THE GAPING DIVIDE BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR CAN NO LONGER BE IGNORED; IT’S TIME TO IDENTIFY THE REAL ENEMY.
by Paul Craig Roberts
From HUSTLER MAGAZINE February 2010
Americans think that they have “freedom and democracy” and that politicians are held accountable by elections. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is ruled by powerful interest groups that control politicians with campaign contributions. Our real rulers are an oligarchy of financial and military/security interests and the lobbying group AIPAC, which influences U.S. foreign policy for the benefit of Israel.
Have a look at economic policy. It is being run for the benefit of large financial concerns such as Goldman Sachs.
It was the banks—not the millions of Americans who have lost homes, jobs, health insurance and pensions—that received $700 billion in TARP funds. The banks used this gift of capital to make more profits. In the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Goldman Sachs announced record second-quarter profits and large six-figure bonuses for its upper-echelon executives.
The Federal Reserve’s low-interest-rate policy is another gift to the banks. It lowers their cost of borrowing funds and thereby increases profits. With the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, banks became high-risk investment houses that trade financial instruments such as interest rate derivatives and mortgage-backed securities. With abundant funds supplied virtually free by the Federal Reserve [in the form of low-interest loans], banks are paying depositors virtually nothing on their savings.
Despite the Federal Reserve’s low-interest- rate policy, banks are raising the annual percentage rate (APR) on credit card purchases and cash advances and on balances that have a penalty rate because of late payment. Banks are also raising late fees. In the midst of the worst economy since the 1930s, heavily indebted Americans—who are losing their jobs and their homes—are to be bled into bankruptcy by the very banks that are being subsidized with TARP funds—our bailout tax dollars—and low interest rates.
What we are experiencing is a massive redistribution of income from the American public to the financial sector. And this is occurring during a Democratic administration headed by America’s first black President, with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. Is there a government anywhere that less represents its citizens than the U.S. government?
Consider America’s wars. As of this writing, the out-of-pocket cost of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $900 billion. Then add in the already-incurred future costs of veterans benefits, interest on the debt, the failure to use resources for productive purposes and such other costs as computed by Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes. In all, “our” government has wasted $3 trillion on two wars that have no benefit whatsoever for any American whose income does not derive from the military/industrial complex—about which five-star general President Eisenhower warned us.
No one else benefited. Iraq was a threat to no one, and finding Saddam Hussein and executing him after a kangaroo trial had no effect whatsoever on ending the war or preventing the start of others.
The cost of America’s wars is a huge burden on a bankrupt country, but the cost incurred by veterans might be even higher. Homelessness is a prevalent condition of veterans, as is post-traumatic stress disorder. American soldiers—who naively fought for the munitions industry’s wars, for high CEO compensation and for dividends and capital gains for shareholders—paid not only with lives and lost limbs, but also with broken marriages, ruined careers, psychiatric disorders and prison sentences for failing to make child support payments.
What did Americans gain from an unaffordable war in Iraq that lasted far longer than World War II and that put into power Shiites allied with Iran? The answer is obvious: nothing whatsoever.
What did the armaments industry gain? Billions of dollars in profits.
What about President Obama? “A corporate marketing creation,” sums up the distinguished British journalist John Pilger.
Obama is the Presidential candidate who promised to end the war in Iraq. He hasn’t. But he has escalated the war in Afghanistan, started a new war in Pakistan and appears determined to start a war in South America. Why does any American care who rules Afghanistan? The country has nothing to do with us.
Did the armed services committees of the House and Senate calculate the risk of destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan when they acquiesced to Obama’s new war there, a war that has already displaced two million Pakistanis? No, of course not. The whores took their orders from the same military/security oligarchy that instructed Obama.
The great American superpower and its 300 million people are being driven straight into the ground by the narrow interests of the big banks and the munitions industry. People, and not only Americans, are losing their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers for no other reason than the profits of U.S. armaments corporations, and the gullible American people seem proud of it. Those ribbon decals on their cars, SUVs and monster trucks proclaim their naive loyalty to the armaments industries and to the whores in Washington who promote wars.
Will Americans, smashed and destroyed by “their” government’s policies, which always put Americans last, ever understand who their real enemies are? Will Americans realize that they are not ruled by elected representatives but by an oligarchy that owns the Washington whorehouse? Will Americans ever understand that they are impotent serfs?
PRINTED BY PERMISSION OF PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS AND CREATORS SYNDICATE.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury and onetime associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. The syndicated columnist’s books include The War of the Worlds: How the Economy Was Lost and The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
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