Friday, July 22, 2011

The End is Nigh

Apocalypse Nigh? by Alexander Cockburn.

As usual with Mr. Cockburn, I like some of what he says, and dislike other things. All usually in the same piece. The part where I thought he was quite persepctive begins with this....

On August 3 the lights might start to go out: the US government is scheduled to send out $23 billion in social security checks to 56 million people. If the checks don’t arrive, within a couple of days America’s old folk are going without food and can’t make the rent. US Treasuries will lose their top rating and the entire credit structure of the planet starts] to come unglued. Goldbugs will be crazed with triumph as the precious metal soars to $3,000 an ounce and hyperinflation roars into life. Next thing you know, greenbacks are being tossed in the trash and we’re heading back to a barter economy.

America is in love with Apocalypse. It always has been. Every couple of years someone says the End is Nigh. When I came to America’s shores in 1972 Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth had just been published and sold 30 million copies over the next 20 years. Lindsey wrote, rather presciently, that Antichrist would rule over a ten-nation European Community through the 1970s until the Rapture – scheduled for the 1980s – and the Second Coming.

Except, these days, the book to reference about this stuff is Naomi Klien's "The Shock Doctrine". In that book, Ms. Klien lays out how some very greedy people learned how to manipulate a crisis to rip us off. At first it was exploitation of an existing crisis. But then they learned how to create a crisis to provide the excuse to rip us off.

All of these claims that the end is nigh are used to push a political agenda that otherwise would not be popular in a democracy. Every 'pundit' screams about how horrible the situation is, and that measures must be taken to address this immediately. There is lots of screaming and yelling about how we are in dire straights. Then we, the people, get screwed.

We saw this play out at the very beginning of the Obama administration. There was a huge amount of yelling about how we needed a wall street bailout. To the point where when at one point it was delayed by just a day or two, this was regarded as a catastrophe. In the end, wall street got our money, the wall street bonus checks went out as planned, and suddenly the world wasn't ending any more now that wall street had our money.

This time, all the yelling and screaming is apparently to get the people to accept that their benefits have to be cut, the retirements of their children put at risk, and health care denied to the elderly all so we can keep paying for our foreign wars and of course shell out money to wall street whenever they need it.

We've had huge expenditures in these areas. You don't have to be a nuclear engineer to know that having two surges in Afghanistan while starting a new war in Libya while buying the military and the spy agencies every toy they want while also paying for every homeland security pork project while the economy was otherwise crashing into the worst downturn since the Great Depression would raise the debt. Now, we are told that none of this can be cut, be we all have to 'sacrifice' to pay for all of this.

As far as I'm concerned, I know exactly where they can stick that. We need a whole new Congress in 2012. It can happen. We can change this country as quickly as the people of Egypt changed theirs. And we have the benefit of a scheduled election by which we can do it. If enough people have had enough, and have figured out that both Democrats and Republicans are out to screw them, then we can have a whole new Congress meeting in the winter of 2013.

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