Saturday, March 21, 2009

Outrage is not enough!

Maybe you've heard the phrase, "Outrage is all the rage," describing how ticked off the American people are about the toxic economy and our feckless government. Quite right, too. Of course, we aren't pissed off enough until we're pissed off enough to do something about it.

It's not bad enough that the bastards who've been lowering wages and shipping jobs overseas for 30 years, all the time claiming - with economists as Greek chorus - that big business "knows best" so we should just lie back and let them run things, are the ones we're bailing out now.

It's not bad enough that they've stolen billions from us over the years by underpaying us for our work, and then shifting the tax burden to ordinary working folks away from the richest people in the frakking world, and now they come to us for help!

No, it's not bad enough that the chief instrument of our international economic policy (besides the military), the International Monetary Fund, has been extorting "reforms" in other countries when their economies are in trouble that our economic managers refuse to accept here - like nationalizing the banks. (By the way, most of the usual IMF demands - like privatization and cutting social services - are about the opposite of what just about any country needs.)

But the bloodsuckers like AIG used our money to give millions in bonuses? Let us get our hands on them! Or at the very least on the money.

On "Talk of the Nation" invited pundit Marc Ambinder tells us Congress allowed the AIG bonuses because of some "sense of the sanctity of contracts"- which the host rightly points out wasn't their take on UAW contracts.

But to ask whether it's "fair" to tax the money back, as another pundit on NPR did, that's not even funny. Is it "fair" that we - and future generations burdened by the debt - should pay for this monstrous ripoff? Absolutely not.

And to say, as NPR's select pundits did last night, that "the average American" just "doesn't understand" the complexities involved! It's enough to start riots, or ought to be.

But neither taxing, nor rioting is going to be enough. And in the long run, neither is nationalizing the banks and other companies. Yes, we should tax them, and yes, we should riot. And yes, we should nationalize them - and then clean the bums out, and then reorganize them completely: break them up, divide the assets among not just a half-dozen regions of the country but dozens of smaller, not-for-profit co-ops - and re-regulate (properly this time), and take the shackles off the credit unions, let them grow and compete with the for-profit entities, let them flourish unencumbered by the monopolizing lobbyist-inspired political thumb of corporate banking.

It's a decent formula for the rest of the economy, too: bailouts are, or should be, in-roads to government buyouts, yes, takeovers, housecleaning and reorganization on populist social principles: massive break-ups and reorganizations into worker-owned co-operative businesses in every sector of the economy impacted by the current cancer.

Because the problem isn't just mismanagement. It isn't just deregulation. The banks and mortgage companies, credit card companies, car loan financing schemers, etc., lent to everyone who could realistically afford their rates. Then they lent to a whole class of people who couldn't really afford the usury, and the rest is history why? Greed? No, not even close. Greed was there, of course. But the competitive drive to maximize profits, and control markets, demanded it. They had to expand or lose.

And they will have to again, even if the private clowns who run them now are replaced by the government clowns who deregulated them in the first place, and their newer apprentices - no, nationalization is far from enough. The reorganization we require must be carried out on a completely different agenda than the one our government has been working off, a people's agenda. A Social Monetary Fund agenda, if you ask me.

That's the short term solution at least.

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