Oct 182013
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Massive-US-Troop-Movements-In-California-Raise-Russian-Concerns

Introduction

US and world political and economic leaders are faced with what they describe as a ‘systemic catastrophe’:  the inability to pay global creditors, including domestic and foreign banks, investors and governments, who hold $16.7 trillion in US Treasury notes.  There is a related crisis: the government cannot secure passage of a budget to finance its military and civilian agencies and activities, including large-scale payments to military contractors, the financing of business, agriculture and banking operations and social programs.  The raising of the debt-ceiling is central to the functioning of the financial ruling class as it extracts hundreds of billions of tax dollars in interest payments from the US Treasury.  Raising the debt ceiling allows the State to keep borrowing and pay its billionaire creditors.  In turn, as long as the US Treasury has liquidity, it remains a ‘safe haven’ for investors thus providing guaranteed profits.  In addition, as long as the dollar remains the principle currency for global transactions, it allows the US Treasury to print money at will and to borrow at a lower cost – at the expense of its competitors and adversaries.

Financing the budget deficit requires borrowing, which involves the sale hundreds of billions of dollars worth of US government bonds through Wall Street – but at a cost to the taxpayer.  The common denominator is that the entire edifice of finance capital and all of its support structures depend on debt financing by the State.  By borrowing and then taxing its citizens the Treasury extracts wealth from the vast majority of Americans.

To understand the fight to raise the debt ceiling and to pass a deficit budget it is necessary to analyze the long-term, large-scale sources of State debt.

Imperial Wars, the Ascendancy of Finance Capital and the Debt Crisis

The ever-increasing debt and the constant raising of the debt ceiling is a result of long-term, large-scale military spending to build the US Empire.  The imperial enterprise has generated a huge deficit:  the cost/benefit ratio has been overwhelmingly negative.  Contrary to militarist propaganda, the empire has not been ‘self-financing’:  Wars and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have cost the US taxpayers trillions of dollars, not off-set by incoming imperial plunder or domestic economic expansion.

Parallel to the cost of wars and occupations, the rise of finance capital has largely resulted from the pillage of the US Treasury.  Huge bailouts, low interest loans, large-scale interest payments on bonds, subsidies and tax exemptions have created a financial ruling class based on maintaining a debt-laden, interest-paying State, which meets its obligations to the creditors while it privatizes (and eliminates) social programs.  The result is a ‘poor indebted State’ and a rich and prosperous Wall Street.  Wall Street stands to gain trillions with the privatization of the multi-billion dollar health (Medicare) and retirement plans (Social Security): this will form an integral component of the “Grand Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling.

Who are the Beneficiaries of Raising the Debt Ceiling?

The principle and immediate beneficiaries of increasing the debt ceiling are the wealthy, bond-holders and the medium and long-term beneficiaries are the military-intelligence-empire-builders who can continue to secure over $700 billion in annual budget allocations.  The principle strategic losers from raising the debt ceiling will be the hundreds of millions of beneficiaries of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and their family members.  As part of the ‘Grand Bargain’ struck by the Democratic President and Republican Congress – between $1.3 trillion and $1.4 trillion in social cuts will take effect over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The cuts in Social Security will occur by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits to 70 years, resulting in a loss of $120 billion, as many older retired workers would be expected to die before drawing a single payment while millions of Americans  will be forced to delay retirement and work an extra five years.

Secondly, the earliest age of eligibility for partial benefits will increase from 62 to 64 years – resulting in an additional loss of $144 billion dollars from workers.

Thirdly, the cost of living index would be reduced – a ten- year loss of $112 billion dollars.

Fourthly, the calculation for initial benefits would discard the wage-based method for a so-called “price-index”, resulting in American workers losing another $137 billion dollars over 10 years.  In sum, workers’ social security benefits would be reduced by more than half a trillion dollars – an enormous transfer of wealth to the billionaire creditors, investors and empire builders – all in the name of ‘debt reduction’.

The cuts in MEDICARE and MEDICAID would result in an even more retrograde class polarization.  The ‘Grand Bargain’ could lead to additional losses of over $419 billion dollars.

The biggest cost to the workers will come in the form of an increase in their  monthly premium  for physician services (MEDICARE Part B) from the current 25%  to 35%, resulting in a loss of $241 billion dollars.  The second biggest loss to workers will result from raising the age of eligibility for MEDICARE from 65 to 67 years costing workers an additional S125 billion dollars.  The third loss for workers will be a $53 billion hit  from restricting the use of MEDIGAP insurance – supplementary policies that cover MEDICARE cost sharing requirements.

Further cuts of $187 billion in MEDICAID– the medical plan for the poor and disabled– would result when the federal government shifts its direct funding to block grants to the states that would severely cut services for the poor – a plan first proposed during the Clinton Administration with regard to welfare funding.

Once these reactionary cuts in basic social programs are in place, the beneficiaries, who are able, will be forced to buy alternative supplementary private medical insurance and private retirement plans, while the poor will go without.  The running down of public social services by Wall Street has been a deliberate, cynical strategy to cause popular discontent paving the way for the gradual privatization of services: adding costs, eliminating options and limiting medical treatment, surgery and procedures, especially for the elderly.  The privatization of Social Security, MEDICARE and MEDICAID, will maximize insecurity while minimizing services and lead to untreated and under-treated illness, greater suffering and economic distress.  Bi-partisan Congressional –White House agreements via the “Great Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling will widen and deepen inequalities in the United States.

In sum, “the Grand Bargain” will cause American workers to lose over $1.119 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, leading to a sharp decline in life expectancy, access to health care, living standards and quality of life.

The Samson Solution

Given the harsh terms, which accompany the “Grand Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling, it would be better if no agreement were reached.  The financial elite is counting on the ‘Grand Bargain’ to leverage their debt collection over the lives and welfare of hundreds of millions of Americans.  It would be better to shake the pillars and pull down this Temple of Mammon (the ‘Samson Solution’) making them pay a price!

The ‘shock and awe’ induced by default would shake the very foundations of the financial pillage of the US Treasury and the taxpayers; default would seriously undermine the financial basis for imperial wars, spying, torture and death squads.  The entire empire building project would crumble.

True, in the short-run, the workers and middle class would also suffer from a default.  But the discredit of the ruling political parties, the political elite and Wall Street, could lead to a new political alignment, which would fund social programs by, in David Stockman’s phrase, “soaking the rich” – raising corporate taxes by 50%, imposing a financial transaction tax of 5%, uncapping the social security tax and collecting taxes on overseas US multi-nationals’ profits.  Additional billions would be saved by ending imperial wars, closing bases and canceling military contracts.  Tax reform, imperial dismantlement and increased domestic investment in productive activity would generate domestic growth leading to a budget surplus, extending MEDICARE to all Americans, reducing the age of retirement to 62 and providing a living wage for all workers!

Aug 062012
 

 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* SAY GOODBYE TO SOCIAL SECURITY

The Romney / Obama Diversion

By Rob Urie, CounterPunch

In a New York Times editorial (link) written in 1993 the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith made a point that seems to have been lost on subsequent generations—many in the economic elite benefit from the destitution of others. Even more to the point, activist government could put the unemployed back to work tomorrow, but at a cost to the elite. By tying economic policies long known to work to competing economic interests, Dr. Galbraith explained the current conundrum. Economies in the West aren’t working because a small economic elite benefits from this state of affairs.

With Barack Obama, of his own initiative, slated to begin cutting government expenditures in 2013 (should he be re-elected), a number of his liberal and progressive supporters have taken to granting that the Federal budget ‘crisis,’ to which he purports to be responding, is real. In fact, the ‘debate’ was preceded by forty years of policies designed to systematically de-fund government, reduce labor to a beggar class and to gut any public programs that don’t specifically and directly make the rich richer. To pretend that this is other than a manufactured ‘crisis’ designed to shift more public resources to the already rich is to misread history.

Apparently unbeknownst to many, the working class in America has been living with austerity economics for forty years now. Since the 1970s the proportion of what American labor is paid relative to what it produces has been declining, as have the effective tax rates on corporations and the wealthy. With corporations and the rich who own them receiving a larger proportion of what labor produces and paying less in taxes, there is now little left to pay for necessary social programs such as schools, health care and pensions. But this shortfall is no accident. It is the intended result of four decades of policies specifically designed to enrich the ruling class at the expense of labor, the middle class and the poor. […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/03/say-goodbye-to-social-security/

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* REVOLUTION 2012: IT’S TIME TO RISE

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zFcIx30Pic&feature=player_embedded#!

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* GENERAL ASSEMBLY VOTE ON SYRIA: WORLD GONE UNIPOLAR – AND MAD

By Rick Rozoff, StopNATO

On August 3 the United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution written by Saudi Arabia condemning both the government of Syria for the preponderance if not all the violence in the country and Russia and China for not conceding to Western and Persian Gulf monarchies’ demands for “regime change” in Damascus.

In an irrefutable demonstration of how the U.S. and its allies have come to dominate world affairs in the post-Cold War era, the vote was 133 in favor, 12 opposed and 31 abstaining.

The 12 nations that voted against the slightly revised resolution – references to President Bashar Assad resigning his position and new sanctions against his nation were excised – are all nations that are already or could soon be the targets of a comparable regime-change package: Internal armed insurrection supported from abroad, assorted “color revolution” scenarios, onerous and strictly politically motivated sanctions and embargoes, military threats from across their borders or from Western aircraft carriers off their coasts, travel bans and the seizure of overseas financial assets, and unrelenting information warfare conducted by all but unmatched Western media outlets.

Those 12 nations are Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

In a similar General Assembly vote in February, Ecuador voted against the anti-Syrian resolution and Myanmar did not.

The 31 nations that abstained in the recent vote are guilty of cowardice and an arrant lack of principle. Many of the 133 that voted in favor of the resolution will find that, far from securing a reprieve in becoming the next Syria, they may have hastened their own demise by endorsing a precedent that will not end with Syria. Syria made no move to oppose the war against Libya conducted by the U.S., NATO and their Persian Gulf allies last year and has now become the next Libya. […]

READ @ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/general-assembly-vote-on-syria-world-gone-unipolar-and-mad/

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* FREE PUSSY RIOT: A STATEMENT BY NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA

An extraordinary essay by Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonikovoy has appeared on the Free Pussy Riot website. You can follow a blow by blow description of what is taking place at the Pussy Riot trial on Twitter. Kafkaesque? It’s that in spades, see for yourself. I thought it was important for this to be read by as many people as possible, so I am reproducing it here in full (but not block quoting it, because it would be a mile long)—RM

Translation by Free Pussy Riot!

Art and the Human Manifesto of Nadya Tolokonnikova

The punk band Pussy Riot, which I belong to, is a musical group that conducts unexpected performances in different urban spaces. Pussy Riot’s songs address topical political issues. The interests of the group members are: political activism, ecology, and the elimination of authoritarian tendencies in the Russian state system through the creation of the civil society.

Since its origin in October 2011, the band played concerts in the subway, on the roof of a trolleybus, on the roof of the detention center for administrative detainees, in clothing stores, at fashion shows, and on the Lobnoe Mesto on Red Square. We believe that the art should be accessible to everyone; therefore we perform in diverse public spaces. Pussy Riot never means to show any disrespect to any viewers or witnesses of our punk concerts. This was the case on the roof of the trolleybus and on the Lobnoe Mesto, and this was the case at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

On 21 February 2012 Pussy Riot band performed its punk prayer “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In the early March 2012 three members of the group were imprisoned because of the music and political activism. The themes of our songs and performances are dictated by the present moment. We simply react to what is happening in our country, and our punk performances express the opinion of a sufficiently large number of people. In our song “Hail Mary, Expel Putin” we reflected the reaction of many Russian citizens to the patriarch’s calls for vote for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin during the presidential election of 4 March 2012.

We, like many of our fellow citizens, wrestle against treachery, deceit, bribery, hypocrisy, greed, and lawlessness, peculiar to the current authorities and rulers. This is why we were upset by this political initiative of the patriarch and could not fail to express that. The performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior was committed not on the grounds of religious enmity and hatred. Equally, we harbor no hatred towards Orthodox Christians. Orthodox Christianity worships the same as we do: mercy, forgiveness, justification, love, and freedom. We are not enemies of Christianity. We care about the opinion of Orthodox Christians. We want all of them to be on our side – on the side of anti-authoritarian civil society activists. That is why we came to the Cathedral.

We came with what we have and can: with our musical performance. During this performance we intended to express our concern: the rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church – the patriarch – supports a politician who forcefully suppresses the civil society, which is dear to us.

I would like to emphasize the fact that, while at the Cathedral, we did not utter any insulting words towards the church, the Christians, and the God. The words we spoke and our entire punk performance aimed to express our disapproval of a specific political event: the patriarch’s support of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who took an authoritarian and antifeminist course. Our performance contained no aggression towards the audience, but only a desperate desire to change the political situation in Russia for the better. Our emotions and expressiveness came from that desire. If our passion appeared offensive to any spectators, we are sorry for that. We had no intentions to offend anyone. We wish that those, who cannot understand us, would forgive us. Most of all, we want people to hold no grudges against us.

[…]

If we admit our guilt under the Article 231 (Part 2), we will defame ourselves. The truth is precious to us more than anything, even more than the freedom. Thus, I think there is no reason not to trust our words. We will not lie, for sure. The content of our laptops and hard drives is presented in the criminal case, and it refutes the version of the prosecution. These materials prove that we did not have religious hatred or enmity as our motive. Anyone who reads the content of our laptops and hard drives will clearly see that our motivation was purely political. The Volumes 3 and 4 of our criminal case contain our criticism of Putin’s authoritarian policies and our reflections about the benefits the peaceful civil protests. The Volumes 3 and 4 contain the texts about feminism and interviews of Pussy Riot band. Not a single word is about religious hatred or enmity.

In all those laptops and hard drives, the prosecution has found not a single piece of evidence confirming this motive, and now it is trying to get out of their predicament by magically making illogical conclusions. In our interviews after our performance on 21 February 2012, we repeatedly said that we treated Christianity with great consideration and respect. The prosecution, realizing their lack of evidence of our religious hatred, has resorted to the next move. They now claim that our statements of loyalty towards Christianity cover up our true attitude towards the religion, thus attempting to minimize the backlash against the illegal act committed at the Cathedral. These statements are illogical because we have publicly stated our positive attitude towards the religion on 21 February 2012 and on other dates – way before the news that a criminal case has been initiated.

The conclusion that we “revenge for Hypatia’s death”* is so absurd that even the ones who still doubted our motives, now realized: the prosecution has absolutely no evidence of the motive of hatred. Therefore neither the motive nor elements of crime exist.

Two expert reports, ordered by the investigation, found no motive of hatred or enmity in our actions. However, for some unfortunate reason, the indictment fails to mention these reports. The experts concluded that the song text, our activities, or the video do not contain any linguistic features of dishonor or insults towards Orthodox Christians, the Orthodox church officials, or other groups. Neither they contain any linguistic evidence of hostile attitudes towards the Orthodox religion, Orthodox believers, or people of other groups. Moreover, the experts noted that the behavior of our group had no psychological signs of hostility: the girls did not commit aggressive and violent acts against anyone.

In summary, we had no motive of religious hatred or enmity, neither we conducted a crime under Article 213 (Part 2) of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation. […]

READ @ http://dangerousminds.net/comments/free_pussy_riot_a_statement_by_nadya_tolokonnikova

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* Young Greeks create self-reliant Island Society

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ Young Greeks create self-reliant Island Society:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_96v72EgVE&feature=player_embedded#!

Apr 302012
 

 

* MAY DAY

By Noam Chomsky, Common Dreams

[…] If you’re a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population are implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They’re not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/29-4

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* STRAIGHT TALK ON SOCIAL SECURITY

By Jared Bernstein, Rolling Stone

Here’s what Social Security is not:

• going broke;
• a Ponzi scheme;
• expected to stop paying out benefits in your lifetime;
• bankrupting our nation or future generations.

Here’s what Social Security is:

• a critical source of income support for millions of retirees;
• an elegant and binding intergenerational contract between yesterday’s and today’s workforces;
• a progressive social insurance program that efficiently provides a reliable, affordable, guaranteed pension to those past their working years.
• a national treasure to be fiscally strengthened and carefully preserved for both today’s elderly and for future generations. […]

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/straight-talk-on-social-security-20120427

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* YOU ARE ALL SUSPECTS NOW. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

By John Pilger, Truthout

You are all potential terrorists. It matters not that you live in Britain, the United States, Australia or the Middle East. Citizenship is effectively abolished. Turn on your computer and the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center may monitor whether you are typing not merely “al-Qaeda,” but “exercise,” “drill,” “wave,” “initiative” and “organization”: all proscribed words. The British government’s announcement that it intends to spy on every email and phone call is old hat. The satellite vacuum cleaner known as Echelon has been doing this for years. What has changed is that a state of permanent war has been launched by the United States and a police state is consuming Western democracy.

What are you going to do about it? […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/news/item/8782-you-are-all-suspects-now-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it

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* UNEXCEPTIONALISM: A PRIMER

By E.L. Doctorow, NYTimes

TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:

PHASE ONE

If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/opinion/sunday/unexceptionalism-a-primer.html?_r=1&hp

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* HOW TO DESTROY EDUCATION WHILE MAKING A TRILLION DOLLARS

By Robert Freeman, Common Dreams

The Vietnam War produced more than its share of iconic idiocies. Perhaps the most revelatory was the psychotic assertion of an army major explaining the U.S. bombing of the provincial hamlet of Ben Tre: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” If only such self-extinguishing claims for intelligence were confined to military war.

The U.S is ratcheting up a societal-level war on public education. At issue is whether we are going to make it better — build it into something estimable, a social asset that undergirds a noble and prosperous society — or whether we’re going to tear it down so that private investors can get their hands on the almost $1 trillion we spend on it every year. The tear-it-down option is the civilian equivalent of Ben Tre, but on a vastly larger scale and with incomparably greater stakes: we must destroy public education in order to save it. It’s still early in the game, but right now the momentum is with the wreckers because that’s where the money is. Whether they succeed or not will be up to you.

Here’s a three-step recipe for how to destroy education. It maps perfectly to how to make a prodigious profit by privatizing it. It is the essential game plan of the big money boys. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/29-0

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* THE LARGEST STREET GANG IN AMERICA 

Source: youtube

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

PART 5

PART 6

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH9k8L3oDa4