McFee's Musings

March 26, 2010

Alan Greenspan Recants

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 7:31 am

“I was wrong 30% of the time, and there were an awful lot of mistakes in 21 years”.
‘Alan Greenspan admits to the U.S. Financial Inquiry Commission that his tenure as U.S. Federal Reserve Board boss had plenty of missteps-but causing the financial crisis wasn’t one of them.’
Globe and Mail April 10, 2010

Alan Greenspan was an acolyte of Milton Friedman and The Chicago School. Milton Friedman and the Chicago School are famous (or infamous depending on your looking glass) for the advocacy and academic justification for total free markets, deregulation and privatization of all government programs excepting law and order and the military. Commonly now known as Globalization. Friedman, an obscure economics professor at the U. of Chicago in the fifties and sixties acheived notariety by convincing General Augusto Pinochet of Argentina in 1972, after a coup d’ etat, to implement the Chicago School’s prescriptions of Privitization, Deregulation and ‘open markets’. It was a disaster in Argentina and the rest of the Southern Cone moving on to Poland and the Eastern Block after the fall of the USSR in 91. With the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank taking up the Friedman ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy this economic determinist doctrine put the third world into the huge debt situation it is in today and rebelling against. And yet, despite the failures and later bailouts using a mixed economic template (as in Canada), this brutal experiment crushing tens of millions of people world wide still flies high if you read the business pages. That is up until the crash of 2008/2009. For a history of this period of rapaciousness see Naomi Klein’s THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and any number of books by Chris Hedges, Chalmers Johnson and former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz to name a few.

If Milton Friedman was the architect, Alan Greenspan was the general contractor/engineer in the United States. As the Federal Reserve Chairman for 21 years and four President’s Mr. Greenspan presided over the deregulation/international corporatization of the financial markets, the de-industrialization of American manufacturing, the privatization of numerous government functions including the American military, the flat lining of wage earners income (wages today adjusted for inflation are at 1971 levels), and last but not least the ‘housing bubble’ of 08/09.

The Federal Reserve Chairman of the United States is the most powerful economic position in the world. If the Chairman decides to focus on employment or inflation, that decision ripples throughout the world. Mr. Greenspan’s small government/leave it to the markets doctrine (neo-conservative or neo-liberal depending on your prism) coincided perfectly with Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, the Republican Congress in 1994 run by Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramn and of course G.W. Bush. Despite Mr. Greenspan preaching fiscal responsibility, especially under democratic president’s, Greenspan was able to manipulate these deficits with manuvers like raising payroll taxes ( see Ravi Batra’s GREENSPAN’S FRAUD ) for the worker and lower taxes for corporations and continue to pile up the debt.

Mr. Greenspan recently presented a report to the Brookings Institute in Washington apologizing for not grasping the extent of the housing bubble and not dealing with the size of ‘to big to fail’ financial institutions. He also recommends stronger regulation and enforcement of collateral and capital requirements, a limit or ban on concentrated bank lending and get this, compelling extra large financial institutions or mega banks to develop ‘living wills’, that specify how they are to be liquidated in an orderly way. I think that’s more than an apology. It’s a recantation of aspects of international american corporatism.

The point being that when Alan Greenspan spoke the world waited with baited breath. It led every newscast and was front page news as the entrails of Greenspans inegmatic economic mystery speak was gone over like an archeological site. Mr. Greenspan apologizes or recants aspects of the doctrine accepting regulation and oversite and he gets the back page of the New York Times and Globe and Mail etc. and nary a word in the Media.

The article in the New York Times assigned little historical context to the Greenspan Reign. And this is how people who do great harm escape the consequences of their action’s. In the 21st Century there is no accountability for the elite’s actions. Certainly not from the media unless you commit adultery or are soliciting men in an airport. It’s not just the corporate Media. Somehow the juggernaut of Economics has been legitimized as the centre of humanity’s existence. Just watch the bank commercials airing now.

We have internalized the idea that we are helpless in front of the grand mathematics of a psuedo science called economic determinism. Learned helplessness is what we are inculcated with and it’s hero’s are the Alan Greenspan’s, Ronald Reagan’s and trading floor ‘geniuses’ that send a dollar around the world and it comes back as 100,000.00 dollars thirty minutes later without producing anything productive.

Robert McNamara, brilliant technocrat and Secretary of Defence during the Vietnam War, recanted in a documentary (the name of the doc escapes me right now) that was chilling in Mr. McNamara’s ability to dissociate himself from the carnage. He new he had done a great disservice to millions of Vietnamese and Americans. Yet he somehow could justify the ignorance of not knowing the history of the country he was invading or in Freidman/Greenspan’s case, more interested in proving a theory of mass impoverishment/oligarchic wealth or to put it another way: socialize the debt and privatize the wealth.

Mr. Greenspan is a technocrat versed in the use of and the abuse of power, divorced from the suffering he and ‘Uncle Milty’ have perpetrated. The business media colludes in the enterprize. What McNamara, ‘Uncle Milty and Greenspan practice is a kind of intricate bestiality reinforceing each, seldom being held accountable by the citizenry because in essence we have no voice or participation any more.

Or do We?

March 25, 2010

Ann Coulter: Queen of Disaster Republicanism

Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 9:47 am

Ann Coulter rose out of the republican ‘just say NO to everything’ swamp and landed in Canada on a cross Ontario/Alberta university speaking tour sheparded by that anti-human rights commission bon-vivant, libertarian freedom fighter Ezra Levant, the Jonas Goldberg of Alberta.

Ms. Coulter was asked by the provost of U. of Ottawa to try to avoid insulting religeous, ethnic or Canadian sensibilities with her BRAND of political comedy. Given the security concerns that had arisen with her booking, the appearance was cancelled. Ms. Incitement has since lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission encouraged by Mr. Levant who you may recall spent a great deal of time on TV and radio belittling the Alberta Human Rights Commission and advocating their demise on personal liberty grounds.

It’s unfortunate that U. of Ottawa didn’t let the event happen with beefed up security as the U. of Calgary is doing Thursday March 25th. U. of Calgary is a hot bed of libertarianism and I’m sure after this ker-fluffle she will be greeted as the Queen she and Ezra believe she is or does Ezra just want to get into her… sorry! When you invite a controversial ideologue who tell’s Muslims to ‘take a camel’, mis-informs shamelessly (one of the queen’s tactics) Canadians that we fought along side Americans in the Vietnam war, and hurls epithets like terrorist and traitor at any person to the left of herself, there are going to be agitated people lined up to jeer. Ms. Coulter’s forte is the incitement of societal tension’s.! A grand republican strategy. Hollar fire in a theatre and blame it on the projectionist!

We all worry that the gullible will believe her. That somehow this will affect us negatively as we observe it doing to sector’s of the U.S. We know that is what she is trying to do. Compel people to believe that all is a disaster, a disaster, a disaster because they might get universal health care (commies), the immigrants are taking your jobs and your money, your child’s mind is being polluted (brainwashing teacher’s teaching civic’s) and the list goes on. Ms. Coulter preaches fear and loathing. Learned helplessness. Only the Markets, Markets and Capitalism, Capitalism and total freedom with no responsibility to the common good are her mantra’s.

Ms. Coulter unfortunately seldom makes a coherent argument for her vitriol. Read her books! But she is entertaining, provocative, sometimes witty and certainly attractive in a kind of brazen ‘I don’t care’ way.

However I believe that Ms. Coulter is in Canada at this time not just to sell books and stir a little muck. Ms. Coulter is in Canada to fire up the conservative core for the soon to be coming Federal Election. The U. of Ottawa walked right into the conservative media juggernaut. This will provide enough cover to turn the conservatives into victims. An early poll says that 78% of Canadians think she should have been allowed to speak. There was no poll on what Canadians thought of what she says?

The Conservative/Reform Party has been receiving and paid for neo con help for years. Frank Gafney, the guru of Newt Gingrich has been advising this American light crowd out of the U. of Calgary (The Calgary School) along with Tom Flanigan et al for years. Ms. Coulter is just the warm up act, the prologue for the nastiness, divisiveness and character assassination yet to come. Kind of getting us used to it. So Conservatives can say, ” see, were not as bad as that so….”!

I believe that Coulter should be allowed to get up there and churn out the half, quarter, eighth, no truths she spews. Coulter is a clown! North American Conservative/ Republican disaster politics is revealing itself in the light of day. The more you see and hear Ms. Coulter you walk away saying to yourself, “what was that about”? She can only continue to fly high through fear and more fear nurturing hate and revenge.

Have a safe flight home Ann. We won’t miss you!

March 12, 2010


Filed under: Politics — dwightmcfee @ 9:43 am

Slippery Stephen Harper and his band of conservative courtier’s have introduced what most pundit’s have labelled a ‘stand pat’ budget or a ‘do nothing’ budget. Yet when it comes to our beloved leader it is wise to read the fine print.

In saturday’s  March 06/2010 Globe and Mail Jeffrey Simpson in a commentary entitled Budget Reality, promises on the road to fiscal hock, pointed out that the rhetoric of conservative fiscal policy; balanced budget’s, smaller government ( downsize it until we can drown it in the tub ), “‘prudence, caution, skepticism and a steely ability to say no…instead, rather ironicially, conservative-minded governments often produced fiscal messes that centrist or centre-left governments then had to clean up”. Reagan, Mulroney, the Bushes, Alberta’s Ralph Kline, Ontario’s Mike Harris all left a legacy of vast debt. The conservative ideology of socializing the cost and privitizing the profit made manifest.  It’s also ironic that finally a nation wide columnist in Canada in a major newspaper admits that what was obvious is now so!

The question I ask is HOW did the left governments balance the budget and pay down the debt?

The template is succintly layed out in Ravi Batra’s book Greenspan’s Fraud. Reagan needed some way out of the massive military spending coupled with massive corporate tax cuts deficits. Greenspan concoted a lovely little device. Raise payroll taxes. Which doubled and then tripled  through the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush 2 years. Those trillions went into general revenue and ‘balanced’ the budget or provided cover for the anti-government, low-tax, balanced budget ideologues to continue their big spending on the military and corporate tax front. On the backs of the people who work for a living.

 In Canada the equivalent is Emploment Insurance, formerly known as Unemployment Insurance.

The budget was balanced by the Cretien liberals not only by cuts to transfer payments to the provinces but redefinitions for qualifying for E.I. as well as raising ‘contributions’, meaning you paid more and fewer qualified. That money,  anywhere from six to sixteen BILLION ‘surplus’ a year went into general revenue, paid down the current yearly deficit, the long term debt, and provided a contingency yearly fund.

In the 2010 budget Employment Insurance contributions will be rising, substantially. Exactly how much was not defined.  But Mr. Harper, having cut the GST ( six to 12 billion a year lost revenue), lowered corporate taxes to the lowest in the G-8, and continues his warrior ‘hard’ foreign and military policy is obviously signalling that the E.I. fund will once again be the slush fund for deficit fighting.

The beauty of the deal is that it is a  tried and true template by none other than Mr. Harper’s hero, Alan Greenspan. And he can throw it back in the face of the Liberal’s.

But it is a kick in the face to every working person in the country.

The absoulute perfection is that Harper claims he’s not raising taxes. However your E.I. ‘contributions’ will increase.

Who say’s irony is dead!!

March 3, 2010


Filed under: Quotes & Ideas — dwightmcfee @ 2:26 pm

A few geniuses aside, economists frame their assumptions to suit existing states of affairs, then invest them with an aura of permanent truth. They are intellectual butlers, serving the interests of those in power, not vigilant observers of shifting reality. Their systems trap them in orthodoxy.

When events coincide with their theorems, the orthodoxy they espouse enjoys its moment of glory. When events shift, it becomes obsolete. As Charles Morris wrote: “Intellectuals are reliable lagging indicators, near-infallible guides to what used to be true.”

Lord Skidelsky is professor emeritus of political economy at Warwick University, England, and author of a prize-winning Keynes biography.

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