Random Thoughts

My Kaleidoscopic View

of Current Politics & Economics

Many of my weekly soap box rants have screamed about the flawed democracy of America and India, and my article “A Dirge For The Republic” summarizes the general problems, so this week’s musings are my explanation of the current political and economic turmoil and predictions of likely outcomes. What focused my attention to this effort are the past rightward shift in national elections in France (Sarkozy), Sweden (National Democrats), Netherlands (Freedom Party), Finland (True Finns), Britain (Conservative Party and the current riots), Spain (predicted victory of rightist Popular Party), the victory of the right in Chile, followed by recent persistent student protests and the recall election in Wisconsin and the failure of Democrats.

The most amusing fact confirming the stupidity of electorates all over the world is the unthinking knee jerk anti-incumbent response. The conservatives like Thatcher and Reagan set in motion the policies of emasculation of the unions, de-industrialization, anti-Robin Hood policy of robbing the poor to further enrich the rich. The traitors of the New Labor and New Democrats like Blair and Clinton, further carried out the Conservative and Republican agenda and the retarded British and American electorate still voted idiot Bush and Cameron in power. The response of the French in giving more legitimacy to Le Pen’s anti-immigrant party, the Dutch and Swedish elections and the recent massacre in Norway, are an abreaction to the Muslims in Europe. It was the Greek Conservatives who fudged the accounts, overspent, ran hidden deficits due to Christmas tree goodies for all, and left the Papandreou party holding the bomb when the music stopped, as did Bush to Obama. Of course Obama turned out to be a masquerading phony like Blair, and wants to help the Republicans gut social security and medicare, just as Clinton did to welfare.

The problems of Greece and America are the same and their governments deserve much of the blame, but not by exoneration of Germany and China. These last two want to continue exporting on which China depends to provide employment to its vast migrant population and Germany, prosperity to its people. That required China to keep its currency undervalued and thus its buying of dollars, but this led to a rapidly rising domestic money supply and thus inflation. Germany required the Greek currency to be overvalued to allow Greece to buy German exports. Thus, a host of undeserving countries like Portugal and Italy were taken into Euroland and their irresponsible governments built up national debts far beyond their ability to service them by competitive exports and GDP growth. The right turn of the Finns and Germans is due to their populations’ unwillingness to keep subsidizing the financially weaker PIGS of Southern Europe and Ireland. A milder resentment is developing against the new and aspiring EU and NATO members of Eastern Europe.

The travails of Iceland, Ireland, Spain and USA are much more self inflicted. Iceland allowed its bankers to open up foreign branches, buy companies with leverage and as the world economy took a downturn, Icelandic banks spiraled into insolvency and Britain and Netherlands wanted the citizens of Iceland to pay the debts of its private banks. The original government was thrown out and a new one elected but it turned out to be a quisling. Quisling was the actual last name of the Norwegian prime minister who collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Norway during WW2. At that time the quisling of France was Marshal Petain. The brave Icelanders threw out the quisling and a new president with a spine, reneged on the unjustifiable burden of British and Dutch imposed debt and walk into my parlor, spidery offer to Iceland.

Ireland’s government was like that of the US, a mere puppet of its banksters. It assumed the debt of banks because they were too big to fail and had lent money to superfluous house building beyond needs and abroad to Polish and Baltic country businesses and households, who could not repay. The result was a debt overload, devastation of the Irish economy and a mini repeat of exodus and emigration from Ireland like in the days of the potato famine created by the British, who contributed to the famines in Bengal.

Spain got into trouble by overbuilding housing, which was superfluous, expensive and losing value as a collateral. This bankrupted its casas, which are like our old savings banks, lending only for housing until Reagan in his demented stupidity gave them a license to gamble and caused a monetary crisis. The weakness in housing and tourism affected the Spanish economy, which is based on those two and agriculture, unlike the manufacturing based German economy. Unemployment soared to 20% and as the interest rates of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Irish debt rise, these economies do not have export or current account surpluses to service their debt and are caught in a debt trap, even though their debt to GDP ratios are not that high. Japan which has a debt to GDP ratio of over 200% and a demographic time bomb of a decreasing population, still has the lowest interest rate on its debt and a rising value of the yen, because its debt is held by the Japanese and not foreigners, and it runs trade and current account surpluses. The rise of the Swiss Franc is on a similar basis minus excessive debt and the strength of the German economy is what still keeps the Euro strong but not as much as the Yen and Swiss Franc.

The US has a burgeoning debt, a dysfunctional government, a foolish electorate and addiction to fiscal and monetary insanity. The overbuilding of housing, predatory and irresponsible lending by mortgage lenders, conniving rating agencies, captured and complacent regulators, crooked legislators, executive and judiciary, led to the insolvency of US banks, which were made whole by the conspiracy of the government at the expense of the people by TARP and other four letter words. The Federal reserve pumped up the money supply to rescue the rich and now are out of ammunition. The interest rate on ten year treasuries is just over 2%. At that rate it would take nearly 35 years to double your money (rule of 72), This makes it impossible for an average worker to save adequately for retirement. 

In addition it deprives older retirees from depending on interest income from accumulated savings. The decimation of company pensions by replacement with 401Ks (defined contribution for defined benefits) and the intentions of the Republicans to gut social security and medicare with the collusion of Democrats, presages increasing poverty and insecurity. The low interest rates throw a spanner in the ability of corporations and state and local governments to bring their unfunded pension plans to par. They are thus compelled to lay off workers, renegotiate future pensions, health and other benefits and make the economy and deficits worse. This is why the governors of Wisconsin, Ohio etc. are taking away labor rights. Illinois, New York, Florida, California and others are sure to follow as falling real estate and state income taxes make their fiscal status worse.

The left leaning and union worker Democrats attempted a recall of Republican senators in Wisconsin, but it did not succeed in obtaining a majority in the senate. This means that either the less well to do are not enough in numbers or motivation. The US electorate is intoxicated by a combination of American exceptionalism and the foolish certainty of striking it rich in the near future. This permits the powerful rich to keep hanging these carrots in front of the average American donkey, while they beat it with a stick to drag their load. The twelve person hanging jury including one named Bogus, agreed to by quisling Obama to decide on the deficit and budget cuts will eventually lead to a seven to five (like the 5 to 4 Supreme court decisions) agreement to raise the retirement age to 67, decrease the indexing of the benefits to far below the real rate of inflation, raise medicare premiums and increase the taxing of social security payments, while leaving the defense budget intact and cutting education, EPA and other allocations. 

The Republicans will rejoice and the Democrats will claim that they fought to prevent the elimination of all discretionary spending and thus had no choice but to agree to entitlement reductions or there would be no schools, police, environment, national parks, firefighters. All this has already been probably agreed to in smoke filled conspiracy rooms and banquet halls with their campaign financiers. You can see that one of the Republican state senators who won against recall by a mere 5000 votes out of a total of less than 50,000 votes cast was financed by over five million dollars from undisclosed sources protected from disclosure by the recent US Supreme Court judgment in the controversial Citizen verdict. Unless campaign financing is strictly limited and only allowable for individuals with full disclosure and a very low limit, the US is headed for disaster.

The reason that (German, French) the European and US banks are getting clobbered is that the former have huge exposure to the debt of PIGS and Ireland, and the latter have huge dealings with the former. The only reason Germany and the ECB are shelling out money to the insolvent debtors is to prevent their banks from going bust. If Italy reaches the level of the others, France will be pulled under and the Euro will unravel. The US debt position is just as bad as Greece, but its debt is in its own currency which it can print in unlimited amount. The result would be the dollar becoming like toilet paper and that is why gold is on a stratospheric trajectory. The US has just over 8500 tons of gold (2240 pounds-lbs to a ton and 16 ounces to a pound), which at the price of $1800 per ounce comes to 550 billion dollars worth. For it to equal 14.5 trillion debt +2 trillion cash, the price of gold has to rise thirty times more to $54,000 an ounce. To cover unfunded liabilities as well, the value of the gold has to equal $270,000 an ounce. This is not going to happen. The illustration is just to give the reader an idea of the depth of the hole we have dug ourselves in.

It is amazing, why Chile with its experience of the Pinochet government, its atrocities and redistribution of wealth upwards, after experiencing a decent center left government of Michelle Bachelet, would vote the far right of center government into power. The wealth disparity and the inability of working middle class to afford a college education is one of the causes of the prolonged student unrest in Chile. Perhaps their electorate is as stupid as the Indian one, which just generally tries to throw the incumbents out. Chile does not have other parties, in India all the parties are crooked and dishonest and in America, the twin devils have sealed the birth canal of the mother nation, to prevent the birth of genuinely competent or honest siblings. It is interesting that Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru and Bolivia have turned leftwards unlike Chile and Brazil’s elections perpetuated the centrists.

In the case of India, the Congress with its penchant for bribery and corrupt self enrichment got a second term because of debt forgiveness of farmers and the institution of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. It used the latter more to embezzle money at the local level for its cronies, than genuinely helping the poor. The Thatcher to Blair policies in Britain have created a minority of very rich and a majority of poor. Cameron with his austere budget cutting has reduced even the minimum support for the poor and unemployed and for their training and education, thus creating an underclass, mainly consistent with the British prejudice against blacks. The morbid fear of terrorism and the fight against drugs and an insensitive police force serving as lackeys of the vested interests, has subjected the poor to searches, arrests, intimidation and assault causing deaths, without fairness or justice. The result is suppressed anger and humiliation, with periodic outbursts of rage, arson and violence like the riots in Watts and Detroit during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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Views: 3387      Comments: 4

Comment In your reply, the term 'blacks' is suddenly displaced by 'wogs', no doubt, in the cause of clarification of prejudice, of which fact I am adjudged as naive, as I have judged you confused. I will here only clarify my comment, as it should erase much of your reply by correct focus, stating that it is impossible for Mr Cameron, of all people, to act as you originally allege, 'consistent with the British prejudice against blacks'. Granted that there may be pockets of such mentality in modern Britain, even recently disavowed by the BNP, the formerly all-white political party with an all-white agenda, which is accepting black members so as to shift its emphasis; Britain today is defined as one integrated multi-ethnic society where everyone is considered equal in that society, and which is lived out, I repeat, in all areas of life and opportunity, with black MPs to boot. Mr Cameron cannot exercise prejudice against 'blacks', because there is no segregation that makes sense of the term you use.

14-Aug-2011 22:02 PM

Comment For the benefit of a rare genuinely interested reader, I am posting below, a review of the book Liberalism- A Counter-History by M. A. Krul from London, UK, which is an excellent precis of Domenic Losurdo's thesis translated by Gregory Elliott, from the amazon.com website.--gaurang bhatt

This review is from: Liberalism: A Counter-History (Hardcover)
Domenico Losurdo's "Liberalism: A Counter-History" is a brilliant and engaging exposé of the real history of liberalism as an ideology, in contradistinction to the hagiographical and justificatory self-descriptions that liberals usually give to it. Almost all systematic histories of liberalism and liberal thought have been written by liberals or its sympathizers, and therefore Losurdo's critical narrative is a welcome antidote to this in every sense Whiggish approach. Losurdo proceeds largely chronologically, but there is a clear thematic structure to the book. Using the writings of impeccably liberal sources and many of the most famous founders of liberal thought, from Burke and Locke to Jefferson and De Tocqueville, he shows how liberalism's self-perception and self-presentation as the politics of freedom was undermined time and again by its reliance on the suppression of 'inferiors'. In order to realize the freedom of the liberals, black slaves, women, the working class, and so forth all had to give way; the freedom of the liberal classes was always founded on the exploitation of others. Only when the gentry and the merchant classes were freed of the need to do manual labor and were guaranteed their position as rulers of society could they defend the liberty liberalism promised against the absolute and arbitrary power of monarchs, clergy, and other traditional opponents. In fact, as Losurdo shows by analyzing the writings of US Vice President and ideologue of the Confederacy John C. Calhoun, the stronger the oppression by the liberal class of their 'inferiors', the more they saw themselves as the ultimate defenders of human liberty and the more jealously they guarded their privileges against the dangers of oppressive government. In this sense, liberalism appears more than anything as the ideology of the middle layer, precisely as it was in historical reality: its purpose is to shield from the powers above it, and to keep down the people below it.

Of course, Losurdo is well aware that liberalism took on various forms, and he carefully if not always very explicitly shows the different strands of liberal ideology throughout time. He essentially identifies three main currents in liberal thought before 1848: a conservative strand, represented by the likes of Burke and Locke, which intended to maintain the traditional structure of society but opposed the absolutism of the monarchy on behalf of the merchant class, and which had no sympathy even for bourgeois revolution along the lines of the American and the French. The second strand was the 'moderate' one, which perhaps is better called the reforming one, represented by many abolitionist thinkers as well as people like Adam Smith, Benjamin Constant and Immanuel Kant. This group sought to abolish the feudal privileges previously inhering in society and wishes to extend the liberal conception of freedom to all. However, it was consistently unable to rhyme its desire for the extension of liberty in any meaningful sense to humanity without being confronted with the problem of inequality of property, most completely expressed in the oppression of colonial peoples, the working classes in the metropole, and servants. It could not resolve this problem without breaking the boundaries of liberal thought and turning against the class it represented, and this the liberal reformers, even J.S. Mill, were unwilling to do. Each time they came up against this barrier, they fell back and retreated to the safer terrain of the conservative position - as exemplified by Constant's opposition to abolishing the property requirement for suffrage, Mill's enthusiasm for colonialism, and so forth. The racism and hypocrisy required of the reformers to maintain their position in society while preaching the gospel of freedom was not, as Losurdo shows, much different to that of the 'liberal' defenders of slavery and the Confederacy in kind; perhaps only in degree.

The third trend, a very small one, is the trend of what Losurdo calls the radicals. These were the ones that did seek to make such a break with established society and having recognized the limitations of liberal thought as a social phenomenon were willing to criticize the order of society as such, not just call for liberty within it. Before 1848, these could not easily be called socialists, and instead we find them in the ranks of radical Enlightenment thinkers such as Denis Diderot and Thomas Paine. But Losurdo traces the development of socialism as a competitor of liberalism to its origins in this wing of liberalism, what used to be called 'Bourgeois Radicalism', and he is probably correct in doing so. Only this group was willing to question the received order of society fundamentally, not just from the interest of the middle class against the aristocracy and monarchical power. Only this group was willing to re-imagine society afresh and to criticize oppression wherever they saw it. But even this group did not yet reach the understanding of socialism: they did not see oppression in many cases where it existed, not just the oppression of other races and of women, but also the genocidal policies implemented in colonization and settlerism in the name of the spread of freedom and civilisation. Challenging and uprooting the causes of these phenomena was to be the task of socialism, as was the development of a historical understanding which in the first place allows ideologies such as liberalism to be traced to their political-economic interests and vantage point within a given society. But without liberalism paving the way, this could not have been done.

It is important therefore to keep in mind that this excellent work is first and foremost a work in the history of ideas, not a political critique. It is precisely as the title says a counter-history: a real history of liberalism and its great thinkers and the way in which liberalism has always relied on the exploitation and exclusion of groups outside its great realm of liberty to prosper. Importantly, it also does away with the mythology of liberalism as a self-repairing phenomenon. Most current-day liberal philosophers would gladly admit to the errors of the past, but these are always reinterpreted as being inherently part of liberalism's supposed amazing ability to overcome its own flaws and move forward; ironically, an almost dialectical self-analysis. But Domenico Losurdo tells the story more realistically: for most of the great liberal thinkers, the exclusionary aspects of their thought were not just flaws or personal prejudices, but were in fact inherent and essential parts of their worldview, and they knew full well that such exclusion was absolutely necessary to maintain the order that liberalism was invented to defend in the first place. The racist and genocidal aspects of liberalism are no mere mistake or an idiosyncrasy of a particular time and place, as a sort of liberal counterpart to the Moscow Trials. They were 'working as intended', and that is precisely what socialism originated to critique. As Losurdo reminds us, in a time when liberalism has once again become the ruling ideology and looks on its past with increasingly warm feelings (viz. Niall Ferguson), that critique is more needed than ever.

gaurang bhatt
14-Aug-2011 08:03 AM

Comment Different governments have different modes of ghettoizing. The French opt for showcasing cities and banish the underclass to the peripheral banlieues, the Americans segregate and quarantine the undesired within cities because of their school educational laws and policy, the Indians have luxury homes surrounded by slums because that is where their domestic workers stay, the Brazilians put their favelas on waste sloping hills. Your ideas of prejudice are naive and ill informed. There was just as much prejudice against blacks in America in the slave free north as in the southern slave states. The New York riots by the Irish and others during the civil war and the atrocities against Chinese during the building of the railways by poor white workers should enlighten you (read Iris Chang's book "The Chinese In America".

While Britain abolished slavery and was civil to darker persons, and did not use lynching as public entertainment,, it does not mean that there was no prejudice. In fact, the British are prejudiced against whites from the south and east of Europe and against their own cockneys and Irish (Upstairs Downstairs, re-read your Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.G. Wells, even John Stuart Mills and Tocqueville--Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo and Gregory Elliott)

Below copied and pasted from Wikipedia for your information-
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For other uses, see WOG (disambiguation).

Wog or Pog is a slang word with a number of meanings, generally considered derogatory and, in some instances, extremely offensive when used in relation to ethnicity. The term is essentially used differently within the UK and Australian context: in the United Kingdom, historically it referred to "dark skinned" people and in its modern usage is considered overtly racist and is not used in polite conversation; while in Australian English the term was originally a pejorative for "Mediterranean" migrants, though in recent decades its offensiveness has been defused in certain contexts by common usage in pop-culture produced by the descendants of Mediterranean migrants.

* 1 British English
* 2 Australian English
* 3 Scientology
* 4 Other meanings
* 5 Non-slang acronym
* 6 Folk etymology
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links

[edit] British English

Wog in the UK is usually regarded as a racially offensive slang word referring to a dark-skinned or olive-skinned person from Africa or Asia. It can be applied to any darker-skinned people, but is particularly applied to Afro-Caribbeans, as well as immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. Most dictionaries refer to the word as derogatory and offensive.

The origin of the term is unknown, though unsupported folk etymology has much to say. Many dictionaries say "wog" derives from the Golliwogg, a blackface minstrel doll character from a children's book published in 1895. An alternative is that "wog" originates from Pollywog, a maritime term for someone who has not crossed the equator. Various acronymical origins like "worthy/wily oriental gentlemen" have been suggested, although the term appears to predate the regular use of acronyms. It was first noted by lexicographer F.C. Bowen, who recorded it in 1929 in his Sea slang: a dictionary of the old-timers’ expressions and epithets, where he defines wogs as "lower class Babu shipping clerks on the Indian coast."[1]

The saying "The wogs begin at Calais" was originated by George Wigg, Labour MP for Dudley, in 1949. In a parliamentary debate concerning the Burmese, Wigg shouted at the Conservative benches, "The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all 'wogs'. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford [i.e. Winston Churchill] thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais."[2] Wigg's coinage, sometimes paraphrased as "Wogs start at the Channel" or "Wogs start at Dover", is used to characterise a stodgy Europhobic viewpoint, and more generally the view that Britain (more so England) is inherently separate from and superior to the Continent. In this case, "wog" is used to compare any foreign, non-British person to those more traditionally labelled "wogs".

In the United States, "Wog" is simply short for Pollywog, the navy term for sailors who have yet to cross the equator in the line-crossing ceremony, and has no racial associations.
[edit] Australian English

In older, unrelated usage, 'wog' in Australian English was used to refer to an illnesses such as the flu or malaria[3][4][5] or to unpleasant insects [5], but the "ethnic slur" meaning has now largely driven these out.

However, as with other slang and prima-facie profanity used in contemporary Australian English,[6] the ethnic term "wog" may be employed either aggressively or affectionately within differing contexts.

In Australia, the term was applied to Post World War II migrants from the Mediterranean region, North Africa and Southeastern Europe, particularly the Italian, Greek, Egyptian, Lebanese, Maltese and Yugoslav communities in Melbourne and Sydney[7] - contrasted with the dominant Northern and Western European stock of the Australian population.
The Wog Boy Movie Poster.

More recently Mediterranean-Australian performing artists have taken ownership of the term "wog", defusing its original pejorative nature - the popular early 1990s stage show Wogs Out of Work created by Nick Giannopoulos and Simon Palomares was an early example. The production was followed on television with Acropolis Now, starring Giannopoulos, Palomares, George Kapiniaris, Alan Dyepoulos and Mary Coustas, and films The Wog Boy and Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos and parodies such as those of Santo Cilauro, Eric Bana, Vince Colosimo, Nick Giannopoulos, Mary Coustas and SBS Television's offbeat Pizza TV series have continued this change in Australian cultural history - with some even classifying a genre of wogsploitation (akin to blacksploitation in the United States) of pop-culture products being created by and for a proudly "wog" market.[8] Recent works of the genre have been used by Australians of non-English speaking backgrounds to assert ethnic identity, rather than succumb to ethnic stereotype.[9] Upon the release of Wog Boy 2, Giannopoulos discussed the contemporary use of the term "wog" in the Australian context:
“ I think by defusing the word 'wog' we've shown our maturity and our great ability to adapt and just laugh things off, you know... When I first came [to Greece] and I started trying to explain to them why we got called 'wog' they'd get really angry about it, you know. They were, "Why? Why they say this about the Greek people?" You know? But then when they see what we've done with it - and this is the twist - that we've turned it into a term of endearment, they actually really get into that... ”

Thus, in contemporary Australia, the term "wog" may, in certain contexts, be viewed as a "nickname" rather than a pejorative term[3] - akin to the nicknames ascribed within Australian English to other historically significant cultural groupings such as the English (nicknamed Poms), the Americans (nicknamed Yanks) and New Zealanders (nicknamed Kiwis).
[edit] Scientology

Amongst Scientologists, wog is used as a disparaging word for non-scientologists.[10] Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard defined wog as a "common, everyday garden-variety humanoid ... He 'is' a body. [He] doesn't know he's there, etc. He isn't there as a spirit at all. He is not operating as a thetan.[11]

L. Ron Hubbard employed the term frequently in his lectures and writings.[12]

Since wog is not in general use in American English, Hubbard may have picked it up during his period of service as a US naval officer during World War II (1941–1945), or in England, where he lived from 1953 to 1966.

Scientologists claim the term wog has no racist overtones, even in the UK where that meaning is prevalent. From a 2004 Church of Scientology magazine: "I arrived at Saint Hill shy, introverted and somewhat out of valence. I had been working at a wog job, and I knew my priorities had to change ..."[13]

The term has also been associated with the general demeaning of people who are outside of Scientology due to their lack of knowledge or belief in various aspects of the religion. It is implied that these people are essentially lost causes or not worth saving in the case of catastrophe or prophesied event. This has caused many modern survivalists to embrace the term "Wog" in spite, as they feel they are knowledgeable and trained enough to survive such events regardless of their religious beliefs."####

More skin whitening creams are sold in India then hair straighteners in America. Prejudice is a universal trait probably hard wired by evolution as a protective mechanism, as it becomes manifest against strangers, in children at age about three months. But I don't want to argue religion or evolution with you.
Gaurang Bhatt

Gaurang Bhatt
14-Aug-2011 07:28 AM

Comment >Cameron with his austere budget cutting has reduced even the minimum support for the poor and unemployed and for their training and education, thus creating an underclass, mainly consistent with the British prejudice against blacks <

Perhaps, you are confusing Britain with America, where people are defined by skin colour from the day of their birth, there being no other categorisation in their imaginative scope bar Hispanic. The term 'blacks' is not a British term, black people are simply not referred to in that characteristically American racial categorisation. There is simply no 'British prejudice' against members of the black community as would differentiate them from the white community at any level of British society. This is proved by the absence of any impoverished 'ghetto' (another American term) conditions in any city in Britain, but equal standards of housing and healthcare and job opportunities for all; indeed, inter-marriage is now commonplace. Unlike a city like Philadelphia in the US, recently in the news in connection with street crime by members of the depressed black community there, who are taking to venturing into the prosperous mainly white area of the city in gangs, with ample evidence of ghettoisation and all that implies in terms of racial segregation and sub-standard living conditions.

13-Aug-2011 21:28 PM

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