Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Posts Tagged ‘deficit as excuse for plunder’

Why Are “Deficit Hawks” Such Morons?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 26, 2011

That’s the question posed, unwittingly, by deficit hawk knob-polisher and austerity joneser Matt Miller (courtesy of Dean Baker):

Miller apparently doesn’t know that China pegs its currency against the dollar. In order to keep the yuan from rising against the dollar, it has purchased over $1 trillion of U.S. assets over the last decade. The United States is in fact not “relying” on China to finance its current consumption. In fact, the official policy of both the Bush and Obama administrations was that we wanted China’s government to stop buying up dollars and thereby depressing the value of the yuan. [While this is the public policy, this may not be the actual policy, since many powerful interests like Wall Street banks and major retailers benefit from the over-valued dollar.]

This would allow the dollar to fall. That would make Chinese imports more expensive to U.S. consumers and U.S. exports cheaper for people in China. That would cause the U.S. trade deficit with China to fall, and possibly turn to a surplus, which is the textbook relationship between rich countries and poor countries.

In the case of Europe, the problem is that the German government and the European Central Bank (ECB) are trying to impose austerity across Europe. The ECB has all the euros it could possibly need to bail out Greece, Italy and anyone else in sight. However, rather than use its ability to print euros to save Europe’s economy, the ECB is trying to force cutbacks in social spending and protections for workers across Europe. The trip to China to seek support for a bailout was a silly diversion from the real issue.

And, just like the German austerity jonesers who don’t seem to mind that “punishing” the “sinner” nations is killing Germany’s economy as well, Miller — who like almost every other US economic writer allowed access to the pages of a major establishment newspaper, utterly failed to see, much less warn anyone about, the housing bubble of the 1990s and 2000s as it was bubbling (Krugman, as always, being the chief if not sole exception) — doesn’t see, or doesn’t care, that austerity will kill the American economy as well.

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Sunday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 17, 2011

— Rather than make the rich pay their share of taxes, the state of Michigan is taking away democracy from yet another town so it can destroy what’s left of its middle class in the name of “fiscal responsibility”:

Now, Harris is black, and the other cities with EFMs aren’t as segregated (Pontiac is 39% white and 48% African American and Ecorse is 52% white and 40% African American, though Detroit is 12% white and 81% African American).

But it is rather telling that the first city in MI to have its democracy taken away under Rick Snyder’s EFM law is one that has long suffered under both globalization and racism. Rather than finding real solutions to those long-festering problems, we’re just going to shut it down.

— Wonder what life is like growing up with an Objectivist parent, a worshiper of welfare queen and moocher Ayn Rand, goddess of the Tea Party? Wonder no more, as Alyssa Bereznak describes the behavior of her Randroid father:

From what I understood of his favorite capitalist champion, any form of altruism was evil. But how could that kind of blanket self-interest extend to his own children, the people he was legally and morally bound to take care of? What was I supposed to do, fend for myself?

The answer to my question came on an autumn weekend during my sophomore year in high school. I was hosting a Harry Potter-themed float party in our driveway, a normal ritual to prepare decorations for my high school quad the week of homecoming. As I was painting a cardboard owl, my father asked me to come inside the house. He and his new wife sat me down at the dinner table with grave faces.

“We were wondering if you would petition to be emancipated,” he said in his lawyer voice.

“What does that mean?” I asked, picking at the mauve paint on my hands. I later discovered that for most kids, declaring emancipation is an extreme measure — something you do if your parents are crack addicts or deadbeats.

“You would need to become financially independent,” he said. “You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here.”

— Hugh Grant may well have broke open the News of the World phone hack scandal case, by breaking through the various firewalls put up around Andy Coulson, Rebekah Wade Brooks, and other Murdoch employees (and Tory government employees, at least in Coulson’s case). His method? Giving the person who bugged him a taste of his own medicine. (The audio is here.) Here’s a portion of the transcript:

Me So, how’s the whistleblowing going?
Him I’m trying to get a book published. I sent it off to a publisher who immediately accepted it and then it got legal and they said, “This is never going to get published.”
Me Why? Because it accuses too many people of crime?
Him Yes, as I said to the parliamentary commission, Coulson knew all about it and regularly ordered it . . . He [Coulson] rose quickly to the top; he wanted to cover his tracks all the time. So he wouldn’t just write a story about a celeb who’d done something. He’d want to make sure they could never sue, so he wanted us to hear the celeb like you on tape saying, “Hello, darling, we had lovely sex last night.” So that’s on tape – OK, we’ve got that and so we can publish . . . Historically, the way it went was, in the early days of mobiles, we all had analogue mobiles and that was an absolute joy. You know, you just . . . sat outside Buckingham Palace with a £59 scanner you bought at Argos and get Prince Charles and everything he said.
Me Is that how the Squidgy tapes [of Diana’s phone conversations] came out? Which was put down to radio hams, but was in fact . . .
Him Paps in the back of a van, yes . . . I mean, politicians were dropping like flies in the Nineties because it was so easy to get stuff on them. And, obviously, less easy to justify is celebrities. But yes.

Turns out that it wasn’t just the News of the World doing it, but the Daily Mail and The Sun as well — and when Rebekah Wade (now Rebekah Brooks), the current chief executive of Murdoch’s News International, was editor of the Murdoch tabloid The Sun:

Me So everyone knew? I mean, would Rebekah Wade have known all this stuff was going on?
Him Good question. You’re not taping, are you?
Me [slightly shrill voice] No.
Him Well, yeah. Clearly she . . . took over the job of [a journalist] who had a scanner who was trying to sell it to members of his own department. But it wasn’t a big crime. [NB: Rebekah Brooks has always denied any knowledge of phone-hacking. The current police investigation is into events that took place after her editorship of the News of the World.]

Oooops.

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Glenn Greenwald Nails It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 4, 2010

From his latest column:

The President’s Deficit Commission is designed to be as anti-democratic and un-transparent as possible.  Its work is done in total secrecy.  It is filled with behind-the-scenes political and corporate operatives who steadfastly refuse to talk to the public about what they’re doing.  Its recommendations will be released in December, right after the election, to ensure that its proposals are shielded from public anger.  And the House has passed a non-binding resolution calling for an up-or-down/no-amendments vote on the Commission’s recommendations, long considered the key tactic to ensuring its enactment.  The whole point of the Commission is that the steps which Washington wants to take — particularly cuts in popular social programs, such as Social Security — can occur only if they are removed as far as possible from democratic accountability.  

[…]

That’s why Commission co-chair Alan Simpson — with his blunt contempt for Social Security and and other benefit programs (such as aid to disabled veterans) and his acknowledged eagerness to slash them — has done the country a serious favor.  His recent outbursts have unmasked this Commission and shed light on its true character.  Unlike his fellow Commission members, who imperiously dismiss public inquiries into what they’re doing as though they’re annoying and inappropriate, Simpson — to his genuine credit — has been aggressively engaging critics, making it impossible to ignore what the Commission is really up to.   

Furthermore, Simpson, by his insistence on giving away the Catfood Commission’s game plan to cut Social Security, has caused longtime Democratic operatives like Bob Shrum to sound the alarm about the danger this poses to Democratic chances in 2010:

So why not campaign all-out, in [Tip] O’Neill’s plainspoken way, against a GOP that is disloyal to the most successful — and most popular — social program in American history?

Because Democrats have been disarmed by the president’s deficit reduction commission, which plainly intends to propose Social Security cuts.

Rather than allow such cuts to be greased through the lame duck session of a decimated Democratic Congress, or passed under cover of “bipartisanship” in a decidedly more Republican one next year, shouldn’t the case be stated and debated before the election? (Right now, Social Security is treated as the issue that dare not speak its name.) There is also the question of Democratic identity: What does the party stand for if not Social Security? And then there is the question of Democratic stupidity: Qualified and muted comments by Democrats in effect suggesting that Democrats won’t endanger Social Security as much as the other guys will can only further pave the road to defeat.

The president’s deficit reduction commission was a response to a series of popular myths — that the federal deficit is a root cause of our economic distress and that Social Security is a root cause of the deficit. . . . So the deficit commission has targeted Social Security, which has nothing to do with the deficit.

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