Friday, December 19, 2008

Privatization gone wild

The United States government has been privatized. It is now a corporation, formed to conduct business. The takeover is complete.

Since Ronald Reagan, every single administration, with the help of congress, has chipped away at the institutions of government, in essence redefining the role of government. For over thirty years, both conservative and middle of the road politicians have pushed the concept that "big" government is bad, bureaucratic, a waste of money. It is an ideology driven by the radical "free market rules all" camp à la Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan.

We have witnessed the most radical culmination of this ideology under the Bush II era. Government hollowed out to the point that it can't fight its own wars, it has to use a privatized fighting force instead. Government gutted to the point that it can't respond effectively to natural disasters. Government so weak that it can't regulate important industries like banks. Government which no longer can govern.

In the past a revolving door existed between the private and public sector. In recent years, that door has been blown to pieces. Now there is a gaping hole. It is virtually impossible to differentiate between corporate executives, politicians and lobbyists. Hank Paulson? Dick Cheney? Rahm Emanuel? Erik Holder? Donald Rumsfeld? Who are they working for?

We are all now suffering the consequences of this dangerous merger of private and public. Former corporate executives run the government and former politicians run the corporations.

See here just one example of what happens when there is no one around to keep watch.

Throw a shoe at Bush

George W. Bush, a bad President. We all know how unintelligent the man is, but in the end, and at risk of insulting our President, he has a great deal of blood on his hands......and for what? Now you can throw a shoe at Bush. Good luck though, he's sneaky.

I love people who say that even though you disagree with Bush that this shoe thrower committed a great offense and this his actions were disrespectful. Are you kidding me? After all W. has done, why should anyone respect him?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GE loves war in Iraq

Now it's clear why at least one American media organization swallowed Bush's justification for war and helped sell the concept to the American people. General Electric, the mammoth company which pretty much makes and sells everything, including NBC Universal, has just won the largest single order in the company's storied history. Any guesses where? It has to do with a country in the Middle East.

You got it.....IRAQ! GE won an order to provide $3 billion in electricity-generating equipment and services to our new friends. Yes! Now that is imagination at work.

Pay close attention: This is how a good company makes tons of money.

Using your own network, NBC, you support an illegal war based on lies. Then you cover the run up to the war like a NFL pre-game show and the war itself like the game. Meanwhile, your GE Aviation department sells military engines for the F-16, the Apache and a number of other war making machines which will help America fight the war, kill innocents and completely destroy the infrastructure of the country.

Stay with me, this is when it gets good. Now that you've duped the American public into a war, supplied the military with their war machinery and destroyed the country, now it's time to go in and fix it. And that's where the big bucks come in. In this case, $3 billion.

Some would argue that there's no correlation between NBC's news coverage and its parent company's other business areas. Yeah right.

I can't say it better than Amy Goodman from Democracy Now. "The corporate media is an extreme media beating the drums of war," she says. "They offer us a monolithic view through a corporate lense. We need a media that covers power, not covers up for power."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blagojevich arrested, went after Bank of America

Before the Governor of Illinois was arrested for corruption, he ordered state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America because the bank closed All Republic Windows & Doors' line of credit. The bank's decision forced the company to close their doors and led to the layoff of 250 people, most whom have locked themselves in the factory in protest.

Now that the story has received national attention, Bank of America said Tuesday it would extend some credit to the company. For the first time in a long time we are seeing some in government stand up to their main masters - the multinational corporations.

This corporate backlash has been coming for a long time, and it is because everyday people have been demanding it. And wouldn't you know, it works.

It works. It works. It works. It works. That can't be said enough.

Do you think the Bank of America would have reconsidered extending credit to All Republic Windows & Doors if the employees, with the support of their union, weren't so brave in taking over the factory? Of course not.

In my view, the only way to save the country is to ratchet up the criticism and critique of the private sector, to stay on their case and to continue to take these types of actions. If banks, or any other corporations, which by the way are only allowed to exist because we let them, attempt to harm us, we can successfully force them to change, or else.

It works. This is the dirty secret that the powers don't care to share.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Government stakes in automakers?

This is great. America is turning into the new Sweden.

I've lived in Sweden for three years. In that time the government has sold a number of state-owned companies, including Vin & Sprit, the maker of Absolute Vodka. The argument by the "free market rules all" camp was that government should have no stake in large companies because they were inefficient at running them and a waste of tax payer money.

This privatization frenzy has been taking place for a number of years in many countries. It is surely one of America's greatest legacies.

But privatization is so 2007. The opposite is happening in America today. First banks, now maybe automakers. I'm starting to like this new American socialism. Maybe it's time to move home.

Nah, not yet. I think I'll wait until Ronald McDonald becomes a federal employee.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Workers occupy factory in Chicago

The 8-hour workday, child labor laws, the right to collective bargaining and the middle class. Generations of American workers have fought and died for these rights. And for generations, America's ruling elite and the government have been fighting just as hard to protect profits and to keep workers unorganized and fearful of losing their jobs.

Now, after endless years of government shoving their "free market rules all" ideology up our you-know-whats, the discrepancies are becoming clearer and clearer. Bailouts for banks while
homeless tent cities sprout up. Could it be any clearer?

Well, some are fighting back. 250 angry laid-off workers in Chicago peacefully occupied their factory on Saturday after receiving three day's notice that it was closing.

Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743 said: "Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame. If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country."

I love this story. This is America's story. For as much as government and big business try, the American people will always be pushing back.

That push back (strikes, occupying buildings, the fight for a living minimum wage) is a necessity against this radical philosophy that both Democrats and Republicans have been selling us for years. The philosophy: It is a constant search by big business for cheaper labor and increasing profit margins which has had the affect of destroying America's manufacturing base and replacing it with TGI Friday's and WalMart. It has kept the minimum wage at near-poverty levels while executive salaries have exploded. It has placed all more responsibility, blame and risk on the worker while protecting the corporations, whether they make good decisions or bad.

We can no longer trust the mainstream American media to tell our story because they adhere to the same philosophy. CNN (the better of the networks?) was recently ordered by a judge to rehire 110 workers who were fired because they were union members.

The only thing we can do is live and write our own stories and tell them ourselves. That's what these workers in Chicago are doing today. They are my heroes of the week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"I am through with giving this crowd money to play with."

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said that on Thursday when referring to whether or not congress would give Henry Paulson the second half of the $700 billion in bailout money. Isn't that a classic line?

He's admitting that, once again, congress screwed up. It's clear to no one what the first $350 billion did besides teaching banks that they can take on as much risk as they want and not worry about the consequences because government will bail them out if they get into trouble.

But that's OK. It's only $350 billion. We couldn't use that money for anything else, could we?

What's striking in all of this is how bad congress is. On probably the two most important issues of the past eight years, these people, Democrat and Republican, gave Bush the power to go into Iraq and the power to bailout the banking system.

Both plans didn't work. In fact they have hurt the average citizen and helped three of the biggest industries in the world: Defense, Oil and Financial.

Ah, congress doing what it always has in our country's great history. Should we expect anything else? Nope. The only thing we can do is fight to change it because they won't.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Obama embraces Green Path

Obama stuck with Bush's man at the Pentagon and has surrounded himself with many hawkish Democrats, so it's not surprising that progressives are wondering if he fooled them into thinking he was on their side. My sense is that Obama does lean slightly left of center, but does it matter? I think he'll be hard to define and that's what scares both sides. It does seem however that the capitalists are pretty comfortable with him.

I must say though, after eight years of attacks on environmental regulation and global warming denial, isn't it a breath of fresh air to read about Obama's plans to create green collar jobs and launch environmentally friendly projects?