Monday, October 18, 2010

A Party of Panic and Depression

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The administration of Ronald Reagan ushered in a depression of some two years, the longest and deepest since Hoover's Great Depression of the 1930s. Millions were put out of work. Many businesses, entire industries never recovered. The Reagan depression followed a GOP tax cut benefiting only the upper quintile. As a stimulus, it was an obvious failure, yet that's how it had been sold. It's how they are always sold.

The real world results: a depression of some two years, a contraction of the economy, a transfer of wealth upward to the upper quintile, the nation's richest 20 percent. A windfall of this nature is not stimulus to invest but, rather, to transfer the gains offshore. There were no net gains in jobs. There was no Reagan-recovery. There were, rather, net losses, declines in employment. The government's own stats prove it. They are available the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the U.S. Commerce Department --B.E.A.

Our Major Exports: Death and Destruction

Check the CIA's 'World Fact Book' where you will find listed on the very bottom the United States with the world's largest NEGATIVE Current Account Balance. China is on top with the world's largest POSITIVE Current Account Balance. The downside for China is this: it must prop up the worthless U.S. dollar if it wishes to survive by dumping its product on our shores. The downside for us is this: we are now a vassal state of China. Anyone reduced to shopping at Wal-Mart should know this. If not, I suggest you search the shelves and aisles for goods manufactured in the United States and exported abroad. I doubt you will find any.

If the U.S. citizenry believed that there was booty to be gained with oil wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was fooled again! Clearly, then, the war racket has done absolutely nothing for the US bottom line and less for the working people who are always faced with the prospect of living in a tent city during a downturn. The US, the right wing in particular, for all its bullshit and bluster has less than nothing to show for the many lives sacrificed at the alter of greed and capitalist/imperialistic ambition.

The US follows the Roman model of empire though it is difficult to say which comes first --the collapse of the real economy or the commencement of empire? In the case of Rome, it is clear that the local economy was already in trouble when Rome began its conquest of Dacia for its gold! Had Rome been producing more than it had been consuming it might have survived and prospered. As the dollar is all but worthless today, the currency of Rome --sesterces --was worthless except as a means by which a head count could be made of those attending the gladiatorial contests in the Coliseum. Something needed to be done and quickly. The Praetorian Guard saw an opportunity in Rome's increasingly difficult problems. The Guard took action, selling, at auction, the Roman empire. The highest bidder  was Didius Julianus who purchased the empire with Greek Drachmas, not worthless sesterces.

The U.S. dollar is similarly debauched but conveniently propped up by China. That is not the case because China wants to help us out. Rather, China must support the dollar if it wishes to continue selling to U.S. consumers. Some have said that China "dumped its crap" on the U.S. consumer via Wal-Mart. If it did not, it was said, its own burgeoning population would face utter poverty, millions might starve. Chinese poohbahs will, of course, blame the U.S. Facing starvation, China it was feared would threaten the world, if it had not already.

The New National Capital/Capitol: K-street

K-street is the best little whorehouse in Washington; it's the nation's 'read light district' in which the apparatus of government is pimped! K-street --not Congress --is where the bills, the laws, the policies are written, decided upon for a price! K-street is where the 'Johns' buy the bureaucracy and decide foreign and domestic policies. K-street is where money talks, souls are sold, bullshit peddled.

K-street is where the so-called 'Jewish Lobby' (read: Israeli Lobby) dictates American foreign policy. Some have called it a marriage made in hell, in fact, a Faustian bargain, in which the soul of America is bartered or whored-out outright! What's in it for the U.S. to continue to support the increasingly fanatic, aggressive and extremist governments in Israel? The most obvious answer is this: Israel provides the convincing 'pre-text' for US oil wars in the Middle East. Big oil has said to Israel or perhaps Israel to big oil: 'you scratch my back and I will scratch yours!'.
The Republican Party was once a moderately conservative, pro-business outfit, until it was hijacked by the oligarchy and turned into a full-on predatory machine, hiding behind the facade of hate mobilizing issues like bogus overseas threats abroad and uppity brown people and demanding women at home. Basically, any way that middle class white males could be distracted from their sinking economic status - through the diversion of a sense of superiority over others, or the supposed threat to that superior status - was employed to cover for a party whose true agenda was to quietly produce the greatest transfer of wealth in all of human history.

Having succeeded dramatically, they are back at it again. It is now transparent, for anyone who cares to look, that the ugly tea party movement in America is an invention of the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Armey and their sick ilk, once again mobilizing a boatload of fools who are angry, but too stupid to know quite why. This explains their endless rhetoric about the evils of the federal government, and their simultaneous desire to keep their Social Security and Medicare benies. It also explains their unmatched idiocy in serving as tools for their own destruction. If they succeed, they fail. If they get their champions elected, they lose their government-provided (Shhhh!) goodies. Brilliant.
In any case, the takeover of the GOP by Serious Money is now well into its second stage. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it is. Seriously, what is the next step after this one fails to provide any long-term solutions to what ails America, as most assuredly will be the case? For a decade or three now, regressives in America have been showing that they are capable of anything. Which more or less answers that question, doesn't it?

If you're willing to savage military icons like John McCain, Max Cleland and John Kerry in order to win elections - and especially after you get away with it every time - you're willing to do anything. If you're willing to mock the 9/11 widows as scheming opportunists, you're willing to do anything. If you're willing to don a tuxedo and joke about missing WMD at a press banquet in Washington, just as you're telling the American military's adversaries in Iraq to "bring it on", you're willing to do anything; Our Long National Neight Isn't Over; It's Just Beginning, --David Michael Green
War is a Racket
It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
--War Is a Racket, General Smedly Butler, Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC, Retired
Conspiracies are how things get done. Some are legal; some are not. A 'corporation', for example, is a conspiracy made legal by 'charter'. Corporations were described by St. Thomas More in his 'Utopia':
I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth’s sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws.But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!
--Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), Utopia
If you are still drinking the Kool-aid, go to Findlaw, where the search term 'conspiracy' of itself will get you 690 cases. Go to the Cornell University Law Library. Type in the single search term 'conspiracy'! Among the hundreds (possibly thousands of cases) you will find No. 03-3156,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,APPELLEE v.ANTONIO N. TABRON, A/K/A FAT CAT,APPELLANT.

The transfer of wealth upward is deliberate. It's how the 'pay-offs' are laundered. Initially, it was only the top 20 percent who benefited as charts dating to the beginning of the Clinton administration indicate and prove. Clinton briefly reversed the trend. It might have been Clinton's lasting legacy, his finest hour, had not the regime of George W. Bush resumed the payoff as evinced in the resumption of the inexorable flow of U.S wealth upward and outward.

I don't know who it was who said that Satan's biggest 'trick' was convincing the world that he did not exist. The traitors of the 'American' right wing have, in fact, sold out America while wrapping themselves in the flag, convincing you that 'conspiracies' do not exist. But, in fact, St. Thomas More's description of the 'conspiracy of rich men to procure their commodities in the name and title of the commonwealth' was never more accurate or more precisely descriptive than it is today. It is this 'conspiracy of rich men;', this ruling one percent who alone have benefited from GOP 'tax cuts', tax cuts which are inexorably followed by job losses if not recessions/depressions. And it is only the GOP which has benefited from them as working people are denied not only jobs but careers.

This is how the right wing thinks. While sane and/or scientifically inclined people will observe first and conclude later, the right wing acts upon prejudices and/or whatever rationalization makes them feel good about themselves. Supply-side economics is most certainly a rationalization whose origins lay in the troubled and often psychopathic minds of tortured Republicans. Thus 'trickle down' theory helps them feel better about themselves, relieves them of guilt, helps them sleep at night.

The GOP needs to believe. Studies by Stanford University prove that Republicans have more nightmares and night terrors than do normal people. To this end, they shoe-horn reality into a GOP mold; they work backward from foregone conclusions. They cannot suspend a prejudice long enough to reach a conclusion based upon evidence or verifiable fact. They reverse 'cause and effect' and often mistake one for the other. They will shoot first and ask questions later! They will not tolerate facts that proves them wrong.
Here are the basic facts on the major financial panics of the 19th century.

Panic of 1819

The first major American depression, the Panic of 1819 was rooted to some extent in economic problems reaching back to the war of 1812.
  • It was triggered by a collapse in cotton prices. A contraction in credit coincided with the problems in the cotton market, and the young American economy was severely affected.
  • Banks were forced to call in loans, and foreclosures of farms and bank failures resulted.
  • The Panic of 1819 lasted until 1821.
  • The effects were felt most in the west and south. Bitterness about the economic hardships resonated for years and led to the resentment that helped Andrew Jackson solidify his political base throughout the 1820s.
  • Besides exacerbating sectional animosity, the Panic of 1819 also made many Americans realize the importance of politics and government policy in their lives.
Panic of 1837
  • The Panic of 1837 was triggered by a combination of factors including the failure of a wheat crop, a collapse in cotton prices, economic problems in Britain, rapid speculation in land, and problems resulting from the variety of currency in circulation.
  • It was the second-longest American depression, with effects lasting roughly six years, until 1843.
  • The panic had a devastating impact. A number of brokerage firms in New York failed, and at least one New York City bank president committed suicide. As the effect rippled across the nation, a number of state-chartered banks also failed. The nascent labor union movement was effectively stopped, as the price of labor plummeted.
  • The depression caused the collapse of real estate prices. The price of food also collapsed, which was ruinous to farmers and planters who couldn’t get a decent price for their crops. People who lived through the depression following 1837 told stories that would be echoed a century later during The Great Depression.
  • The aftermath of the panic of 1837 led to Martin Van Buren’s failure to secure a second term in the election of 1840. Many blamed the economic hardships on the policies of Andrew Jackson, and Van Buren, who had been Jackson’s vice president, paid the political price.
Panic of 1857
  • The Panic of 1857 was triggered by the failure of the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company, which actually did much of its business as a bank headquartered in New York City. Reckless speculation in railroads led the company into trouble, and the company’s collapse led to a literal panic in the financial district, as crowds of frantic investors clogged the streets around Wall Street.
  • Stock prices plummeted, and more than 900 mercantile firms in New York had to cease operation. By the end of the year the American economy was a shambles.
  • One victim of the Panic of 1857 was a future Civil War hero and US president, Ulysses S. Grant, who was bankrupted and had to pawn his gold watch to buy Christmas presents.
  • Recovery from the depression began in early 1859.
Panic of 1873
  • The investment firm of Jay Cooke and Company went bankrupt in September 1873 as a result of rampant speculation in railroads. The stock market dropped sharply and caused numerous businesses to fail.
  • The depression caused approximately three million Americans to lose their jobs.
  • The collapse in food prices impacted America's farm economy, causing great poverty in rural America.
  • The depression lasted for five years, until 1878.
  • The Panic of 1873 led to a populist movement that saw the creation of the Greenback Party.
Panic of 1893
  • The depression set off by the Panic of 1893 was the greatest depression America had known, and was only surpassed by the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • In early May 1893 the New York stock market dropped sharply, and in late June panic selling caused the stock market to crash.
  • A severe credit crisis resulted, and more than 16,000 businesses had failed by the end of 1893. Included in the failed businesses were 156 railroads and nearly 500 banks.
  • Unemployment spread until one in six American men lost their jobs.
  • The depression inspired "Coxey's Army," a march on Washington of unemployed men. The protesters demanded that the government provide public works jobs. Their leader, Jacob Coxey, was imprisoned for 20 days.
  • The depression caused by the Panic of 1893 lasted for about four years, ending in 1897.

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