Occupy LA: En anholdelse og dens baggrund

Patrick Meighan, der blandt andet er manuskriptforfatter på TV-serien “Family Guy”, fortæller om sin anholdelse sammen med resten af Occupy LA:

I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”

As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison. (…)

I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

My hands were then zipcuffed very tightly behind my back, where they turned blue. I am now suffering nerve damage in my right thumb and palm. (…)

So that’s what happened to the 292 women and men were arrested last Wednesday. Now let’s talk about a man who was not arrested last Wednesday. He is former Citigroup CEO Charles Prince. Under Charles Prince, Citigroup was guilty of massive, coordinated securities fraud.

Citigroup spent years intentionally buying up every bad mortgage loan it could find, creating bad securities out of those bad loans and then selling shares in those bad securities to duped investors. And then they sometimes secretly bet *against* their *own* bad securities to make even more money. For one such bad Citigroup security, Citigroup executives were internally calling it, quote, “a collection of dogshit”. To investors, however, they called it, quote, “an attractive investment rigorously selected by an independent investment adviser”.

This is fraud, and it’s a felony, and the Charles Princes of the world spent several years doing it again and again: knowingly writing bad mortgages, and then packaging them into fraudulent securities which they then sold to suckers and then repeating the process. This is a big part of why your property values went up so fast. But then the bubble burst, and that’s why our economy is now shattered for a generation, and it’s also why your home is now underwater. Or at least mine is.

Anyway, if your retirement fund lost a decade’s-worth of gains overnight, this is why.

If your son’s middle school has added furlough days because the school district can’t afford to keep its doors open for a full school year, this is why.

If your daughter has come out of college with a degree only to discover that there are no jobs for her, this is why.

But back to Charles Prince. For his four years of in charge of massive, repeated fraud at Citigroup, he received fifty-three million dollars in salary and also received another ninety-four million dollars in stock holdings. What Charles Prince has *not* received is a pair of zipcuffs. The nerves in his thumb are fine. No cop has thrown Charles Prince into the pavement, face-first. Each and every peaceful, nonviolent Occupy LA protester arrested last week has has spent more time sleeping on a jail floor than every single Charles Prince on Wall Street, combined.

Og dette skrives, netop mens EU-landenes regeringer planlægger en traktat-ændring, der vil sikre, at heller ikke de europæiske finansfyrster kommer til at lide den mindste nød. Det bliver befolkningen, der kommer til at bære den byrde. Indtil altså nogen får nok og siger fra. Men så er der, som Meighans historie viser, pludselig ressourcer nok – i hvert fald inden for politiet.

Link: My Occupy LA Arrest

Alan Moore om bogbranchen, Occupy-bevægelsen og politik generelt

Alan Moore er naturligvis ikke hvem som helst i forhold til Occupy-bevægelsen – det var, ham, der opfandt Guy Fawkes-masken i Hollywood-filmen V for Vendetta. Det er altså på grund af Alan Moores oprindelige tegneseriefigur, at Occupy-aktivister og Anonymous bruger lige netop den maske i deres aktioner (masken blev designet af tegneren David Lloyd til Lloyds og Moores gamle tegneserie V for Vendetta, som udkom i 1980erne).

Honest Publishing har interviewet Moore om vore dages bogbranche og rigets politiske tilstand, og det kom der en hel del  interessante betragtninger ud af:

[Om bogbranchen]

The people in publishing have given up any personal integrity in favour of sales returns. This has meant that presumably there are as many great first novels as there have always been, but when publishers insist upon squandering their budgets on people that they believe to be celebrities, they’re obviously not going to have anything left to encourage new talent, even if those are talents that could potentially change the entire literary scene or world of publishing. In Private Eye, they published a very informative list of sales figures for political biographies. These are all ones that had been trailered in the national press, had been talked about on television programmes, had been given an immense amount of hype. I think from the biographies they talked about, Cherie Blair’s was the out-and-out winner. I think it sold something like 167 copies. John Prescott had sold 65 copies of his biography, Prezza. What the advances were for that book I would estimate would be getting on for the quarter million mark, something like that. For something that sold 65 copies, if there was an advance of a hundred pound, you’d be lucky to make it back. (…)

[Om Occupy og Frank Millers kritik]

As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.

[Om, hvad der bør laves om i det her samfund]

Everything. I believe that what’s needed is a radical solution, by which I mean from the roots upwards. Our entire political thinking seems to me to be based upon medieval precepts. These things, they didn’t work particularly well five or six hundred years ago. Their slightly modified forms are not adequate at all for the rapidly changing territory of the 21st Century.

We need to overhaul the way that we think about money, we need to overhaul the way that we think about who’s running the show. As an anarchist, I believe that power should be given to the people, to the people whose lives this is actually affecting. It’s no longer good enough to have a group of people who are controlling our destinies. The only reason they have the power is because they control the currency. They have no moral authority and, indeed, they show the opposite of moral authority.

Link: Del 1, del 2.

The Big Bailout sammenlignet med månelandingen og Vietnamkrigen

Barry Ritholz ville gerne formidle, hvor mange penge, der egentlig er brugt på bailouts og økonomisk stimulus de sidste 12 måneder. Så han lavede en grafisk sammenligning med alle andre store udgifter i hele USAs historie.

Resultatet er slående. Nogen må nødvendigvis gøre et eller andet galt her.

Ritholz uddyber:

It is exceedingly difficult to convey exactly how much we are spending on all these bailouts. Whenever I start talking trillions (versus mere billions), I get puzzled looks from people. Humans have a hard time conceptualizing any number that large.  I wanted a graphic way to clearly show how astonishingly ginormous the amounts involved were.

So I once again went to Jess Bachman at Wallstats. This Bailout Nation graphic shows the the total costs to the taxpayer of all the monies spent, lent, consumed, borrowed, printed, guaranteed, assumed or  otherwise committed. It is nothing short of astonishing.

It includes the total outlay for all the bailouts to date. In just about one short year (march 2008 –  March 2009), the bailouts managed to spend far in excess nearly every major one time expenditure of the USA, including WW2, the moon shot, the New Deal, Iraq, Viet Nam and Korean wars — COMBINED.

Link: Bailout Costs vs Big Historical Events

Økonomi: Hvorfor brød det hele sammen?

I USA, altså – her er finansverdenen vist ikke ligefrem brudt sammen endnu.

Økonomen Peter Schiff, der foreslog sammenbruddet i USA allerede før 2007, forklarer Jon Stewart, hvad der i hans øjne gik galt. Han advokerer noget så enkelt men i vore dage kættersk som at nøjes med at bruge de penge, man har …

Vestens hykleri om økonomiske kriser

Nobelpristager og økonom Joseph Stiglitz skriver om de fattige landes vrede og vantro over forskellen mellem den reaktion på økonomiske kriser, IMF og den amerikanske regering prædiker for andre, bygget over princippet om “lad falde hvad ikke kan stå” og “markedet redder alt”, og så den måde, de håndterer deres egen krise på:

Among critics of American-style capitalism in the Third World, the way that America has responded to the current economic crisis has been the last straw. During the East Asia crisis, just a decade ago, America and the I.M.F. demanded that the affected countries cut their deficits by cutting back expenditures–even if, as in Thailand, this contributed to a resurgence of the aids epidemic, or even if, as in Indonesia, this meant curtailing food subsidies for the starving. America and the I.M.F. forced countries to raise interest rates, in some cases to more than 50 percent. They lectured Indonesia about being tough on its banks–and demanded that the government not bail them out. What a terrible precedent this would set, they said, and what a terrible intervention in the Swiss-clock mechanisms of the free market.

The contrast between the handling of the East Asia crisis and the American crisis is stark and has not gone unnoticed. To pull America out of the hole, we are now witnessing massive increases in spending and massive deficits, even as interest rates have been brought down to zero. Banks are being bailed out right and left. Some of the same officials in Washington who dealt with the East Asia crisis are now managing the response to the American crisis. Why, people in the Third World ask, is the United States administering different medicine to itself?

Many in the developing world still smart from the hectoring they received for so many years: they should adopt American institutions, follow our policies, engage in deregulation, open up their markets to American banks so they could learn “good” banking practices, and (not coincidentally) sell their firms and banks to Americans, especially at fire-sale prices during crises. Yes, Washington said, it will be painful, but in the end you will be better for it. America sent its Treasury secretaries (from both parties) around the planet to spread the word. In the eyes of many throughout the developing world, the revolving door, which allows American financial leaders to move seamlessly from Wall Street to Washington and back to Wall Street, gave them even more credibility; these men seemed to combine the power of money and the power of politics. American financial leaders were correct in believing that what was good for America or the world was good for financial markets, but they were incorrect in thinking the converse, that what was good for Wall Street was good for America and the world.

Link: Wall Street’s Toxic Message (via Boing Boing)

‘… and the walls came tumblin’ down’

Dagens overskrift på BTs spiseseddel: Er din pension i fare?

Wall Street bløder, vores egen redningsplan redder spekulanterne og rammer de fattige, de britiske finansmarkeder er i frit fald.

Hvad betyder det alt sammen? Én konsekvens kan være, at der ryger nogle hoveder, når 300.000 danskere skal have genforhandlet deres flexlån til vinter. Folk, der har sat sig for hårdt eller har belånt friværdien i flexlån for at få til lidt forbrug, kan gå hen og få en meget grim overraskelse. I værste fald bliver der tvangsauktioner, tomme parcelhuskvarterer og bolignød i den almene sektor.

Hvad der egentlig stadig slår mig er den skræmmende enkelhed i BTs spiseseddel. Er din pension i fare? Hvis folk for alvor begynder at miste deres pensioner … kan den sidste rest af optimisme på markedets vegne vist snart lægges på hylden.

Den amerikanske middelklasses død

Et andet syn på “sunny California”: Husenes værdi rasler ned, tvangsauktioner florerer, og et firma lever af at male de tomme huses forsømte græsplæner grønne, så det er mindre oplagt, at halvdelen af kvarteret huse røg på tvangsauktion eller er overtaget af banken.

Via Lenin’s Tomb.

The Big Bailout: Det er da godt, nogen tænker på almindelige mennesker også

Joseph Stiglitz i The Guardian:

We are told the patient needs a massive transfusion; but everyone can see that the patient is suffering from internal bleeding – in California, the number of foreclosures may already be outpacing voluntary sales. Yet nothing is being done to stem the haemorrhaging.

While the president says the economy faces the risk of economic meltdown, he threatens to veto a stimulus package that would create jobs – and he seems particularly adamant about a stimulus package that includes improved unemployment benefits. Traditionally, this is done when there is a threat of an economic downturn; if the downturn doesn’t materialise, it doesn’t cost anything. And while the administration and Wall Street promise this is just a temporary loan, not a bail-out, there was strong opposition to making the financial industry pay for any losses. Why would that be, if they are so sure that there won’t be losses?

Lad os redde Wall Street – men bedre sikring af de arbejdsløse, så vi ikke får så mange tvangsauktioner? The horror!

Link: Good day for democracy

Bailout eller ej: Krisen kradser i Middle America

Det er endnu for tidligt at sige, om Bushs kriseplan går igennem.

Men hvordan er effekten af boblen krisen og ophedningen i Main Street, det Middle America, alle politikerne bejler til og alle er klar til at røvrende, så snart det får chancen? Hvad siger manden på gaden i Chattanooga, Tennessee, eller Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania?

Tjah. I dagens Guardian rapporter Paul Harris fra Yonkers, New York:

Yonkers residents are preparing grimly for hard times ahead. The effects of the credit crunch, the failed bail-out plan and the seemingly endless news about collapsing banks, has people on Yonkers’ Main Street deeply fearful for the future.

“I am really, really worried,” said Ellen Mittman, a retiree. She feared for her credit cards and her savings and was already cutting back on her spending. “I have been stopping doing things. I don’t go out to dinner anymore. I don’t spend any more money on buying clothes. I am cutting back. Everyone is cutting back,” she said. “They have to pass something. I know they have to. But I blame Bush. I blame the deregulation. All they cared about was the fat cats.”

With the cable news channels blaring out doom and gloom and newspaper headlines detailing the latest predictions of collapse, many ordinary Americans are simply tightening their belts. That might be a prudent step, but it will hurt small businesses as consumer spending falls. Those businesses will need even more credit to survive. Yet with bank lending virtually frozen, that credit will be much harder to find. Businesses will start to close, jobs will be lost and consumer spending will tighten further. The cycle will begin again.

Link: ‘I blame Bush … all they cared about was the fat cats’