Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Twenty-First Century Class War

The economic ship of the West is dead in the water because the wind of social egalitarianism that has blown strong since the New Deal and victory over fascism has been replaced by a new class war by the uber-rich.

The uber-rich of the extreme right has decided to abandon the New Deal compromise and launch a class war against the 99%. This is not ideological hot air. Protection of rich financial criminals, bailouts of fraudulent corporations, planetary environmental poisoning, the intentional promotion of bubbles, the exploitation of natural and political disasters to further enrich the rich, and direct attacks against democracy to suppress public criticism that might "embarrass" the rich constitute the 21st century weapons of choice for class warfare. Wealth should be built on a rich society, not the zero-sum game of the rich stealing from the poor. This paragraph is a huge accusation of unpatriotic behavior and deserves extremely careful analysis, which is indeed being done by numerous specialists and protest groups, but perhaps a few points are worth spelling out here:

Oil-Poisoned Turtle, Courtesy of BP, an "Innocent Corporate Person"

    Torturing the Unindicted, Courtesy of the Neo-Cons
  • when an imperial project to shore up superpower control over other societies that aspire to independence, not to mention grabbing their resources, goes to the extreme of destroying their whole society, the whole world has been impoverished;
  • when a country behaves with such viciousness, it harms itself, a conclusion all the more true when that country is a democracy that aspires to lead the world by example;
  • when government oppresses free speech to protect fraudulent corporations from being publicly criticized.
Such is class war in the 21st century.

If you still think that "fraud," i.e., criminal behavior, is too strong a term for the broad behavior over the last decade of the financial elite of the U.S. on Wall St. and in the home mortgage industry or if you do not think Washington is complicit in this fraud, consider this:

Fraud does not even make Geithner’s list of contributing factors to financial crises.  The U.S. has experienced three recent financial crises – the S&L debacle (which is the subject of this first installment), the Enron era frauds, and the ongoing crisis.  Accounting control fraud is the leading cause of each of the crises.  “Control fraud” is the term white-collar criminologists use to refer to frauds in which the person controlling a seemingly legitimate entity uses it as a “weapon” to defraud.  Accounting is the “weapon of choice” for elite financial frauds.  Control frauds cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime – combined. [William Black on New Economic Perspectives.]

The latest case in point is the effort by Bank of America to resist stockholder demands that it review its own foreclosure practices! 

The New York City pension funds and 9 other institutional investors are urging Bank of America to conduct a thorough review of its foreclosure practices and report the results to shareholders. BofA has been plagued by widespread allegations of fraud in the foreclosure process, with a report from the Inspector General at the Department of Housing and Urban Development finding that the bank's management was involved in the improper foreclosure practices. BofA management opposes the shareholder resolution that would require a review of foreclosure practices. [Huffington Post 5/9/12.]

Demanding that BOA officials be jailed might, indeed, meet with resistance on the part of those officials, but why would they resist calls for them to conduct their own internal reviews...unless they were already well aware they had plenty to hide? 

The key to solving the problem is for Americans to realize that war abroad and theft at home are two sides of the same class war coin. Socially conscious domestic policy  (policy designed to care for the 99%) does not fit well with a foreign policy based on force. Such a combination would constitute a self-contradictory combination. To put it simply, leaders of imperialist campaigns see citizens as cannon fodder, not those they serve. Moreover, force (more specifically, the American way of high-tech war) is expensive.

Were the uber-rich (e.g., Romney, the Koch brothers, Mozillo, the CEO's of the horde of war profiteer corporations like Halliburton, and the officials of Big Oil) to pay their fair share for their privileges, enormous strides toward bringing America back could be made. There is much to be done - creating a world-class solar industry, cleaning up New Orleans...

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration remains stuck in essentially a neo-con foreign policy of playing a zero-sum game of U.S. supremacy at the expense of justice for Muslim societies and a "neo-liberal" (i.e., very conservative, exploitative) domestic policy of protecting billionaires at the expense of society.

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