Good question

Michael Hudson asks:

This pro-austerity mythology [which animates orthodox economics and economic policy in the United States and elsewhere] aims to distract the public from asking why peacetime governments can’t simply print the money they need. Given the option of printing money instead of levying taxes, why do politicians only create new spending power for the purpose of waging war and destroying property, not to build or repair bridges, roads and other public infrastructure? Why should the government tax employees for future retirement payouts, but not Wall Street for similar user fees and financial insurance to build up a fund to pay for future bank over-lending crises? For that matter, why doesn’t the U.S. Government print the money to pay for Social Security and medical care, just as it created new debt for the $13 trillion post-2008 bank bailout?

The answer to these questions: Banks and other financial institutions want to keep as much of their income as they can. Transaction fees, regulations, oversight, taxes, etc. — these consume profits. America’s banks want to transfer these costs to others, namely, to those individuals who lack the political power to defend their standard of living. This cost transfer project amounts to a hidden and sometimes obvious tax the government levies on the 99%. When coupled to a system of risky and fraudulent financial transactions, elite looting and private debt creation, this cost transfer project amounts to little more than a predatory political economy.

The ridiculous fiscal cliff debate which now dominates America’s public life is but a crude expression of this predatory political economy.

The FBI considered the Occupy Movement a terrorist threat

From a PCJF news release:

FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.

The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.

In other words, according to Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the Executive Director of the PCJF:

“These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

It is always good to have allies in high places….

Along with the thugs they authorize….

Randall Wray: The World’s Worst Central Banker

L. Randall Wray, a heterodox economist and proponent of Modern Monetary Theory who teaches economics at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, wrote an amusing account of a central banker get together in Argentina.  I have reprinted in full to motivate those who read it to travel to Wray’s blog, where the original can be found and which contains much else of political and social interest. The full text can be found below the break.

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Quote of the day

Charles M. Young made me laugh with this celebration of OWS’ first birthday:

Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?

Okay, 25 morbidly obese cops on motor scooters — that’s even more unthreatening. When I’m out in the streets chanting, “Show me what a police state looks like! THIS is what a police state looks like!” I think I have a right to be oppressed by proper storm troopers who have spent enough time at the gym to bristle instead of sag. They don’t have to be television actors or anything, but as a taxpayer, am I getting my money’s worth when I’m being beaten and arrested by a parade of fried dumplings?

I’m going to be fair here and admit that I did see a morbidly obese cop on a motor scooter run over somebody’s foot last fall. That was moderately threatening until the ambulance arrived.

Note to Mayor Bloomberg: Is this why you banned the 32 oz. Big Gulps? All the guards at your cement bunker on East 79th Street were getting diabetes?

Note to Commissioner Kelly: Make your cops get off the motor scooters and chase those anarchists on foot. It’s good exercise. You might lose some anarchists, but think how much less embarrassing it will be to display fewer bulges in blue uniforms the next time Obama ties up midtown for a fundraiser.

At least 60% of the NYPD looks like the governor of New Jersey. Where is your pride?

It must be uncomfortable to have a hundred pounds of potbelly squeezing like toothpaste out the edges of those bullet-proof vests. They aren’t fooling anyone, using those vests like girdles.

It’s probably even more uncomfortable to work for a mayor who is cutting your pension while claiming you as a soldier in his “personal army.” That would be the same mayor who was worth $5 billion in 2002 when he was first elected mayor and promised to work full time in office. Now he’s worth $23 billion. How many cops on scooters made $18 billion while working full-time for the city?

The London Disease

The phrase just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it! One even expects it to make sense. What, then, is the London Disease? Well,

Which brings us to an issue that is fast troubling global financial regulators: the so-called ‘London disease’. It has not gone unnoticed that many of the financial scandals in recent years have a Square Mile connection. Never mind Libor, it was the London offices of AIG, Lehman Brothers and Bernie Madoff that helped destroy them. The JP Morgan and UBS rogue traders who lost billions were both London based.

The UK is also arguably the centre of the offshore world. It is one of the biggest private bank centres and Britain’s non-domicile tax rules allow the global super-rich to legally avoid taxes on their overseas income while residing here. In addition, many of the UK’s overseas territories and crown dependencies such as Jersey, Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands are major offshore centres. This perhaps explains why the British government, for all its rhetoric, has failed to clamp down on the shadow financial system.

What is the “offshore world”? It is a place that mostly lacks legal and political accountability, where the oligarchy parks its money, where loyalty can be bought. The London Disease exists because casino capitalism exists, because The City is a place where the world’s oligarchs like to do business and because the British political system is intrinsically corrupt. The London Disease thus refers to a place where the morbidity of contemporary capitalism manifests itself with clarity. Wall Street is also such a place. Both have more in common with the “offshore world” than they do with Great Britain and the United States. Their autonomy is a political catastrophe without an identifiable conclusion.

The ungrateful bastards

The New York Times reports that:

President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.

From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.

To whom does the Obama campaign turn when the stuffed-pocket crowd has turned its collective back on him?

With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

As one should have expected after the Supreme Court’s very controversial Citizens United
decision (.pdf), the Republican Super PACs are fat with cash. This has forced the Obama campaign to appeal for funding from the lesser people whose interests he failed to serve during his first term.

Caveat emptor!

Occupy Wall Street protesters evicted from Zuccotti Park

The New York City Police Department, currently embroiled in scandals which are so common (ticket fixing, gun running and contraband smuggling, rape, killing of the unarmed, surveillance of the innocent, identity-biased stop-and-frisk searches, etc.) that they now define its very existence, added to its current scandal list when its members “rioted” (see this and this) while removing Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. The protesters reoccupied the Park while celebrating the sixth-month anniversary of its emergence.

Sadly, not much has changed for the better since 1996 when Amnesty International released its infamous report on the NYPD’s human rights violations. To be sure, the Department’s political and corporate paymasters would not have it any other way.

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