Wednesday 19th of June 2019

the schizophrenic dollar...

debt

One of the biggest (nearly schizophrenic) dilemmas of liberalism, ever since David Hume and Adam Smith, was an insight into reality; whether the world is essentially Hobbesian or Kantian. As postulated, the main task of any liberal state is to enable and maintain wealth of its nation, which of course rests upon wealthy individuals inhabiting the particular state. That imperative brought about another dilemma: if wealthy individual, the state will rob you, but in absence of it, the pauperized masses will mob you. The invisible hand of Smith’s followers have found the satisfactory answer – sovereign debt.

That ‘invention’ meant: relatively strong central government of the state. Instead of popular control through the democratic checks-&-balances mechanism, such a state should be rather heavily indebted. Debt – firstly to local merchants, than to foreigners – is a far more powerful deterrent, as it resides outside the popular check domain. With such a mixed blessing, no empire can easily demonetize its legitimacy, and abandon its hierarchical but invisible and unconstitutional controls. This is how a debtor empire was born. A blessing or totalitarian curse? Let us briefly examine it.

The Soviet Union – much as (the pre-Deng’s) China itself – was far more of a classic continental military empire (overtly brutal; rigid, authoritative, anti-individual, apparent, secretive), while the US was more a financial-trading empire (covertly coercive; hierarchical, yet asocial, exploitive, pervasive, polarizing). On opposite sides of the globe and cognition, to each other they remained enigmatic, mysterious and incalculable: Bear of permafrost vs. Fish of the warm seas. Sparta vs. Athens. Rome vs. Phoenicia… However, common for the both was a super-appetite for omnipresence. Along with the price to pay for it.

Consequently, the Soviets went bankrupt by mid 1980s – they cracked under its own weight, imperially overstretched. So did the Americans – the ‘white man burden’ fractured them already by the Vietnam war, with the Nixon shock only officializing it. However, the US imperium managed to survive and to outlive the Soviets. How? The United States, with its financial capital (or an outfoxing illusion of it), evolved into a debtor empire through the Wall Street guaranties. Titanium-made Sputnik vs. gold mine of printed-paper… Nothing epitomizes this better than the words of the longest serving US Federal Reserve’s boss, Alan Greenspan, who famously said to then French President Jacques Chirac: “True, the dollar is our currency, but your problem”. Hegemony vs. hegemoney.

HOUSE OF CARDS

Conventional economic theory teaches us that money is a universal equivalent to all goods. Historically, currencies were a space and time-related, to say locality-dependent. However, like no currency ever before, the US dollar became – past the WWII – the universal equivalent to all other moneys of the world. According to history of currencies, the core component of the non-precious metals money is a so-called promissory note – intangible belief that, by any given point of future, a particular shiny paper (self-styled as money) will be smoothly exchanged for real goods.

Thus, roughly speaking, money is nothing else but a civilizational construct about imagined/projected tomorrow – that the next day (which nobody has ever seen in the history of humankind, but everybody operates with) definitelly comes (i), and that this tomorrow will certainly be a better day then our yesterday or even our today (ii).

This and similar types of social contracts (horizontal and vertical) over the collective constructs hold society together as much as its economy keeps it alive and evolving. Hence, it is money that powers economy, but our blind faith in (constructed) tomorrows and its alleged certainty is what empowers money.

Clearly, the universal equivalent of all equivalents – the US dollar – follows the same pattern: Strong and widely accepted promise. What does the US dollar promise when there is no gold cover attached to it ever since the time of Nixon shock of 1971?

Pentagon promises that the oceanic sea lines will remain opened (read: controlled by the US Navy), pathways unhindered, and that the most traded world’s commodity – oil, will be delivered. So, it is not a crude or its delivery what is a cover to the US dollar – it is a promise that oil of tomorrow will be deliverable. That is a real might of the US dollar, which in return finances Pentagon’s massive expenditures and shoulders its supremacy.

Admired and feared, Pentagon further fans our planetary belief in tomorrow’s deliverability – if we only keep our faith in dollar (and hydrocarbons’ energized economy), and so on and on in perpetuated circle of mutual reinforcements.

 

Read more:

https://off-guardian.org/2019/03/30/the-sino-us-trade-war-why-china-cant...

 

This is why the "global warming" concept does not enter the hydrocarbons’ energized economy of the USA and only feeble attempts to sort this issue out are presented to the public, to keep the "revolution" at bay... See: 

boiling the kettle of global warming with a denialist weatherman...

red ink...

 

http://www.usdebtclock.org

 

The total debt of the US government and its citizens is approaching $75 trillions...

 

See 

the great divide...

 

and:

most of the characters have moved on, but the problem they created has gone worse: greed on credit...

the system stands on the hegemony of the dollar...

World military expenditure – according to the estimations by SIPRI, on 29 April [1] – exceeded 1,800 billion dollars in 2018, with a real-term increase of 76 % as compared with 1998. According to this estimation, the world spends approximately 3,5 million dollars every minute on weapons and armies.

In first place we find the United States, with an expenditure of 649 billion dollars in 2018. This figure represents the budget of the Pentagon, including its war operations overseas, but it does not represent the entire military spending of the United States. We have to add other posts of a military nature. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (or VA), which handles retired military personnel, had a budget of 180 billion dollars in 2018.

The Intelligence Community, composed of 17 agencies (the most widely known of which is the CIA), declares a budget of 81.5 billion dollars, which, however, is only the tip of the iceberg of its real expenditure for secret missions.

The Department of National Security spent 70 billion dollars in 2018, above all to « protect our financial infrastructure and our most important leaders with our secret services ».

The Department of Energy spent 14 billion dollars, which corresponds to half of its budget, for the maintenance and modernisation of the US nuclear arsenal.

Taking into account these posts and a few others, United States military spending rose, in 2018, to approximately 1,000 billion dollars. In annual spending pro capite, that is the equivalent of 3,000 (three thousand) dollars per citizen of the United States. Military spending is the main cause of the federal deficit, which has climbed to 1,000 billion, and is increasing rapidly. Together with other factors, it is swelling the US public debt, which has climbed in 2019 to more than 22,000 billions of dollars, with annual interests of 390 billion which will double in 2025.

The system stands on the hegemony of the dollar, whose value is determined not by the real economic capacity of the United States, but by the fact that it is the main money of the currency reserves and the international costs of prime materials. This allows the Federal Reserve to print thousands of billions of dollars with which it finances the colossal US public debt through financial obligations and other titles issued by the Treasury.

China, Russia and other countries are questioning the hegemony of the dollar – and with it the economic and political order dominated by the West. The United States are more and more frequently playing the war card, by investing 25% of their federal budget in the most costly war machine in the world.

The military expenditure of the United States has a driving effect on that of other countries, which still remain at very inferior levels. China’s spending is estimated by the SIPRI at 250 billion dollars in 2018, even though the official figure provided by Beijing is 175. Russia’s spending is estimated at 61 billion, ten times less than that of the USA (counting only the budget of the Pentagon). According to the same estimates, seven NATO countries - USA, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada and Turkey - count in total for approximately half of the world’s military expenditure.


Italian military spending, hoisted in 2018 from the 13th to the 11th world place, is estimated by the SIPRI at 27.8 billion dollars. This information substantially confirms the estimation, including other posts than the Defence budget, that Italian military spending has reached 25 billion Euros per year, and is still rising.


This mean that in one year, we are already spending (according to the forecasts) the equivalent of four years worth of ’citizen income’ for military affairs. In the wake of the USA, a large future increase has been decided. The largest « ’citizen income’ » is now dedicated to war.


Manlio Dinucci

Translation 

Pete Kimberley

Source 

Il Manifesto (Italy)

 

Read more:

https://www.voltairenet.org/article206469.html

 

 

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bipolarity of the USA...

 

by Chris Floyd

 

Looking at America today, you swing back and forth between two poles, both of them magnetized by despair.

At one pole, you find yourself saying that things have never been as bad as this: we are in uncharted waters, in a foundering ship being swept toward the reefs. And when the crack-up comes, its horrors will outstrip our imaginations, making our cinematic dystopias look bucolic in comparison, as we devour each other in a dying world ruled by psychopaths, gangsters and warlords.

Yet at the other pole, you find yourself thinking that what we’re seeing today is just a continuation — and in some cases, even a diminution — of the horrors and hellishness you’ve seen all your life. Wars, liars, atrocities, hatred, coups, riots — whole cities burning! — injustice, terrorism, plunder and corruption: when have these not been the background of the six decades you’re spent on this earth? And if you have even a passing interest in history, much less a passion for it, then you can extend this malevolent roar all the way back to the beginning of recorded time.

Perhaps, you think, what we’re seeing today is not some violation of the norm in our national life (or human affairs in general); perhaps it’s just a particularly vivid expression of our essential nature — heightened and hyped and made more all-pervasive by technology, yes, but in no way a fundamental break from the past. Perhaps it’s true, as the Preacher saith: “There is nothing new under the sun.”

But then, you turn on your phone, tap into one of the hallucinatory networks of data-harvesting and ad-disgorging that you, like so many, have become addicted to (while telling yourself – disingenuously? – that a conscientious citizen must keep abreast of these for-profit platforms because that’s where our public life now occurs), and suddenly you see … a picture from a snuff film. It’s a man being raped with a bayonet until he dies. You can see his face — a bloodied mask of agony — and the exulting, murdering mob around him.

But you haven’t stumbled down some algorithmic path into the festering, belching pits of depravity that lurk mere inches below the glossy surface of the internet. No, you’re looking at a tweet sent out to the world by a member of one of the most respectable institutions in the land: the United States Senate. The senior senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, a man of intense public piety, who regularly adorns his Twitter feed with Bible verses, had posted — on a Sunday morning, the Lord’s day — a graphic of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. On one side was a smiling Gadaffi in his pomp; the other was the aforesaid shot from the snuff-film video of Gaddafi’s slaughter.

The tweet emerged in the midst of Rubio’s feverish push for regime change in Venezuela, and was an unmistakable message to that country’s president, Nicolas Maduro: This is what happens to leaders who don’t do what we say. A naked, brutal, open, terroristic threat, from the very top ranks of the American establishment.

The shock you feel is like a slap in the face. Even in the Age of Trump, this seems to overstep some boundary. Senators revelling in rape-murder, brandishing gangland-style threats? Surely this is a qualitative difference, taking us into those uncharted waters far from the shores of the past.

But suddenly you are pulled back to the other pole. For you remember another figure on the commanding heights of our society laughing, with deep, hearty glee, at this very same rape-murder. Sitting with a TV interviewer, eager to publicize her reaction, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughs and exclaims, “We came, we saw, he died!” Ha ha ha! It made your blood run cold.

Then you further recall the brutal threat she’d made years before, running for president, promising to “totally obliterate” 70 million human beings in Iran if that nation, which had and has no nuclear weapons, launched a nuclear attack on Israel, which had and has more than 200 nuclear weapons. The scenario was pure fantasy; but the imagination of this much-admired paragon of our society ran immediately to mass murder.

Your mind keeps reeling backward, remembering that the rape-murder that gave such sick, psychosexual titillation to Rubio and Clinton had been committed by extremists armed and backed by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Barack Obama (along with many other worthies of Western civilization.) And that one of Clinton’s predecessors, the liberal Madeline Albright, had defended the death of half a million innocent children from the sanctions imposed by her boss, Bill Clinton.

From there you keep going back, through all the evils you’ve seen committed in your name, in just your lifetime, back to the one that first fully entered your childish awareness: My Lai. And you know that what we’re seeing today is not a break, but a continuation. Accelerated, yes; the rotten timbers of the foundering ship are now in an advanced state of decay. But the reefs coming up so swiftly are the same ones we’ve been hurtling toward for a long, long time.

But then you turn on your phone and …

 

Read more:

http://www.chris-floyd.com/mobile/articles/bipolar-disorder-america-magn...

 

 

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