Sunday, December 21, 2008

The money was there

It looks as if Obama better remember who got him elected. Or else. Jim Hoagland wrote in Sunday's WaPo that the
. . . problem is the awakening of the world's youth to the raw deal their parents and grandparents -- my generation, in toto -- are handing them, and the growing anger the young feel about the fetid stables of debt, scandal and corruption they are being left to clean.

I don't know what to call the generations on the rise, but Generation Xcess would do just fine for the one now in charge of global affairs. We have taken the greatest financial, technological and political opportunities the world has ever offered and abused them for our own pleasures, greed and egos.

Two weeks of student riots and protests in Greece have left at least 70 people injured and hundreds of businesses and shops vandalized. . . .

But the same dry kindling of the Greek uprising is scattered around Europe, where youth unemployment rates are double or triple those of the population over 24, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and retirement benefits are politically untouchable. Similar tensions are rising in China as the global recession deepens, in oil-producing countries such as Russia and Iran that are caught in the whiplash of rising and falling prices, and most of all in developing countries with broken governments and economies that punish the educated young disproportionately.
Hoagland writes about misplaced spending priorities. Speaking of which, I was talking with a fellow Xer the other day and he suggested the meaning of that 700 billion treasury bailout:
Universal health care? Funding for higher education? Public transport? The money was there. The money was there all along.

The boomers decided they would spend it on themselves, that's all.
I cannot help but imagine one of the next issues to blow up in the US is not going to be the student loan fiasco. Whether young people can get a bailout will be interesting to watch. Frankly, I doubt the young will get a penny of relief until they have taken to the streets in vast numbers.

For example, last week the government approved rules that limits the freedom of the banks and credit card companies to gouge their customers. These rules (preventing banks from suddenly jacking up interest rates, arbitrarily changing payment dates, etc.) won't take effect for 19 months! Did the big US banks have to wait 19 months? Some financial crisis rescue. MSNBC reports:
Most of the rules were first proposed in May and drew more than 65,000 public comments — the highest number ever received by the Fed.
So much outrage on the part of the citizens on this one issue. And yet such delayed action. Could we have seen any more clear statement about who is first in line, and who is last?

If middle class Americans are at the back of the line, the young generation of Americans, saddled with some $10 billion in student loans -- many student-loan shark victims among them -- remain all but invisible to the powers that be.


  1. "... until they have taken to the streets in vast numbers ..."

    oh, take to the streets they will, have no doubts!
    it is already in the media, IMF talks about economic riots and apparently army is getting ready to deal with civil unrest at home :

    War College warns military must prep for unrest;
    IMF warns of economic riots

    read Comments there too ! people seriously talking about taking up arms to defend their liberties.

    I was following up this subject on net for past several months. on youtube there are clips where people discuss about buying supplies of long-lasting foods and ... guns + ammo !

    so, if previously it could be considered as some "conspiracy theories" - now with this article and official statements by police, army and bankers - this is not a "conspiracy theories" anymore ! people are seriously talking about CIVIL WAR !

    a month or tow ago I recall watching videos on youtube where Amy Goodman was talking about Martial Law, and about certain division of National Guards (I don't remember details exactly - do some search there) were planned to be sent back to US from Iraq to deal with "domestic civil unrest". so, it wasn't a secret already for a while.

    the confrontation of protesters with police at last RNC would seem gentle in comparison with what is coming ! I tend to agree with the one who commented there that Greece youth riots just only give an approximate idea of the scale it will be in US.


  2. 1a,

    Actually, I was in a coffee shop recently and a man started talking to me about how he was "organizing people" for the coming civil unrest. (I couldn't shut him up so I finally just had to leave.)

    Like my friend in the coffee shop, I think most of these people are quick to grasp onto theories that seek to explain everything that is happening. I see danger in the neatness of some of their proposed solutions.

    There is a huge "idea vacuum" out there, and there is as much reason to fear what might fill it, as what has led to its creation.

    BTW, Goodman sort of jumped the gun by declaring a "coup" was happening back in September; but anyway, I blogged about the military redeployment you mention Goodman referring to here:

    But it's far too easy to put together various theories, much harder for anybody to get the facts straight. It seems as if nobody wants to think much -- which, after all, is how we got into this mess in the first place.

  3. ai,

    This website puts the article you linked to in the comment above in context, and a links directly to the war college report:

  4. A lot of people talk about an "uprising" in America, but I don't see it happening. Sure, there are people who might be stocking up, and a smaller few that are actually planning violence, but, like it or not, most people here have too much to lose to risk everything like that. The last time I can think of people going to the streets like that in America was the civil rights movement in the 60's, and most of those people (not all, but most, I think) knew what they had to lose if they turned violent.

  5. Good point, J-P. Serious activists do not talk this way, as the American tradition is one of peaceful protest and -- if necessary -- civil disobedience.

    Such talk of violence would serve any covert strategy to undermine or preempt the work of serious activists, having the effect of tainting those who would exercise their right to assembly and protest the government as extremists.

    Americans seem quite docile, they seem very fearful. Fearful of what? As you say, they don't want to losing any of their stuff. Such people can be scared into submission.

    However, if enough people wake up to find that they have lost just about everything, then all bets are off. But again, I would stress that the American tradition is to protest peacefully, so I don't think those who speak otherwise reflect true the character of the society.

  6. I only wish Americans had half the guts that Thai people have.

  7. bosunj,

    the violent protesters in Thailand were a small group funded by the rich

    I think this article is talking about the large majority of American people not being funded by the rich....

    is there any difference you can see?

  8. Jotman and perhaps J-P

    I might agree with americans being "docile" and having too much too lose.

    however you miss VERy important point:
    you underestimate the severity of the economic crisis.
    so far the only talk there is - that NOBODY knows exactly when it will reach the "bottom". and therefore - it is not even possible to guess of speculate when the recovery will start.
    and also - how BAD it will be.

    yes, of course there is an element of panic and exaggeration in many people's attempts to arm themselves.

    but there is also those who are sober enough and properly realize the desperation ("nothing to lose") and rage of people when the things will turn really bad.

    right now in Chicago there is a "sitting" protest, non-violent so far - isn't it? that is because people still believe and hope that things are not so bad and that they still can get what they demand - jobs back or payments etc.

    now, imagine when it will be on a much larger scale - not only single factory, or one only city - and also when people will finally realize that NOTHING will be done to fulfill their demands ! do you think they will remain "docile" and meek and humble?


    whatever happened in 60-s, what MLK started and all those anti-Vietnam war activists, combined with civil rights activists - was very cleverly suppressed and people were duped.

    in other words - the ROOT of the problem wasn't treated - only the symptom of sickness. it is same as modern medicine acts: "relief of symptoms". the problem itself is even harsher than it was in 60-s ! and many of those people who participated in those movements are still alive too.

    so, would Americans remain "docile" - when they see that government or powers that be don't give a crap about their problems, but instead bailout all the bankers, big corporations, keep pumping money into military-industrial complex, continue policing the world and send "cannon fodder" to kill "brown people" ? (latest news, just 1 example: US talks about sending 30'000 more troops into Afghan)

    I doubt it very much. if in 60-s it was possible to stir masses so much that powers to be had the only choice - to eliminate MLK (because he prepared at least a 500'000 march to D.C. to oppose Vietnam war and to influence government bring troops back home and solve civil rights problems) - then now, with internet, LIVE video streaming (as on RNC) and all the blogs ...
    do you think that people are any less AWARE of what's going on?

    with Madoff scandal, with what Jotman pointed out in this post ($10blns student loans debts, etc) - this awareness is even higher than ever. despite even fact that certainly still remains a large percentage of SHEEPLE !

    so, as I said - you certainly underestimate the seriousness of the crisis impact. when people lose food, roof, and basic necessities - they WILL riot. and actually it will be more than riots.

    Blackwater mercs were used in N. Orleans during the Katerina aftermath. and there are many of such private armies to protect the interests of rich fellas. therefore many ordinary folks arm themselves too.

    no matter how "docile" Americans are - do you think they are less street-active than Greeks or Thais? (never mind the "ingredients" of PAD). I do not think so. with over 700 military bases all over the world, attitude of narcissism and tendencies for a world hegemony - do you think Americans will continue to allow some their own domestic blood-suckers to screw them further? I doubt it !

    wait and see.


  9. a1 wrote:
    no matter how "docile" Americans are - do you think they are less street-active than Greeks or Thais? (never mind the "ingredients" of PAD). I do not think so.

    My perception is that Americans are far less street active than say the French. Also, relative to the French middle class, the American counterpart has got a rather lousy deal.

    Admittedly, perceptions (or bias) that leads me to write of the American peoples' "docility" is formed in part by exposure to a mainstream media. The MSM in the US does not cover street protests very well at all when they do happen. For example, 2001 Bush inauguration demonstrations, 2003 anti-war protests, 2008 RNC protests, etc. were hardly covered at all by the US news media.

    Certainly, if enough Americans lose enough in a depression scenario, the equation changes and all bets are off.

  10. @David:

    Yes. I see that Thai people have more guts than Americans.

    Were thousands of Americans to occupy New Yorks three major airports the America government would have moved in to slaughter them and would have inflicted major damage on all three facilities. They'd still be mopping up the blood. Those airports would still be closed and the right wing neo-CON pundits on faux news and CNBC would be crowing about how successfully they eliminated the terrorists!

    The Americans are much too busy doubling down on the final orgy of consumerism for the fake holiday to care much about what tomorrow will bring.

    No guts.

  11. Looks as though the American military is getting ready to kill Americans on American soil:

    I prefer the solution to out of control government suggested in John Ross's book "Unintended Consequences".


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