A Martin J. Ryan VIEWPOINT.
Remember this one?
Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.
How’s that working out?
Revolution? Has our government been preparing for another?
To begin with, by presenting the fears of the very well-to-do I am suggesting this is not an altogether crazy notion:
It appears that many of the world’s wealthiest hedge fund managers are prepared, or preparing, for revolution. Robert Johnson of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, speaking at the World Economic Forum at Davos, said that the very rich are buying property with airstrips in places like New Zealand in case they have to flee an insurrection by the poor. And Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation, agreed saying, “If they (the 1%) can get off, onto another planet, some of them would.”
New York Magazine interviewed registered Democrat Jeff Greene who, while worth 3 billion, was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. If you read his bio you realize he worked hard for what he has–for instance: a 55-acre, $36 million Sag Harbor compound.
He said, “You’re in Palm Beach, you’re in the Hamptons, you think you’re so secure. Do you really think if you had 50,000 angry people coming across the river, you think you’re safe?
“People look at Occupy Wall Street as, this is just a little kind of a disorganized joke. If we take another 10 percent of middle-class America’s income, who knows what kind of other social unrest could happen in this country and the changes that could happen to our way of life?” (Meaning his, I guess).
Peter Georgescu. chairman emeritus, Young & Rubicon, writing for the Sunday Times, said, “I’m scared. The billionaire hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones is scared.” Then added that Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, plus other CEOs, are scared. Not of al Qaeda or other Mid East terrorists, but they fear “where income inequality will lead.” He then wrote that wages have been flat for 40 years, while productivity increased 80%, with gains going to shareholders, not employees. Enough to make some angry?
I quote a paragraph from Wikepedia:
“There are many different typologies of revolutions in social science and literature. For example, classical scholar Alexis de Tocqueville differentiated between political revolutions, sudden and violent revolutions that seek not only to establish a new political system but to transform an entire society, and slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about…”
Nothing new there. One expects to see revolutions coming from a disillusioned and angry population, whether bursting forth or gradually percolating up.
But the following extraction from the Wikepedia quote caught my attention: “…and slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about.”
I see this version as a perfect inverse example of what has happened–not from the street up, but from the top down: A slow, sweeping transformation in the transfer of the bulk of our country’s extraordinary wealth. A guileful revolution, in the early stages hardly noticed by we ordinary folk; until confronted by a vast working poor and a crushed middle class; thanks to what seemed an overnight nullification of the people’s democratic republic, executed in a coup by a powerful elite and producing an oligarchic scam. Described more delicately by some as a corporatist government.
While I, for the past couple of years, have been using the term, Oligarchy, I see that Former president Carter agrees with me: Pres. Carter—U.S. an oligarchy
The scam goes like this, but keep your eye on the moving hand:
Okay, true, American jobs were eliminated by off shoring manufacturing to countries with low-wage workers. But by paying less money for the imported products that Americans bought, this created an illusion of wealth that was cleverly designed for those who still had jobs, despite their dangerously stagnating wages.
During this time, with the help of subservient legislators, corporations eagerly shed the traditional pension plan–that once precious social contract between employer and employee that guaranteed a middle class retirement. But despite this, the scam of the illusion of wealth was further enhanced when workers, now having no other option, were “encouraged” to invest in market based 401(k)s, and the stock market itself. This new massive investment, of course, drove the market skyward. A Ponzi market for the unwary–first in wins, last in loses. Governed by the powerfully connected while the mass of unschooled Americans, now each abandoned on his own little island, discovered that the lifeline once fastened safely, en masse, to an expertly guided pension, was now loosely tied by a single thread to a Wall Street broker making his fortune in fees. And the American social contract, too clever for the eye to follow, was slyly broken.
And if you focus on the fact that Wall Street doesn’t produce anything (factories do), and recall that 50 years ago Wall Street financials were a much smaller part of the GDP than today, you will see how this has metastasized and seriously damaged our country’s economic health, for us; not the very wealthy. Those who benefited from the laissez-faire policies of Thatcher and Reagan. The wealthy 1% examining their nails and their statements while advised by financial specialists, then portioning millions for political bribes, via opaque PACS, to insure against unprofitable alterations in legislation.
The majority of Americans, whether believing our government is too strong, or not strong enough, increasingly see it as having been absorbed to the point of privatization by corporations; some of whom are transnational–flying no sovereign banners and indifferent to the notion of patriotic nationalism. Anyone who is paying attention and gives a damn, if things get much worse they may see these economic interlopers in the same way our forefathers saw the British monarchy. To what level of frustration would people reach before they react? How would they rebel? And how would authorities respond?
The Occupiers, the 99%, were a confrontational group whose noisy existence leveled a less than mild threat to Wall Street and the 1%. While their bright little flames were reduced to embers after a few heady moments that drew notice round the world, what drew attention, as well, was the overly aggressive action of the NYPD when confronting this unarmed civil disobedience. No doubt some in the crowds were obnoxious with some trouble-making anarchists in the mix, as there always is; but no chunks of torn up pavement or Molotov cocktails were tossed. No police cars were overturned or torched. This was not a revolution, yet one could see in unedited videos that police were often violent: macing, tear-gassing, slamming, kicking, punching, and beating with sticks—reminding me of police and corporate goons dealing with union members in the 1930s. Anyway, all very much in contrast to the NYPD’s sterling performance alongside the extraordinary firemen during the 9/11 disaster, which made us proud of “New York’s Finest;” plus keeping in mind the cops who sometimes risk their lives against the bad guys, while we play it safe on the sidelines.
But was their reaction to Occupy protestors a forerunner of things to come, to turn even more aggressive, even more militarized, if the economy takes a much deeper dive into depression and more widespread riots ensue? The way they are rioting in Greece?
The financial people who helped perform the coup, and slammed our economy and lined their pockets with billions, (leaving shareholders and taxpayers to foot the bill) are still around doing business as usual; thanks to a laughable justice-absent Justice Department that sees no evil in the corruption of Wall Street oligarchs. A department led by back room dealer Attorney General Eric Holder, who coined: “Too big to jail;” hired, one can only suppose, by our eloquent President Obama to deny us justice by averting its gaze from the criminal activities of the financial members of the coup. Scam artist Holder is now retired as the A.G. and has profitably returned to private law from whence he came, at Covington & Burling, to reclaim his reserved corner office and future million$.
Rolling Stone Quote: “More at issue is the extraordinary run Holder just completed as one of history’s great double agents. For six years, while brilliantly disguised as the attorney general of the United States, he was actually working deep undercover, DiCaprio in The Departed-style, as the best defense lawyer Wall Street ever had.”
And check this scalding Matt Taibbi video on Holder’s scam. Be patient ’til they introduce Taibbi:
Of course, this unbridled coup could slam us again, even worse. The Fed is still printing unsupported Monopoly money with near zero interest to buttress potentially catastrophic bubbles that have benefited the wealthy few, while eviscerating nest-egg retirements, and week-to-week savings, and destroying what’s left of the middle class.
To visualize the worse scenario, the result of the ongoing financial slights of hand, imagine the elimination of even more of our jobs, and our basic social safety nets, while increasing our personal bankruptcies and foreclosures. Thus deftly transforming the working poor into simply poor and creating many more homeless. Finally to be left with what little remains of our republic, and finding ourselves more firmly in the unconscionable hands of transnational troikas that will tell us when and how much of our savings we can withdraw from our accounts in failing banks. Banks, carefully unregulated, thanks to both political parties, that today continue to mix our savings with complicated investment scams and remain, as always, “too big to jail.”
To visualize this, take Greece. Yes, I know a previously outrageously spoiled citizenry, led into disaster by a fiscally irresponsible and politically corrupt leadership, over-indulging its people for votes. I agree–but take Greece.
The ultimate crisis opportunities:
When new Eurozone members were expected to show a reasonable level of debt, Greece was steeped in its self-created financial mess. Goldman Sachs, sniffing opportunity, came to the rescue by helping Greece hide the actual size of its debt, and made them a tempting deal which amounted to extreme predatory lending. Much in the same way it, and other too-big-to-jail banks, did with American municipalities, misleading and trapping towns and cities into accepting high-risk-laden loans, instead of traditional fixed-income bonds, that became crushingly expensive when things turned south. Not allowed to refinance without exorbitant penalties, municipalities were forced into austerity with major cutbacks in services and pensions, while the Wall Street scammers pocketed billions.
Where was Attorney General Holder?
Then the International Monetary Fund (IMF) (think loan sharks) makes it’s appearance in places like Greece, demanding their brand of extreme austerity measures, imposing its will and crushing the less powerful while favoring oligarchic interests. For instance the IMF ruined Indonesia’s banking system, with Pres. Suharto forced to give up the country’s sovereignty; doing the same in Africa and Latin America followed by enormous economic depressions and riots. Perhaps even worse in Greece if it is not allowed to write off some of its debt, which Germany says—“won’t happen.” (Will not allow).
Austerity is punishment for economic misbehavior, but while the very rich misbehave economically, it is the poor who must pay the price—to do with less, and less again.
Meanwhile, because of enforced austerity, fifty percent of young Greeks are unemployed. They’ve already had major riots; if things go another step south–what does it take for outright insurrection?
The current Troika: (the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission), wants an even lower Greek standard of living via **weaker unions and higher taxes for small businesses and ordinary citizens. This is referred to as “modernization;” with invested oligarchs, Greek or otherwise, part of the world’s elite who benefited from the original corrupt system, continuing to push for their special treatment while the less well-connected go hungry. Suicides are way, way up in Greece, as it burn.
Thomas Piketty, anti raw-capital author of the blockbuster book: Capital in the 21st Century, expressed it clearly: “The Greek government is being asked to put a gun to its head and pull the trigger.”
One of the most revealing statements I’ve read, in regard to the economic direction of this new world of ours’, was made by the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble. He suggested:
“Letting Greece burn…would scare the rest of Europe into giving up more sovereignty to a stronger banking and fiscal union.” Pay attention—giving up sovereignty—the key to a New World banking union that, left unchecked, would burn not just Greece, but all democracies that are suckered into Wall Street three-card-Monty slights of hand. A good time to remind Wolfgang Schauble:
At the end of World War II The Marshall Plan (the European Recovery Program) was created, in which the United States gave $120 billion in today’s dollars to help rebuild European economies—including Germany; during which petty regulations were eliminated, an increase in productivity and **labor union membership were encouraged, to produce modern business procedures.
Labor unions encouraged? Imagine that. Look where Berlin was in 1945.
Former US President Herbert Hoover argued that, “The whole economy of Europe is interlinked with a German economy….. Europe cannot be restored without the restoration of Germany as a contributor to that productivity.” While I understand we contributed a few of our own horrors like carpet bombing and the fire bombing of Dresden, I think Wolfgang Schauble, and other German leaders, should be reminded of the Holocaust, and appreciate the West’s enormous post war generosity, however laced with self interest it may have been, and think twice about mouthing the words: “Letting Greece burn.”
To repeat–a truly burning Greece could produce utter chaos to the point of—if not actual—insurrection. A perfect model of what might happen to other democracies slammed, via coups, into oligarchic republics and finding themselves in the process of being taken apart by New World troikas, piece by piece. And keep in mind there are other members of the EU, like Greece, that appear to be heading for debt explosions of their own. For instance Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. Any worsening of their economies could easily edge them into calamity and wreck the European Union. And the repercussions here would be formidable.
Close by: Consider politically corrupt Puerto Rico, our commonwealth where the wealthy pay a fraction of owed taxes, screwing the less well-to-do, who pay higher taxes than here. It is now in default, paying just $628,000 of its $58 million debt-service payment for August 3/15, out of a total debt of $78 billion. Their debt is not payable. They are not a state and not a country; therefore they cannot be restructured by the U.S., or by loan sharks like the IMF. The bond hedge funders are circling, demanding major austerity in services like education and health care. This past year Puerto Rico has closed 100 schools to please hedge funds. About 5000 young people a year are coming here. How bad will it get?
Think of Occupy. Think of it as a single digit; then envision another level of civil disorder multiplied many digits higher.
Police are academy trained in the disciplines of maintaining orderly behavior, and firmly tutored to believe that when issuing requests, instructions or demands to civilians, that said civilians should respond accordingly. When they fail to do so, this failure is regarded as a direct challenge to the powerful authority invested in the policeman’s badge. Many policemen—universally, I believe–appear culturally predisposed to conservatism, and may be inclined to view this failure as a personal affront. Especially considering the behavior of protestors like Occupy, at times wildly disrespectful, which could easily be transposed in the mind of an angry policeman, deciding this brand of lawlessness had moved beyond effrontery and had edged up to, if not quite into, insurrection. Thus the violence.
Now add to this us-against-them mix, the Pentagon’s battleground equipment that had been produced for insane wars by opportunistic defense contractors receiving billions of ordinary American taxpayer’s money.
Members of Congress passed a program, titled “1033,” part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997. 1033 allowed the Secretary of Defense to transfer, close to free of charge, $4.2 billion in equipment to Police departments across the country: 500 military aircraft, 93,763 assault weapons, and 432 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected military vehicles, which, while the actual cost is $700,000 new, it is now sold to police for as low as $2,800. What were they thinking?
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.–a little too libertarian for me–posed the right question during a hearing when he asked why “…the Pentagon has provided to police…nearly 12,000 bayonets….” For law enforcement?
Bayonets? For use against civilians? Well maybe.
In basic training, my buddies and I were taught to scream, to frighten, to then force the bayonet between imaginary ribs, and twisting it. Against an enemy combatant.
Tom Nolan, associate professor, Department of Criminal Justice, State University of N. Y. at Plattsburgh, served 27 years in the Boston Police Department. He said, “Have no doubt, police in the United States are militarizing, (through 1033), and in many communities, particularly those of color, the message is being received loud and clear: You are the enemy. Police officers are increasingly arming themselves with military-grade equipment such as assault rifles, flashbang grenades, and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles and dressing up in commando gear before using battering rams to burst into the homes of people who have not been charged with a crime.” And: “Their streets (are) more reminiscent of Baghdad or Kabul than a city in America.”
The use of SWAT teams has been skyrocketing over the past 45 years, according to Professor Peter Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. He said that in the 1970s, they were used only a few hundred times a year; now they’re deployed about 50,000 times annually.
In 1924 WWI veterans (including my father, France 1918) were awarded $1,000 certificates, payable in 1945. Trouble was, by June 1932, thousands of vets who had endured that awful war were living in shantytowns. 15,000 of them, 20% of them disabled, showed up in the Capital city to demand payment. President Herbert Hoover would not see them. While they then waited for a congressional decision the vets built a shantytown across the Potomac River. Most of them left in despair when congress turned them down. But several thousand, some with families, peaceful and unarmed and having nowhere else to go, remained squatting in the shanties. On July 28 Washington police using tear gas and bayonets began clearing them out of their shanties. Two men were killed. Hoover then ordered an army regiment into action under the man who would become the WWll hero of the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur. Using infantry, cavalry and tanks, MacArthur’s men routed the veteran soldiers and families, and burned their shanties to the ground, wiping out this non-threat.
But that was then. Today, one might easily conclude our heavily militarized police, thoroughly armed for the battlefield, might not need the army. Thanks, no doubt, to a Pentagon anticipating what the billionaires feared. But then again the 1% is computer literate, and understands a rebellious citizenry of the 21st century has what the old vets of the 20th didn’t have—the Internet. Cell phones, iPads, and social networking. A form of communication for organizing protests with relative ease across this or any other country. Imagine the emails, the texting, the tweets, the far-flung pockets of discontent reached in minutes, in seconds. Digitally pulling together these fragments of protests, enhancing and growing them into larger, more dangerous wholes. Some of whom can be potentially well armed. Unlike Canada and Europe, we citizens of the U.S. possess more than 300 million guns and ammunition that were generously provided by legislators who served their masters–the weapons manufacturers. In the same way, I suppose, our government contractors profitably armed “friendly” countries with heavy weapons, only to find them turning them back on our soldiers, if not abandoning them to others, less friendly, to do the same.
No doubt a good reason for an oligarchic government to increase NSA snooping, to initiate marshal law, and to rein in Net neutrality. Or shut the Net down entirely while military and police drones circle overhead, hoping to intimidate the people into submission. But that submission could be more short-term than long, if people were to discover on their own what Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Of course, I’ve been speculating on what the above-mentioned billionaires might be fearing, because of what they know, and what the very worse could bring. Hopefully, the fears of the 1% will, sooner than later, encourage them to rethink what they have been doing, and not doing; to recover the dispossessed and middle class of this county and recreate the Democratic Republic that used to be. For their children and ours.