Anti-Democratic Nature Of US Capitalism Is Being Exposed

By Noam Chomsky

THE SIMULTANEOUS unfolding of the US presidential campaign and unraveling of the financial markets presents one of those occasions where the political and economic systems starkly reveal their nature.

Passion about the campaign may not be universally shared but almost everybody can feel the anxiety from the foreclosure of a million homes, and concerns about jobs, savings and healthcare at risk.

The initial Bush proposals to deal with the crisis so reeked of totalitarianism that they were quickly modified. Under intense lobbyist pressure, they were reshaped as “a clear win for the largest institutions in the system . . . a way of dumping assets without having to fail or close”, as described by James Rickards, who negotiated the federal bailout for the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in 1998, reminding us that we are treading familiar turf. Continue reading

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How to Fix the Wall Street Mess

March on Wall Street

Demonstration on Wall Street

The richest 400 Americans — that’s right, just four hundred people — own MORE than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. 400 rich Americans have got more stashed away than half the entire country! Their combined net worth is $1.6 trillion. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, their wealth has increased by nearly $700 billion — the same amount that they are now demanding we give to them for the “bailout.” Why don’t they just spend the money they made under Bush to bail themselves out? They’d still have nearly a trillion dollars left over to spread amongst themselves!

Of course, they are not going to do that — at least not voluntarily. George W. Bush was handed a $127 billion surplus when Bill Clinton left office. Because that money was OUR money and not his, he did what the rich prefer to do — spend it and never look back. Now we have a $9.5 trillion debt. Why on earth would we even think of giving these robber barons any more of our money? Continue reading

A System Out Of Control

The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers–with more financial institutions to follow, no one knows how quickly–is the product of greed and deregulation embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike.

A Wall Street trader watches as the stock market crashes in reaction to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (Zuma)

A Wall Street trader watches as the stock market crashes in reaction to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (Zuma)

THE LATEST chaos on Wall Street–the worst financial upheaval in the U.S. since the Great Depression of the 1930s–highlights not just the scale of the world financial crisis, but the needless destruction caused by the blind competition at the core of capitalism.

The Wall Street crisis will almost certainly make the current economic slump worse. A shadow banking system beyond the reach of regulators in the U.S. or any other country is crashing down, destabilizing the world financial system. Even before the latest crisis, Bill Gross of Pimco, a big money-management firm, warned that an uncontrolled liquidation of debt by financial institutions “can turn a campfire into a forest fire, a mild asset bear market into a destructive financial tsunami.”

The risk of such a catastrophe is growing. As hundreds of billions of dollars in financial assets vaporize, banks will be forced to raise interest rates to increase the amount of money they have in their reserves. This, in turn, will cut off credit to business and consumers alike, further choking an anemic economy. Continue reading

Which Way Venezuela?

By Michael Albert

The diverse factual reports and other data included in this article are culled from documents made available by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is exciting and exemplary, yet few people know much about where Venezuela is headed.

Misrepresentations abound. Data is limited and people interpret it in quite contrary ways. Information deficit plus skewed interpretations cause many people who ought to support the Bolivarian Revolution to instead doubt or even reject it. Useful lessons from Venezuela go largely unreported and thus have less than their widest possible effect.

Overview

Hugo Chavez became President in 1999 and in that year, largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s, the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50%. The aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development.

In the 1999 constitution, Article 299, for example, emphasizes “human development” as the cornerstone of social judgements and Article 70 states that the “involvement of people in the exercise of their social and economic affairs should be manifest through citizen service organs, self-management, co-management, cooperatives in all forms, community enterprises, as well as other kinds of associations guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.”

But, as many skeptics would point out, words are not deeds, and you can find nice words everywhere – including, say, in the constitutions of countries suffering dictatorship and economic and social injustice, as but one example, in the constitution and other literary organs of the the Soviet Union under Stalin.

Words matter some, but they become infinitely more important and reliable as evidence if there are deeds in their support and particularly if institutional relations breathe life into the words every day.

So what about deeds? Continue reading