobs to pay the vast sums required for housing; how much does said worker have to save for catastrophic illness, for education, for all too periodic job re-training, for being made jobless and societally redundant; then how much does said worker have to spend to allay the interminable fear and insecurity, and "make-up" for the soul deadening obligation to a sick society. Once these basic human conditions are satisfied, the neurosis of useless consumerism drops away -- it's simply not needed. Empowering outlets, like public media and communal organizations also help greatly. (Here we have moved from the psychological alienation described 50 years ago by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer of the Frankfort School to the physical and existential alienation enforced by the neo-liberal Washington Consensus)

In other words, attacking consumerism directly only heightens the anxiety of the alienated and perversely increases consumerism, while directly disassembling the social constructs which consumerism depends deflates its power allowing the neurosis to lose its hold naturally.

And here's two for Peek A Boo:

Capitalism versus socialism: The great debate revisited

Social Democracy

By the way, my personal situation is very much like the link someone left here earlier, so no one should take offense, or feel that I have taken offense if I disappear again. I rarely have the time and energy for intelligent thought anymore.

Posted by: Malooga | Oct 18 2008 2:33 utc | 63

Tantalus, thanks for bringing up the thread on Bookchin.

Wow, lots of careful thought and explanation, thanks to all of you who contributed in August 2006.

The ideas are increasingly relevant, and I am gaining a glimmer of what it is all about.

My two cents:

In the Rocky Mountain mining community that my father grew up in, two innovations were instituted during the Depression by the mostly European and Anglo immigrant workers and their neighbors.

First, the union miners negotiated a deal where each man would work one day a week, so everyone had some income.

Secondly, the doctors who owned the local hospital found that few could afford their services yet they felt compelled to help anyway. They came up with a deal that had each union member pay one dollar a month for guaranteed health insurance for themselves and their families. My father claims this was the first insurance program in the country.

In any event perhaps these two concrete ideas spark some corresponding thoughts.

Posted by: jonku | Oct 18 2008 3:11 utc | 64

Malooga, thanks for spending your ration of intelligent thought on us, and take care, mate...

Posted by: Tantalus | Oct 18 2008 3:27 utc | 65

There will always be banking, credit and debt. The real issue is the morality of it all.

I'm re-reading Pierre Berton's "The National Dream", building the Canadian Pacific Railway. Built over some of the most challenging topography in the world at a time of various banking crisis's and recessions. Lead financer was Bank of Montreal with Berings of London and various New York houses.

In an exchange of correspondence between the president, and the chairman of BMO, at the height of that crisis, one writes that "...should this fail, we should not be left with a dollar of personal assets, we should not be left with a pair of cuff links between us..."

Bankers used to take their comittments seriously and personally. Pays off. 120 years later the CPR is a blue stock key to North American infrastructure. Banking should be about building physical stuff, not computer models of interest rates.

We need banking/finance to fix our infrastructure, to put density back into our cities, to run transit. Let's not just blow it up without some thought.

Posted by: Allen/Vancouver | Oct 18 2008 5:13 utc | 66

Capitalism versus soc-ial-ism: The great debate revisited

Posted by: pb | Oct 18 2008 5:52 utc | 67

WIKI

Posted by: pb | Oct 18 2008 5:57 utc | 68

from link to Immanuel Wallerstein @ 11
In terms of the hegemonic cycles, the United States was a rising contender for hegemony as of 1873, achieved full hegemonic dominance in 1945, and has been slowly declining since the 1970s. George W. Bush's follies have transformed a slow decline into a precipitate one. And as of now, we are past any semblance of U.S. hegemony. We have entered, as normally happens, a multipolar world. The United States remains a strong power, perhaps still the strongest, but it will continue to decline relative to other powers in the decades to come. There is not much that anyone can do to change this.

I agree with almost everything in this article. Also maybe somewhere else he may have observed that China is the contender to lead the next hegemonic cycle. But it should also be noted that China is a legitimate capitalist country. It just operates a regime of unique & powerful controls never before tried in Western countries. Also China would be wise to accept a multi-polar world rather than succumb to hegemonic temptation. As Americans might tell China today -- "be careful what you wish for ..."

But why be slaves to the Kondratieff & hegemonic cyles ? Why wait for the doom & gloom of global economic depression to play out. Why wait for the "new order" to knock on the door ? Why wait for the emergence of the dreaded "informal economy" if we can instead step to it & make it work in our favor ?

If we have the will, we could force a reset of both cycles rather than have them reset us ? In order words, we could induce the equivalent of a global depression rather than wait for it to happen. And we could do it in a manner that favors studied rather than chaotic movement towards the next "equilibrium" :

On a global basis:
-- cancel all international debt as well as most corporate debts.
-- cancel all formal consumer debt
-- suspend all patent protections for the next 20 years
-- suspend all restrictions on trade-protectionism for the next 20 years
-- require that all foreign investments are re-negotiated on annual basis

We are not going to have much if any useful controls over all of the above anyways if we wait till the current global system occurs

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 18 2008 6:13 utc | 69

last line @68 should say:
We are not going to have much if any useful controls over all of the above anyways if we wait till the crash of the current global system occurs

Posted by: | Oct 18 2008 7:09 utc | 70

Just to note: Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout

Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted criticism.


Bankers' £16bn bonus bonanza

City bankers have not lost a penny of their multimillion-pound bonus packages so far, despite the credit crunch which has caused the worst financial crisis in 80 years, new figures show.

Official statistics reveal that, in the financial year to April, City workers took home £16bn, almost exactly the same as in 2007. The period covers the Northern Rock nationalisation and the UK employees hit by the Bear Stearns implosion. During the period, banks across the world were forced to make huge writedowns on investments linked to US subprime mortgages.

Bonus payments in the UK financial sector have more than trebled in just over five years, from £5bn in 2003, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Reform idea: max bonus 10% of fixed income.

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2008 7:38 utc | 71

My original post above was also about hedge fund asset sales. I estimated a paltry $500 billion. Paul Kedrosky ya href="http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/30/9/1186">thinks $2 trillion total is the more likely range with 50% still to go.

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2008 8:18 utc | 72

tangential, but...

I was watching CNBC over lunch yesterday. One of commentators said Paulson, as rep. for GS, approached congress in yr. 2k for an increase in lawful leverage ratios for their "securities", asking for raise from 15 >> 45 (I believe, may have been 40) to 1. Request was shot down by Levitt (Clinton's SEC chairman).

Paulson approached 2004 congress w/same request, and received legislation he wanted.

(I've looked all over cnbc but couldn't find a reference).

Posted by: jdmckay | Oct 18 2008 11:57 utc | 73

From Malooga's link. Does anyone else find this rather ironic? Disturbing? Pathetic? Absurd? And if so, why?

Antidepressants

Get on them right away, if you're not already. If you are, up your dose. Because it's going to hurt. It doesn't matter how much Marxist theory you've absorbed; it doesn't matter that you can put your fall into global context; it's happening to you now, and it's going to hurt like you wouldn't believe. You're an American, and you share that culture's values whether you like it or not. So you define yourself by your job, car and house. When they go, you're going to hate yourself. Don't even bother arguing about it. It's going to happen. Just take the damn Prozac. Would you refuse a coat in Siberia? Refusing Prozac after falling into poverty makes about as much sense. Tom Cruise can go fuck himself. Prozac saved our lives. I won't go into the sordid details, but really, I don't think we'd be here now if Saint Prozac hadn't extended a sacred hand to us.

And, it was me who linked to a much more academic and intellectual analysis of what occurs when formal economies fail, Malooga, but in your arrogance, you wouldn't concede that. Instead, you said "someone." However, you were sure to address me by name when you wanted to school me in front of your on-line mates about the merits of socialism versus capitalism. How presumptuous of you to suggest I need such schooling, or haven't already been schooled.

Let me ask you, Malooga, since you are experiencing a situation similar to that which you linked, how many of your fan club here in Cyber World have come to your rescue? I mean, from the sounds of it, you're all quite chummy with one another, and there's quite a bit of backslapping going on. Giap even claims this is some sort of Community, of sorts, that he couldn't do without. So, if this is a community, as Giap claims, surely they have rallied to the aid of a fallen comrade? Of course they haven't because it is a nonsensical notion to consider this a community. There is no such thing as a community in Cyberspace...only the illusion of one. When reality strikes, that illusion is quickly revealed for what it always was, a well fortified echo chamber.

You're going to have to drop the attitude as we encroach on Financial Armageddon. We are going to have to cooperate and collaborate in order to make the informal economy successful, and that's not going to be possible when you're condescending and dismissive.

Posted by: Peak A Boo | Oct 18 2008 14:41 utc | 74

It is a measure of how devoid of compass the left currently is that most so-called “left” blogs are almost exclusively concerned with the health – financial and moral -- of their antagonist oppressor class..

Because they are second-tier hangers on in the same system, dependent. The caviar left, etc. They have investments, hire illegal maids, and like to look at bit more original by admiring or producing higher level products (entertainment, etc.) which flew until now. Or drinking top wines (or equivalent) and being flamboyant and for ‘modern’ sexual values, radical, heh? The soft center, pandering fools.../end rant, scusi/

The labor movement has been defanged by more complex relations (laws, finance, etc.) outside their scope (footnotes skipped).. the sops thrown them - at first (from my pov), the miracle of electricity, the car, vacations (thinking France here, 1936, it was to stop the strikes..), food, even fancy, on the table 3 x day, bathrooms, towels not used by 20. Tractors. Pesticides. Instruction for girls. A choice of underwear. Frothy or plain.

The overlords, PTB, etc. provided not only spectacle, circuses, or a stable enviro, or vague random honors and stipends, favors for the Cadre Class (e.g. Ottoman empire, very roughly) - but cash on the barrel for all. Up to about 1970 that is.

‘Western world’, but in much of the o’ the so called third world ppl fell sway to the same mirages presented, the trickle down, technology, liberation from what young ppl perceive as ‘oppressive’ as James Dean drove race cars and had sexual freedom, etc.

The credit crunch (btw some Brit choco maker is commercializing some new confection under this name which attracted some attention in the Swiss press, upstaging of this kind is considered below the belt!) is but a first *upheaval* signaling a system change.

The extending of credit, and the collected interest, is built on the assumption of growth or perhaps in the recent debacle, criminal fraud pegged on the habit, the unquestioned, revered, convention of considering growth a steady parameter. Pooling of risk (or selling off sh*t paper all over the place) stems from the same thinking. The ‘real economy’ can be abstracted but it isn’t going away.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play now I need a place to hide away... squeaks the radio.

Anyhow, not original, and Malooga made the many points above but real growth will be thin on the ground... Naturally the very concept of ‘growth’ is built on many principles, quasi-religious rules: increased profitability, productivity, stored value being ‘spent’ for yet more profit, etc.

Leftists keep mumbling about new values (that is what it comes down to, according to some), have a hard time making any headway even conceptually (I am one so I should know) though there were some grand suggestions above. Basically, their minds are on regulations, rules, sharing, collectivism, greater ‘democratic’ control, etc. all still built on the old paradigm. Malthusian, in a way. Such as: workers should be paid more so that they can buy more.. But let me not get distracted...

Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 18 2008 14:42 utc | 75

pab

like most trolls you arrive without either context or knowledge

all you need to know, is passing through a bad moment here - i was concretely assisted by my comrades here & for that they know i am thankful

again, trolls want to see a similitude - do not have suficient skills in hearing or reading to be ware of the differences this community shares

it is not the ignorance of malooga you should be criticising - it is your own

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 18 2008 14:54 utc | 76

Antifa’s post at 30 I found quite uplifing.

But the enormity of the task...A concrete ex.

Health care in the US has become corporatized, let’s call it a gigantic system that functions to shift higher rewards to experts - surgeons who operate on the rich, etc.

It is also highly socialized, through Medicare and Medicaid, something Americans call a ‘right’ and not ‘communism’.. The private entities, monopolies, and once again, insurance, or ‘savings schemes’ (finance) are melded with the State who carries out redistribution at enormous cost.

The State does not substitute for the private actors, but taxes everyone to pay them. (More or less.) I think it is obvious that the medical community, in the 30s marginally, and then 50s, etc. figured this out - their expertise would garner stellar tax payer dollars. The State supports revenues to a private professional association, contra the dominant, if hypocritical, free-market rhetoric. - See Paulson plan, heh, more of the same..

The US health system does not ‘work’, the redistribution is not very effective (whatever..) It is the abysmal bottom, in terms of input/output comparisons, in the world. Of course, the input/output calcs. or rubrics are not the right ones to use. Nobody would dream of agreeing to the statement that the Average American smokes 5 cigarettes a day.

The truth of the matter is that the State supports powerful groups thru taxation, following popular demand for more ‘rights’, ‘fairness’, ‘better access’, ‘extended coverage’, ‘free emergency care’ etc.

The access to medical care has been further perverted in a dependency / slave scheme, as the employer stumps up for the health care of his workers, creating skewed relations and choking the labor market, mobility, etc.

The confusing quarrels between ‘free market’ and ‘socialist support’ cannot have any happy, decent, rational, positive, outcome.

The system is entrenched in concrete.

The only way to change it is to leave it, take on the arduous task of creating local clinics with low paid, community supported personnel. That is revolution...

Branching out, or innovation, along those lines, in the US, is often formulated as:

self-management; collectivist cooperation; creative entrepreneurship; community initiatives, homegrown efforts; etc.

Often these grass roots efforts are a step to great profits. After the frisbee throwing phase is over.

In the health care world, it always means getting creds, and then Gvmt. subsidies.

Posted by: Tangerine | Oct 18 2008 15:45 utc | 77

@Peak A Boo - @74 - Giap even claims this is some sort of Community, of sorts, that he couldn't do without. So, if this is a community, as Giap claims, surely they have rallied to the aid of a fallen comrade? Of course they haven't because it is a nonsensical notion to consider this a community.

You certainly do not know this community and, as it seems, you have never met a real community.

There have been several cases here over the years where the community of the blog has offered help to members in difficulties. Some offers were not taken. Others were thankfully accepted. Those offers involved quite a bit of sacrifice for some of usual barflies.

Several people here have met each other. In groups and as singles. Had fun and talked about problems. We know and like each other for over five years.

So when you come in here and piss at the bar, you'd better be careful with your stupid assertions.

Go out, get a life and make friends with people. That might require a change of your behavior though.

Posted by: b | Oct 18 2008 17:50 utc | 78

Malooga, very glad to hear from you again! Is there some way I could help?

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 19 2008 0:35 utc | 79

With all the talk about Chicago School of Economics recently, this remembrance belongs here.

Posted by: Alamet | Oct 19 2008 0:38 utc | 80

I was shouted down by slothrop's cryptic ad hominems.

Goddamnit it. Read that Bookshin thread. You started the bullshit, malooga.

But, always nice to read your posts.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 19 2008 2:24 utc | 81

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aluSEsE765E>Here's a little sombre sound played on the world's biggest violin, molifying you, malooga.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 19 2008 2:29 utc | 82

No welfare for wall street.

Posted by: badlands | Oct 20 2008 1:42 utc | 83

b
Why did you delete my comments about malooga's provocation? The thread he refers to--my great transgression--proves he is the person responsible for his insult.

Don't I worship you enough b? You humorless kraut, you.


Posted by: slothrop | Oct 22 2008 3:13 utc | 84

Why should I honor these immense sissies, malooga & wolfboy?

I'm gonna listen to eno's taking tiger mountain, and beat off. ever so slowly.

Posted by: slothrop | Oct 22 2008 3:15 utc | 85

The comments to this entry are closed.