Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, a conservative German economist, sees some just cause for the OWS movement
The Occupy Wall Street movement has polarised public opinion: Either you regard the protestors as the new political avant-garde or as just plain silly. Either you believe they have a serious message or you think they are a bunch of nutters.
But what if the truth is a bit more nuanced than that? Perhaps the nutters have a point?
The silly stuff first: The protesters seem rather confused about what they are protesting against. They camp at Wall Street, which is fair enough if you want to object to financial capitalism. But they also protested in front of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the European Central Bank – not the usual suspects for financial excess.
It is also difficult to overlook some nasty anti-Semitic undertones in the rallies. One placard in Martin Place read ‘Occupy Sydney, not Palestine.’ From there it’s just one small step to claim that the financial crisis is the result of a Jewish conspiracy. In any case, what’s the link between Israel, Greece and Lehman Brothers?
Behind all this silliness, and frankly the utter nonsense, is a serious message: Corporatist capitalism has become a threat to prosperity, democracy and the free market itself.
The protesters no doubt exaggerate when they claim to represent 99% of the people worldwide. However, there really is public unease about the way the financial system works.
This week, I heard a representative of an anti-globalisation network complain that banks speculating in euro periphery debt should not be bailed out by the taxpayer when their investments go pear-shaped. It must have been the first time I was in complete agreement with the radical left.
There is something very wrong in a world in which heavily indebted governments have to take on yet more debt to save banks from the fallout of other governments collapsing under their debt burdens.
This is not a free market anymore. In a free market, banks have a right to speculate – and a right to go bankrupt.
What we are seeing instead is casino capitalism with a taxpayer provided safety net.
Acceptance of liberal economic policies suffers if good liberal principles can be suspended by powerful vested interests. The Occupy movement, silly as it looks, is a timely reminder of that.
The world according to Jack Wheeler
I think he's mostly right
Russia. Putin is an ersatz macho-man, all hat and no karovi. Russia's navy is made of rust. Russia's ill-trained army of drunkards couldn't conquer Romania. Russian male life expectancy is lower than that of Bangladesh. Russia is a mafiacracy with a doomed economy dependent on oil & gas exports that fracking in Europe & the US will make uncompetitive. Do svidanya.
China. No wives, no water, no banks - and a hyper-dangerous military. Much of China is uninhabited - deserts, mountains, and wastelands. Habitable China is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi, with over a billion people squeezed into it. Northern China is turning into a waterless dust bowl. Scores of millions of Chinese men will never get married due to the Chicom's idiotic one-child policy and resultant mass female infanticide.
100 million bachelors are explosively dangerous. Chinese state banks are insolvent after going on a post-2008 loan binge with debt and credit in China now (according to the IMF) above 200% of GDP. A sharp economic contraction (increasingly likely) plus all those angry unmarried men equals war, the history-honored scapegoat diversion of tyrants.
The obvious Chicom choice for war would be Taiwan. But the Formosa Strait is 100 miles wide and China has no amphibious capacity. Taiwan is on the northern rim of the South China Sea, rapidly becoming one of the most jeopardous flash points in the world. Bordered by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and China, over 50% by value of the world's shipping traverses it - and China claims all of it, the entire South China Sea, as its own territorial waters.
This cannot stand. China must be publicly informed by the next president that the South China Sea is international waters, period, there will be no discussion or negotiation. What is to be negotiated is the cooperative exploitation of what resources, such as oil, it may contain. No amount of Chicom bullying and saber-rattling will do any good. Every other country on the sea will join the US in this - and so will India and Japan.
Further, the Chicoms need to grasp that any aggression of theirs in the South China Sea will be naval only, and thus does nothing to occupy all their angry young bachelors. They need to go some place, a place with lots of water and lots of room for them, a place where the women prefer them to the local men who are drunks and beat up their wives, ideally a place once belonging to China but stolen by a foreign aggressor - so to get it back would give them a mission. Maybe even a wife.
There is such a place. It's called Siberia - specifically what China called its Maritime Provinces and Russia, after it seized them in 1860, calls the Russian Far East.
It's only a matter of time, at most a decade or two, before Beijing converts most all of eastern Siberia into Chinese Siberia. There is simply no way a dying Russia can hold on to it. Might as well divert the Chicoms toward it and away from Taiwan and the South China Sea.
North Korea. The Norks have no nukes. The half-kiloton yield in their tests means they failed to make weapons-grade plutonium. So they are no threat to us. They are a threat to South Korea with 11,000 artillery tubes aimed at the 17 million people of Greater Seoul. There is no need for American soldiers to be hostages to this. South Korea is a rich country with a powerful military capable of taking care of itself. We do not need to be there any longer.
India. The world's largest democracy is prickly, but the only country in Asia capable of standing up to China. The Chicoms are building naval bases in India's Indian Ocean neighbors such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Burma, which they call their "String of Pearls" around India's neck. India is countering with a growing alliance with China's ancient neighbor enemy, Vietnam.
The next president should build on President Bush's initiative for military and economic ties between the US and India. That could include a joint India-US naval base in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam on the South China Sea. The Vietnamese would welcome us. Among nations, there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.
The Great Game of the 19th century was between the Russian and British Empires colliding in Asia. The 21st century players of this game are China and India. It's in our interests to be on India's side.
Pakistan/Afghanistan. Both are make-believe countries with no legitimate rationale for sovereignty. The key problem in both is Pakistan's "government within a government" spy agency, the ISI - Inter-Services Intelligence. It is radical hate-America jihadi Islamist. It created and is in the heroin business with the Taliban. The first necessary condition towards any solution in this region is its dismantlement.
The other key problem is our State Department's anaphylactic allergy to regime and border changes. The best solution for Afghanistan would be for it to cease to exist as presently constituted. Actually, the same for Pakistan.
The Baluchis of southern Afghanistan and southwest Pakistan want their own Baluchistan (they have a marvelous harbor and the biggest gold deposits in the world according to BHP Biliton). They'd be joined by the Baluchis of southeast Iran and most likely by the Sindhis of adjoining Sind in southern Pakistan with the big city of Karachi.
The Tajiks of northern Afghanistan do not want their lives run by Pushtuns. They'd much rather secede and join Tajikistan - which wants our help to stabilize and protect it from Russia. The Pushtuns straddle the Af-Pak border. They dream of being united in a separate Pushtunistan. Pakistan's ruling group, the Punjabis, would retain the Punjab.
But basically, as with the Koreas, this no longer should be our problem to solve. Af-Pak should be India's problem to solve - Pak nukes, after all, are aimed at India, not us. There is no real nation to build in Afghanistan, and our troops have no purpose dying for it. Terrorist threats are the business of the CIA and spec-ops teams, not the Marines or Army.
Again, we need to ally with India and assist them in what is their problem, not ours, to solve.
Iran. This week we learned that Iran's government planned an act of war against us in our own capital. It is hard to overestimate the number of problems in the world that would be solved with this government gone. And that's the solution: regime change. Apply a straightforward Reagan Doctrine strategy to overthrow Iran's mullah regime by sponsoring - with money and weapons - insurrections throughout the country.
Of Iran's 78 million, over 20 million are ethnic Azeri - almost three times the number of Azeris in Azerbaijan next door, whom they would love to join in a Greater Azerbaijan. There are at least eight million Kurds, who would fight tooth and nail against their Tehran oppressors if we gave them support. There are three million Ahwazi Arabs who populate Iran's oil patch, Kuhzestan, across the border from southern Iraq.
And of course there are the Persians themselves, some 33 million, whose mass street protests have been so brutally suppressed (and which the current president did not lift a finger or say a word to support).
A president determined to effect regime change in Iran would succeed quickly. The world's main state sponsor of Islamic terrorism would be no more. Iraq would be free to flourish, Syria would be quickly liberated, the threat to the Saudi and Gulf oil fields would be removed, and of course, Iran's nuclear program would be destroyed in the process (Israeli spec-ops would see to that).
It's a long list of positives and few if any negatives. All it needs is a president with the courage of Ronald Reagan.
Israel. The pre-1967 demarcations our current president demands Israel return to were not borders - they were cease-fire lines where Israel was able to stop the Arab invasions after declaring its independence in 1948. The Six-Day War recaptured Israel's legitimate territory, and that territory, including Golan and Judea-Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") should remain so.
The Palestinians need to be told to STFU, that they no longer will be coddled and treated like spoiled children. They will recognize the state of Israel as legitimate and Jewish, or they can move to the Sinai, where Egypt will give them a Palestinian State since the Egyptians love Palestinians so much (the dirty secret is that the rest of the Arab world despises Palestinians and calls them rafida, Arabic for the N-word). Arabs and Euroweenies who object can shove their Nazi Anti-Semitism up their noses.
That's the way a pro-American pro-Israel president would deal with Israel and the Arabs. Then there's Turkey.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (air-doh-wan) is an Islamist megalomaniac fantasizing about recreating the Ottoman Caliphate. He is constantly threatening Israel, pretending his high school navy is a match for Israel's NFL navy. Yet he has gutted the Turkish officer corps and filled it with incompetent stooges.
Erdogan needs a US president to explain to him that any duke-out between Turkey and Israel will result in his total humiliation, causing his overthrow and Turkey's expulsion from NATO.
Europe. It's Old Europe, now known as the Eurozone, serving as an object lesson of the scam of the welfare state versus New Europe, the liberated former colonies of the Soviet Union who learned the hard way the evils of socialism and the virtues of capitalism.
A new president would focus attention on the Baltics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia. And he would politely educate the lands of Old Europe on welfare state socialism as a religion of envy. Ireland is already figuring this out and is recovering thereby.
Mexico. As Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty significantly helped bring freedom to Soviet Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the next president could institute a Radio Free Mexico (including satellite television and web sites) teaching free market and small business economics to Mexicans.
Mexico is the land of crony corrupt corporate fascist capitalism. As a result, most Mexicans live in medieval poverty while the richest man in the world is a Mexican - Carlos Slim - whose wealth was gained with state-protected monopolies. A true free market economy would enable Mexicans to become prosperous in their own country.
Ron Paul shows that spending cuts ARE possible
Paul's plan not only extends the tax cuts enacted under the Bush administration; it reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while abolishing taxes on inheritances, capital gains, and personal savings. It nevertheless manages to eliminate the budget deficit within three years, largely by reducing military spending, capping most programs at 2006 spending levels, converting Medicaid and other welfare programs into block grants, and eliminating five cabinet-level departments: Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior.
As USA Today noted, Paul is "a longtime critic of federal spending not authorized by the Constitution"—a description that applies to sadly few members of Congress, all of whom take an oath to respect the limits imposed on the federal government by the document that created it. Yet Paul's plan would not return the country to the 1990s, let alone the 19th century. It calls for total outlays of $2.9 trillion in 2015, which is about as much as the federal government spent as recently as 2003, adjusted for inflation.
You may not agree with Paul's priorities, but at least he has laid them out for everyone to see. Meanwhile, the vast majority of his fellow legislators continue to pretend there is no need to prioritize at all.
Consider military spending. Counting savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul calls for $832 billion in cuts over four years, which would leave the Pentagon's base budget in 2016 about 2 percent lower than it is now.
Indiscriminate cuts may be undesirable, but so is indiscriminate spending, which is what we have now, with the United States accounting for more than two-fifths of the world's military outlays. Budget choices should drive strategic choices, since we can no longer afford to squander defense dollars on projects that have little or nothing to do with defense, whether it's launching optional wars across the globe or protecting rich allies that are perfectly capable of protecting themselves.
Paul's proposed abolition of various departments, agencies, and programs likewise should stimulate debate about the federal government's priorities. Aside from carrying out the decennial "enumeration" mandated by Article I, Section 2, does the Commerce Department do anything that is constitutionally authorized, let alone essential? What about HUD? Why should education be a federal responsibility at all, let alone one that requires an entire department? Is transportation security properly handled by the federal government or, as Paul argues, by the property owners whose interests are at stake?
These are the sort of questions presidential candidates would try to answer if they were truly determined to get our fiscal house in order.
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