Cartoon from the Christian Science Monitor.
In the early 60’s, Che Guevara made a trip to the USSR to meet with Soviet officials to be celebrated by the Russians as the new face of Communism. Well, at a dinner there the food was served on China plates that Guevara quickly noticed. Now, Guevara was a strict adherent to extreme Communist austerity and even criticized his own wife once for using too much gasoline in their car and recommended she take a bus to the grocery store.
So now Guevara sat at the dinner with these officials and picked up the China plate before him during a quiet moment and said, “I see the bourgeoisie eats well here in Moscow,” and the Soviets at the dinner cringed.
Now this points out a big problem with Communism that is almost present in every case: Lead party members become very rich with their high status while ignoring the Communist treatise’s of economic equality. And this is currently taking place in China and the Chinese want it covered up.
Yesterday the NYT reported that it’s computer network was infiltrated by the Chinese military in an effort to gain info on those who recently reported that outgoing prime minister Wen Jiabao left office with a fortune of and estimated $2 billion. His office allowed him to obtain many contracts with foreign and domestic companies doing business in China and the Chinese did not want anybody to know that the specter of capitalism is looming larger and larger in China.
So, if Guevara were still alive, he would most certainly say that in China the bourgeoisie eats well also.
Once again Israel flaunts international law and attacks a military installation in Syria without being attacked themselves. Mossad and the U.S. government (Israel’s unconditional supporter) claimed that it was a convoy of weapons that was heading to Lebanon which was destroyed, but they have yet to offer any evidence, which comes as usual when they make their preemptive strikes. When will they be reigned in?
If you ever feel like getting from behind your computer screen and taking it to the streets, the Global Nonviolent Action Database is for you. It’s a searchable database of 650 domestic and international movements that used civil disobedience as one of their tactics. Great resource!
A great op-ed in the NYT by George Bisharat, a law professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, on since Palestine is now recognized as a nonmember state by the U.N., they should take the Israeli’s to the International Criminal Court for their brazen disregard for the Geneva Convention and other international laws addressing crimes against humanity.
This is an important op-ed for two reasons: (1) it outlines the worst offenses committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians and why they should be prosecuted, and (2) press articles that are so critical of Israeli policy involving the Palestinians are rarely found in the United States.
We’ve all been exposed to the phrase “too big to fail” when it comes to the financial crisis of 2008. But how about adding “and too risky to prosecute” to the end of that phrase? This seems to be one of the reasons stated as to why there are no Wall Street CEOs being held accountable for defrauding the country into economic catastrophe.
Frontline released another informative piece on the financial crisis in their series documenting the most important aspects of how it occurred. It’s appropriately titled “The Untouchables” as the people who came out the richest through their swindling somehow came out the cleanest, legally. There are various reasons documented as to why there have been no successful prosecutions but the last one given by Lanny Breuer, the man formerly at the Justice Department in charge of bringing these cases, is absolutely stunning. Here is the exchange from the transcript:
MARTIN SMITH: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. And in that speech, you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.
LANNY BREUER: Right.
MARTIN SMITH: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?
LANNY BREUER: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.
Did you catch that? Read it closely again. And again. And again. If steam isn’t coming out of your ears like a Looney Tunes character after eating a barrel full of jalapenos topped with another barrel of hot sauce, read it again because you missed what he said.
In short, we can’t bring the prosecutions against the CEOs because there might be (remember, a completely unproven statement) “some huge economic effect”. This strangely plays into the conservative idea of these people not being rich but being “job creators”. And, of course, we can only psychologically accept that title if we erase the fact they destroyed 6.8 million jobs from September 2008 to December 2009. I guess they are job creators, it’s just that sometimes the amount of jobs they create is a negative number.
So to recap, huge financial institutions instituted bad policies then made massive amounts of money by betting against those decisions knowing full well they would fail at some point. Then, as expected, they failed and took the entire economy with them. Now, we can’t even attempt to hold them accountable for what they have done because…there might be another economic crash…for prosecuting the wrongdoers who crashed the economy. In other words, a crime is committed, an effect occurs, people are caught red-handed, then those people can’t be prosecuted because another effect might happen.
Imagine applying this logic to any other crime. You could basically get out of jail time for virtually any horrendous crime. Hypothetical example: man with children cheats on wife; wife finds out; argument ensues; man kills wife; man does not even get arrested because of the potential financial effect on the kids in his household; man marries mistress; repeat. Or: great math teacher sexually abuses student; teacher gets caught on school security cameras abusing student; teacher doesn’t get arrested because of the potential for falling math scores in the school; repeat. See how insane this sounds? Yet, it is exactly what is happening.
Which brings us to the most important question: if the guys who committed the crimes that crashed the economy got rich and didn’t pay for what they did, what’s going to stop them from doing the exact same thing again? Wait, I remember the answer. We just deregulate the economy completely because the people at the top of these companies will be led by the “invisible hand” into doing only great things for us in the long run. Just like in 2008…
A good op-ed in the NYT regarding how the rhetoric of the GOP might be changing to appeal to more voters in the wake of their recent defeat in November, but it’s not indicative of an honest change. According to Krugman, they’re just not saying they are the party of the “Makers,” and not the majority of “Takers,” in public any longer.