Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hitchens on Marx

The Atlantic Monthly: Christopher Hitchen's article on Karl Marx.

I suppose I'll write something on it soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goodman and Krugman, feminist perspective, and letting Geithner fail

Amy Goodman had Paul Krugman on Democracy Now! today, and they talked about the Geithner plan--or as Krugman calls it, "cash for trash."

I actually discovered something about Paul Krugman in this interview that I didn't like, which was only inevitable. He supports NAFTA vehemently...something that I guess I was too young to know that he supported. It makes no difference in what he says on NAFTA, I suppose.

Suburban radicals don't support NAFTA. His beard still rocks though.

Questions. People need to start asking questions. Why will a toxic asset suddenly be worth more in the near future? Who's to say that investors will want to buy them in the first place? Why are we even proposing a plan that punishes taxpayers more than investors in the worst-case scenario? Why do we insist on letting the market play a part in the solution?
A couple of coments from the comments section of the most recent Tom Tomorrow cartoon on

I think the invisible hand

Is very visibly jerkin' us off..

The Invisible Hand is wacking off...that's what got it in trouble

Yup...and we're all going to go blind because the Invisible Hand did it way too often, against the wishes/demands of his nanny, i.e., regulations.

This sexual metaphor can be taken further too. With the times so tough, many women are turning to the sex industry as a last resort for joblessness. Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville gives a great analysis of this, and brings up the masculine-centric aspect of the mainstream media's coverage of this crisis:
In a good economy, choosing to work in the sex industry as a last resort isn't nearly as acceptable as it is when the entire country is shit-toiling (except the men dropping thousands of dollars on strippers and porn). But now that the economy's in the toilet, it's acceptable for women to sell their bodies even if they don't really want to!
Fianancial crises suck and they make my head hurt. I'm going to sleep. But I leave you with more from Salon:
But all the Sturm und Drang expressed hither and yon about how the Obama administration is damning us all to a decade or more of economic doldrums by not pursuing immediate bank nationalization today is just a bit overwrought. The U.S. economy is not going to stop shedding a half-million jobs a month if we nationalize Citigroup today, instead of two months from now. We are deep in a recession and it will be quite a while before we crawl out of it. Two months of caution do not mandate a "lost decade." Indeed, we will know in a matter of months whether the Obama administration's current efforts are gaining any traction, and if they aren't, then there will be no other alternatives. Perhaps the smartest thing that Geithner's critics could do is just step aside and let him fail.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot--happy belated sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A blogging hiatus, Geithner, AIG, and Suburbia

It's been almost a month since I last wrote anything on here, which is in bad form for a political blog.

But I've noticed that since I've become angrier and angrier as this financial mess drags on, it's been harder to verbalize my rage. So I took a break from blogging. I hoped that maybe there would be some progress. I was naive.

Jon Steward crushed Jim Cramer on The Daily Show, but there hasn't been a change in the corporate media's attitude towards cheer-leading the banks.

The Obama administration has finally revealed itself to be anti-progressive, and their financial plan has Paul Krugman saying this:

To this end the plan proposes to create funds in which private investors put in a small amount of their own money, and in return get large, non-recourse loans from the taxpayer, with which to buy bad — I mean misunderstood — assets. This is supposed to lead to fair prices because the funds will engage in competitive bidding.

But it’s immediately obvious, if you think about it, that these funds will have skewed incentives. In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose. So sure, these investors will be ready to pay high prices for toxic waste. After all, the stuff might be worth something; and if it isn’t, that’s someone else’s problem.
I could write about my disappointment with Obama on not listening to sane economists, but this music video does it for me:

And AIG. It's time to call bullshit on their "contractual obligations" to pay millions of dollars in bonuses. They knew damn well where their company was headed at this time, and now taxpayers are accounting for greed.

But Geithner helped them do it of course. Chris Dodd should have taken more of a stand against it, but I suppose with the President and the Treasury-Secretary against you, you do what they say. From FactCheck.Org:
The public record shows Dodd authored an amendment that would have prevented "any bonus" being paid to top executives of firms getting bailout money. It was the White House and the Treasury Department that insisted Dodd's amendment be watered down to apply only to bonuses paid under agreements signed in the past five weeks. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has taken public responsibility for that.
It's so cliche, but the Democrats and Republicans really are two sides of the same coin, which happens to be in the pocket of...the banks? the corporations in general?
The capitalist superstructure.

Obama's appeal to populist rage was the perfect example of a government's manipulation of people's collective feelings through the prevailing hegemony. He can go on Leno all he wants, but the public is going to see through this smokescreen. We have to.

On a completely different note, I wasn't sure if I should bring in my personal feelings about suburbia into this blog, but since I am a suburban radical, it wouldn't make sense not to. I recently experienced a revelation that makes me remebmer why I call myself a Marxist in the first place.

I am in a half-year economics course in my high school, which basically serves as an introduction to modern capitalism. We have briefly studied the "supply" side of things and the "demand" side. I am forced to argue on Keynesian talking points, because there is no room, I realize, for a "labor" side of things. That's why Marx was and is so important. There is no branch of economics that doesn't reify workers except for those influenced by Marx.

Suburban schools are the most obvious products of capitalism and the false consciousness that accompanies it.

Just a thought.