Saturday, September 24, 2022

A Couple of Things



First of all, the arrests of anti-war protesters in Russia.  I'm against it.  The censorship of protesters here in Canada or the United States  against our wars is pretty bad.  And the harrassment of the peace movement by militarist numbskulls that is permitted by the authorities is worrying.  But so far as I know there haven't been arrests of anti-war protesters simply for protesting.  Of course, since 1945, the USA hasn't been really existentially threatened by, say, North Korea, the Vietnamese, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc., and Canada was threatened by Afghanistan either.  Not in the way that Russia is existentially threatened by the USA and NATO.  In World War I, the US government passed The Sedition Act which essentially made criticism of the government and of the war it was fighting illegal. And Canada had The War Measures Act that became more famous for its use attacking the Japanese and other ethnic minorities with cultural ties to the countries we were fighting overseas.  I don't doubt for a minute that were Canada or the USA engaged in a truly existential conflict, that the governments would crack down hard on anti-war protesters.

And I would still be against it the way I'm against Putin's arrests of Russian citizens protesting his invasion of the Ukraine.  I oppose the police breaking-up of these protests and the arrests of the participants, even though I think these Russian anti-war protesters are wrong.  They are wrong because, as I said above (and throughout this conflict), Russia is being existentially threatened by the USA and NATO.  The US oligarchy doesn't want freedom and democracy and peace and prosperity for Russia.  The US oligarchy isn't trying to remove Putin because he's a corrupt authoritarian suppressing the aspirations of the Russian people.  No.  Putin is unacceptable to the US oligarchy because he is too powerful for the US oligarchy to control.  And he is powerful because Russia is a huge country with vast resources an educated literate society and an effective military.  Any leader of Russia would be too powerful to control.  Russia must be balkanized.  And if, in the process, the people living in the territory where Russia used to be are further impoverished (as is inevitable) then so be it.  Saying this doesn't make me pro-Putin.  Putin's handling of Russia's economy has been dismal.  Though not as abysmal as the record of the economic advisors from the USA when they dominated the detestable, drunken stooge Boris Yeltisn during his presidency of Russia.

I'll let Ian Welsh speak for me on Putin:

In Russia this isn’t the case, administrative capacity is weak and riven with corruption and you don’t have to be competent at the actual running of your area.

So when Covid hit, the capacity just wasn’t available and Putin couldn’t “put his fingers down.” China had the capacity and could put its fingers down in addition.

Putin’s recovery, post-Yeltsin was based on the fundamental insight that resources were scarce or going to get scarcer and that Russia had a lot of resources. But instead of sequestering that money Norway style, Putin allowed quite a bit of corruption, probably in part because that corruption bought him a lot of cooperation from various elites. But when you don’t isolate resource money from other sectors and when you allow corruption, it rots the muscles of the rest of society.

And when it matters, you lack admin capacity and corruption is so severe it threatens non-resource core interests.

So Putin’s Russia was run on a fairly narrow basis, with a lot of corruption and no serious development of administrative capacity.

Furthermore; It doesn't make me pro-Putin to say that some of these protesters might be US-American agents.  Anyone who disputes that the USA has fabricated "grassroots" "pro-democracy" movements in Iran (in the 1950's), in Guatemala, in Nicaragua, in Venezuela, in the Ukraine, in Libya, in Syria, in Hong Kong, and who knows how many other places, to cynically advance their own agenda and to install governments at least as corrupt and authoritarian as the ones they replaced, ... anyone who disputes that is, well, ignorant and stupid or a lying hack.

But it's too easy to simply SAY that protesters are traitors in the payment of foreign enemies.  By all means, monitor the situation.  Watch for saboteurs.  But don't criminalize dissent.  

I have said time and time again that I disagree with the calls to censor social media and other media to block "disinformation."  Even when that has to do with the anti-masker/anti-vaxxer/Covid-deniers.  It is dangerous to give the state (and its oligarchic masters directly in the cases of Google, Twitter, "Meta" and the rest of the corporate media) to be the arbiters of what is true and what is "disinformation" to be censored.


It just occurred to me the other day that the US Federal Reserve's anti-inflation policy of raising interest rates rather than leaving it to the Biden Administration to reign in corporate profiteering (the true culprit along with Biden's insane provocation of Russia) is being employed partly because our ruling-class are idiots for whom consequences are for other people.  This ham-fisted policy is the only thing they can really wrap their heads around.  But they are very much aware of how high interest rate recessions really take the wind out of workers' sails.  Indeed, that was one of the original charms of this method of fighting inflation for the ruling class.  And the uprising of younger workers tired of the multiple abuses of billionaire-ruled companies like "Starbucks" and "Amazon" and of older workers in US-American railroads and other areas, can be dealt with quite nicely by throwing them all out of work by deliberately throwing the USA into a recession.

With the Federal Reserve expected to impose another large interest rate hike on Wednesday, the editorial board of Bloomberg openly encouraged the U.S. central bank to demonstrate that it is willing to "cause a recession" in order to get sky-high inflation under control.

Critics were quick to note that the Wednesday editorial, which claims "wage growth will need to slow" and unemployment will need to rise for inflation to come down, doesn't grapple with the severe damage a recession would inflict on workers who would face job losses, pay cuts, and other consequences in the case of a Fed-induced downturn.


The editorial from Bloomberg, a publication founded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, argues that while the Fed's stated goal of lowering inflation without hurling the economy into recession is "a worthy goal," reining in runaway price increases "almost always involves a temporary contraction of output together with higher unemployment."

"The central bank can't afford to equivocate about the need to slow the economy," the editorial continues. "Wage growth will need to slow substantially for inflation to gradually settle back at the Fed's 2% target. That, in turn, is likely to require short-term interest rates that peak at well over 4% and, unfortunately, a somewhat higher rate of unemployment. The Fed surely understands all this. But it needs to show it understands—and won't balk at the prospect."

The oil industry had excess capacity during the pandemic slowdown in 2020.  When things started to pick up it increased its prices for no justifiable reason.  There was no supply pressure.  Inflation in other areas due to supply-chain issues just created an environment wherein the oil industry believed (correctly) that they could raise their prices in tandem.  Since there are no political consequences for naked greed in a system entirely dominated by oligarchs, they can do whatever they want.  Similarly, multi-billion dollar private equity firms are getting into real-estate speculation whereas governments have ignored public housing for decades.  This increases the price of buying a house or renting.

When fuel and housing increases that means the necessities are more expensive which leads to price increases all along the rest of the line.  And grocery store chains have joined in the fun.

But workers have been suffering stagnant wages and precarious employment for decades as well and it's all become too much.  Hence the wave of worker activism across the United States.  Which is probably a contributing factor to the oligarchy's decision that a recession might be necessary to slap us all down again.  

What about Joe Biden?  Well, first of all, he's an idiot.  But secondly, he's a servant of the oligarchy.  If that's what they want to do, he'll have to accommodate them.  It might give the legislature over to the Republicans but that won't be so bad because then he'll be able to say he wants to do all sorts of great things but the evil G.O.P. is obstructing him.  All the stuff he never talked about when the Democrats controlled the House of Congress.  Biden, I guess, knows that the zombie-brained imbeciles who still believe in his party will never put two and two together.

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