Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ocean-side Living

"High water risin-risin night and day...it's bad out there. High water everywhere. .. and admit that the waters around you have grown." BD You know that seaside summer cottage you always wanted? Where you could hear the waves roll in and smell the salt air? You might be better off up on the cliff somewhere. There is a new normal and it does not favor low lying areas. This is how we roll. Since man-assisted global climate change cannot be mentioned it need not be acknowledged as real. And if it isn't real, we needn't change our behavior. Which works out great really. When they say there is 30 billion in damage they really mean we can add 30 billion to the GDP. This is creative destruction and stimulus in one wet package. Sort of like when they talk about the "cost" of war they should be talking about the multiplier effect. Milo Minderbinder for President! Some get the fire and smoke. Some get the drought. Some get the flood. Some get the big bonus at the end of the year, like the guy from the Coal Council who was on the radio today, arguing that "we" should be investing in research to come up with "new technology" to make burning coal safe, but in the meantime it is a necessary part of the "energy mix". Since we want to keep all the nice things we've got. High water everywhere.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ideological Construction

Or industrial cultural production, as Adorno characterized it, is now working three shifts. I take personal credit for much of this because it is obvious my attacks on Market Ideology are having great effect. Finally! Why else the Atlas Shrugged movies, the libertarians on every state and local ballot, the flood of propaganda in my mail box each day? Take this one from Americans For Prosperity, a 9X15 glossy attacking John Tester (our erstwhile gun/coal loving Democrat Junior Senator) while letting me know that "10,000 activists across the state of Montana are taking action every day on behalf of the free market movement..". Wow, a whole movement with active activists! They are about "freedom" and "economic freedom" and totally free freedom- but of course it is only about putting more money (your money) and power in the hands of the ruling class. As George Carlin succinctly put it: "You are not in the Club... and they don't give a FUCK about you!" But of course the rubes all think they could be John Galt or John Wayne or Sarah Palin and save the world from sloth and hippies. So how are these Hayekian wanna-be's "taking action"? Well,I imagine they get up in the dark and work some crap job at low pay (Montana ranks 48th) and then come home for Fox News and Survival re-runs on the plasma screen. While the Chamber of Commerce suits drink Chivas down at the Stockmans and laugh all the way to the bank. Again, Adorno: "All are free to dance and enjoy themselves..but freedom to choose an ideology, since ideology always reflects economic coercion, everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same." I sometimes envy the simple existence of someone who truly believes in Lowering taxes, Reducing regulations and Eliminating government waste, just like in the flyer. Like having a lobotomy, or being a Baptist, all things reduced to a few simple slogans. Sweet bliss. While it lasts....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Boys Are Back In Town

In the last thread there was a discussion about history. It is certainly wise to consult history but how to do a close reading? Lichanos suggests "the history of crisis and revolution is discouraging" but is that a total overview? Can we make such grand conclusions? And even with perfect knowledge, how to factor in contingency, that which now exists that never has previously? Why is this crisis different that 1939? Why can you "never go home"? Why might FDR and the New Deal be an imperfect guide? Can the past be repeated? The Chicago Boys never stop trying, because as with all religious zealots, failure only inspires them to greater heights. Here I am referring to graduates of the U. of Chicago school of economics, which, much like the Mormons, sends it's missionaries out into the world to convert the heathens to the God of laissez faire. Their history goes way back, in terms of influence, but these libertarians might best be remembered for their intervention in favor of Pinochet in Chile. They are always, much like me, hoping to transform their utopian imaginary into a concrete example, but unlike me they are more than willing to kill to achieve it. Here is a report via Balloon Juice via Phronesisiacal about their latest project: No taxes and land along the coast? What’s not to like? Small government and free-market capitalism are about to get put to the test in Honduras, where the government has agreed to let an investment group build an experimental city with no taxes on income, capital gains or sales. Proponents say the tiny, as-yet unnamed town will become a Central American beacon of job creation and investment, by combining secure property rights with minimal government interference. “Once we provide a sound legal system within which to do business, the whole job creation machine – the miracle of capitalism – will get going,” Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group, which will build the city and set its laws, told FoxNews.com…. The laws in the city will be separate from those in the rest of Honduras. Strong said that the default law that will be enforced in the city will actually be based on Texas state law, which has relatively few regulations. “It will be Texas law with more freedom of contract. Texas scores well on state economic freedom rankings,” he explained… MKG will invest $15 million to begin building basic infrastructure for the first model city near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast, said Juan Hernandez, president of the Honduran Congress. That first city would create 5,000 jobs over the next six months and up to 200,000 jobs in the future, Hernandez said… Texas meets Singapore meets John Galt thanks to a convenient coup and a little Shock Doctrine magic. I am picturing small town Disneyland with a statue of Ayn Rand in the main square. At the corner of Friedman Street and Greenspan Ave. you'll find the child slave market...

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Who Loves Free Enterprise More?

The presidential debate was essentially framed by Romney around the question of who believes in Profit and Markets most. This is a great tactic for Repubs, putting Dems on the defensive because their love is not pure. Yes they believe...mostly. But they always feel compelled to add a caveat- they half-heartedly insist a couple of things can be done better without being driven by profit, such as education or healthcare. But then they stumble because guess what? Those corporate campaign contributions you were so counting on? Generated by profit. Those small businessmen whose support you need? They worship "free enterprise". They don't want to hear a lot of crap about the public sector. Had the liberal moderator been interested in uncovering some of this underlying ideology, he could have asked something like: What do you think brought about the global economic crisis of Sept. 2008? But of course he has no interest in getting to such a Real level of discourse. He just wanted the Spectacular exchange of "facts" and spin, how much Obamacare costs or saves, how much growth there will be in the economy, who will pay for Medicare blah blah. And across America, partisans cheered or booed their team and talked about who won or lost the competition. Every four years the show is trotted out and I guess there is something reassuring to folks about such regularity and predictability. Like a holiday or birthday or any other ritual, it creates the illusion that there is something solid beneath the shifting sand. I still remain hopeful that a Romney presidency will bring down the facade (legitimacy of the rule of Capital), knowing all the while his free market fundamentalism will be tempered by reality and the Rational business lobby to which he is truly allied. But it might just be he is starting to believe his own rhetoric. He is a Mormon after all!