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Normally I write for The European Tribune and cross post the odd diary here if I think it might be of interest to some Booman and DKos readers.  This is my first attempt to write a specifically Booman or DKos diary for an American audience from a European perspective.


I do so neither as an economist nor as an expert on the US political system, but I hope to bring some historical perspective to a discussion which appears to be very close to the bone for many Americans right now - and especially to those on the relatively far Right and Left of the current US political spectrum.


My first point is this:  We live in a time of revolutionary change.  The collapse of Communism and the Globalization of Capitalism has resulted in firstly, a dramatic increase in US economic, military and political power, and more recently a resurgence of China, Russia, Europe, India and many parts of what we used to call the third world. Many other major powers are no longer taking their marching orders from Washington or New York.  McCain is living in a dream world if he thinks that many of the leaders of these emerging powers will be overly concerned whether he/POTUS deigns to speak to them or not.

Secondly the deregulation of market systems which, in part, led to the Globalisation of Capitalism, has resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the USA, because it has enabled Global capital to treat American workers increasingly in the same way that they have always treated workers in the third world.  The growth in efficiency of production systems means there will always be more workers than there is productive work to do, and thus by the laws of free market supply and demand - the price of labour goes down, and down - until it goes down so low that labour is no longer able to sustain itself - and poverty, homelessness, illness, broken families and political destabilisation results.


Over the last 30 years - despite huge growth in GNP, virtually all the incremental wealth that has been generated in the US has gone to the top 0.1% of the population - mainly those helping to run the Global economy.  And I say Global - not American - economy advisedly, because big money has no national loyalties - in flows where the further growth potential lies, usually in "third world" markets, and this process is then wrapped in an American flag as part of the Branding exercise to make the other 99.9% of Americans think that this is all being done for their benefit.


The consequence of this enormous transfer of incremental wealth from the poor to the rich is that virtually all growth in living standards in the past 30 years for the 99.9% has been funded by debt, and by increasingly unsustainable levels of debt at that - so much so that it has masked the enormity of what has really being going on:  US capital has gone Global, and the USA itself has increasingly only remain solvent because of huge inflows of cash from the rest of the world in the form of both public and private debt - a debt which has been increasingly secured against hugely over-priced assets.  


The consequence of this whole pyramid selling or Ponzi scheme falling apart is that the rest of the world will cease to puts its money into Dollars, or at least charge exorbitant interest rates for doing so, and the US$ will lose its status as the world reserve currency.  The money and jobs which have already left the USA aren't coming back, and thus we have the Wall Street bail-out - where already impoverished and over-indebted US taxpayers are expected to bail-out the global bankers and neo-conservative market deregulators who brought you to this wonderful state of affairs.


And don't for a moment think that this bail-out will be the last.  The Globalisation of US capital is an ongoing process and whilst the real money heads abroad, US taxpayers will be expected to make up the losses at home.  Every time a crisis occurs the same extortionate demands will be made:  bail us out or the real economy, real jobs, YOUR homes and livelihoods will suffer.  And there will be an element of truth in this:  the short term consequences of "market failure" are almost always catastrophic.  The last time this occurred you had the Great Depression, and we had Fascism and World War.


It is no accident that McCain and the neo-cons are searching around for an adversary who can give them a Casus Belli and allow them to blame the whole process on some great Satan abroad.  McCain's chief Foreign Policy Adviser, Randy Scheunemann, even acted as chief US adviser to the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, when he rained cluster bombs on the innocent civilians of South Ossetia - in the hope of provoking a Russian response which could be characterized as the Evil Empire rising again.


Because unless this whole enterprise can be wrapped in an American Flag, and all dissenting voices charaterised as unpatriotic, the reality becomes all too obvious:  The US is being systematically looted by its own ruling elite - and don't make the mistake of thinking that this ruling elite are the politicians in Washington - they are but the foot soldiers largely doing the bidding of those who own America, own the big businesses, the media, the "think tanks", the banks, and an increasingly privatised military.


This looting of America has now become so obvious that even the dimmest of the foot soldiers are beginning to realise what they are doing, and are becoming fearful of an increasingly angry electorate looking for an alternate leadership.  Many arch conservative politicians - the social conservatives and small town businessmen - have little in common with international capital, and are ready to break ranks.  They're just looking for a leader to articulate their concerns, and remarkably, McPain could be their guy.  Who better to find a foreign enemy to re-unite the nation?  Who better to stick up for the small guy against the complexities of global finance that no one can understand?  Do not underestimate McPains apparent stupidity - they could represent the popular anger and inchoate confusion at what is going on perfectly.


The big question is whether McPain will break ranks with the big business paymasters who run the GOP operation.  My guess is that he may be sufficiently desperate - and unstable - to do just that.  What better way to differentiate himself from the unpopular Bush regime - and much of the Democratic establishment which has almost as much in common with Global Capital as the Republican elite have?


So where does that leave Barak Obama, the Candidate of ChangeTM  He has a very difficult choice to make.  He can build a coalition with Global Capital by supporting this bail-out plan and hope that this does not lose him the vote of the Left in his own party.  He was never going to get many of the social conservative and small town extreme Republican vote in any case.  In other words, he can do what candidates often do - move to the centre and hope he doesn't lose his base in the process.  It is probably too late for McPain to play the populist card and oppose the bail-out - it would only reinforce existing concerns about his stability, and he might find many prominent Republicans (goaded by their Global Capital masters) endorsing Obama instead.


The real question is: what does Obama do next - on the presumption that he is elected?  Does he too become co-opted by the Global capitalists who control the media, the lobbyists, the banks and much of the real economy?  Is he diverted into finding some external enemy who can be used to disguise the looting of America that is really going on?  Will the Military Industrial complex Cheney so successfully reinforced - force his hand as well?  Kennedy was famously bounced into the Bay of Pigs fiasco by totally fabricated intelligence and had to be killed when he threatened to change course on Vietnam.


We will know early on in his Presidency whether the Change he promises is real or superficial.  If he moves to enact radical electoral reforms, breaks up monopoly control of the media, refuses to be goaded into war, places "draconian controls" on the movement of Global Capital and enacts fundamental FDR type social programs to reverse the impoverishment of 99.9% of the American people there may be some chance.  


However he will have to be a truly radical President in the FDR mold if he is to accomplish any of this.  Any signs of Clintonian triangulation and you can be sure that no real change of power has occurred.  The looting of America will continue - but it will have a far pretty face.  People will congratulate themselves for having elected a Black President and putting a formal and successful end to the Civil Rights movement of the 60's.  Perhaps the racial struggles of past decades will be replaced by a class struggle in the future, but at the moment there is only one class struggling, and that is the global ruling elite who are seeking to hold onto the power and the wealth they have looted from America.


Perhaps when white and black people stop struggling with each other they will see their real enemies lurking in their Global business empires more clearly and make common cause together.  Perhaps that is the future that Obama best exemplifies, but no one should underestimate the task - and the very real physical risks - he faces.


Good luck America.  I wish you all the best in the challenges which lie ahead and hope you create a more just and prosperous future.  And I hope you don't rain war on the rest of us.  We are your friends if you could only recognise us.

Originally posted to Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 04:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the words of encouragement (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irate, cubsfan, Frank Schnittger, Wyote

    we sure need it. An tiny percentage of us have any idea what you're talking about.

  •  I agree with this 100%: (10+ / 0-)

    "  The US is being systematically looted by its own ruling elite - and don't make the mistake of thinking that this ruling elite are the politicians in Washington - they are but the foot soldiers largely doing the bidding of those who own America, own the big businesses, the media, the "think tanks", the banks, and an increasingly privatised military."

    I have been saying the same thing - more or less - for several years, and the "bailout" seemed like the last big chance to stick it to us.

    Just as the invasion and occupation was obviously about control of oil resources, destabilization of the middle east, and an enduring military footprint there (and not at all about fighting terrorists), the looting seems screamingly obvious.

    John McCain doesn't care about female people.

    by lecsmith on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:21:16 AM PDT

    •  A lot of the problem could have been stopped (3+ / 0-)

      In California, property tax rates rise only 1% a year maximum.  Therefore the market value of the property wasn't being taxed.  The previous selling price plus 1% a year increase was how taxation was determined.

      If property tax was set by market value, you would have seen a lot of people not buying houses until the prices stabilized.

      Capital gains taxes on the profit made from an inflated house price would have dampened the market.

      Set 1% fees for realtors would have had a chilling effect.  Lastly, certification for mortgage writers and mortgage brokers should have eliminated the excesses.

      I personally told my credit union they were not in the ball park given their fees for writing a mortgage for a bank.  I told them they should write the mortgage, own it, and service it.  And I took my money to a worthwhile bank.

  •  Well said and a superb summary (4+ / 0-)

    of the financial and geopolitical hurricane that is about to come ashore.  The ramifications are enormous with the election dynamics in the mix.  Yesterday I wrote:
    One question that comes to mind: If we move more toward fascism will the rest of the world move against us?

    Next: Is it time for a revolution yet?

    And I think your ending comment

    Good luck America.  I wish you all the best in the challenges which lie ahead and hope you create a more just and prosperous future.  And I hope you don't rain war on the rest of us.  We are your friends if you could only recognise us.

    says much from the heart.  Know that you have many friends here as well and we appreciate you views and advice.  Be well!

    The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. - Rita Mae Brown

    by Wyote on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:24:58 AM PDT

  •  hell yes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnCetera, J Royce, Frank Schnittger

    US is being systematically looted by its own ruling elite - and don't make the mistake of thinking that this ruling elite are the politicians in Washington - they are but the foot soldiers largely doing the bidding of those who own America, own the big businesses, the media, the "think tanks", the banks, and an increasingly privatised military

    and the sooner Americans, democrat/republican/green realize that we are all in this together against a common enemy - the ruling elite - the sooner we can begin to repair our country.  The economic crisis may finally start that ball rolling as we feel somewhat united in realizing what the foot soldiers have done to all of us.

    If we cannot elect this man, we don't deserve him.

    by lisastar on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:26:57 AM PDT

  •  bingo (3+ / 0-)

    Well done, Frank Schnittger.  A succinct summary of the current situation.  Although bringing up the JFK assassination is always problematic.

    The real problem is, of course, that the lack of accurate information from mainstream American media outlets has left the American electorate woefully ignorant about all matters of policy.  Too many folks in the suburbs and the heartland still have their radios glued to the right wing noise machine pundits, and even in my home state of Massachusetts I have noticed that whenever I go to the dentist, the auto body shop, or any small business, if they have a waiting room with a television, it's invariably tuned to the Fox News Network.  You are correct to point out that the popular anger of the American people goes hand in glove with a dischoate confusion.  Most Americans have never heard of the Glass-Steagall Act, or understand why the American economy was comparatively balanced and steady from the end of World War II to 1980, and are utterly unaware that the prime mission of the Republican party for the last three decades has been the overturning of New Deal regulatory apparatus and the repeal of LBJ's Great Society.  They generally blame partisan infighting, or liberals raising taxes, or some other piece of fraudulent "reasoning" drummed into their heads by Limbaugh and his ilk.  Corporate America's directives as put forward by the Repugnicans, and followed by too many Democrats, are indeed wrapped up in the flag and other faux patriotic bunting, which too much of the American electorate falls for every time, the fools.  End of America, here we come.

    Thanks again for your post.

    •  conspiracy theories (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NearlyNormal, TexanJane, publicv

      I take your point about Kennedy and have absolutely no interest in conspiracy theories except insofar as they are supported by hard evidence.  My point about Kennedy relates to the Why - not the how or the who.  Cui Bono?

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:40:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  conspiracy theories (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Frank Schnittger

        Yes, you mention JFK Assassination and immediately the Pandora's Box opens and the conspiracy theories tumble out.  Caveat emptor.  I agree, however, that most likely there was at least one more shooter than Oswald, and therefore, some kind of strategic conspiracy.  As for who benefits, the Military-Industrial complex spoken of by Eisenhower fits the bill best.  It gets less likely the further down you go the conspiracy food chain: Castro would have had trouble pulling it off, unless he had inside help; the Mafia less so but why would they kill JFK - revenge over Bobby's going after the Mafia?  Nut-jobs who hated a Catholic in the White House?

        •  nut jobs (0+ / 0-)

          The reality is that people like Kennedy and Obama represent a radical change which drives some people crazy because it threatens their perceived self interest.  Whether Kennedy was killed by a nut job, or whether there was a higher level conspiracy is almost irrelevant - at this remove - to the fact that the military industrial complex (and all sorts of disparate other wingers) felt extremely threatened by him and may have, by act, or omission, contributed to the circumstances of his death - if only to incite some low life and give him the opportunity.

          "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

          by Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 04:24:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Very insightful diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger, publicv

    Thank you, Frank, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.  My fondest hope for an Obama presidency will be to shore up our friendships around the world, and bring us all together for a global future that each of us can be proud of.

    "BLINK before going to war."--Shamelessly stolen from a strong Alaskan woman's sign.

    by Shelley99 on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:34:39 AM PDT

  •  Thanks guys (8+ / 0-)

    For all your supportive comments.  Sometime we, in Europe, feel we are seeing a different world and speaking a different language.  The level of mutual incomprehension, misunderstanding, and sometimes even fear seem to be so high.  We need to find a common vision and language if we are to create a united response.

    "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

    by Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:35:16 AM PDT

  •  Unaccebtable. Unforgiveable. Enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ge0rge, Frank Schnittger

    42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. A Wrightism

    by publicv on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:40:11 AM PDT

  •  McCain said something about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnCetera, Frank Schnittger

    Russia like they were the ones who attacked Georgia first (during the debate).  To me, McCain means war. It excites him.

    Is there any way we could swoop in and arrest them all?

    Life was better before globalization.  

    People were ready to go to communism is why FDR created the New Deal.  Many deny that, but my dad and grandfather were there and they know what happened.

  •  did you HAVE to mention race?? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    Perhaps when white and black people stop struggling with each other they will see their real enemies lurking in their Global business empires more clearly and make common cause together.

    Characterizing the conflict between black and white Americans as a "struggle" is misleading.  That term connotes some ability on the part of each side to damage the other.  The actual nature of the conflict simply is not like that.  There are 6 times as many white Americans as black ones and their median family net worth is 10 times higher than ours.  There IS NOT a struggle to determine which group will disproportionately go to prison or not graduate from high school, or get by economically.  WHITE IS WINNING AND BLACK IS LOSING,
    in America, and despite the election of Barack Obama, IT WAS EVER thus.  His election is not going to change that; at best it is going to reverse some trends and begin gradual improvement.

    Meanwhile, the more correct analogy (as opposed to
    "struggle") would be simply "When white Americans finally figure out that you cannot hold a man down
    in a ditch without staying down in the ditch WITH him," THEN maybe we will get somewhere.
    African-Americans ARE ALREADY VOTING AGAINST (and always HAVE been voting against) "the real enemies" and "their global business empires" (not to mention
    domestic empires).  This is white America's problem specifially, and black America's capacity to deter
    bigoted self-damaging voting by working-class white people lies WELL below the threshold of "struggle".
    Black Americans cannot tell white ones basic simple truths without UPSETTING them.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 06:20:26 AM PDT

    •  I take your point (0+ / 0-)

      I wasn't implying any equality in the struggle and raised it only because Obama's election should help to end it.  The classic elite strategy for remaining in control is to "divide and conquer" and this has traditionally pitched poor whites against blacks.  Perhaps when ordinary people (both within America and world-wide) stop seeing each other as enemies we will see the real level of manipulation from above.

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 06:26:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent - hey Kos, this should be on Rec list ! (3+ / 0-)

    Wow - thanks for the great analysis.  Dismal though it may be....

  •  "...when white and black people stop struggling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Schnittger

    ...with each other they will see their real enemies..."  I don't know what it's like in Europe but here it is not just white vs. black.  It is in the interest of those favored few in the 0.01% to keep us divided along any and all lines that they can manage.  Until we see our fellow citizens as allies rather than enemies or competitors for scarce resources, we will never be able to get past this.  THAT is the possibility that I see in Obama.  I don't know if he can or will pull it off but he is the only one for quite some time who has even offered to try.  By inviting me (us) into the process, he has touched on a theme for which we have hungered: a shared struggle and destiny.

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 06:43:12 AM PDT

  •  Stopping the looting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    afew, Migeru, Frank Schnittger

    No one running for office can afford to propose a sensible solution until they have all the money they will need for this cycle at least.  It could be solved in January if they first pass effective public financing of elections.  That would be a true revolution and it would be televised.  Pointing out to them that federal elections have become "Pick a Pimp Pagents" with their constituents as the whores, as I have done in letters to congress, does not endear me to my representatives.  If enough constituents wrote similar letters it might start to sink in.  It can't hurt.

    Our representatives are very intelligent people who uniformly have high opinions of themselves.  The situation most are in right now over the bail out bill cannot be comfortable.  Point out to them the reasons why they cannot consider solutions that might work.  Note that remaining in this bind is a choice on their part, collectively.  A move to a massive public financing of election expenses will be a leap in the dark.  They will only take that leap when they realize that their current position is untenable.

    The constraints arising from campaign finance are now so severe that it should be relatively easy to make the point in LTEs.  I got such a letter published in the neo-con, neo-classical Arkansas Democrat Gazette, which I call the Arkansas DINO Gazette.  Send similar letters to the office of Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  It might start to sink in to the awareness of the staff people at least.

    One of the good things to come out of this fiasco has been the repeated driving home by Democrats of the fraudulent and self-defeating nature of the entire neo-classical economics of Friedman, Reagan, Greenspan,  the Bushes, etc.  This is the ideal time to discredit such noxious bullshit.  Next we need for people to understand the deliberate and self-serving process that brought us that policy on behalf of a wealthy few.  

    This may be a once in a political lifetime opportunity to enact fundamental change.  That change has to start with campaign financing.  Too much of what needs to change will impact wealthy donors in ways most will consider adverse.  There is an old bridge players maxim: "If there is only one lay of the cards that will allow you to make your hand, assume that that is how the cards lay and play it!"  That is what we need to do.

    •  Who can fix this? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      afew, Migeru, NearlyNormal

      Probably the ideal outcome is for the repubs to defeat the bill.  Then all the short term negative consequences can be blamed on them - and Obama can say he tried to adopt a bipartisan approach but the repugs wouldn't play ball.  Then it will be obvious to all that the only prospect for a solution is a Dem administration with a Dem Congress.

      The debate can then shift to more fundamental reforms aimed at the underlying problems.

      "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

      by Frank Schnittger on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 10:37:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Frank (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    afew, Frank Schnittger, ARGeezer

    and I encourage everyone to go over to the Eurotrib and look at what is going on there.  There you will not see "murder by spreadsheet" diaries, no need of them.  We need to reach to Europe in friendship and learn, if we can put our arrogance and provinciality down long enough to actually learn.

    (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

    by NearlyNormal on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 11:39:17 AM PDT

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