MONEY DOES NOT THINK.

… BUT DEMOCRACY DOES, THAT’S ITS FORTE. THE US ECONOMY IS NOW HEADLESS BECAUSE DEMOCRACY IS BEING DEVOURED BY AN  INCREASINGLY STRONGER PLUTOCRACY.
***
The USA just nationalized the two largest US banks holding 45% of US mortgages (total worth: about half of US GDP). But nobody in the USA wants to use the word “nationalization”. Hey it would sound socialist, or even, God forbids, French!

The famous economist from Princeton, Paul Krugman opines in the New York Times that: “the Fannie-Freddie rescue was a good thing. But it takes place in the context of a broader economic struggle — a struggle we seem to be losing.”

Losing? The US economy is failing because it is a horse without a rider. It has eaten all the grass in its small enclosure, but it can’t get out on its own, and it needs to be led somewhere else by a more intelligent creature.

The basic socioeconomic mistake of the Nixonian, Reaganoid USA has been to believe that the “free market” should, and can control all. Since what’s most free in the market is what, and who, has most money, to believe that the free market should control all, is another way of saying that money should control all, and so that money-power – in one word, plutocracy – should reign. (Come to think of it “free market” is a euphemism for the concept of capital, a good way to make old critiques look obsolete by changing the label on the product!)

Abdicating to plutocracy is a complete misunderstanding of what the role of democracy is, and a full violation of the United States of America’s Constitution.

For a reminder here is how the Constitution starts:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Where is the free market in this? It is nowhere to be found. The Preamble does not start with: “We the Free Market of the United States of America”. It starts with: “We the People”. And the People has power. It is not: “We the Free Market and Rich People of the United States, and its Venture Capitalists, in order to create more Riches to ourselves and our Posterity, and establish more injustice, promote the general Welfare of the higher ups in the Chinese Communist Party and secure the general misery of the People, establish this Delocalization of the Constitution of the United States of America…”

Thanks to decades, even generations of extreme, fantastic right wing propaganda, the United States of America’s population has macerated in the warm mantra that the free market is not just the best path to prosperity, but also is best to decide all strategies and every single thing about the economy. This extremely deep propaganda blossomed in the late forties, when Nixon became a force in the USA, by accusing his Congresswoman opponent to be “pink right down to her underwear”.

Money-power as the ultimate ruler means that whatever or whoever has the most money takes the most important decisions. Laws and regulations do not come in the way (since they have no power, relatively speaking, the power being in the money, not in the representants of the people as such).

So the cities’ very extensive electric tramway systems were dismantled. No maneuver was abject enough to dismantle public transportation. General Motors bought the San Francisco Bay bridge and owned it just long enough to dismantle the train that was going over it, and maximize its car carrying capacity. And so on all over. In general, train operators, less popular in Washington (Smaller bribes? Less glamorous? Or was it that they had fewer actresses around than Howard Hughes?), were neglected, and all the money went to car companies, airlines, the oil industry, etc. Trains and their lines, which transport most goods (even in the USA) were neglected. But of course electric trains as used in Europe are much more energy efficient, and that was bad for maximizing the oil industry and those who like to profit from invading the Middle East and make deals there (Carlyle group, Bush family, countless oil cartels, etc…).

Anyway the big picture is that the so called free market decided where the US economy would go. Bigger SUVs to go along with the bigger potholes. What the US society has overlooked is this: the economy does not exist independently of the sociology. The SOCIOECONOMY IS JUST ONE BLOCK. The economy controls the country, and even the minds. This was not just true in the USSR. Indeed most of United States media control (with the vague exception of NPR and some PBS, restricted to a small elite audience) is in private hands. This is not compensated by the State having a strong independent voice, because elections are literally bought in the USA. Such enormously injurious facts to the concept of democracy are no figure of speech and acidic critique. They are just facts. So those who have the most money end up with the most control, as the present presidential campaign in the USA demonstrates … on both sides…

Since the search for profits has masqueraded as a search for a socioeconomic policy, the USA has piled up insane economic decisions, that connect deeply with American semantics, and American minds.

Take “house ownership”. Absurd statistics are brandished about it (most Americans are homeowners, etc…). The simplest hurtful truth, though, is that many Americans feel that they are proud homeowners, when all they do is to rent their house to a bank at such outrageous rates that they cannot have much of a life (besides feeding the bank). The whole credit crisis has to do with the fact that US citizens are discovering this, and are starting to pull away from that exploitation scheme, thus mightly hurting bank profits (subprime is just a sideshow).

And so on. As long as “We the People” does not become master of its own destiny, captain of its own soul, and does not treat the economy and money as instruments in the service of “general Welfare”, the United States socioeconomy will go down, relatively speaking.

Plutocracies can’t compete with countries with a higher democratic index. Republican Rome defeated the Hellenistic kingdoms and Carthage, simultaneously, because, at the time, Rome was less plutocratic and more democratic than them. This pattern has renewed itself throughout history. Rome, in the end, became a plutocracy too, and then it went down of its own weight, freedom crushed by money, and the few who had it (the “Barbarian” invasions, by tiny armed bands, were more of a symptom of the disease than the disease itself). That, too is a pattern of history: plutocracy can collapse a civilization all by itself. There is no need for an ecological disaster to cause a collapse, contrarily to what another American academic, Jared Diamond assumed, conveniently enough for US plutocracy. 
***

Patrice Ayme
***

P/S: 1) Increasingly much simpler version of this commentary were systematically barred by the Krugman team at the NYT (while hundreds of other comments were published; as we hinted in the case of Jared Diamond, claiming that the concept of plutocracy is of no import in the USA is viewed as extremely important by the wealthy owners of America, so they do not want to advertise this anathema).

2) The opposite of democracy is fascism. It is not plutocracy. But unconstrained plutocracy leads to fascism. Plutocracy arises by degeneracy from democracy.

3) A demonstration of the amazing hold of plutocracy occurred when Obama, supposedly the people’s candidate, refused to be financed by the state (his hope was to get more from hyper rich donors, in other words, the plutocracy; those people who do not mind forking out the median US salary to just be in the Presence… at a distance, rubbing with their peers… for a few minutes.) Amusingly the supposed candidate of the rich, McCain, accepted public money (thus forfeiting most direct private contributions). True, McCain had authored the public finance law, another reason why the plutocracy claims not to trust him (besides, what can they offer to him?) Even more amusingly, suddenly private money, having apparently second thoughts, seems to find it less rewarding to get to Obama. Out Machiavellizing Machiavelism seems to be where it’s at. That’s why we are trying to simplify the debate.

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One Response to “MONEY DOES NOT THINK.”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Patrice,

    Nice rant. You’ve done well, lad.

    Good commentary on some of what ails U.S. democracy these days. How could such an unpleasant truth be conveniently suppressed? None other than denial, the easiest way to avoid the most unpleasant of truths.

    You’ve also made some interesting remarks on what has degenerated into the myth of home ownership in the U.S., the so-called “subprime” crisis being only one part of an overdue finance industry meltdown. In the day when home ownership was accomplished by means of legitimate lending practices, this was not the case. But the U.S.’ finance industry in all of its various forms grew into a monster that could not be sated by any amount of booty until at last it embarked upon a course that led it to consume itself. Baah! The wicked witch is shrinking! And shrinking it is while GE-owned (one of the U.S.’ most admired corporations, a staggering amount of GE’s profits have derived from its finance arm, proof positive of the degree to which financial manipulations seduced corporate chieftains and their minions, rather than sticking to the duller if less intoxicating business of producing goods other than financial products) CNBC chronicles the whole mess. Even CNBC reporter Ron Insana fell for the allure of starting a (ill-fated) hedge-fund, raising $125 million in what turned out to be a vain bid to get in on the get-very-rich-very-quick craze that swept the asset management business. Hedge funds are now liquidating their assets almost as fast as mortgage lenders, possibly of the more significant downward pressures on the prices of hitherto more popular financial assets….

    I am reminded of part of a song by Chris Rea, The Road to Hell (Part 2)

    “…And the roads jam up with credit
    And there’s nothing you can do
    It’s all just bits of paper
    Flying away from you

    This aint no upwardly mobile freeway
    This is the road, this is the road, this is the road to hell…”

    The Reagan-ordered demise of the Supreme Court’s Fairness Doctrine (circa 1969) in preference of an ideologically more appealing market-based (read increasingly concentrated $$corporate ownership$$ of media at the expense of far more balanced public opinion, causing the far greater expense of a poorly informed public) approach to the regulation of media ownership. To the uninformed, market-based sounds innocent enough. It was anything but. Now you can get 500 channels of dreck by cable or satellite but darn little access to public media that informs the population of what goes on. Only a couple or three years ago Michael Powell, then Chair of the Federal agency charge with overseeing regulation of media ownership (the FCC?), had the audacity to propose allowing a further increase in corporate media ownership from 35% to 45%!! The attempt failed due to a massive grassroots e-mail and letter campaign, but none of the existing damage was recanted. My point? Freedom and democracy, if they are to be the genuine article rather than the illusory version promoted by ratings-driven corporate broadcasters whose advertising coffers are filled by airing soothing, deliberately uncontroversial (comfortably numb still describes television programming pretty accurately, with or without the generous doses of gratuitous violence) plugs for soap, diapers, paper towels, autos that waste lots of fuel and slick promotions from big pharma and oil companies, demand an informed public.

    The ideas you have explicated require minds capable of critical thought, which remain in short supply. They can scarcely find a wide audience in a U.S. dominated by such a “market-based” media. Though you have done well at railing against the tendencies of U.S. democracy to tilt toward plutocracy, your efforts can but fail if they do not reach a larger audience that is not fragmented by polarization, the so successful divide and conquer strategy of those who were aided so much by Reagan’s bid to help dumb down media in the U.S. to the point of imbecility.

    Clearly, most Americans do not get it. Instead, they engage in denial to avoid acknowledging the unpleasant truths. Perhaps they can be partially forgiven for being in denial that America’s ever-eager-to market-to-the-suckers approach to financial products has been spoon-fed to them since infancy – and they bought it. Freedom and democracy, to be maintained, require thoughtful vigilance and the ability to think critically about more than which frozen dinner to buy at the market, which steroid-addled ball player to watch, which brand of fast food to overindulge in.

    Like

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