Monday, January 25, 2010

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction by Chris Hedges

"Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates. The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spent $26 million last year and drug companies such as Pfizer, Amgen and Eli Lilly kicked in tens of millions more to buy off the two parties. These corporations have made sure our so-called health reform bill will force us to buy their predatory and defective products. The oil and gas industry, the coal industry, defense contractors and telecommunications companies have thwarted the drive for sustainable energy and orchestrated the steady erosion of civil liberties. Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive. "

The mortgage crisis is only the beginning … By James Howard Kunstler

"The scores of billions of dollars, euros, and other monies that central banks have recently poured into the sinkhole of losses will only paper over the essential problem for another few weeks, at most. The damage to global structured finance has been done, and there is a widespread, belated recognition that it’s not possible to get something for nothing after all. When you hold a lot of paper that represents nothing and put it up for sale, nothing will be offered for it. What a surprise!


There will be so many assets up for sale across the U.S. in the months and years ahead that the very sun in the heavens will take on a K-Mart blue-light-special glow. From houses with miles of granite countertops, to Maybach automobiles, to cabin cruisers that burn 30 gallons of diesel an hour, there will be so much slightly used (or barely “pre-owned”) stuff for sale that manufacturing another unit of anything (or importing it) will seem like a sick joke. This leads to a deadly downward spiral of what the realtors have cleverly termed “new pricing.”


Our adventure in Iraq is self-evidently a troubling thing. But what astounds me about our intellectual classes is how they complain about our military presence in the Middle East while they enjoy lifestyles based utterly on supplies of cheap oil imported from the Middle East—and therefore on our continued influence over affairs in that region. Missing entirely is any sense of consequence, and even more particularly of what the overall situation means for our behavior at home. Based on how we live, we got the war we deserve. We’ve run out our string of stunts and tricks in the money rackets. We’ve spent our political legitimacy. The rest of the world will strive mightily to get free of their obligations to us, including their respect for the value of our currency. Events are in control, not personalities.


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