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Commentary Last Updated: Jul 29th, 2008 - 00:52:05

Perverse priorities
By Frank Scott
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jul 29, 2008, 00:08

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�Our first priority today is the stability of the capital markets, the stability of the system.� --Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

If you had the silly notion that our first priority might be the stability of our environment, or people losing their homes, lacking health care and saddled with a multi-trillion dollar warfare state, the above words should set you straight. Capital markets are us, so let�s keep them floating on a sea of speculation and assure that public loss insures capital gain. As long as consumers pay interest, capital can rule without principle. Nice.

Given the situation, the next president may regret winning the election. While the Bush regime has us near a breaking point, it�s not the president but the system which is at the root of our problem. And unless a political miracle puts Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney in the White House, the next president will be trying to save and not change that system. This is bad news, and until Americans demand serious transformation and see the issue of change as going beyond style, sex or race, the news will get worse.

Our credit casino produces almost daily chaos, with a public bailout of a private firm followed by soothing talk that everything will be fine now, followed soon by another public bailout. The troubles with mortgage-backing institutions like the entities called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are indicative of the problem. These names make them sound like mom and pop grocers or hip hop performers, when they are really multi trillion-dollar gambling centers that supposedly help us all get closer to owning homes. Sure.

While we are the financing source of just about everything, our ownership share of the economy is in steep decline. This is in contrast to nonsense about an ownership society, unless that means the majority owns the liability, while a minority feasts on the assets. Our personal and social debts are rising faster than ever, which is how the system works. And the new president will try to keep it working by attempting to steer this crippled ship of state through a turbulent sea that may soon become too raging to float any structure. There are small signs of hope and progress, but not in the economy.

We have seen some decline in war talk about Iran, not due to the antiwar movement but mostly because the old WASP ruling class has been moving back into control by leaking stories about planned attacks on Iran and the madness of such ideas. From sources like the Pentagon, State department, universities and even an ex-president, we have heard words previously not dared to be spoken become open dialog among establishment insiders. The Israel First-Jewish lobby previously wielded enormous clout without any public criticism, but that is no longer the case.

Sectors within the establishment which show little respect for humanity, beyond the desire for it to remain under U.S. control, are in growing fear that policy dominated by protectors of the Jewish state endangers their empire. They are right about the second point, but the first is most important as to why no one should think that the show will soon be directed by people who want systemic change. What we can expect is a return to the neo-liberal policies which failed before and led to neoconservatives assuming power. The zealous Christian-Zionist cabal has brought us even closer to ruin, so the less overtly fanatic proprietors of empire -- those responsible for the cold war with the Soviets and hot wars in Korea, Vietnam and a host of other places -- may be returned to power.

People desperate to be rid of the present regime may be forgiven their innocence in the short term, but if it continues in the long term, we�ll all be guilty of losing much more than an election.

Those who voted for Democrats to stop the war in Iraq may ultimately get their wish, but only by moving it to Afghanistan. And leaving Iraq will only happen because we lost, at a cost of 1.2 million of Iraqi lives, 4,000-plus of our own, and a few trillion dollars our rulers borrowed from national coffers we are expected to fill with our debt. We�ve been operating exclusively on that debt for quite some time, but recently our credit line has begun to look like that of a subprime nation, causing more concern for international loan sharks who prop up our economy with their faith that it will somehow keep paying them interest. Even if it�s with their own money. If Ponzi were alive now, he�d be operating his scam in China and Russia.

So the hundreds of billions we squander for war by putting them on our international credit card will continue being spent under the next regime, only redirecting the folly to another area. And it will hasten the ultimate breakdown of our unstable �capital markets� if we don�t stop acting as thoughtless consumers, and start acting as a thoughtful democratic people.

Public financing of private enterprise makes no sense unless we take public control of that enterprise. The sooner we take that step, the sooner we end a system in which a majority perform as socialist consumers, while a minority somehow owns the capital markets at which they are forced to shop. Why should we save a system which is not only failing us, but threatening the future of all humanity?

For environmental salvation, peace, and social justice we need to take democratic control of our economy away from the antidemocratic forces which we still support under the guise of political democracy. At this point we have neither political nor economic democracy and you can�t have one without the other. We need both, soon, or the perverse priorities and social instability of capital will bring down much more than the market.

Copyright � 2008 Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in the Coastal Post, a monthly publication from Marin County, California, and on numerous web sites, and on his shared blog at Contact him at

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