"Yes, as through this world I've wandered, I've seen lots of funny men; Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."~Woody GuthrieI've been frustrated the last few days; too much news watching will do that to you on occasion, I suppose, and it's caused a sort of mental constipation. Not a writer's block but an inability to say what I'm trying to say without it coming out all wrong. The issues of the day make that tricky, and mass media makes it trickier still. So, as I see it, the big issues of the day are Greece, Goldman Sachs and the Arizona immigration law, and I thought and thought about it. I could write about Goldman Sachs but that's like shooting fish in a barrel. I could write about Greece but I'd be preaching to the choir, and the Arizona immigration law? Well, that's sticking your finger in a light socket. What if I told you that it is all the same story?
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Benito MussoliniThe head of Goldman Sachs testifies before Congress and receives a tongue-lashing full of righteous indignation from millionaire Senators all heavily invested in the stock market. In 2007 Senator Bob Corker sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks to avoid any conflicts of interest just weeks before the stock market tanked.
"A printing press is worth 100,000 rifles." Mao Zedong
If a printing press is worth 100,000 rifles, what is a cable TV news network worth in rifles?
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein walked away from the congressional smackdown abused but intact, coins in his pocket and millions in the bank. It was show business -- millionaires in the Senate trying to show the public how tough they can be while letting Goldman Sachs walk away with billions. Pete Rose bet on baseball and was banned for life. Lloyd Blankfein set up games designed to lose and then claimed that it's Goldman Sachs' profitability that has made them an unfair target. That sounds like something Al Capone would say. "I'm just an honest businessman, Senator, and they're persecuting me because of my success."
What Blankfein swore Goldman Sachs was not doing in the mortgage market is exactly what they were doing in the European bond market. The profits and repercussions from this naked and ugly capitalism will be paid by the poor and the elderly in Greece. Sharks know no pity and when the carcass is gone, they'll move on to Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, the UK, or even the United States. A story that didn't get much attention is that Greece has outlawed short selling for the next two months and Goldman Sachs said, "Damn it" under their breath. They had managed through shorting to drive up the Greek's borrowing costs to 24 percent.
So the Greeks must go to the European Union for a bailout but also to the IMF and the IMF is a consortium of the world's major banks who then dictate terms to troubled nations. In 2001, Argentina defaulted on IMF loans because it felt that the IMF was squeezing the economy by demanding a 3.5-percent budget surplus. The IMF, the world's loan shark, is made up of the same banks that have been shorting Greek bonds. It is the bank of last resort and this time around, the banks will have strict control over the Greek Government.
It is a country where 50 percent of the population is under 30 years old. Free trade brought the promise of jobs and foreign investment and, for several years, that panned out. In 2009 the Mexican economy shrank by 6.5 percent and foreign exchange reserves shrank by 5 percent. The peso has continued to lose value, 13.64 (2009), 11.016 (2008), 10.8 (2007), 10.899 (2006), 10.898 (2005), which means for the poor, life just gets harder.
The free trade investments have dried up and over 50 percent of the NAFTA jobs have moved on to Asia, leaving the Mexican population that is 70 percent urban without employment. Eighty percent of all of Mexico's exports go directly to the United States. When the American economy tanks, it takes the Mexican economy with it. To stay competitive with Asian labor markets, Mexico has to keep wages from rising so that the few can continue to enrich themselves off the backs of the many.
Your media, your corporate media, describes what is going on in Mexico as a drug war or a gang war. They are trying to minimize what is really going on. Last year in Tijuana, police came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades. Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state. A corporate failed state, an oligarchy where the presidents are Harvard-trained corporate attorneys who represents transnational corporations or presidents of American corporations.
This is the travel advisory from the UK to citizens traveling in Mexico: "We advise against all but essential travel to Ciudad Juarez, where there is a high level of drug-related violence and criminal activity. There has also been a recent increase in violent incidents in the northern states of Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, including in and around the border areas of Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Tampico."
In 2009, imports to Mexico dropped, as did exports, but Mexico's debt owed to foreign banks was $177 billion and it has recently asked the IMF for $40 billion more. So there is no money in the budget for social reforms or programs; the bankers and IMF won't allow it. Wages can't rise because they must compete with Chinese wage scales. These things are neither flukes nor accidents. These policies are as intentional as they are cruel.
Now look at the media coverage surrounding the Arizona law, and remember that the administration is looking next to immigration reform in Congress. It smacks of Saddam's yellow cake and unmanned aerial vehicles; it's show business. It's son of healthcare reform and WWE wrestling all rolled up into one where Arizona is Ric Flair and the administration is Hulk Hogan.
These poor people are being used to subvert wage and hour laws in the United States. The winners are the banks and investors and corporations, and the losers are everyone else. The goal is to drive down wages and social benefits just like they are trying to do in Greece and have succeeded doing in Mexico.