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Capitalism will Prevail


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capitalism prevails thanks to $9 trillions in bailouts and government loans and not thanks to the "free market" that led us to the fiasco we are in. Everywhere friedman's ideas were applied has lead to concentration of wealth and power reminiscent of the middle ages.

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Whew, where to start? As with most fundamentalists, despite appeals to the "historical record", Friedmanites' real blind spot is historical reality and the actually existing development of capitalism within it. Friedman and his followers rely on a single truism upon which everything else they say either rests upon or can be explained away by it: "capitalism is extraordinarily productive". That every critic of capitalism including Marx said as much (and more) seems to escape them. Anyway, what's really missing here is the fact that capitalism has not magically bestowed its fruits as Friedman would have us believe from the statement about "lifting people out of poverty" or "lifting boats" or whatever. The actual historical record in advanced capitalist countries in every instance is that societies and majority populations have benefited from the capitalist development only to the extent that working and other lower classes agitated, demanded, and organized politically for a share of the wealth they were producing and equal rights under the law. The record, historical and contemporary, is clear that capitalist countries where labor is weak or suppressed (i.e. not capable of making economic and political demands met), capitalism is a pure machine for exploitation and inequalities are starkest.


Relatedly, Friedman would also be at pains to explain why those societies where the benefits from capitalist development have been most widely realized, the populations are best educated, healthiest, etc. are not those that are the most capitalist. Those countries are those with strong democratic socialist traditions where concessions and political power have been wrung from capital through a process of historical struggle.


It's no mystery that America's experiment with neoliberalism (an extreme form of capitalism) and weakened labor movement has led to deeper inequalities, shrinking middle class, crumbling institutions, and rapid environmental degradation. Friedman's ahistorical abstracted bleatings won't have much to do with their solution. Dustbin, meet Mr. Friedman. Mr. Friedman, Dustbin.

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"Corporations, absent approriate government oversight, are indistinguishable from organized crime."


Just substitute 'free market capitalism' for 'corporations' in the above quote...


Again, listen to what Friedman is saying. Do you really think anyone believes that "appropriate" government oversight is bad? The only arguments you'll get from 99.99% of self-described Capitalists is in degrees.

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Well, pretty much all of the folks - from Reagan to W - who Friedman was minion or mentor to would vociferously argue the point. The mess we're in is a direct result of the [often naive] belief that 'free market capitalism' left to its own devices wouldn't devolve into what is essentially extended criminal empires.

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"Corporations, absent approriate government oversight, are indistinguishable from organized crime."


Just substitute 'free market capitalism' for 'corporations' in the above quote...


Again, listen to what Friedman is saying. Do you really think anyone believes that "appropriate" government oversight is bad? The only arguments you'll get from 99.99% of self-described Capitalists is in degrees.


Interchange "Lenin" and "Socialism" and you sound like a ranting Fremont resident.

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Again, listen to what Friedman is saying. Do you really think anyone believes that "appropriate" government oversight is bad?


The more oversight the better, in fact! Just so long as it doesn't impinge on anyone's freedom...to choose which toothpaste they want to use tonight.



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Again, listen to what Friedman is saying. Do you really think anyone believes that "appropriate" government oversight is bad? The only arguments you'll get from 99.99% of self-described Capitalists is in degrees.


I'm sure big capital will let us know what is appropriate when the time comes...


Banks Brace for Fight Over an Agency Meant to Bolster Consumer Protection

NYT June 18, 2009



When the economy was booming, banks doled out credit to consumers like candy. People who could never afford to live their dream found pay option adjustable rate mortgages and other easy-access loans just a signature away. Credit cards put the pain of payment off to another day — never mind the fees hidden in the fine print.


On Wednesday, President Obama proposed creating a federal agency that would require banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies to provide consumers with a more nutritious diet, financially speaking.


But what is good for consumers may not always square with what is good for banks. And the banking industry — which says it stands to lose billions of dollars — is bracing for a fight as the administration’s plan to overhaul the way the industry is regulated heads to Capitol Hill.


Banks “are really dumbfounded by the scope of this agency,” Edward L. Yingling, the president of the American Bankers Association, said. “It’s not like the current regulators don’t have all the authority they need. You don’t have to blow up the system.”


The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who has come to prominence on consumer matters after years of studying the rising toll of consumer debt. She argues that the banking regulators have an inherent conflict of interest between ensuring the safety and soundness of institutions and protecting consumers.


If the administration gets its way, the agency, a sort of Food and Drug Administration for financial products, would be empowered to tell banks to tidy up their offerings and make sure consumers have the information they need to make sound financial decisions, while being protected from scams.


It could, among other things, dictate standards for some products before banks could bring them to market, and push banks to favor plain vanilla loans over more exotic home loans, which could be required to carry warnings. Unfair terms and practices among credit card issuers would also be weeded out.


If Congress approved the agency, it would be the first time that consumers would have a seat at the banking regulatory table.


“The argument for doing that is you’ll have an agency that’s only focused on protecting consumers," said Donald G. Ogilvie, chairman of the Deloitte Center for Banking Solutions. “The argument against that is you’ll have an agency that’s only interested in protecting consumers."


But it also sets up a potential turf battle among the myriad agencies that are currently tasked with protecting consumers, including the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, which the banks would like to see maintain this oversight.


Banking groups are concerned about the costs a new layer of regulation might impose, and the prospect of more examiners crowding into their banks.


“You are talking about an agency that is authorized to design financial products and, in fact, say that they must be offered first, over the banks’ own products,” said Mr. Yingling.


In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Warren said the new agency could have implications beyond consumer protection. Protecting consumers from risky products ultimately protects the entire financial system, she argued.


“This crisis started one mortgage at a time,” said Ms. Warren, who, as the chairwoman of the Congressional panel that oversees government spending on the financial bailout, has the ear of many lawmakers. “The bad products that were sold household by household not only destabilized families. When they were sliced and diced and passed along through mortgage-backed securities, they magnified risk throughout the economy.”


The agency would most likely be harder on banks that profited from high-risk products, Ms. Warren said. But it may benefit banks that offer more consumer-friendly products that are “lost in the storm of advertising” for riskier products, she said.


While banks will lobby to water down the agency’s proposed powers in Congress, the devil will be in the details. One important question is how the agency would be financed. A spokesman for the Treasury said it would be paid for in part through “fees assessed on entities and transactions across the financial sector.” While he was not more specific, there could be conflicts of interest if, for example, banks paid fees directly to the agency to seek approval for their products.


Another issue will be the division between state and federal power. State attorneys general have often cracked down on mortgage fraud, high credit card rates, payday lending and other consumer financial protection issues that the new agency would take up. Mr. Yingling, of the American Bankers Association, expressed concern that financial companies might receive uneven treatment at the state and national level.


It may also be difficult to separate “consumers” from “investors,” leaving uncertainty about whether some financial products fall under the purview of the new agency or the Securities and Exchange Commission, which monitors many investor products. A spokesman for the Treasury said the S.E.C. would maintain its power over investor protection.


The president’s proposal resembles legislation introduced a few months ago by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois. He acknowledged the idea of an agency faced a fight on Capitol Hill.


“Never underestimate the banks,” he said.




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I found a better link with some top capitalists in action.



Of course if there's a complete meltdown caused by horrible government oversight capitalists will provale. Maybe only for a short period, but it'll be worth it.


Warlords of the 21st Century



It's well worth watching the whole movie if you have time (9 parts)

Edited by Feck
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sounds familar?


A month after Friedman's visit, the Chilean junta announced that inflation would be stopped “at any cost.” The regime cut government spending twenty-seven percent, practically shuttered the national mint, and set fire to bundles of escudos. The state divested from the banking system and deregulated finance, including interest rates. It slashed import tariffs, freed prices on over 2000 products, and removed restrictions against foreign investments. Pinochet pulled Chile out of a number of alliances with neighboring countries intended to promote regional industrialization, turning his country into a gateway for the introduction of cheap goods into Latin America. Tens of thousands of public workers lost their jobs as the government auctioned off, in what amounted to a spectacular transfer of wealth to the private sector, over four hundred state industries.


Multinationals were not only granted the right to repatriate one hundred percent of their profits, but were given guaranteed exchange rates to help them do so. In order to build investor confidence, the escudo was fixed to the dollar. Within four years, nearly thirty percent of all property expropriated not just under Allende but under a previous Alliance for Progress land reform was returned to previous owners. New laws treated labor like any other “free” commodity, sweeping away four decades of progressive union legislation. Health care was privatized, as was the public pension fund.


GNP plummeted thirteen percent, industrial production fell 28 percent, and purchasing power collapsed to forty percent of its 1970 level. One national business after another went bankrupt. Unemployment soared.


Yet by 1978 the economy rebounded, expanding thirty-two percent between 1978 and 1981. Though salary levels remained close to twenty percent below what they were a decade previously, per capita income began to climb again. Perhaps even a better indicator of progress, torture and extrajudicial executions began to taper off. With hindsight, however, it is now clear that the Chicago economists, despite the credit they received for three years of economic growth, had set Chile on the road to near collapse. The rebound of the economy was a function of the liberalization of the financial system and massive foreign investment. That investment, it turns out, led to a speculative binge, monopolization of the banking system, and heavy borrowing. The deluge of foreign capital did allow the fixed exchange rate to be maintained for a short period. But sharp increases in private debt rising from $2 billion in 1978 to over $14 billion in 1982—put unsustainable pressure on Chile's currency. Pegged as it was to the appreciating US dollar, the value of the escudo was kept artificially high, leading to a flood of cheap imports. While consumers took advantage of liberalized credit to purchase TVs, cars, and other high-ticket items, savings shrank, debt increased, exports fell, and the trade deficit ballooned.


In 1982 things fell apart. Copper prices plummeted, accelerating Chile's balance of trade deficit. GDP plunged fifteen percent, while industrial production rapidly contracted. Bankruptcies tripled and unemployment hit 30 percent. Despite his pledge to hold firm, Pinochet devalued the escudo, devastating poor Chileans who had either availed themselves to liberalized credit to borrow in dollars or who held their savings in escudos. The Central Bank lost forty-five percent of its reserves, while the private banking system collapsed. The crisis forced the state, dusting off laws still on the books from the Allende period, to take over nearly seventy percent of the banking system and reimpose controls on finance, industry, prices and wages. Turning to the IMF for a bailout, Pinochet extended a public guarantee to repay foreign creditors and banks.


and, on libertarianism and dictatorship:


Where Friedman made allusions to the superiority of economic freedom over political freedom in his defense of Pinochet, the Chicago group institutionalized such a hierarchy in a 1980 constitution named after Hayek's 1960 treatise The Constitution of Liberty. The new charter enshrined economic liberty and political authoritarianism as complementary qualities. They justified the need of a strong executive such as Pinochet not only to bring about a profound transformation of society but to maintain it until there was a “change in Chilean mentality.” Chileans had long been “educated in weakness,” said the president of the Central Bank, and a strong hand was needed in order to “educate them in strength.” The market itself would provide tutoring: When asked about the social consequences of the high bankruptcy rate that resulted from the shock therapy, Admiral Josi Toribio Merino replied that “such is the jungle of… economic life. A jungle of savage beasts, where he who can kill the one next to him, kills him. That is reality.”


But before such a savage nirvana of pure competition and risk could be attained, a dictatorship was needed to force Chileans to accept the values of consumerism, individualism, and passive rather than participatory democracy. “Democracy is not an end in itself,” said Pinochet in a 1979 speech written by two of Friedman's disciples, but a conduit to a truly “free society” that protected absolute economic freedom. Friedman hedged on the relationship between capitalism and dictatorship, but his former students were consistent: “A person's actual freedom,” said Finance Minister de Castro, “can only be ensured through an authoritarian regime that exercises power by implementing equal rules for everyone.” “Public opinion,” he admitted, “was very much against [us], so we needed a strong personality to maintain the policy.”




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