Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Death Trip Continues

The Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe cost $115 billion in today's dollars.

The New Deal cost $500 billion, and it rebuilt the United States - actually built the place for the first time in its country-ass, lonesome-mile, wagon-train across the burning prairie history.

The War in Iraq cost about $600 billion in these terms - or $3 trillion according to Joseph Stiglitz.

See the great slideshow at CNBC. Then shed a few tears.

The Great Bank Bailout - 4 trillion dollars. Cry yourself a river. Then get pissed and do something for a change.

Today in Place Bellecour here in Lyon the cops didn't police a big protest - they led it. They dressed up a mannequin in a Police Nationale uniform and full headgear and hung it by the neck from a giant crane. The strangulation of public services by a blind unseeing grasping state shovelling money to the top of the ladder - or some such symbolism. Their speaker said "the great eye of Mordor sees all, and means evil to us." Well actually, he said, "reductions, limitations, privatizations, destructions of public services, we accept none of this, and we will fight it.

Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems laid off about 6000 people, bringing the number of layoffs in the tech sector to nearly 60,000 in the last 2 1/2 months. Startups - the "jobs of the future" - are cutting deeper. The auto industry, which still accounts for about 2.5% of the US economy, has laid off 100,000 people since January. And fricking Citigroup is laying off 50,000 in one swoop.

This is of course the middle-class past present future, getting whacked. Where's the peep?

Bailout leader Henry Paulson objected to the idea that bank bailout money be used to help ease home foreclosures. This prompted Rep. Barney Frank to say "The fundamental policy issue is our disappointment that funds are not being used out of the $700 billion to supplement mortgage foreclosure reduction," Frank said."

Naomi Klein has been doing a great job of explaining how the crisis is being used as "shock therapy" to force changes that before would have been unacceptable. I was struck yesterday by how she clearly feels the window on reform is closing, and that the crisis caused by the wealth-making practices of banks is being used to make even more money for the same banks.

The process is staying crooked, as Klein pointed out:
really what [Washington is] saying is, we can’t afford to enforce the law, because there is an economic crisis, that somehow, because there’s an economic [crisis], legality is a luxury that Congress can’t afford. That is a very scary statement. But this . . . bear market, has the temperament of an ill-tempered two-year-old. I mean, it throws temper tantrums whenever it doesn’t get what it wants, whenever it is frightened.
That's pretty much how it will be run until the loyal henchmen derail it.

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