Sunday, January 29, 2012


'Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt'
Coined by the Roman poet Juvenal in the first Century in his Satires lamenting the continuing slide of his former Roman Republic into dictatorship.

Finally, the meeting of the masters of the universe in Davos ends, allowing us the time we need to stock up the booze, get our moves down, our bangles and beads ready for tossing, and our bodies greased for the press of the flesh that is Carnaval.
Dispatches from the front have been so depressing:
“I’ve never been as scared as I am about the world,” Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said yesterday in Davos, Switzerland. “Nobody’s immune. You need decisive action. You need to inspire confidence.”
By Simon Kennedy and Jana Randow - Jan 29, 2012 3:00 AM GMT-0500

"While Soros, whose new book, Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States, will be published in early February, is currently focused on Europe, he’s quick to claim that economic and social divisions in the U.S. will deepen, too. He sympathizes with the Occupy movement, which articulates a widespread disillusionment with capitalism that he shares. People “have reason to be frustrated and angry” at the cost of rescuing the banking system, a cost largely borne by taxpayers rather than shareholders or bondholders.

Occupy Wall Street “is an inchoate, leaderless manifestation of protest,” but it will grow. It has “put on the agenda issues that the institutional left has failed to put on the agenda for a quarter of a century.” He reaches for analysis, produced by the political blog, that shows how the Occupy movement has pushed issues of unemployment up the agenda of major news organizations, including MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. It reveals that in one week in July of last year the word “debt” was mentioned more than 7,000 times on major U.S. TV news networks. By October, mentions of the word “debt” had dropped to 398 over the course of a week, while “occupy” was mentioned 1,278 times, “Wall Street” 2,378 times, and “jobs” 2,738 times. You can’t keep a financier away from his metrics.
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.” Newsweek

A deterioration of Europe's debt crisis is the first thing analysts name when asked about economic threats in 2012. And by most accounts it's almost certain that things are going to get worse.

"It's going to blow up," said Harry Clark, head of Clark Capital Management. "They aren't doing enough to stop the problem."
The question is, just how bad will things get? Clark thinks several of the southern European countries will leave the euro and return to their previous currencies.
He says that will lead to massive bank failures in both Europe and the United States and plunge Europe into a "deep recession by the end of the first quarter of 2012."
Scarily, those aren't even the most dire predictions. Some fear the euro could disappear altogether, with Europe reverting to the type of ultra-nationalism that plagued the continent in the run-up to WWII.
Steve Hargreaves @CNNMoney

Here is a Der Spiegel story of the frightening trend they see emerging in Europe. For those who won't read it, the turn to the right is on the wheels of fears of Islam, and foreign immigration.

Any of the Islam-o-phobia, or anti-immigrant rhetoric sound familiar? The American political maelstrom adds nothing to the discussion of how we might right the world. We either deny that we have problems (climate change, debt, or justice) or send up vague memories of glorious times past that can be "re-claimed".

Respondents to Common Dreams coverage of Occupy Davos (WEF) included these two examples I copy here as indicative of a problem:
Posted by Wilber1 Jan 25 2012 - 12:41am

"I support OWS, I wasn't saying to not take part in the movement. I am just being realistic. How many people right now want to replace the system vs. how many want to simply spread the wealth a little more evenly, maybe do something on the environment? Relatively moderate changes. The question is, if the system does stay in place in the short term, even in a more humane, moderate form, can it sustain itself in the long run? What does keeping the system in place mean for poorer countries, or the environment? How will all of this impact our largely bi-partisan, reactionary foreign policy? Other countries are growing independent and standing up the US.
I agree that the movement is world wide, but it is at the present time very ideologically diverse. We agree that the current system sucks. Do we agree what to replace it with? How many are even aware of possible alternatives? Lots of work left to do."

Posted by skeptimist Jan 24 2012 - 8:27pm

"I don't think you can "make capitalism better". It's a mechanism like a chainsaw - best you can do is try to control it. Same for socialism. However, the answer to your complaints is out there and it's been working for hundreds of years. Look up Hutterites."

This frustration, this inability to construct even the beginning of what the alternative might look like in "our world", handcuffs them even before the terrorists cops grab them. They need to study viable options. The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy begins with the following premise: "Perpetual economic growth is neither possible nor desirable. Growth, especially in wealthy nations, is already causing more problems than it solves. Recession isn't sustainable or healthy either. The positive, sustainable alternative is a steady state economy." Learn More >> is documenting the pragmatic implementation of the new commons.
These are but two examples of a world in the process of changing the root causes of our global crisis. Start here.