Last month a Super Committee (12 Members of Congress) failed to decide–fortunately–our economic destiny: where our tax money would go–or not. Yes, capitalism failed again. And with it went democratic procedures in the political arena.
Big Facts: Since 2008, millions got laid off, evicted or foreclosed and lost their pensions.
Capitalism’s answer: “So you think we might have put a few people out of business today,” Jeremy Irons explains to a lower executive (playing the role of a failing investment bank chief in a fictionalized Lehman Brothers in “Margin Call”).
“Its just money; its made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It’s not wrong. And it’s certainly no different today than it’s ever been. 1637, 1797, 1819, 37, 57, 84, 1901, 07, 29, 37, 74, 87–Jesus, didn’t that fuck me up good–1992, 1997, 2000 and whatever we want to call this. It’s all just the same thing over and over; we can’t help ourselves. And you and I can’t control it, or stop it, or even slow it. Or even ever-so-slightly alter it. We just react.
“And we make a lot money if we get it right. And we get left by the side of the side of the road if we get it wrong. And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers. Happy foxes and sad sacks. Fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there’s ever been. But the percentages–they stay exactly the same.”
Yes the 1% dictate to the majority, but polls show most Americans don’t want cuts in Social Security or Medicare. Many of their elected representatives–paid handsomely by the 1%–nevertheless insist on cutting entitlements. This is representation?
The European Union exudes democracy from its chartered pores, but the 1% there has also usurped political rule and now runs the economic programs of several formerly sovereign EU governments.
The “exceptions” to democratic rule, induced by economic crisis, means voters in each member country no longer directly choose their leaders. Last month bankers and German and French heads of state essentially delegated one of their own to take over Greece and Italy to try to stem declining economies that in turn worsen capitalism’s Euro-crisis.
The people of Ireland and Portugal have already felt the pains of imposed (from the outside) austerity, the bankers’ medieval-like “cure” for indebtedness. Bankers want to salvage at least half of their investments in stupid (bad) loans. Portuguese workers staged a one-day general strike on November 24. In Spain the indignados (outraged) staged massive rallies. The Social Democratic government lost to the right wing in November elections. Massive numbers voted to punish the Socialist who had accepted the bankers’ austerity program. Spain, like Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Italy, suffers from dramatic unemployment.
The people in these countries paid the price for the bankers’ foolishness. Greece’s Social Democratic government of George Papandreou tried austerity, cutting government salaries and pensions and increasing taxes. The economy worsened. Financial mavens predicted the economy would “shrink by 5.5 per cent this year and a further 2.8 per cent next year.” Meanwhile, the number is “expected to reach 15.4 per cent this year and 17.1 per cent in 2012.” But the bankers wanted more drastic measures.
Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, hardly a socialist, simply denied a problem existed. His refusal to take austerity to the nth degree prompted the European elite to remove him as well. After all, ideology pales before the reality of getting repaid on investments and the immense Italian debt scared them.
If untreated, this accumulating debt in Italy, the third-largest economy in the euro zone, could even bring panic to Wall Street where some investment houses retain large money market portfolios containing substantial European securities.
To get rid of elected officials, the European crisis managers (The Frankfurt Group with French President Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel and top bankers) held closed-door meetings, and then “persuaded” influential elites in Greece and Italy to arrange for the removal of elected (albeit failed) governments. This phenomenal deletion of two elected governments got reported as: “Technocrats replace Prime Ministers.” Poof! Magic!
A technocrat, or “a bureaucrat who is intensively trained in engineering, economics, or some form of technology,” or “a proponent of government by technicians” will soon run Greece and Italy. (World English Dictionary ©1999 Microsoft)
Prime Ministers abdicate (or else). Now former Goldman Sachs executive Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, international adviser to Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola, will show Greeks and Italians what real “austerity” means. The foxes mandate is to get the hen houses in financial order!
The new Greek government already made a “deal.” Banks and other big Greek bondholders can write off 50 per cent of Greek debt paper and thus (hopefully?) reduce debt-to-GDP ratio. Greece’s 99% will not agree. Nor will Italy’s.
The 1% will face massive resistance. The 1% in Europe (like their US counterparts) don’t care what the rest of us will do about their cruel policies. They just call in the cops and the army.
We’ll soon see!
Saul Landau is a filmmaker and a member of the Canadian Dimension Editorial Collective.