Capitalism and US Oil Geo-Politics » CounterPunch

Rob Urie has provided us with a concisely written essay which identifies the predicaments generated by the capitalist democracies in the West as well as by the global empire governed by power elites located in Washington, DC and Wall Street. Reading Urie’s essay is worth the effort.

Crappy jobs for nearly everyone

Crappy jobs for nearly everyone

He has most things his way

Opulence in an austere age

Aurora’s $1.3M Diamond pen

One can easily imagine a bankster using this beauty to sign away the birthright of this or that nation!

Ain’t that America

An I-5 bride falls into the Skagit River

Quote of the day

Glenn Greenwald points out that:

That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

Naturally, war is peace.

Obama yokes seniors to a phoney CPI

Quote of the day

We have been warriors

Laura Finley states a truth which ought to be publicly announced every day until its truth become obvious:

Guns. Media. Mental Illness. Lax Security. All these and more have been offered as explanations for the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14 that left 26 people, including 20 children, dead. And all of those things may have played a role. But none are the cause of the problem. And heated debate about them, while important, serves to obscure some other very important conversations about the root issue, which is that the U.S. is a violent, militaristic culture that, in virtually every institution, demonstrates violence as a means of solving problems.

The US is a society organized for war. We spend almost 50 percent of federal tax monies every year on military — not just to pay soldiers and veterans, but to engage in conflict, for research and development of weapons and equipment, and more. When this amount of funding is spent on military, it clearly cannot be used to build infrastructure, to enhance the quality of our public schools, to provide social services, to assist the poor, hungry and mentally ill, etc. Our military budget is equal to that of the next fifteen countries combined. More than this, however, militarism is an ideology that privileges certain values, including hierarchy, competition, authoritarianism, and obedience, among others.

Politicians, fearful of being seen as “soft,” engage the country in still more violence, at the same time inadequately addressing human needs. This militaristic ideology has shaped the ways our schools are structured, what we teach, and how we teach it. It impacts our media, as commentators on either side of the political divide use the same aggressive methods of yelling at and interrupting one another and degrading their “enemy” whenever possible. Media over-represents the amount of violent crime, for which creates a fearful populace that will sometimes accept any effort that is supposed to keep us safe. Our criminal justice system is militaristic, from our incessant “wars on” mentality to our arming and equipping military-style swat teams and more. I could go on, but I hope the point is made.

Oh nooooooooo

Hostess Brands, the makers of Wonder Bread, Twinkies and Ding Dongs intends to go out of business because of a recent labor strike.

Hostess expected its Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union members to sign a concession-laden contract produced by a bankruptcy court, which its union members refused to do.

Soon, Americans will no longer have the opportunity to purchase unhealthy food with brand names that became pejorative words some used to describe persons they considered insubstantial and ridiculous.

Recommended: In the Zone of the Homeles

Michael Doliner (his blog can be found here) wrote a restrained yet powerful essay describing the personal and social disasters which mark homelessness in Los Angeles. In his telling and my interpretation of it the homeless are homo sacer, beings present in society only as those excluded from its common practices, its typical places and from the law itself. Doliner does not use this term but the point of using it appears with clarity in the following passage:

Naturally, the police cruise the zone [in which the homeless live]. Almost always, along fifth street, one or even two cruisers sit at the curb. Beside them a couple of officers usually scold a homeless man or two. I wonder what, given their passivity, the homeless guys might have done? In any case the police seem only to talk to them, for what else can they do? Drag them in? Fine them? I have seen no real violence. It all seems rather routine. Clearly, a modus vivendi has developed.

In these districts a minor ironic reversal of privilege prevails. The homeless stagger about in the street, often down the center of the street with impunity. California has a no-jaywalking law the police gleefully enforce. The fine is $200. But the homeless are immune. Where are they going to get $200? Give them a summons and they are likely to use it for toilet paper. And what is the city going to do about it? Jail them? They might prefer it to the street. Recently, while in the fabric district just above an area particularly dense with the homeless, my friend, Liam, warned me that although the homeless were wandering about in the street it was not safe for me to do so. I looked like I could pay the fine, and the police would single me out among the jaywalkers.

The homeless are sacred and profane, legally controlled but autonomous, inside and outside society. They are the bad fate which can befall anyone who participates in a money-driven social order. And they are “superfluous,” as Doliner remarks. They cannot be rehabilitated or given a secure place in society. As such, they strongly structure the personal horizons of most Americans, for losing one’s home and becoming homo sacer is but a job loss away during the new Age of Austerity and Barbarism.

Doliner’s essay is worth reading.

Gasoline prices increase because of speculative investing

Some of the explanations for America’s current relatively high gas prices contain a kernel of truth. Countries have hoarded petroleum in order to have enough of it on hand if Israel and the United States attack Iran and thereby disrupt the flow of crude oil from the region. There have been incidental disruptions to the global production of gasoline that do account for local price increases. But the speculative trading of crude oil is the primary mechanism for the price increases seen by consumers at the pumps over the past year. Rentier capital now dominates the commodity market for crude oil, according to a McClatchy report:

Historically, financial speculators accounted for about 30 percent of oil trading in commodity markets, while producers and end users made up about 70 percent. Today it’s almost the reverse.

A McClatchy review of the latest Commitment of Traders report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates oil trading, shows that producers and merchants made up just 36 percent of all contracts traded in the week ending Feb. 14.

That same week, open interest, or the total outstanding oil contracts for next-month delivery of 1,000 barrels of oil (about 42,000 gallons), stood near an all-time high above 1.486 million. Speculators who’ll never take delivery of oil made up 64 percent of the market.

Speculators are motivated only by profit-taking. Thus:

Not surprisingly, big Wall Street traders on Tuesday projected oil will rise above $112 a barrel; some such as Swiss giant Vitol even suggested $150-a-barrel oil is coming soon. When they dominate the market, as they do, speculators’ bids can make their prophecies self-fulfilling.

Austerity is for the “have-nots,” Alan Simpson’s “little people.” Times are fat for the “haves,” who have the means and the will to profit well from the misery of others.

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