Archive for June 20, 2009

monetising debt

by Ellen Brown
Global Research
Web of Debt

While contrarians are screaming “hyperinflation!”, the money supply is actually shrinking. This is because most money today comes into existence as bank loans, and lending has shrunk substantially. That means the Fed needs to “monetize” debt just to fill the breach.

On June 3, 2009, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke assured Congress, “The Federal Reserve will not monetize the debt.” Bill Bonner, writing in The Daily Reckoning, said it had a ring to it, like President Nixon’s “I am not a crook” and President Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman.” Monetizing the debt is precisely what the Fed will do, says Bonner, because it has no other choice. The Chinese are growing reluctant to lend, the taxpayers are tapped out, and the deficit is at unprecedented levels. “Even good people do bad things when they get in a jam. The Feds are already in pretty deep . . . and they’re going a lot deeper.”

But Mr. Bernanke denied it. “Either cuts in spending or increases in taxes will be necessary to stabilize the fiscal situation,” he said.

Both alternatives will be vigorously opposed, leaving Congress in the same deadlock California has been in for the last year. That makes the monetization option at least worth a look. What is wrong with it? Bill Bonner calls it “larceny on the grandest scale. Rather than honestly repaying what it has borrowed, a government merely prints up extra currency and uses it to pay its loans. The debt is ‘monetized’ . . . transformed into an increase in the money supply, thereby lowering the purchasing power of everybody’s savings.”

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Kenyan elephants – Photo: ABBIE TRAYER-SMITH

I have been supporting the IFAW in the past with donations as well as posting their funding appeals because the welfare of animals is close to my heart. One of these appeals was distributed by the organisation at the end of May 2009, and I responded by donating money and posting it on this blog. The specific occasion was the planned removal of Malawian elephants from Phirilongwe to the Majete Wildlife Reserve. Reason for the resettlement according to the IFAW: “feuding” between the animals and humans in the area caused by food and water shortages the elephants are facing.

Today I received a comment to my IFAW post with a link to a UK Telegraph article (see below) that claims that

  1. the elephants in their future home in Majete might fall victim to trophy hunting, a possibility the managers of the Majete National Park supposedly do not rule out;
  2. at least one group of residents in Phirilongwe is fighting to keep the elephants, but to protect them and the villagers through a fence and to use this arrangement as a foundation for a future Phirilongwe national park;
  3. such park it is claimed would provide a viable economic foundation for the impoverished Phirilongwe community, thereby removing the perceived need to kill and maim the elephants and offer a sustainable future for both humans and animals.

I am not able to make any judgments on the various facts provided by the Telegraph and the animal welfare organisation BUT it seems more than likely that the move of the animals to a new location is controversial on at least the above three counts. I therefore feel that the IFAW’s funding appeal was most likely misleading by not spelling out the details of the controversy, thus not allowing me to make an informed choice before supporting the organisation’s request for support.

The IFAW’s claim that it did not know about the possibility of trophy hunting does neither sound credible nor plausible. The IFAW is a large worldwide NGO with very good connections to many organisations and governments around the world and in Africa. Given the controversy of trophy hunting and the relevance of African Parks Foundation, the manager of Majete and other parks in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is highly unlikely that it had not come to the attention of the IFAW that game hunting is an envisaged strategy considered by the park’s manager to guarantee the survival of its parks. But even if it really didn’t know, the IFAW would still stand accused of bad research – if the UK Telgraph can find out, why couldn’t a professional and well-connected organisation like the IFAW?

The Telegraph article does not talk about an IFAW response to the controversy its removal strategy has caused with at least parts of the Phirilongwe community, and I therefore have no reason to believe that this story was made up by the paper. If it is true that the IFAW’s  relocation project is in dispute, the May appeal should have taken a balanced approach by fairly presenting the differing views to allow potential donors to make a more educated choice (which could also have been supported by providing links to more background material).

I am not saying that the IFAW’s work in general is not worth supporting – I don’t have a basis for such claim. Right now though I do feel very uncomfortable with how it handled the project and the donation appeal, and I feel less willing to endorse any further IFAW support requests and donate to the organisation’s projects simply on good faith.

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unite%20against%20racism

By Daniels, Ron
Ron Daniels’s ZSpace Page
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When rabid right wing radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and conservative guru Newt Gingrich initially attacked Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a “racist,” they were using a time-tested strategy to appeal to Whites who believe their “rights” are being threatened by Blacks and people of color.

Historically, racism has frequently been used by elements of the White power structure as a wedge to persuade working class and poor Whites to disassociate with or fight against Blacks who should have been seen as their class allies. Deeply ingrained attitudes of White superiority and Black inferiority which underpin structural/institutional racism in this society have made White working class and poor people particularly susceptible to this strategy of confuse and exploit. Thus the slogan “Black and White Unite and Fight” has generally failed to bear fruit because too often Whites have been convinced that people of African descent are their enemies.

Prior to the Civil War, White slave owners would hire out their slaves to business concerns in the private sector, thereby undercutting the wages of free White labor. After the Civil War a slew of laws were passed which criminalized Blacks for petty crimes like vagrancy. This resulted in the incarceration of large numbers of formerly enslaved Africans in the South. In a system similar to the hiring out of slaves, prison Wardens developed a “convict lease” system where inmates were hired out to private companies. Though some White inmates were leased out, the overwhelming majority were Blacks. Once again, the wages of free White labor suffered. When White workers began to organize to form unions and went out on strike to fight for better wages and working conditions, company bosses frequently brought in Blacks as “scab labor” in an effort to break the union.

In the cases cited above, rather than viewing the White bosses as the real enemy, White workers directed their venom towards Blacks as well. On the political front there was no greater opportunity for Blacks and Whites to “unite and fight” than the Populist movement in the late 19th century. Black farmers and laborers actually did join with White farmers and laborers to make the Populist Movement a real threat to the White power structure in the south that was ruthlessly exploiting Blacks and Whites.

In the end, however, the power structure was able to persuade White leaders of the Populist Movement to abandon their Black allies. This fateful decision effectively ended the threat to the power structure posed by a united front between Black and White working class and poor people. To ensure that such a threat never materialized again, poor and working class Whites were rewarded with “Jim Crow,” a rigid system of apartheid that provided psychological benefits [White only facilities] and material incentives [low paying jobs “set aside” exclusively for Whites] to drive a wedge between Blacks and Whites. Hence the “superior” race would always have “special rights” and a privileged place over the “inferior” race in the social order of the south. In the most recent period, conservatives have sought to seize upon the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, which effectively eradicated legal segregation, to fuel White resentment by arguing that Black progress has been a result of diminishing rights and opportunities for Whites.

The most perverse of these arguments was promulgated by President Ronald Reagan who proclaimed and popularized the notion that programs like affirmative action and other raced-based remedies constituted “reverse discrimination.” In addition, conservatives pointed to isolated instances of Black rage and/or reaction against racism, as in the highly publicized attack on a White truck driver in Los Angeles during one of the rebellions in the 80s, as incontrovertible proof of “Black racism.”

The goal of conservatives was the same as the White power structure in the south in the 19th century, to drive a wedge between Black and White working class and poor people as a strategy to benefit Whites with wealth, power and privilege. Hence, using race as a not so subtle subtext, Reagan railed against social programs like welfare and food stamps as a “burden of government” on the backs of taxpayers. The not so subtle suggestion was that these programs largely benefited “lazy and shiftless” Blacks and people of color. Despite the fact that far more Whites than Blacks benefited from social programs, Reagan was able to advance his agenda of reducing these programs while giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy. As a consequence, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.

Once again the con game of confuse and exploit worked. To consolidate their success, conservatives launched a furious assault against affirmative action and race-based remedies enacted to overcome the effects of past and present discrimination against Blacks and people of color. Labeling these efforts “reverse discrimination,” they advocated “race-neutral” or “colorblind” public policy and jurisprudence to ensure that “all people” (code word for Whites) would be treated equally. Opportunistically dismissing the idea of institutional/structural racism, conservatives propagated the view that any disparities that continue to exist between Blacks, people of color and Whites are the result of flaws in the culture of these groups and/or an absence of personal responsibility. Having achieved political hegemony utilizing these arguments, conservatives were determined to use the Bush-Cheney years to pass legislation and seize control of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to enshrine their vision of pro-rich, free market Capitalism.

The election of Barack Obama poses a serious threat to their plans, hence the apprehension over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to sit on the Supreme Court. For conservatives there is a danger that their con game of confuse and exploit will unravel. They fear that as a woman of color from poor and working class roots, Judge Sotomayor will be “empathetic” to the longstanding and legitimate aspirations of women, Blacks, people of color, working people and the poor in interpreting the Constitution of the United States. By branding her a “racist” and suggesting that they find her views on race “troubling,” once again conservatives are hoping to use a playbook that has worked for decades. With a new people of color majority emerging in America, however, the day when White men with power and privilege can inflame racial passions to advance their interest may well be a thing of the past.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is not confused about gender, race or class. She represents the wave of the future and the potential for a new day in America!

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. He is the host of Night Talk, Wednesday evenings on WBAI 99.5 FM, Pacifica New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org He can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org.

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