Let me state upfront that I consider the mainstream media in the U.S. a kind of circus, a totally useless medium if one is interested in actually being informed about important issues. As I stated many times in my writing, I also consider it a mind-numbing propaganda machine for the ruling elite. And so, although I admit that one can dig around the vast heaps of trash it peddles and find good content, the overall effect for the passive consumer of U.S. mainstream media news is detrimental.
In the current constitutional crisis, I view the U.S. mainstream media in the same light, and therefore I don't base my conclusions about the crisis on the narratives emanating from it.
And so here's my interpretation of what we are witnessing... Basically I just see the whole thing as just a basic, run-of-the-mill imposition of "austerity" measures being pushed by financial cartels and the neoliberal political establishments they control, both in the U.S. and in Europe. All the media noise, including BIG BOLD RED scary headlines at Huffington Post, I see it as just that, noise, subterfuge...
But it is interesting to see how that "noise" affects people. As we get closer to a default, I'm noticing a lot of people getting anxious, scared, increasingly worried. When I see this, one thing that comes to mind (as it often does) is Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
Anyways, I remember feeling exactly the same way in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis, basically ignoring all the media noise and just focusing on "following the money flow."
And speaking of the 2008 Subprime mortgage crisis, here's a brief summary of the impact on average people:
Between June 2007 and November 2008, Americans lost more than a quarter of their net worth. By early November 2008, a broad U.S. stock index, the S&P 500, was down 45 percent from its 2007 high. Housing prices had dropped 20% from their 2006 peak, with futures markets signaling a 30–35% potential drop. Total home equity in the United States, which was valued at $13 trillion at its peak in 2006, had dropped to $8.8 trillion by mid-2008 and was still falling in late 2008. Total retirement assets, Americans' second-largest household asset, dropped by 22 percent, from $10.3 trillion in 2006 to $8 trillion in mid-2008. During the same period, savings and investment assets (apart from retirement savings) lost $1.2 trillion and pension assets lost $1.3 trillion. Taken together, these losses total $8.3 trillion.The emphasis is mine
I just saw the whole thing as the bankers pulling the plug on the bubble they helped inflate at certain intervals in order to take real assets from the productive class (the population), similar to what happened during the Great Depression.
Speaking of bankers and looting, here's how Matt Taibbi describes what he sees as the current pillaging: Looting the Pension Funds - All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers.
This is the third act in an improbable triple-fucking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.The emphasis is mine
Today, the same Wall Street crowd that caused the crash is not merely rolling in money again but aggressively counterattacking on the public-relations front. The battle increasingly centers around public funds like state and municipal pensions. This war isn't just about money. Crucially, in ways invisible to most Americans, it's also about blame. In state after state, politicians are following the Rhode Island playbook, using scare tactics and lavishly funded PR campaigns to cast teachers, firefighters and cops – not bankers – as the budget-devouring boogeymen responsible for the mounting fiscal problems of America's states and cities.
And if we stay with the trajectory, one could look at the last time around we were talking about shutting down the government, and the possibility of not raising the debt ceiling, in 2011.
Again, I just saw that as more of the same: the imposition of "austerity" measures.
I'm not going to make an extensive list, but we all know what happened with the so-called "sequester." Basically more austerity was imposed on parents counting on HeadStart for their children, and many other social safety net programs for the middle class and the poor (which are increasingly merging).
In the meantime, what happened to the rich? Well, Alternet reports that we now have the "biggest gap between rich and poor ever recorded by economists."
New research from inequality experts Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez has revealed that we now have the biggest gap between the rich and rest of America since economists began tracking data a century ago.The emphasis is mine
This isn’t supposed to happen following an economic crisis. After the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s New Deal programs worked to prevent wealth from piling back up at the top. And over the past two decades, the percentage of income claimed by the wealthy dropped after each recession. But in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the top 1 percent has gobbled up nearly all of the income gains in the first three years of the “recovery" — a stupifying 95 percent. Economic inequality is even worse than it was before the crash. In fact, last year the rich took home the largest share of income since 1917 with the exception of only one year: 1928.
In the meantime, there are preparations for more looting of the middle class, in the form of the Trans-Pacific Patnership trade negotiations.
Imagine a law that would allow corporations to sue countries whose labor laws, environmental legislation or food safety regulations result in a loss of profit. Well, it has a name: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This agreement would further undermine the last traces of our democracy by allowing corporate power to permeate through various areas of our society.The emphasis is mine
And it’s all being negotiated in secret. About 600 representatives of corporate-interest groups, including Walmart, Monsanto, Chevron and Halliburton, have been advising the White House on the new agreement. Meanwhile, Congress has been completely left out of the matter, and now corporations want to “fast track” the legislation in order to quickly make their dreams come true. This process, known as Trade Promotion Authority, allows the president to sign legislation into law without congressional approval. Congress will then only get to weigh in with an up or down vote on the matter, without expert testimonies, hearings or opportunities to make amendments. This could all happen within the next few months.
And so here's how I'm looking at the current crisis... If it is resolved and the budget continuing resolution and the debt ceiling legislation are passed, then we'll continue on the trajectory we're in, which is basically one of imposed austerity and massive transfer of wealth and power from the 99 percent to the 1 percent.
If it's not resolved, and things deteriorate further, then in addition to the ongoing looting, the remnants of our democratic system of government would have been severely weakened, basically undermining the public sector (i.e., democracy) in favor of the Corporate State.
And again, the population will be left holding the bag!
Now, what am I doing wrong here? Do I have it all wrong, and should I instead be paying close attention to CNN, and MSNBC and follow their accounts of what's happening, or should I follow the money? What do you think?