Breaking it Down: Industrial Capitalism vs. Financial Capitalism (or, Why We’re F*cked)

Michael Hudson asks: “In light of the enormous productivity gains since the end of World War II – and especially since 1980 – why isn’t everyone rich and enjoying the leisure economy that was promised?”

The answer (per Hudson) is painfully obvious, but bears repeating (ad infinitum):

What was applauded as a post-industrial economy has turned into a financialized economy. The reason you have to work so much harder than before, even when wages rise, is to carry your debt overhead. You’re unable to buy the goods you produce because you need to pay your bankers. And the only way that you can barely maintain your living standards is to borrow even more. This means having to pay back even more in years to come.

That is the Eurozone plan in a nutshell for its economic future. It is a financial plan that is replacing industrial capitalism – with finance capitalism.

Industrial capitalism was based on increasing production and expanding markets. Industrialists were supposed to use their profits to build more factories, buy more machinery and hire more labor. But this is not what happens under finance capitalism. Banks lend out their receipt of interest, fees and penalties (which now yield credit card companies as much as interest) in new loans.

The problem is that income used to pay debts cannot simultaneously be used to buy the goods and services that labor produces. So when wages and living standards do not rise, how are producers to sell – unless they find new markets abroad? The gains have been siphoned off by finance. And the financial dynamic ends up in austerity.

And to make matters worse, it is not the fat that is cut. The fat is the financial sector. What is cut is the bone: the industrial sector. So when writers refer to a post-industrial economy led by the banks, they imply deindustrialization. And for you it means unemployment and lower wages.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

And weep.

h/t

(Image: jesse.millan, Flickr)

In Praise of NDP PR Jiu-Jitsu

Paul Wells on how it’s best sometimes to simply shut up and let your opponent’s own negative momentum take them down:

Harper is certain to keep portraying the NDP as the only bunch of witless ideologues in sight. In quiet moments Conservative strategists say that, if they ever tire of whacking Bob Rae, they will seek to portray the NDP as either extremist or incompetent. And indeed the newest feature on the Conservative party website is about “Mr. Mulcair’s NDP Team.

But in the Commons, it is not the NDP who have been looking like circus geeks. Tom Mulcair reads his questions from his little wooden lectern. Unlike generations of Liberals, he almost never yells up a lung in Question Period. Peggy Nash, same story. Paul Dewar, probably more methodical now than a year ago. Finally this week a New Democrat confirmed to me that this is strategy, and it is designed precisely to blunt the expected Conservative attack to the effect that only Conservatives are fit to be let near the good china. The New Democrats want to put restraint, method and diligence in their own column.

When I used to ask the Liberals, when they were the Official Opposition, why they didn’t calm down a bit in QP, they would complain that gesticulating was the only way to get on the news. And indeed the calmer New Democrats are not getting a lot of space on the news. What is getting space is Bev Oda’s global OJ adventure, Stephen Harper’s 70-year digressions, and private members’ bills that seem inspired by the Danielle Smith playbook of political success. Which may explain why the NDP does not begrudge the government its time in the spotlight.

h/t

The Real Bev Oda Scandal: Politicizing (& Corporatizing) Canadian Foreign Aid

That now-infamous taxpayer-subsidized luxury hotel switcheroo in Mother London? Small potatoes.

Don Cayo:

[A]nalysis by Fraser Reilly-King, a policy analyst at the non-profit Canadian Council for International Co-operation, shows substantial cuts to foreign aid in last month’s federal budget are aimed mainly at the same kind of underprivileged countries [that were removed from CIDA's priority list in 2009] – the poorest places in the world. And funds for the better-off political darlings are mostly protected.

Reilly-King’s figures project, starting next year, a winnowing-away of funds for inter-national assistance from an all-time peak of $5 billion this year to $4.6 billion in 2014-15. Over the same period, the share of Gross National Income that Canada spends on aid will shrink to 0.25 per cent from 0.34 per cent, which is less than half the never-attained target set by former prime minister Lester Pearson in 1969.

Wait — it gets better:

The cuts will be felt by 13 cur-rent recipients, he says, eight of them in Africa. One of the countries to be cut off completely is China, a fully justified – if not overdue – move given its rapid economic expansion. But the others to lose out completely include Cambodia and Nepal, which are making progress but were late in catching the Asian prosperity wave, as well as dirt-poor Zambia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Niger.

Yet Ukraine – which has been a priority country for years only because of strong lobbying by Canadians of Ukrainian descent – and fast-rising, upper-middle-income Peru and Colombia are unaffected.

Other countries to duck the axe are Bangladesh, which is very poor, and Vietnam and Indonesia, which are both making rapid progress on their own. Reilly-King points out all the unaffected countries are high on the Harper government’s list of places where it wants to see stronger trade ties.

There’s brazen, and brazen – Oda, proud Harpercon that she is, certainly earns the italicization (and then some):

In an interview with my Post- media colleague Elizabeth Payne earlier this year, Oda candidly conceded that she didn’t separate at all Canadian trade and foreign policy goals from our aid policy.

She also confirmed that CIDA, which has been moving away from its well-established, long-term partnerships with trusted and respected NGOs in the field, is moving more and more to partnerships with private sector partners in the mining and agricultural sectors.

Shorter Bev Oda: Let them eat little cakes — ooh, and freshen up my OJ while you’re at it!

h/t

Related:  More from CBC’s The Current on the debate over CIDA partnerships.

Pushing Weight

After Ethical Oil is done with its proxy Zombie Joe McCarthy crusade against the David Suzuki Foundation (what, are Ezra & co. gonna put out a hit on Raffi next?), perhaps it might consider lobbying the feds to take a look at another clear example of untoward abuse of our noble charitable sector — and an obvious case of insidious foreign interference to boot (eeek!)

The Vancouver Observer:

As the Conservative assault continues against Canadian environmental charities, the Vancouver Observer has learned that since 2007, foreign oil billionaires the Koch brothers have donated over half a million dollars to the “charitable” right-wing Fraser Institute.

According to U.S. tax documents, the Fraser Institute received $150,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation in 2008, $175,500 in 2009, and another $150,000 in 2010. The grants were purportedly for “research support” and “educational programs”.

[...]

Grants to the Fraser Institute are also among the highest amounts listed in the Koch Foundation’s tax records; apart from a few substantial grants to American universities, most of the other donations were under $10,000.

Gosh.

Sounds like Fraser is swimming in enough dirty Koch money to make Tony Montana’s *other* little friend go OFF.

Related: To merely call Fraser’s ongoing registered charity status ‘dubious’ is to be *ahem* highly charitable; the OTHER 1% doctrine: 99% of registered Canadian charities are apolitical re: spending (just don’t call it an anti-enviro vendetta…)

(Image: 401K, Flickr)

Deja Vu All Over Again (And Again, And Again, And…)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Canuckistan:

Stephen Harper is leaving the door open once again to extending Canada’s military participation in the costly Afghanistan war.

When the Official Opposition NDP pressed the Prime Minister on Wednesday about reports the United States has asked Canada to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Mr. Harper said the government would “examine all options.”

[...]

If the Prime Minister extended Canada’s military deployment beyond 2014, it would be the fourth time he has prolonged the soldiering commitment to Afghanistan – including 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr. Harper denied reports the United States has asked Canada to keep special forces soldiers in Afghanistan past 2014, his latest promised date for withdrawal.

As our new Leader of the Official Opposition aptly noted during Question Period yesterday, Canadians “want this mission to end. It was supposed to end in 2006. It was supposed to end in 2009. It was supposed to end in 2011. It is supposed to end in 2014. When will it finally end?””

Oh, and that last excerpted bit I highlighted, where the PM denies reports that Uncle Sam is trying to keep Canada in the Great Game for another Friedman or three? Methinks Mr. Harper is being a little coy. Mealsothinks that it’s a damn good thing Afghanistan is (for now, anyway) almost completely under the Campaign 2012 Village radar.

Because, considering the collective combat exhaustion of the USian polity, the last thing the Obama team needs are ill-timed reports that it’s secretly planning to continue America’s excellent (and highly unpopular) imperial Central Asian misadventure past it’s latest expiration date.

(Originally posted at Agonist.org)

QOTD: Rethinking Sex-Positivity & Sex Work

Audacia Ray:

If we put aside our attachment to the sex positive construction of sex work, we will certainly hear things that will be hard to sit with. But for sex positivity to be a useful framework, one that encourages the pursuit of social justice, it must also engage with the ugly pieces of sexuality, and not in a simplistically reactive way. Otherwise, the concept of being a sex positive sex worker is a self-serving marketing practice, in which the enjoyment of sexuality is being sold as a product to both workers and our clients.

h/t Jill

Provocation, Appropriation, and That Blackface Clitoridectomy Cake

Here’s an idea for truly provocative art. No more male artists, black or white, speaking for African women. No more ever-more-graphic ever-more-voyeuristic art on the suffering of African women. Stop using the female African body as raw material to be worked – unless you happen to live in one. Then, notice that African women are making their own work about their lives and struggles. Look. Listen. Learn.

Shailja Patel, ‘The missing ingredient in Sweden’s racist-misogynist cake’

h/t Blind Man With A Pistol

Related:  T.F. Charlton & Ako Jacintho debate the meaning of the installation — on multiple levels; how Jonathan Pitts-Wiley stopped worrying & learned to love the blackface clitoridectomy cake.

IOKIYAR to Infinity.

Ok, so I know IOKIYAR is (and has been for ages) SOP in DC. Still, the manner in which the Village took Rosengate oh-so seriously (and turned it up TO ELEVEN) but is now suddenly backpeddling re: The Nuge’s semi-coherent call for Obama’s assassination (gosh, campaign surrogates sure do say the darndest things!*) is especially galling.

Steve M. breaks it down:

 [T]he press will shrug off Nugent because the press has been in denial for years about just how insane right-wingers are. No matter what angry, extreme, menacing, paranoid thing right-wingers are up to, the press is always looking for signs that it’s all just a silly phase, all just the work of a few outliers.

Mainstream journalists don’t want to admit that the vast majority of people in the right-wing base agree with every word Nugent said.

They certainly don’t want to believe that there’s any genuine connection between what Nugent said and Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney! Such an upstanding, responsible man! (Never mind that Romney has done the gang initiation and become one of the right-wing crazies. Never mind that his campaign actively sought out Nugent’s endorsement.)

The press acknowledged that Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke remarks were extreme, and mocked Santorum surrogate Foster Friess. But now it’s Romney we’re talking about — the guy who reassures the press that the GOP is perfectly safe and responsible. Unless Romney picks a Palinesque running mate, no one in the press is ever going to believe that any right-wing extremism has anything to do with him — or his voter base, even though what Nugent said precisely captures that base’s thinking.

I don’t believe the Beltway is starting to fall for Romney like it did McMaverick (tire swing!) But without question Village refs are far more easily worked by sharp-elbowed wingnuts than by progressive interests. Plus, Mittens’ rep as a flag twisting in the political winds perversely appeals to reflexively cynical Villager scorn for anything that resembles sincerity & passion (oh so savvy!)

Which is (sadly) good news for Mitt Romney and bad news for those who appreciate reality that is unobstructed by the fuzzy view from the bottom of some stenographic wanker’s highball.

*Politico may titter at wingnut incitement of violence towards members of the US Federal government — including POTUS — but the Secret Service sure doesn’t.