Feb 052013

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart


By Yasha Levine, ExiledOnline

Happy Faces of Productivity

Happy Faces of Productivity

” … everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” – Arthur Young; 1771

Our popular economic wisdom says that capitalism equals freedom and free societies, right? Well, if you ever suspected that the logic is full of shit, then I’d recommend checking a book called The Invention of Capitalism, written by an economic historian named Michael Perelmen, who’s been exiled to Chico State, a redneck college in rural California, for his lack of freemarket friendliness. And Perelman has been putting his time in exile to damn good use, digging deep into the works and correspondence of Adam Smith and his contemporaries to write a history of the creation of capitalism that goes beyond superficial The Wealth of Nations fairy tale and straight to the source, allowing you to read the early capitalists, economists, philosophers, clergymen and statesmen in their own words. And it ain’t pretty.

One thing that the historical record makes obviously clear is that Adam Smith and his laissez-faire buddies were a bunch of closet-case statists, who needed brutal government policies to whip the English peasantry into a good capitalistic workforce willing to accept wage slavery.

Francis Hutcheson, from whom Adam Smith learned all about the virtue of natural liberty, wrote: ”it is the one great design of civil laws to strengthen by political sanctions the several laws of nature. … The populace needs to be taught, and engaged by laws, into the best methods of managing their own affairs and exercising mechanic art.” […]

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/clfub3f



By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

“As the Economist put it at year-end 2006, ‘having grown at an annual rate of 3.2% per head since 2000, the world economy is over halfway towards notching up its best decade ever. If it keeps going at this clip, it will beat both the supposedly idyllic 1950s and the 1960s. Market capitalism, the engine that runs most of the world economy, seems to be doing its job well.’” |1| Alan Greenspan

Argento Spiralis

The primary objective of the world’s leaders is to avoid another banking and financial crash that could be worse than the one in September 2008. |2|

As we saw in the first three parts of this series, the big central banks (ECB, Bank of England, US Federal Reserve, and National Bank of Switzerland) have prevented the bankruptcy and collapse of many private banks by lending them massive sums. |3| Without this unlimited line of credit, a large number of banks would have had to suspend payments. Central banks have loaned more than 20 trillion dollars to private banks since 2007. In the EU alone, the loans given to private banks by public administrations go far beyond the unlimited credit doled out at very favourable interest rates. Guarantees must also be put into the balance, which amount to 1.174 trillion euros (9.3% of EU GDP) |4|, for the period between October 2008 and December 2011, and bank recapitalisations to the tune of €442 billion (3.5% of EU GDP).

Also to be considered are:

  • the decrease in tax revenues, because banks declared losses, which enabled them to avoid paying taxes for several years, even when they were making a profit; |5|
  • the decision not to take legal action against banks for financial offences in spite of the damage they have inflicted on society; |6|
  • the unwillingness to apply any binding or disciplinary measures on financial institutions in order to prevent another banking or financial crisis. |7|

What is more, the eurozone, the States, and the European commission maintain the judicial framework that gives the private financial sector a monopoly in terms of lending money to the public sector. Yet, the eurozone private banks’ principal source of funding at low interest rates (between 0.75% and 1%) is the ECB and the central banks of eurozone countries (which constitute the Eurosystem). These are the funds that are lent to the peripheral EU countries (Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the East European eurozone countries) at exorbitant rates (between 4.5% and 10% or more). From a legal and moral point of view, this is doubly condemnable: the banks are guilty of abusive practises and unjust enrichment (abusive because of the usury rates). In Part 7 of this series, we will look at other crimes and offences committed by banks, which should cancel the debts these banks are trying to collect. The people and the corporations that are responsible should be forced to pay heavy fines, perform community service, have their personal freedom restricted, or be banned from exercising a financial or banking profession.

It would be naive to imagine that banks will take advantage of public generosity to adopt careful management practices for the funds that States allocate to them or that people deposit in their accounts. This is one of the points analysed in the following pages. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/A-journey-into-the-vice-ridden



By Masha Gessen, NYTimes

Maria Alyokhina

Maria Alyokhina

BEREZNIKI, Russia — “I can barely see you,” the young woman on the videoscreen said, her high-pitched voice trembling. “You are just a dark silhouette. And I cannot see or hear the defense or the prosecution at all.”

“You can hear us,” the judge nodded, writing something in her notepad.

The woman on the screen was Maria Alyokhina, one of the two members of the punk rock group Pussy Riot who are serving two-year sentences in Russian penal colonies. Alyokhina has been held in a women’s colony here  in Berezniki since early November, and in that time she has clocked a whopping four violations. She appealed the violations: If they are overturned, she will, at least on paper, have a chance at parole in September; otherwise she will stay behind bars until March 2014.

Appeals such as Alyokhina’s are normally heard inside the penal colony by judges who come out to hear several such cases in a day. Each case is usually heard in less than half an hour and court generally upholds the colony’s position. But Alyokhina’s support team, a ragtag group of friends, relatives and former strangers who flocked to the group after their performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior last February, pressured the court to open the hearing to the public — and succeeded, with one important caveat they had not foreseen: Alyokhina herself was not transported to the hearing, but rather was connected by video. […]

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/d6juqpk



Source: BLOTTR


Dozens of activists have occupied the Caixa de Sabadell in Barcelona in response to the eviction last night of Unnim bank.

Images shared by protesters show them inside the bank, holding placards reading ‘STOP DESAHUCIOS’ or ‘STOP EVICTIONS’. The outside of the bank has been plastered with green leaflets and posters protesting this bank and many others’ continuing evictions of tenants who are unable to meet mortgage, or rent payments.

Riot police attended the eviction on Sunday night, forcibly removing and arresting those inside. The Unnim building had been occupied since Thursday in opposition to the eviction of a family.

The demonstration on Monday in the Caixa de Sabadell is in response to this action, and in solidarity with those arrested.

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/a4pddbv



By Ines Beitex, IPS

(Photo: Popicinio / Flickr)

(Photo: Popicinio / Flickr)

Malaga, Spain – The severe crisis crippling Spain is also sparking some creative responses, such the Okonomía project, a teaching initiative that helps individuals and communities to understand the workings of the economy and make more informed decisions to manage their finances.

“Things have gotten so bad, with people out of work, losing their homes and watching their savings vanish, that something has to be done to economically empower people,” said activist Raúl Contreras, one of the academics behind this initiative that in February will open its first school in Benimaclet, a multicultural neighbourhood in the southeastern city of Valencia.

Contreras – an economist who also heads the company Nittúa, which sponsors this project – spoke with IPS about the powerlessness and fear that is taking hold of many people who do not understand how the economy works and how it affects their lives, and are thus made vulnerable to manipulation.

“Doubts, ignorance and fear – in some cases spread intentionally – lead to mistakes, anxiety and difficult situations that could be avoided if people are better informed and equipped to make decisions or choices,” Nittúa’s website reads. […]

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/b2tf8dt



By Gaius Publius, AmericaBlog

Men and women line up for a free meal at Saviour's Anglican Church in Riga's old town in Latvia, Dec. 15, 2012. Some experts are hailing the country's progress as proof of the healing properties of austerity measures - while the country still has 14% unemployment. (Photo: Andrea Bruce/The New York Times)

Men and women line up for a free meal at Saviour’s Anglican Church in Riga’s old town in Latvia, Dec. 15, 2012. Some experts are hailing the country’s progress as proof of the healing properties of austerity measures – while the country still has 14% unemployment. (Photo: Andrea Bruce/The New York Times)

Paul Krugman’s recent column looks at the romance between the “austerians” — the promoters of austerity for economically troubled nations — and the need to inflict pain to get economic gain. His bottom line — no country that has tried austerity has seen a major economic benefit.

My bottom line — add “to its people” to the end of Krugman’s bottom line and you’ve got it exactly. There is an obvious economic benefit, but only for a few.

Let’s start with Krugman. He begins (my emphasis):

Looking for Mister Goodpain

Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy, both here and in Europe. Although the worst of the financial crisis was over, economies on both sides of the Atlantic remained deeply depressed, with very high unemployment. Yet the Western world’s policy elite somehow decided en masse that unemployment was no longer a crucial concern, and that reducing budget deficits should be the overriding priority. […]

READ @ http://tinyurl.com/bzmluzj

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