Apr 15, 2010
Late April 2010 Rant
April 15th, 2010 - www.economicrant.com
The Much Greater Depression started months ago. Do you know one big reason people survived the mere Great Depression? We had 27% farmers then. We have 2% now. People could grow food, eat, feed their family, and trade for other goods they needed. Over one quarter of Americans were farmers. Now it is 2%. We won't survive this. People will not have food. America is the only country in the entire world where you can eat like kings and queens for 10% of your take home income. Soon this is going to 30%. Food is going to get very, very expensive. No more eating like royalty for 10% of your income.
Don't hold out any false hope for the November elections. Don't even think that Republican Neocons are going to do any better than Democratic Marxists. We live in a one party system, and that is the Republicrat Party. The Tea Party Movement has already been taken over by pseudo-conservatives like Palin and Gingrich. The Tea Party is now being used very effectively as an outlet for rage, frustration, and anger by the media. This is not the Tea Party of a year ago when real patriots stood in the streets with signs. Neoconism is just as bad as Marxism only different. Republicans are just as bad as Democrats only different.
OBAMA NOW HAS HIS OWN PRIVATE ARMY. Fox News broke this story with Judge Napolitano. Hidden in the 2,200 pages of the "Health" Care Bill was a two page provision for him to form his own private domestic army. He promised to do this publicly, and said his private army was to be, "just as strong as our national military". What else is hidden in this bill? We told you this had nothing at all to do with your health or welfare; only with power and control. Pelosi said, "We have to pass this bill to see what's in it." Well, now we're finding out it's worse than our worst nightmares. Just like the census, he is going to hire thousands of ACORN workers and other radical Marxist scumbags for his private army. They will have full military training and powers. Why do we need a domestic army? We already have the National Guard. If you weren't convinced this is End Times, maybe now you're getting the message. How are you going to feel when a fully armed and military trained ACORN member or other leftist dirt bag kicks down your door for suspicion of domestic terrorism? Have you noticed how many "domestic terrorists" are getting arrested now on false and made up charges? It's all staged and none of these people did anything.
We may well have a silver "short squeeze". This means people demand silver on the COMEX and London Bullion Exchange, but there isn't any silver. The price will skyrocket if this happens. London admitted to lending out silver and gold at 100 to 1 ratios. The SLVs (paper silver and gold) admittedly have almost no metal. The COMEX is the largest repository of silver and gold, and may well be as empty as Ft. Knox. They are self auditing, which is the same as no auditing at all. Ft. Knox hasn't been audited in 50 years, despite a federal law requiring a complete one every ten years. This is why we have only been buying bullion and no stocks for months now. When the silver-to-HUI (currently 24:1) ratio improves we will sell our stocks and go to all bullion. Right now silver stocks are extremely undervalued, and it is a poor time to sell them and switch to physical metal. This will change soon, and the HUI will be 600. The silver market is tiny, and this is why the price will go to unimaginable heights. It is estimated there are only about one billion available ounces in the whole world. Most of these are in the COMEX, London Exchange and the "paper silver" SLV exchanges. This means each person in the world only gets one sixth of one ounce of silver- $3 worth at $18 an ounce. There are endless "greedy hoarders" who have 100,000 or more ounces. This means each now owns the silver for over a half million people. We cannot possibly mine enough to fill the demand. You MUST have silver in a technological society and you cannot replace it. The replacements like platinum palladium and rhodium are far more expensive. You would not have a car, telephone, computer, refrigerator or much of anything else electrical in nature without silver.
Right now the silver to HUI ratio is very high about 24 to 1. When it returns to a much lower level (like 16 to 1 we will sell our stocks and convert them to bullion. Stocks are severely undervalued right now.
The Dow Jones to silver ratio is now about 610 to 1. It was about 930 to 1 (Nov 2007). It is going to about 25 to 1. (e.g. Dow 5,000 and silver $200). The silver to gold ratio is now about
63 to 1, and will return to the traditional, historical 15 to 1 ratio or even better. Silver will do four times better than gold. The median American home is now $165,000 and falling to about $120,000. You will be able to buy the average home for 600 ounces of silver! Please read that again- you will be able to buy the average home for 600 ounces of silver very soon.
Some people write and say they are poor and have to hold onto everything they have. They are afraid to buy silver. Let's say you own nothing but a $50,000 IRA. Sell it, pay the penalty and you'll be left with something like $35,000. Buy twenty 100 oz silver bars. Within five years this will be worth over $350,000. Your IRA or 401k will be worth nothing after it is nationalized by "your" government and turned into a worthless treasury annuity. Silver and gold are real. Paper is just paper. The green paper in your wallet is Monopoly money and is worthless. All currencies on earth are worthless and backed by nothing.
California is the sixth largest economy in the world. It is hopelessly bankrupt. "As goes California so goes the nation." On April 5 Jim "the Liar" Cramer said the California economy had bottomed and was "turning around". California is also the most socialistic, welfare state in the union, even worse than Massachusetts. This is what socialism, big government and welfare programs bring you- poverty, bankruptcy, and absolute ruin.
Bernie Madoff stole over $50 billion. Didn't you notice there was ZERO attempt to get that money back? Isn't that strange that no attempt whatsoever was made to get it back. You can't spend $50 billion on yachts, condos, and vacations folks. Bernie is a Mossad agent and that money went right to the Israeli government.
Look at the above chart of the U.S. dollar. It has topped at 82 and is ready to go into freefall. Your poor old author is massively short the dollar with a stop at 82.5 cents. The dollar could well fall drastically by Christmas. Predicting the short term is a disaster but here I go sticking my neck out again. Look for a 55 cent dollar by Christmas.
Sign up for the free National Inflation Association newsletter. Did you know 10% of workers pay 73% of all federal taxes? And Obama says they aren't taxed enough? Did you know 40 million people are on food stamps? And the media tells you we're in a "recovery". Did you know HALF of all workers will pay no federal taxes at all? 10% pay 73%, and almost half pay nothing. Yet Obama wants to redistribute the wealth. It's already being redistributed for
God's sake!!! These are the kinds of things you learn from the NIA. They have the same sermon as we do- buy silver, buy more silver, and keep buying silver. They get it.
CHANGING A DEMOCRAT FOR A REPUBLICAN THIS FALL WILL DO NOTHING!!!
The Republicans just voted Mitt Romney as their "favorite conservative". He's about as conservative at Hugo Chavez for God's sake! He put in a socialist health care program for Massachusetts that broke the state economy. He brags about it! We have a one party Republicrat system in America. Two sides of the same coin. If McCain had won, things would be different but just as bad. We'd have Neoconism instead of Marxism. McCain just tried to ban all food supplements with his senate bill, and failed due to massive outrage. 99% of Americans vote for the Republicrat Party. Only 1% vote Libertarian for freedom. The Tea Party is a joke now. Do not fall for the New Tea Party with frauds like Palin, Bachmann, Meese, and Gingrich leading the charge. The Tea Party a year ago was the real deal, with real patriots in the streets with signs. Now it has been taken over by the liberals and ruined.
40 million Americans are on food stamps and the media tells us we're "recovering" and the worst is behind us? Almost 1 in 7 people can't feed themselves without government help? Add in the government school lunch programs and it's even worse.
The FBI is going to censor the 3,000 page file it has on Senator Kennedy. The facts are so disgraceful the family is pleading portions be omitted. The same is true of Martin Luther King, whose 17,000 page file was such a disgrace almost the entire report was sealed and locked up until 2027. And don't think it will be released in 17 years, because it won't. King was an adulterer and sexual deviate as well as a communist puppet and plagiarizer. This is extremely rare and against the law to censor FBI files after someone dies. Kennedy was a pitiful excuse for a human being, but was a senator for 47 years. Even after he murdered Mary Jo, and covered it up, the sheeple in Massachusetts continued to elect him over and over. The people of Massachusetts are the real disgrace here for choosing a drunken, hardcore socialist, adulterer, and murderer as their legal representative. Blame the American voter for the collapse of America. All 525 members of Congress were freely elected by the American people.
Did you notice the media micro analyzed the entire Tiger Woods affair, and is still doing so.
There is no detail they cannot find, no matter how insignificant, how unimportant, or how completely minute, niggling, and irrelevant. However, when it comes to Saint Obama it seems they can't find anything at all on Barry Soretoro. They sure can't find his Kenyan birth certificate, none of his Harvard papers, which country issued his visa to Pakistan, anything about his passports showing his real birthplace, how he paid for that Harvard education, his endless radical Marxist friends and mentors. They can't even find Michelle's racist college thesis where she expressed her unbridled hatred of white people and America in general.
Look at the chart below if you don't think hyperinflation is going to destroy the economy. Inflation is a thief in the night that steals your life savings unseen. There is only ONE cause of inflation, and that is printing unbacked Monopoly money. There is nothing complex or mysterious about inflation at all. Ever since the Federal Reserve (which isn't federal and has no reserves at all) was founded almost 100 years ago the dollar has lost 98% of its value. We seem to take that for granted. The national money should never lose value if it is backed by gold and silver. The Constitution defines money only as gold and silver, nothing else. The ONLY way to protect yourself from the coming massive hyperinflation is owning silver or gold. Silver is four times better than gold. We are going to see an absolute nightmare of Weimar-style and Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation where prices go to Mars and beyond. You can already see it every day wherever you shop and whatever you buy.
Here is the cover of this week's Newsweek
magazine touting the "comeback" of America.
A glowing article about how the "worst is
behind us, and there are only blue skies ahead.
America will "stay on top" of the world as
always. Everything is fine folks. Nothing to
worry about. Forget the 21% unemployed
Americans who can't get a job. Don't worry
about massive hyperinflation. This is the perfect
"contrarian indicator". Whatever the media tells
you is usually 180% opposite from what is really
happening. There is no comeback whatsoever.
America is finished, done, through, over.
The Comeback Country
How America pulled itself back from the brink-and why it's destined to stay on top.
If everything else was just peachy keen, the derivatives market alone would take down the entire world economy. Why? Because there are so many derivatives we cannot really comprehend the situation. They are all coming unraveled as you read this. Derivatives have never existed before in 5,000 years of human history. We cannot even define a derivative other than to say its value is "derived" from another monetary instrument. There are more than one quadrillion dollars in worldwide derivatives. What does this mean? $1+ Quadrillion is roughly:
Let's say that again- 23 times the entire gross domestic product of the planet.
Bernanke admitted in a public hearing that our yearly debt could equal the GNP. We spend over half our taxes on the military for wars of aggression. Believe it or not we spend almost half of the WORLD military budget for 5% of the population. That's right, if you add up the total military budges for all 170 countries on this earth we spend 47% of it. Russia wisely limits their budget to control the former republics, and not attack anyone. China wisely limits their budget to controlling their population. We're busy murdering innocent people in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and looking to attack Yemen, Syria, and especially Iran. Iran is minding its own business folks. They are members of the Nuclear Non-Prolifteration Treaty, and get yearly inspections. They have no nuclear weapons. Israel, on the other hand has more nuclear weapons by far than anyone in the Mideast, refuses to join the Non-Prolifertation Treaty, and has never once had an inspection. They want us to attack Iran for them. This will be the worst mistake we have ever made and we'll pay for it in ways you cannot even dream of.
Get it straight! Electing a bunch of Republicans on November 2 will do nothing to change this country. If McCain has been elected things would be just as bad, only different. We have a one party Republicrat system in this country. Two sides of the same coin. In the last 100 years the Republicans have ruined this country just as much as the Democrats. There is no difference between the two parties. Electing Republicans this fall will do nothing but rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is where Beck, Boortz, Hannity, Limbaugh, Medved, Savage, and the rest of the frauds expose themselves for what they are- phonies! They keep telling you to elect Republicans this fall, and everything will be fine. NOTHING WILL CHANGE FOLKS. You'll get Tweedle Dee rather than Tweedle Dum. Only 1% of voters vote for Libertarians. Most elections don't even include a Libertarian, so you only have a choice of the lesser of two evils. That's no choice at all. The Tea Party is now a fraud led by poseurs such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. This is not the real Tea Party of a year ago. It has been ruined, infiltrated, and co-opted. Do your best to support any groups you believe in. Support your state in getting out of national health care. Yes, each state can exempt itself from this. Go to any demonstrations and rallies near you to support causes you believe in. Do your part. And please vote Libertarian this Fall wherever possible. A Rasmussen poll just showed if there was a presidential election today Obama would get 42% of the vote, and Ron Paul 41%. He is the only honest member of Congress out of 525.
JUNIOR MOGAMBO RANGER (JMR) Jim L. sent me a link to a story at Yahoo.com entitled "Bernanke Wants to Eliminate Reserve Requirements Completely", gasps the Mogambo Guru in The Daily Reckoning.
First, starting with the explanation, we learn that "Up until now, the United States has operated under a 'fractional reserve' banking system. Banks have always been required to keep a small fraction of the money deposited with them for a reserve, but were allowed to loan out the rest."
What they don't mention is that the money keeps eventually coming back to the bank, deposited into savings accounts and checking accounts, which the banks again gather up, putting aside a few bucks, and loaning out the rest again, whereupon the money eventually makes its way back to savings accounts and checking accounts at the banks, over and over and over, so that a single Dollar deposited in one bank can be multiplied ten-fold, a hundred-fold, a thousand-fold – or more, unto infinity! – which is how the money supply gets so grossly swollen, which is what causes booms and busts and the catastrophic, ruinous, terrifying inflation in prices.
The funny part is when the article goes on:
"But now it turns out that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wants to completely eliminate minimum reserve requirements, which he says 'impose costs and distortions on the banking system'..."Hahahahahaork!
That "Hahahahahaork!" appending the previous paragraph is my feeble attempt at describing the sound of "laughing and puking in fear", a remarkable feat that I was sure would win me some kind of theatrical award. And it would, too, if only award committees would send someone to witness my performance, or even answer my calls and letters, and then maybe a Hollywood producer would see me and star me in a few films, and then I would be rich and famous and I could get out of this little jerkwater town and away from its stupid inhabitants who don't Buy Gold, silver and oil when I tell them to, even after I specifically track them down, grab them by the front of their shirts, drag them up close to me and then, spitting while I talk so that they can feel little droplets of Pure Mogambo Spittle (PMS) hitting their stupid faces while I am screaming at them, tell them to Buy Gold, silver and oil! But they still don't!
Instead, they file charges...and so I try to file a counter-charge of my own, and I tell the policemen that I was arresting this moron for acting stupidly, and the stupid cop tells me that it is not against the law to act stupidly! I mean, what kind of country is this, anyway?
But letting imbeciles walk around making stupid decisions – such as not Buying Gold – is not the point I was making, but that this Bernanke moron, the head of the Federal Reserve, doesn't know that total reserves in the banks is a piddly $64 billion and which is so miniscule that it is not even worth talking about? Hahaha!
Banking reserves against losses in assets and liabilities are, at $64 billion, up from a decade of $42 billion, but still ridiculously laughably insignificant, as in "rounding error" when compared to the $20 trillion or so in bank assets and liabilities, probably not to mention all the off-book assets and liabilities they are sitting upon.
And yet this Bernanke buffoon thinks that reserves comprised of such chump change "impose costs and distortions on the banking system"? Hahahaha!
This is the same guy – the same guy! – who sees no distortions when he and his inept Federal Reserve cronies create the money to fund the government's $1.6 trillion budget deficit or almost $13 trillion in national debt, but finds accounting for a handful of chump change distorting instead? Hahahaha! Surreal! I can't believe he said that! Hahahaha!
And then, when you add it to the complete failure of the Federal Reserve to achieve its original mission to maintain the value of the Dollar, which has shrunk to about 3 cents of 1913 buying power, as Bugs Bunny would say, "What a maroon!"
And with this extremely low-caliber type of people running the economic show, I am sure that you can instantly, intuitively understand, deep down in your gut where you sense impending doom (like when Thelma and Louise saw all those cop cars chasing them through an open desert in broad daylight), why I am screaming, "We're freaking doomed!" why I am armed to the teeth, why I am up to my ears in gold, silver and oil, and why I am so insistent that you do the same.
And if you don't understand, then just wait around a little while. You will!
Start Buying Gold in Zurich, Switzerland on $3 spreads and $4 monthly storage at BullionVault...
Don’t carp, carpenters!
Raise the bar, baristas!
Just in time for April 15, a barrage of new STEAL SOMETHING FROM WORK DAY propaganda is hitting the airwaves. This announcement covers a movie, a full-length journal, and a new hip hop track, among other things.
Steal Something From Work Day VIDEO!
I had been covering veterans’ issues for several years and thought I’d developed a thick skin. But the pain on the other end of the telephone line was difficult to stomach. Sergeant Chuck Luther, now back from Iraq, was describing his journey to hell and back. The worst part, he said, wasn’t battling insurgents or even the mortar blast that tossed him to the ground and slammed his head against the concrete – it was the way he was treated by the U.S. Army when he went to the aid station and sought medical help.
In gruesome detail, Luther described what happened to him at Camp Taji’s aid station. He thought he would receive medical care. Instead he was confined to an isolation chamber and held there for over a month, under enforced sleep deprivation, until he agreed to sign papers saying that he was ill before coming to Iraq and thus not eligible for disability and medical benefits. “They wanted me to say I had a ‘personality disorder,’” Luther told me...
...Luther's case is not an isolated incident. In the past three years, The Nation has uncovered more than two dozen cases like his from bases across the country. All the soldiers were examined, deemed physically and psychologically fit, then welcomed into the military. All performed honorably before being wounded during service. None had a documented history of psychological problems. Yet after seeking treatment for their wounds, each soldier was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then discharged and denied benefits...
Did you know that Operation Gladio was a US government plan put into operation that killed European citizens?
Former prominent Republican U.S. Congressman and CIA official Bob Barr stated that the U.S. is close to becoming a totalitarian society and that elements in government are using fear to try to bring this about.
Republican U.S. congressman Ron Paul stated that the government "is determined to have martial law." He also said a contrived "Gulf of Tonkin-type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran."
Former National Security Adviser Brzezinski told the Senate that a terrorist act might be carried out in the U.S. and falsely blamed on Iran to justify war against that nation.
The former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, Paul Craig Roberts, who is called the "Father of Reaganomics" and is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Scripps Howard News Service, has said:
"Ask yourself: Would a government that has lied us into two wars and is working to lie us into an attack on Iran shrink from staging 'terrorist' attacks in order to remove opposition to its agenda? ... If the Bush administration wants to continue its wars in the Middle East and to entrench the 'unitary executive' at home, it will have to conduct some false flag operations that will both frighten and anger the American people and make them accept Bush's declaration of 'national emergency' and the return of the draft. Alternatively, the administration could simply allow any real terrorist plot to proceed without hindrance."
General Tommy Franks stated that if another terrorist attack occurs in the United States "the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government."
Daniel Ellsberg, the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower, said "if there is another terror attack, I believe the president will get what he wants. And what he wants is a new Patriot Act, one that will make the current Patriot Act look like the Bill of Rights."
Former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter stated before the Iraq war started that there were no weapons of mass destruction. He is now saying that he would not rule out staged government terror by the U.S. government. And British Parliament Member George Galloway stated that "there is a very real danger" that the American government will stage a false flag terror attack in order to justify war against Iran and to gain complete control domestically.
The abundance of reliable information in this essay suggests that not only has the U.S. in the past conducted false flag operations, but there is a possibility that 9/11 involved some element of this deceit, and a future false flag operation cannot be ruled out. Let us spread this news to all who care so that we might build the critical mass necessary to stop these secret operations and work together for a more caring civil society.
Overwhelmed by this material? Click here
Special Note: This essay is an edited version of the well researched document available at http://pledgeforamerica.com/2.html. For a collection of reliable, verifiable information suggesting that 9/11 may have been a form of false flag operation, please see the 9/11 Information Center at http://www.WantToKnow.info/911information.
A Few Likely False Flag Operations:
1605 - The infamous Guy Fawkes plot to blow up the English Parliament. Actually an institutional false flag plot used as a pretext for war with Spain. Official history still repeats this deception. 2
1898 - The sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor was immediately pinned on the Spanish and the rallying call became, “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain.” William Randolph-Hearst enflamed anti-Spanish sentiment in his papers by claiming definitively that it was a Spanish plot. No reliable evidence was ever produced linking Spain to the event. It is now widely believed that the event was a mechanical failure or false flag operation.
1933 - The Reichstag Fire allows the Nazis to crack down on their opposition and take power. A naked cowering Dutch communist, Martin Van der Lubbe, is found on the scene and the Nazis immediately claim that the fire is a communist plot.
“The exact sequence of events will never be known, but Nazi storm troopers under the direction of Hermann Göring were also involved in torching the place. They had befriended the arsonist and may have known or even encouraged him to burn the Reichstag that night. The storm troopers, led by SA leader Karl Ernst, used the underground tunnel that connected Göring’s residence with the cellar in the Reichstag. They entered the building, scattered gasoline and incendiaries, then hurried back through the tunnel.” 3
After World War II, Operation Gladio was a “stay behind” operation by NATO, CIA, and MI6 to counter communist/leftist influence in Europe. These state-sponsored “secret armies” used false flag terrorism against their populations in order to frame left wing groups, influence elections, and justify increased “security.” Gladio has been confirmed by various governments and condemned by the European Parliament.
1954 - The Lavon Affair, a “scandal over a failed Israeli covert operation in Egypt known as Operation Suzannah, in which U.S. and U.K. targets in Egypt were bombed and evidence left implicating the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; a textbook example of a false flag operation.” 4
Thu, 15 Apr 2010 15:21 EDT
Live Links @Original:
Public Intelligence has received a request from FEMA to remove a "For Official Use Only" document regarding the National Level Exercise 2010 (NLE 10), which was scheduled for this coming May. The exercise was to be based on National Planning Scenario 1 which simulates a nuclear detonation in a U.S. city. However, recent political pressure has led to the exercise being "scaled back" according to the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and a variety of other publications. At the behest of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the exercise's Nevada events have reportedly been canceled and the FEMA website now shows no mention of NLE 10.
On top of this, the Obama administration has recently been emphasizing the threat of a domestic nuclear attack. President Obama's remarks at the Nuclear Security Summit on April 13, 2010 emphasize that the threat of terrorists using nuclear weapons inside of major metropolitan cities is one of the "greatest threats" that the world faces:
Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history - the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.
Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations. Just the smallest amount of plutonium - about the size of an apple - could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it. Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world - causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability.
In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security - to our collective security.
NLE 10 concerned itself with exactly this scenario: the detonation of a nuclear device inside of a U.S. city. Las Vegas was to be the epicenter of this hypothetical attack and, if the exercise utilized the same circumstances as National Planning Scenario 1, it would have involved "hundreds of thousands" of casualties, more than 300,000 refugees and ultimately more than 1 million displaced persons.
The unpopularity of such a scenario, regardless of its security benefits, is obvious. What is strange is the attempt that is now being made by FEMA to eliminate references to the exercises and remove from circulation a document that has played an important role in drawing attention to the exercise. As the state of NLE 10 is unclear at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the request is truly motivated by security or whether there is a more dubious intention.
President Lula Da Silva announces the purchase of $4.4 billion dollars in new warplanes the same day that mudslides in Rio de Janeiro bury over 230 people living in precarious shanty slums neglected by the government housing authorities .While there is a total absence of a drainage system in the favelas, Lula spent billions on roads and ports for exporters but nothing for resident slum safety. Brazil is widely included as a newly emerging world power, along with China, Russia and India, the so called BRIC countries, and yet nearly forty percent of its population, lives on or below the poverty line, at or below the minimum wage of $200 dollars a month for a family of four.
Brazil’s attraction for many of its financial promoters is found in the size of its population of 210 million, the effective consumer market of over 100 million, and its agro-mineral resources: Brazil is one of the world’s biggest exporters of chicken, beef, soya, iron ore, cotton and ethanol.
Two other factors have recommended the Lula regime to both the right and left. The Right is pleased with Brazil’s stock market, financial sector and foreign owned banks (over 50%) which have gained and transferred over 150 billion in profits to overseas investors over the past 8 years of Lula’s rule. The ‘Left’ is enthusiastic about Lula’s independent foreign policy: his opposition to the US boycott of Cuba and exclusion from the Organization of American States; his economic relations with Iran despite pressure from Washington; his refusal to condemn Venezuelan President Chavez; and the fact that China has replaced the US as Brazil’s foremost trading partner as of 2010. Moreover, many defenders and apologists for Lula cite his “poverty program” which provides a $40 a month subsidy to 10 million destitute families , which has reduced poverty. The Lula Left forget the fact that the regime has failed to provide meaningful employment with adequate pay for the poverty subsidy recipients and has broken promises to carry out an agrarian reform for the 20 million landless rural workers. In other words, Lula’s supporters cite the regime’s policy of diversifying markets for Brazilian agro-mineral exporters and his multi-billion dollar electoral patronage subsidies to the poor as evidence of Lula’s “progressive” credentials.
Two other elements enter into the positive image of Lula: his working class, trade union origins and his continued high popularity ratings (according to recent polls over 60%). The “working class” background is over 20 years past: Lula has not worked in a factory for over 25 years.He has been a middle class political functionary of his party since the mid 1980’s. Moreover, Lula’s working class origins have no relevance to his current political and social commitments and appointments, which are tied to big business strategists and neo-liberal central bankers and economic ministers. What needs to be acknowledged is that Lula is a master at the politics of conservative populism: Lula excels in creating an emotional bond with the poor, through his face to face encounters and mass media imagery as “a man of the people”, even as he upholds a social hierarchy with the greatest inequalities in South America. No conservative neo-liberal leader in the US or EU can combine the façade of “populism” and the content of neo-liberal orthodoxy with the same success.
Myths and Reality of a Brazil as an “Emerging World Power”
Given the enduring mass poverty and social inequalities in land and wealth no perceptive observer can claim that Brazil’s new status as an emerging world power is due to Lula’s social policies. The entire basis for projecting Brazil onto the world stage is based on its economic performance. A brief but close examination of the empirical realties, raises profound doubts about Brazil’s performance and Lula’s claims of achieving the status of a world power. Between 2003-2009 Brazil’s GDP grew by a mere 3.4% and only 2% percapita, below the average for Latin America by at least 1%. If we compare Brazil’s performance in relation to the other BRIC countries, especially China and India, Brazil’s GDP grew at less than 40% of their rate of growth. Locating Brazil in the same league as China and India seems to be highly misleading. Moreover, while most of the growth of the other newly emerging powers is based on diversified industrial exports (China) and high tech information services (India), Brazil still depends on the dynamic expansion of agro-mineral exports.
Growth and stagnation characterized Lula’s eight years in office, depending on prices and demand for agro-mineral commodities. During the years of the commodity boom (2004 – 2008) Brazil grew by 4.5%; during the downturn in commodity prices (2003 and 2009) Brazil stagnated at less than 1%. In other words, Lula’s “free market policies” had less to do with Brazils’ economic performance than world market demand for commodities. Despite Lula’s claims that Brazil would avoid the impact of the world crises of 2008 -2010 because it was “delinked” from the imperial centers, in fact beginning in October 2008 and continuing through to January of 2010 Brazil entered into a recession with zero growth in 2009. Its recovery in 2010 is largely the result of the revival and explosion in commodity demand, led by China, and the sharp rise in prices of key export commodities such as iron ore which has doubled in price since the beginning of 2010.
Brazil’s economic performance under Lula appears favorable only in comparison to the disastrous results achieved under the previous ultra neo-liberal Cardoso regime which grew at a snail’s pace of less than 3%. What is most significant, however, is the strategic socio-economic and political continuities between the Cardoso and Lula regimes. Cardoso devastated the public sector, by privatizing and denationalizing, at ridiculously low prices, the most lucrative enterprises. The most glaring example was the sell off of one of the richest iron mines in the world Vale del Doce for less than a billion dollars, a firm which is now valued at over $20 billion dollars and with yearly profits exceeding $3 billion dollars. Lula has retained and even expanded Cardoso’s most dubious privatizations – including the banks, mines, oil and telecommunication companies which were acquired at below market prices.
Even before his first election victory in 2002 Lula signed an orthodox International Monetary Fund Agreement to retain a 4% budget surplus, to pursue an orthodox fiscal policy restraining social spending reducing public pensions and holding down wages. Lula was more successful than Cardoso in enforcing these orthodox monetary policies because of his influence over the major trade union confederation (CUT) leaders, who he co-opted via appointments to the Labor Ministry. In other words, Lula harnessed populist rhetoric to fiscal conservatism, symbolic labor appointments with economic policy czars with long-standing ties to major financial centers.
Lula received the enthusiastic endorsement of all the major financial newspapers for his switch from advocate of working class social reforms to staunch ally of the BOVESPA (Brazilian stock exchange). His policies of accumulating over $200 billion in foreign reserves, of prioritizing the paying down foreign debts instead of increasing social spending for education health and housing affecting 100 million Brazilians, won lasting praise among all orthodox economic experts. The “stability” of the economy was bought at the expense of the instability in the lives of the working class and the rural poor. Unemployment under Lula never went below 10%; the ‘informal sector’ remained at over 30%; four million rural families remained landless; the Amazon rain forest annually lost over 2 million hectareas per year, encouraged by Lula’s push to promote agro-business exports. Indian territorial reserves were violated, land was occupied, scores were killed, while federal and state agencies focused on prosecuting rural movements occupying uncultivated latifundios owned by business speculators. Lula’s policy of financing agro-business exporters was successful – cultivated lands expanded, revenues increased geometrically and wealth grew – for the owners, investors and stock owners. But at a tremendous cost: over 2 million rural workers were forced to migrate to slums and marginal employment, becoming easy recruits for the drug gangs which control the favelas of Rio and Sao Paolo. Millions of family farmers were forced to borrow at high interest rates and to compete with subsidized food imports, driving hundreds of thousands into bankruptcy and making Brazil a food deficit country.
Lula, during and immediately after his election, solemnly promised the powerful 350,000 member Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) that he would carry out an agrarian reform settling 100,000 families a year with housing, credits and technical assistance. During his eight years in office, Lula broke his pledge every year, settling less than 40,000 families while under-financing the new and established co-operatives driving over one-third into bankruptcy. The MST in turn because of its “critical support” of Lula, lost the political initiative even as it continued its policy of occupying farms to secure land reform. After a brief period of tolerance, the government turned the military police against the Movement, arresting its leaders and criminalizing its activities. After a major corruption scandal affecting Lula’s top advisers and leaders in Parliament (2005 – 2006), he turned to the traditional rightist parties and established politicians including ex-President Sarney to promote his neo-liberal economic agenda. Lula’s new coalition with the traditional right was based on a common program of promoting big agricultural interests and guaranteeing their security against the land occupation strategy of the agrarian reformers in the MST. The result was an increasing concentration of landownership (1% of landholders own over 50% of the fertile lands) and an increasing number of movement leaders and activists awaiting trials and serving time in jail.
Lula’s legacy is essentially an “economically sound and stable market for investors” according to all orthodox economic experts. Brazil was rewarded by being awarded the site for the forthcoming Olympics. But given the severity of poverty and the dynamic growth of drug trafficking and armed organized gangs, Lula’s projections of nearly 50,000 soldiers to protect the spectators reveals the underside of his dream of an emerging world power.
Lula’s Political Legacy
Lula’s political legacy is on display in this year’s presidential elections, in which he must step down after two terms in office. In contrast to the past, there is now in place a modified two party system in which a variety of smaller groups coalesce around Lula’s Workers Party (PT) and Jose Serra’s Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB). Neither party is what its label proclaims: over 80% of the delegates at the PT nominating convention were professionals, lawyers, functionaries and business people with a sprinkling of trade union bureaucrats and co-opted “movement” officials. There is nothing “socialist” about the party of Cardoso which privatized the jewels of the economy. The competition of the two parties is over who best represents the agro-mineral, banking and industrial elite of Sao Paolo and as a corollary who will receive the bulk of their financial contributions. Lula was eminently successful in securing tens of millions of dollars in contributions from the economic elite for his services on their behalf. In fact most of the really wealthy contribute to both major parties. Lula’s legacy is that he has de-radicalized Brazilian politics, leading to a consensus over the centrality of free markets, free trade and state promoted big business as the bases of economic policy. Beyond that Lula has enshrined the principle of poverty subsidies in place of social structural changes as the centerpiece of social policy.
Brazil: The Presidential Election 2010
The best analysis of the forthcoming Brazilian presidential elections (October 3) is found in the response of the stock market, credit agencies and investors: they envision no major changes on the horizon, continued support for orthodox fiscal policies, greater state promotion of private national and foreign investment and most important, social stability. The so-called “Workers” Party under Lula’s unchallenged authoritarian control, nominated Dilma Rousseff, his former ‘chief of staff’ as their candidate. The opposition rightwing PSDB nominated Sao Paulo State Governor Jose Serra, a former leftist who once contributed an essay to a book I edited back in 1972, titled “Dependence or Revolution”. One of the political ironies is that over the past two decades former Marxists, trade union leaders, even guerrilla activists have played a leadership and vanguard role in steering Brazil toward deeper integration into the world market, replacing socialist internationalism by embracing capitalist globalization.
To the extent that differences exist between Rousseff and Serra they revolve around issues of foreign policy, the role of public-private enterprise associations and the size and scope of public sector spending. Rousseff, promises to continue Lula’s promotion of billion dollar trade and investment agreements with all countries including Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia, regardless of US opposition. Serra, who is ideologically closer to Washington’s agenda, may reduce or limit these economic ties to accommodate the Obama regime. In other words, the Workers Party is a party with a greater commitment to independent market based global expansion than Serra’s more dogmatic ideologically influenced foreign economic policy. Officials in Washington have informed me that, the Obama regime will adopt a public posture of ‘neutrality’, since both candidates have affirmed friendly ties with Washington. Unofficially, I was told (off the record) that the Obama Administration prefers Serra because he is likely to side with Washington’s policy against Iran and be more outspokenly critical of President Chavez. However given the large scale engagement of Sao Paolo business interests in both countries, it remains to be seen how far Serra (if he is elected) would actually go in prejudicing Brazilian investors to satisfy US military driven empire building. Rousseff is likely to promote large scale public-private joint ventures to exploit multi-billion dollar off-shore oil and gas exploitation; Serra is more likely to promote exclusively private-foreign capital ownership and exploitation. Rousseff’s election campaign will receive big financial contributions from a long list of agro-mineral corporations, traders and national industrial manufacturers and construction contractors who received lucrative government contracts and subsidies and credit. Serra will be financially favored by the multi-national banks, rightwing landowners associations and the leaders of the Sao Paolo industrial elite. The trade union confederations and social movements will back Rousseff, either because of recent favorable wage agreements or because the PT is seen as the “lesser evil”. The Chamber of Commerce and some leading business associations and middle class “civic groups” will back Serra especially in the greater Sao Paolo region. While on the surface these political and social differences between the candidates appear to give some credibility to the idea of a ‘left-right polarization’ in reality the differences disappear when we examine closely the make-up of the political parties within the coalition backing the Rousseff. Four of the five major parties are on the conservative end of the political spectrum: the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the Brazilian Republican Party (PRB), the Democratic Labour Party (PDT) and the Republic Party(RP). If Rousseff should be elected these four rightwing coalition partners will obtain the majority of ministries, leadership position in the Congress and ensure that the Rousseff regime does not trespass the boundries of orthodox neo-liberal fiscal policies.
What remains of the Left, is a fragmented assortment of micro parties with a strong presence in public sector trade unions (teachers, health workers) and some influence among the social movements. If the various groups united they might gather a respectable vote, but because of sectarian and opportunistic practices that is unlikely. Ciro Gomes, a former member of Lula’s cabinet is a likely candidate for the Socialist Party. But that is likely a mere a pretext to negotiate electoral support in the second round in exchange for a cabinet post if Rousseff is elected. Marina Silva, Lula’s former Environment Minister is a candidate for the Green Party, a party allied with the rightwing PSDB, PMDB as well as the PT whenever it is opportune: Silva will likely trade her voters to whichever party offers her a post. The two other explicitly “Marxist” parties, the United Socialist Workers Party (PSTU) and the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), which tentatively agreed to present a common candidate have yet to resolve differences about acceptable coalition partners: the PSOL looks to the Green Party, the PSTU threatens to abandon the alliance.
Brazilian politics have moved a long way to the right over the past decade: the PT is now an openly pro-business party, whose fiscal policies are identical to the IMF recipes. The once militant trade confederation, the CUT, is now little more than an adjunct of the Ministry of Labor, well rewarded with economic subsidies but incapable of putting workers in the streets. Even the mass based rural landless workers (MST) which still retains its organizational autonomy feels weakened and isolated in the face of the PTs right turn. On the other hand, agro-export elites are thriving, investment bankers and overseas multi-nationals are pouring over $30 billion a year into Brazil; one of the worlds “safest emerging world powers”. Leftist leaders like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez praise Brazil’s “progressive” foreign policy even as Lula signs defense pacts with Obama for joint training and military exercises. No doubt Lula has gained greater international recognition for Brazil and will finish office with the greatest popularity ratings of any President in recent history. Yet with a cost of living comparable to that of Barcelona, over 30%, of Brazilian wage workers still receive a minimum wage of $200 dollars a month; the public school teachers in Sao Paolo receive between $436 – $505 dollars a month. One has only to visit the millions dwelling in the slums surrounding Sao Paolo, Rio and the other major cities to realize that there are two Brazils: the mass media publicized Brazil of the BRIC, the banker’s ‘emerging world power’, the Brazil of free elections and free markets, and then there is the “other Brazil” of forty million impoverished slum dwellers, twenty million landless rural workers, tens of thousands of dispossessed (Amazon) Indians, thousands of unpaid ‘slave laborers’ living in debt peonage, the millions of public school teachers, working two, three or more jobs up to 13 hours a day to earn a decent living. Lula’s presidency may have raised Brazil’s international stature and gained him the status of a ‘global statesman’ but most workers, peasants and Afro-Brazilians still work and live under Third World conditions.
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 — 12:47 pm
Ron Paul is a long-shot for the Republican nomination for president by any standard, but a Rasmussen poll finds him in a statistical tie with President Barack Obama.
The survey, released Wednesday by the conservative-leaning organization, finds Obama edging out Paul by 42 points to 41 in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. Eleven percent said they would prefer a different candidate, while 6 percent were undecided.
Rep. Paul (R-TX) has rankled the GOP and conservative establishment with his opposition to its big-spending ways and penchant for war, but has garnered an ardent following of small-government libertarians from across the nation.
His anti-war statements at last weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference were met with a mixture of cheers from his fans and boos from the mainstream crowd. Refuting a central Republican talking point, he said Obama was a "corporatist," not a "socialist."
Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll in February and fell second to likely 2012 hopeful Mitt Romney by a single vote at SRLC. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 2008.
The results of this study will surely be questioned as Rasmussen has been widely criticized by liberals for allegedly gaming its polls to boost conservatives and Republicans while downplaying progressives and Democrats.
While Rasmussen claiming its methods are unique as they're geared toward likely voters, observers have pointed out that his surveys consistently show higher marks for conservatives over liberals than any other accredited polling group.
Although Obama's poll numbers have considerably declined in the last year, a recent CNN survey found that he remains the most popular political figure nationally. Unlike Paul, he commands a large majority of support within his party.
The study's margin of error is 3 percentage points. It was conducted by Rasmussen on April 12-13 over the phone with 1,000 "likely voters."
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