Archive for Vulture Capitalism

The GOP and the Art of Destruction

Posted in Guest Commentators with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by playthell

   The Grand Obstructionists Party’s Presidential Choice?

 The Grand Old Party has become the sick man of American politics.  The Republican Party has been a formidable political force in American politics since the middle of the 19th century.  It fought the expansion of slavery and served as a catalyst for the abolition of slavery.  It promoted American industrialization and was in part responsible for the dynamism of American mass production and scientific innovation.  But from the latter part of the 20th century, the GOP has become a force thwarting American progress.

 The Grand Old Party in the latter part of the twentieth century opposed the civil rights movement and opportunistically, rode the wave of the white backlash movement.  It remained an uncritical advocate of oligopolistic capitalism and stumbled into the 21st century failing to understand the revolutionary changes of globalization.

The GOP morphed into an extremely destructive force at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  This destructive propensity is apparent both in foreign policy and domestic policy. The invasion of Iraq in March, 2003 was a manifestation of this destructive propensity.  A band of neo-conservatives seized control of America’s national security apparatus in the early days of the Bush administration and became convinced that America’s military superiority could be used to force the rest of the world to accept America’s dictat.  The invasion of Iraq was selected to demonstrate America’s military superiority.

The neo-conservatives manufactured the threat that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and worked the country into a frenzy that led to the invasion of Iraq.  The presumption was that the war would be of short duration.  American arm forces would pulverize Baghdad from air, sea and land, decimate Hussein’s forces and speedily impose a pro-American democratic regime in Iraq.

According to Paul Wolfowitz, one of the leading neo-conservative thinkers of this muscular invasive foreign policy, prognosticated not only would the war be of short duration, but that the cost would be picked up by the export of Iraqi oil.

 Paul Wolfowitz: Architect of Bush’s Iraq Policy
 What the Devil looks like in the 21st Century

The American invasion lasted eight years and cost American taxpayers approximately $1 trillion.  Not only was their loss in financial resources but over 4,000 lives were lost, 30,000 returned physically damaged by the war effort and another incalculable number damaged psychologically.  The last American combat troops were withdrawn in December of 2011.

Iraq is still engaged in a religious struggle that pits Shites against Sunni and Kurds trying to maintain autonomy from the central government.  All signs are that the Shites who are presently in control of the central government will continue to milk America of its resources while concomitantly drifting into a religious kinship with the theocrats in Iran who themselves are Islamic Shites.

Ayatollah Khomeini: Leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran

The Iraq Invasion expanded his influence

The Iraqi debacle led to the discrediting of the neo-conservative national security adventurers but that propensity for destruction, having been disarmed, has been replaced by domestic neo-conservative neophytes that have been the architects of the decline of the American economy.

The abandonment of New Deal liberalism and the de-regulation of the economy ushered in an age of inequality.  A racketeering form of capitalism surfaced in the 1990s which has destroyed the living standards of the American working class at the same time creating a new class of billionaires.

The financial sector of the economy now gobbles up over 40% of gross domestic product and has used financial gimmicks to generate mega-profits. In September, 2008 Wall Street collapsed like a house of cards.  The economy is slowly trying to extricate itself from the neo-conservative architects of sub-prime mortgages, bundling of mortgages, derivatives and over-leveraging of risky investments.  The collusion between Wall Street and conservative politicians has left the American economy with a mountain of debt.  America’s accumulated debt is $16 trillion.

Whereas the neo-conservatives in the foreign policy arena have been discredited, the neo-conservatives on the domestic front still have some credibility. The American electorate is still uncertain about the appropriate domestic policy to pursue. The nature of contemporary American capitalism is being debated in the presidential Republican primary.

Members of the GOP even moreso than the Democrats have slovenly romanticized capitalism.  The free market is embraced as the solution to every societal problem.  The documentary concocted by Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC, “When Romney comes to Town” should have triggered a debate about the changing nature of capitalism.  Instead it has forced the Republican establishment to circle the wagons in an un-examined defense of capitalism.

The capitalism of the middle nineteenth century when small scale production predominated differed from the capitalism of late 19th century and early 20th century America when mass production became the order of the day.  As capitalist production has morphed in a multi-national platform and with the advent of globalization, the dynamics and dialectics of the system have had a profound impact on the fortunes of a formerly secure white working class.

Sociologist William Julius Wilson
 Author of: When Work Disappears

William Julius Wilson, the Harvard Sociologist in the 1980s, wrote about the de-industrialization of America and the impact that these economic changes were having on American life.  As we stumbled into the latter part of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, capitalism developed new forms of accumulation that were separate and apart from industrial production.  As the Gingrich documentary on Romney highlights public equity firms discovered new ways of accumulating massive profits.

Companies were bought, the exploitation of workers was accelerated, debt was accrued, benefits eliminated, and companies sold to new owners at astronomical profits.   It was a form of blitzkrieg capitalism that destroys everything in its wake.  The lives of workers were ruined and communities were left in an immiserated state.  The discussion of the Gingrich documentary over what Governor Rick Perry called “vulture capitalism” revealed the inability of the neo-conservative movement to understand the variegated nature of American capitalism.

The GOP’s continued romanticization of capitalist enterprise will thwart the development of the appropriate policy to save capitalism from itself.  In a democratic society, the change will not come from Wall Street barons or the ailing GOP but from those imperiled by the new twist in the system.

The recent findings of the Pew Research Center that the white working class has begun to understand the saliency of class and recognize that their salvation lies in electing politicians who can protect their class interest is a ray of hope that we can stop the domestic propensity for destroying people’s lives.

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By: Dr. Basil Wilson

Queens, New York

March 17, 2012

On Republican Economic Amnesia

Posted in Playthell on politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 13, 2012 by playthell

                        A Stockbroker Watching the Market Crash

 Reflections on Republican Denial

President Obama’s outstanding performance in the area of foreign policy and National Security forced the Republicans to rely on economic issues as their propaganda weapon of choice.  But now that the unemployment rate is only half a point from the 8% he promised during the last election, and we have seen three years of economic growth, they are retreating into fantasy, denial, and willfully induced amnesia.

Just this morning Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, accused the President’s policies of putting 25 million workers on the unemployment line; even as the non-Partisan Congressional Budget Office credits the president with saving over two million jobs with his economic stimulus plan.

Mitt’s tactics mirror those adopted by the rest of the Republican field; which is to blame Barack for not being able to magically cure the devastation of George Bush’s economic policies while arguing that the economy is coming back in spite of the President’s policies.  The truth is Barack’s performance has been magnificent when the situation he inherited from Bush, and Republican obstructionism in the Congress, is taken into account.

When Barack took office the world financial system was on the brink of collaspe.  George Bush had dramatically admitted the abject failure of his policies when he was forced to ask Congress to rescue the banks and other financial institutions that were “too big to fail.”  By some estimates trillions of American assets were lost in the financial meltdown, and if the shadowy Credit Default Markets – which is estimated to top sixty trillion dollars – had been allowed to collaspe the crisis would have been too big for the government to manage and the world would have plunged into a greater depression than the 1930s.

However in an authoritative report from Bloomberg News of March 11, 2010, about 13 months after Barack took office, we learn the following facts:

“One year after U.S stocks hit their post-financial-crisis low on March 9, 2009, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen more than 68 percent, and it’s up more than 41 percent since Obama took office. Credit spreads have narrowed. Commodity prices have surged. Housing prices have stabilized.  We’ve had a phenomenal run in asset classes across the board.  If he was a Republican, we would hear a never-ending drumbeat of news stories about markets voting in favor of the president.” 

The Report goes on to note “The economy has also strengthened beyond expectations at the time Obama took office. The gross domestic product grew at a 5.9 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, compared with a median forecast of 2.0 percent in a Bloomberg survey of economists a week before Obama’s Jan. 20, 2009, inauguration. The median forecast for GDP growth this year is 3.0 percent, according to Bloomberg’s February survey of economists, versus 2.1 percent for 2010 in the survey taken 13 months earlier.”

 The private business sector went on to enjoy record profits – three trillion – but decided to sit on the money rather than invest in the country whose taxpayers rescued them from disaster!  Professional economists have pronounced the recession over; which is to say the private sector has recovered.

Unemployment remains high because the corporate sector has decided to ship millions of jobs overseas, where they can maximize profits employing cheap labor with no benefits…These are precisely the policies favored by Mitt Romney at Bain Capital that Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are now dogging him about.  They argue that Mitt’s financial wheeling and dealing is “Vulture” capitalism rather than “Venture” capitalism. And Mitt has yet to renounce these predatory practices, even as he aspires to become our president.

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               Mitt Romney is a Shameless Charlatan!

A Contemporary Gordon Gieko?

 On Mr. One Percent and Vulture Capitalism

It is amusing to watch Mitt Romney complaining about being misquoted, his remarks taken out of context, when just a couple of weeks ago he approved a commercial that told a blatant lie about President Obama…a far worse offense.   Mitt’s ad presented an edited video-tape in which President Obama was quoting an advisor to John McCain to make it look like the remark was a statement of the President’s position.

It was a blatant lie, everybody knew it was a lie, and yet Mitt tried to justify it as just hard ball politics. In the present controversy Mitt actually said he “liked firing people.”  And when his defenders rush to point out that he was talking about insurance companies, I would hasten to remind them that Mitt has publicly proclaimed “corporations are people!”  You can’t have it both ways.

But since Mitt is a charlatan lying, or otherwise misrepresenting the truth, is his modus operandi.  Anyone who thinks my judgment of the Mittster is too harsh should Google charlatan: “A person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame, or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.”  Sounds like a perfect description of The Mittster to me.  Not only has Mitt put false statements in the President mouth, he is even trying take credit for the success of Barack’s brilliant strategy that saved the US auto-industry. The guy is such a compulsive liar he seems to forget that there are video tapes of his statements.

The fact is that Mitt Romney vehemently opposed President Obama’s plan to rescue the auto industry.  In a November 18, 2008 Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” he wrote; “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.  It won’t go overnight, bit its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”  Well, the American auto-industry is not only back, but in grand style.  It is once again leading the world.  This is a genuine American success story.

In his desperation to bask in Obama’s glory, Mitt even went so far as to announce on CBS Wednesday morning: “In the general election I’ll be pointing out that the president took the reins at General Motors and Chrysler – closed factories, closed dealerships laid off thousands and thousands of workers – he did it to try to save the business..”  The real issue here is that General Motors – a company that turned out B-29 Bombers, a flying fortress with 2 million moving parts, every 28 minutes in the middle of the last century – was collapsing, along with Chrysler, and when they appealed to the government for a loan Mitt said let them go bankrupt!  Barack Obama saved them!

President Obama’s speech with business leaders at the White House as I write, outlines a very different vision of American prosperity and unveiled a plan to do it; in fact they are doing it.  This real life Gordon Geiko, who calls himself Mitt, has no answer for Obama’s innovative approach to the economy; that’s why he is desperately trying to take credit for the President’s rescue of the auto-industry. It is unassailable evidence that the slippery rascal is a shameless charlatan!

 Detroit is Back!

 At the Detroit Auto Show January 2012!

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Janurary 12, 2012