Sunday, March 20, 2011

20 March 2011


Reuters, "Some states consider cutting 2012 primaries to save money"

Bob Somerby:

You live inside a plutocrat war—a war being waged by the top one percent. (Well—by the top one-tenth of the top one percent.) This war has been underway for thirty-five years; the plutocrats clearly are winning. In the process, all average people are getting looted—those who voted for Bachmann, those who voted for her opponent. But guess what? The plutocrats will continue to win as long as we slow-witted liberals keep taking the bait from cynics like [Lawrence] O’Donnell—as long as we keep getting conned into heightening our tribal wars.

Two from Slate,

Christopher Beam, "Why so little looting in Japan? The explanation is legal as much as cultural"

Bethany McLean, "Infrastructure privatization: Can banks be trusted?"

commenter Peter D writes:
Privatization of state roads just highlights the inefficiencies and waste of state government. Here in Pennsylvania they debated privatizing the Pennsylvania Turnpike (which they gave up on). If the new owner was going to be able to operate and maintain the roadway AND turn a profit for less than the state is currently paying just to operate and maintain the road (since they don't necessarily have to turn a profit), that just shows how much waste there is in the state system.

Instead of selling off public assets for a one time injection of money, run the state-owned property more efficiently and let the public reap the rewards in lower fees/tolls and/or lower taxes. What is inevitably going to happen when that one time shot of money runs out is that you will end up with no more public assets AND high fees and taxes from the lack of income producing assets. Then what are you going to do?

Naked Capitalism, "Everything you need to know about torture"

"Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages"
(Apparently CNBC counts social security payments as a 'handout', ignoring the years of payments you have to put into the system to be eligible.)

Thomas Daulton, American Crackpot,"Risking other people's money":

The supposedly 'for-profit' nuclear industry is completely a creature of government subsidies.

Rob Payne, "The Libyan question"

And yes, it seems we are at war with Libya, Kosovo-intervention style. I want to preface my remarks by noting that I don't for a moment doubt that Khaddafy is indeed brutalizing his people, and that large numbers of them want him gone. All the same I can't help but be reminded of that old photo from the Vietnam conflict of a soldier's helmet that read "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity."

Inevitably, the idea of a 'humanitarian intervention' is attractive to people, the good guys coming to the aid of the virtuous freedom fighters trying to overthrow a brutal oppressor. I imagine the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan also regard themselves as virtuous freedom fighters trying to get rid of an oppressor. I also imagine the protesters in Yemen and Bahrain feel they are being brutally oppressed, what with the massacres and such. So how are all these things different, and why do we not come to the aid of the people of Yemen and Bahrain?

Of course if we did come to the aid of Yemen and Bahrain, we would do it knowing that we weren't going to destabilize the region, and any deaths were modest, acceptable losses. We can know what are 'acceptable' losses in Libya, I guess, because Khaddafy has a long history of dressing up in fanciful garb, so any announcement regarding casualties in Libya is probably a lie that can be dismissed. Khaddafy also nationalized Libya's oil in the 70s, so a mean-spirited person might wonder if a strong man will emerge among the rebels who means to cut a deal to privatize them after the revolution.

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At March 21, 2011 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Libyan gambit will mirror this:

At March 21, 2011 7:10 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Charles. Cui bono, as always.

At March 22, 2011 3:29 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

On the "Slate" article: I was in Tokyo last month and found the information spot on. My son has lived there for 22 years and experiences the general civility and calmness that prevails. However, it must be remembered that Japan is a political entity entirely different in history than ours. It lies on very small islands that were isolated until recent times. and its population is miniscule, relatively speaking. It's a fascinating place. I grieve for the victims of the natural disasters and fear for the potential results of the damnaged reactors.

At March 22, 2011 9:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I guess, because Khaddafy has a long history of dressing up in fanciful garb, so any announcement regarding casualties in Libya is probably a lie that can be dismissed.

Yes! Exactly! That’s how the news is treating this. This must be the first war in history without civilian casualties. Isnt’ that just like Obama the wonder man latter day Jesus?

At March 22, 2011 10:30 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Mimi n' Rob,
I heard Obama invented partioned, er, sliced bread.

At March 22, 2011 3:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Obama doesn't slice bread, he dismembers it.

At March 22, 2011 7:19 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, I was trying to make a joke about the possible partition of Libya now that we've gotten involved-- but I guess I'm no comedy writer.

At March 23, 2011 1:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Jonathan, I guess I am no better because I thought I was writing a joke too.


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