Revisited from October 2009 (once more in case DD closes down) here in a rather prophetic talk 2 years ago Paul Jay of the Real News talked in November 2008 at The Von Krahl Academy in Estonia about foreign policies, wars, terrorism, the crises of capitalism, media, economies, about the shit hitting the fan, and about solutions development.
Jay’s talk is about 40 minutes. Watch the video. It’s worth your time. It’s one of the best videos I think ever produced by Jay and The Real News, if not the best.
Ours is a period of profound social crisis: our social discourse and political “possibilities” rigidly limited by a narrow ideological hegemony, political system failures, continuous economic dislocation even in “boom” or “growth” years, an increasingly precarious worklife for an ever-growing proportion of the population, an increasingly damaged natural world, and an increasingly violent and fragmented social world. Concepts like class consciousness, social solidarity, and a sense of enduring community have largely disappeared, or, more accurately, been expunged from our social reality. This interconnected web of problems is what I’ve taken to calling the 21st Century Social Crisis. This crisis has its origin in the collapse of the 20th century’s once highly successful social compromise between the powers of capital and of the people, what I call the 20th Century Synthesis.
I think a lot of the wrongheaded thinking on both sides of the discussion about the “economic crisis” is that people keep calling it a “crisis”. This is a word that’s abused almost as much as the word “tragedy”. A crisis is a short, sharp event or series of events. And when it’s done, things get back to normal. If — as I strongly suspect — the capitalist system is collapsing into a much smaller economic ball (a collapsing star, if you will), then the unemployment numbers and the nosediving housing situation and the freezing of formerly free-flowing credit are nothing more (or less) than the new normal. Perhaps, going forward, 10% + unemployment is going to be normal (it already is in the EU). Perhaps, going forward, those houses that popped in “value” from $500K to 1.5 mil in a few years will stay at their real value (say, $200K)and never regain their former puffed-up “value”. Perhaps, going forward, credit of all kinds will not be freely available to one and all, and the engine of American consumerism — which has always, at its base, been built on the mad flow of credit — will slow down permanently to the more sedate levels we saw when people put things on layaway instead of whipping out their Platinum Card.
Perhaps this is the new normal. Perhaps this is how we live from now on. Perhaps.
A black hole gravitationally sucks in everything that comes near it, and nothing can return from the other side of the event horizon once sucked in.
Banks lending money is one of the major, if not THE major way they produce revenue and profit. In any business, when sales are down you do everything you can do to increase sales revenue – or you go bust – UNLESS you can produce revenue another way.
Yet the real message coming through is that the banks BANKERS seem to have decided that they do not want to increase revenue in any other way than simply taking it from taxpayers instead of lending to generate revenue.
This leads me to suspect that they have no intention of returning to providing the “product” they have always provided to generate revenue, but instead have decided to simply and openly steal it, and that the current economic crisis is not something the government is trying to correct but is instead actively a partner in intentionally manufacturing.
With government help. With Geithner’s help. With the presidents help.
We have a big problem. The problem is not the economic crisis.
What is “government”?
“Very simply, it is an agency of coercion. Of course, there are other agencies of coercion — such as the Mafia. So to be more precise, government is the agency of coercion that has flags in front of its offices.”
Thomas Ferguson is an American political scientist and author who studies and writes on politics and economics, often within an historical perspective. He is a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He obtained his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is also a contributing editor for The Nation.
Today Ferguson talks with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the banking crisis and the black hole at the center of the crisis, the Obama administrations response so far to it, and about something he thinks really needs to be done that is not being done.
Real News – March 25, 2009 – 12 minutes 25 seconds
Obama should save the banks, not the bankers
Tom Ferguson: Stimulus package is dangerously small; plan for toxic assets shovels money to bankers
So far nothing has worked; not bailouts, or conversions to bank holding companies, not front page stories or investigative committees…nothing is helping the economic crisis it only continues to get worse.
What if we cannot stop the economic crisis from continuing to deteriorate, what if the economic levees break?
How is our government (Federal, State, Municipal) preparing for the worst case scenario?
How are we hoping they are preparing, what should we be expecting of them, what can we do?
Saturday was a day for summing up Presidential Debate number one. It was also the day that members of New Jersey’s People’s Organization for Progress (POP) delivered a summation of their own. They had watched two presidential candidates stand in front of a huge national television audience, hemming and hawing about bailing the US financial system out of economic catastrophe and not saying a whole lot about how the country got in this mess.
So Saturday at one, two dozen POP members wearing their trademark yellow t-shirts rolled out at Broad & Market, the historic and commercial center of Newark, to say “Save Our Houses, Don’t Bail Out Billionaires.”
In a recent EENR entry I posted about Paul Krugman’s blog entry regarding the real reason regulators have failed to reign in the excesses of Wall Street. Essentially, the failure was deliberate — an effort to systematically remove any and all regulation. I guess causing one Great Depression wasn’t enough to wake up the laissez-faire assholes into realizing that the days of unrestricted greed should have remained dead and buried; they’ve been working like hell to create another while making their money, and they appear to have succeeded.
But I digress. In today’s New York Times column, Professor Krugman expands upon this failure to reign in Wall Street by bringing the discussion to the presidential election.