Stat Counter

Monday, August 31, 2009

Long Term View

In today's NYTimes, columnist/economics professor/Nobelist Paul Krugman writes:

"Actually turning this country around is going to take years of siege warfare against deeply entrenched interests, defending a deeply dysfunctional political system."

Too terribly true. Public funding of all federal elections is indispensable.

Krugman, whose column appears on Mondays and Fridays, is a dyed in the wool liberal in the tradition of FDR, J.K. Galbraith and M. Harrington who is consistently enlightening on the healthcare debate, which the howler monkeys on the right are determined to ruin.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unbelievable Lack of Social Progress

In Howard Zinn's outstanding A People's History of the United States [New York: Harper Collins, 1980 and subsequent editions], he reports that "By 1770, the top 1 percent of property owners [in pre-revolutionary Boston] owned 44 percent of the [city's] wealth." Further on he writes: "As a result of changes in the [U.S.] tax structure, by 1995 that richest 1 percent [of the total U.S. population] had gained over $1 trillion and now owned over 40 percent of the nation's wealth."

Pp. 49, 662.

Uh 1 percent of the population owns 40 percent of the country's total wealth? ? ? That sound fair?

Who produces the wealth?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Origin of WTO

More from The Sorrows of Empire, pp. (268-69):

"What began as a poorly conceived program of emergency measures for debtor countries early in the 1980s slowly matured into the hard orthodoxy of the 'Washington Consensus' in the 1990s. The U.S. government became determined to impose neoliberal economics on every country on earth. To do so, it unveiled its master plan, the 'Uruguay Round' of international trade negotiations (1968 to 1994), and its crown jewel, created on January 1, 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO). Acting in compliance with a seemingly innocent effort to create a common set of trade rules for all and to bring agriculture under such rules for the first time, 'many developing countries discovered that in signing on to the WTO, they had,' as Bello [i.e., Walden Bello of the University of the Phillipines] put it, 'signed away their right to development.' "

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) was created during WWII. The deliberations of these institutions, along with the World Bank, are totally secret.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lawrence Summers & Pollution

More from The Sorrows of Empire (p. 268):

"From 1991 to 1993, Lawrence Summers was the chief economist at the World Bank and the man who oversaw the tailoring of 'austerity measures' to each country that needed a loan. He decided exactly what a country had that Washington wanted to open up. On December 12, 1991, Summers became notorious for a leaked memo to senior officials of the bank encouraging polluting industries in the rich nations to relocate to the less developed countries. He wrote, 'I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage countries is impeccable and we should face up to that.' "

Nice. A true friend of humanity. What the hell was Barry thinking when he appointed him as a key economic advisor?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Globalization & History

More from Chalmers Johnson, in The Sorrows of Empire, (p. 263), on the fallacies of globalism, which always insists that a country lower or eliminate its tariff barriers to allow international trade:

"Leaving aside the former Soviet Union, the main developed countries -- Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and the East Asian NICs [Newly Industrialized Countries] (South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore) -- all got rich in more or less the same way. Regardless of how they justified their policies, in actual practice they protected their domestic markets using high tariff walls and myriad 'non-tariff barriers' to trade. Britain, for example, did not accept free trade until the 1840s, long after it had become the world's leading industrial power. Between 1790 and 1940, the United States was probably the most highly protected economy on earth."