Carolyn Baker Reviews Danny Schechter's e-book Squeezed
Vulture restructuring is a purging cure for a malignant debt cancer. The reckoning of systemic debt presents regulators with a choice of facing the cancer frontally and honestly by excising the invasive malignancy immediately or let it metastasize through the entire financial system over the painful course of several quarters or even years and decades by feeding it with more dilapidating debt.
Henry Liu, "The Pathology Of Debt"
For more years than I can count I've heard Danny Schechter's name bandied about in progressive circles, but for all his tireless activism, he did not fully capture my attention until I saw his stunning documentary "In Debt We Trust." By that time I had forsaken my myopic focus on imperialism, the Iraq War, the Democratic Party, and of course, Bush-bashing. It was becoming painfully and increasingly clear to me that history was repeating itself, and being an historian, I was well aware that it never does so in exactly the same manner but often with enough mirroring of earlier eras that it behooves human beings to sit up and pay attention.
About the same time that "In Debt We Trust" appeared on my radar screen, Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis was released, hammering home the inescapable similarities between the fall of the Roman Empire and the demise of the United States. Despite the divergence of focus between Schechter's documentary and Johnson's Nemesis, both ultimately reveal that the American empire is descending into catastrophic financial collapse, already bankrupt, which will eventually result in the abject impoverishment of all but a very few of its privileged inhabitants.
After purchasing "In Debt We Trust" I showed it regularly to a particularly endangered species in the empire's economic war on its own citizens, students. As a result, many "come to Jesus meetings" and "true confession sessions" ensued in my classes as they unburdened their souls regarding the gargantuan student loan debt with which they would leave college and their accelerating awareness that glamorous, cushy, lucrative jobs with which they might pay off their debts would not exactly be falling at their feet.
Then came Danny's new e-book Squeezed and his request that I review it. After reading it, the above description "a diary of the onset of the Greater Depression" came to mind. Let me explain.
I had recently read Doug Casey's "What's About To Hit Us Will Be Far Bigger Than The Great Depression" in which he uses the term "The Greater Depression" to describe the economic tsunami dead-ahead. Then after reading Squeezed, I realized that Danny has given us an extraordinary diary explaining exquisitely how we arrived on this path. "Great Depression" and "diary" are words that automatically hook most historians, and clearly, I'm no exception, particularly since I have acquired some financial literacy in recent years and have come to understand the quintessential role of economics in world, national, and local events.
Early in the book the following quote from the National Association For Business Economics appears, and I find it absolutely stunning:
The combined threat of subprime loan defaults and excessive indebtedness has supplanted terrorism and the Middle East as the biggest short-term threat to the U.S. economy.
Some sleight of hand the ruling elite have accomplished since 9/11, namely, that while Americans were pondering the color of the government's daily terrorist threat assessments, that government and its corporate cronies was taking them to the cleaners, picking their pockets, swindling, cheating, extorting, defrauding, hustling, ripping-off, double-dealing, conning, hornswoggling, hoodwinking, fudging, gouging, bamboozling, scamming, screwing, shafting, and let's not forget bilking the American middle and working classes. Hey, look over there-see the Italian spider climbing up the wall-or Osama hiding under your bed? And while you look, we'll steal you deaf, dumb, and blind!
Schechter succinctly informs the reader early-on of the book's contents stating that:
*It discusses how debt has restructured our economy and put our our people under a burden that many will never crawl out of. It shows how access to credit has, for many, gone, in Steven Green's phrase "from a luxury to a necessity to a noose." It identifies the profiteers and calls for an investigation and the prosecution of those behind this shrewdly engineered ponzi scheme.
*It offers the critique of a media critic who has monitored flawed and superficial reporting on the subject and who is trying to challenge the news media to improve its coverage the problem and it also monitors some of what it has done. It discusses the making of my own new film intended to fill part of void. The story of In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts discusses its impact and the battle to get it seen.
* It advocates a debt relief movement in America and argues that such a movement would have tremendous resonance across the spectrum of political life. It urges citizens to get involved and politicians to respond.