• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pope to Take on Greenspan

The News: In an address to diocesan clerics within his bishopric, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Church has the duty to present a reasonable and well-argued criticism of the errors that have led to the current economic crisis. This duty, he said, forms part of the Church's mission and must be exercised firmly and courageously, avoiding moralism but explaining matters using concrete reasons that may be understood by everyone.

Referring to his forthcoming social Encyclical, the Pope presented an overview of the crisis analysing it at two levels. At the macroeconomic level, the Pope said the present system was grounded in selfishness and idolatry of wealth. Here the Church must make her voice heard - nationally and internationally - in order to help bring about a change of direction towards a political economy based on self-sacrifice and concern for the needy. At the microeconomic level, individuals would have to "alter their ways." (Vat. News. Serv.)

The Note: It is not altogether radical to assert that the Church has a mission to critique political economy. She has done so before. What would be radical is a criticism that went beyond "moralism". One is left to wonder what sort of economy the Pope has in mind that would base itself -- systematically -- on self-sacrifice and concern for the needy.

©WCG, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Occasion for Focus

Item 1: Emmily, a cash-register clerk for Kaiser's supermarket in Germany was fired, after 31 years on the job, for allegedly stealing $1.50 in return bottle coupons. The Labor Court upheld the dismissal calling Emmily's action an "irreparable breach of trust." One politician called the court's decison "barbaric" while the Governor of Bavaria said he did not understand "how a cashier can be fired because of €1.30 while managers who lose billions can keep their jobs."

Item 2: Meanwhile, 60,000 GM workers across Europe staged walked outs in Germany, France, Spain, Sweden Austria and Hungary, in protest against GM's plans to close plants. The workers want GM subsidiaries to be split off from the Detroit parent company. Germany union leader, Walter Hubel, excoriated GM for technical incompetence. "They have built models with the aerodynamics of a barn door and the weight of a small tank," he said. Frank Walter Steinmeir, currently Number Two, in the Merkel coalition government, said that "GM has long earned good money with Opel. It would be obscene were they now to throw away European factories like a squeezed-out lemon."

Item 3: Union and anti-globalists are also planning demonstrations in Germany under the slogan "We're not Paying for Your Crisis." Spokesman Alexis Passadakis demanded that those who profitted from the economy that caused the crisis should be required to fork over 5% to 20% of their gains. He denied that worker had had it good under the Greenspan Good Years. "The majority of people have not earned much from the boom -- instead they have had to deal with restraint in their wage agreements. The rich, on the other hand, have seen strong increases in their wealth. So it is only fair that they should pay extra duties" Passadakis also said that no public funds were adequate to "bail out" the trillions in toxic assets held by banks. He argues that the only solution was to let the banks go bankrupt then put them under public control and then recapitalize them.


It appears that class-consciousness is on the rise again, at least in Europe. The question remains, Why was it dormant for so long? The answer, it seems to me, is that "class-consciousness" is a state of mind that exists only when the belly is empty. Trickle down works, at least so long as there's a trickle. And this, after all, makes a certain amount of sense. As they say, "Why go looking to borrow trouble?" But when trouble has come knocking on the door, then it's a different matter. The present economic catastrophe, at least provides the occasion for people to focus attention on the systemic problem.

The second question also remains, Why are US/American workers so utterly cow-like? It cannot be said simply that it is due to their having been bought off with an easy, goody-filled life, because European workers were also bought off. So why aren't U.S. workers taking to the streets?

©WCG, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Union Strives to Create Lumpen Proletariat

The News: Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers union reached deal today that granted the Company discretion to "fund" its retiree health care fund with stock instead of cash balancing its "liquidity needs" as it saw best. "The modifications will protect jobs for U.A.W. members by ensuring the long-term viability of the company,” the union’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, said.

The Note: Pathetic. It is perfectly true that health care costs are a major burden to U.S. enterprises. The solution is National Health Care which lightens the burden for all by spreading the costs and eliminating insurance company profits from those costs. Instead, Gettlefinger, who is apparently devoid of class consciousness, is grateful for the chance to turn his union members into an organized lumpen proletariat.

I think we should bring back petticoated aristocrats. I mean, aristocrats created jobs for chamber-pot carriers, footmen, stable boys and bedroom boys. Without aristocrats there wouldn't be any good jobs for the rest of us.

©WCG, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

What a Difference

The News: President Obama gave his first press conference today, in which he discussed his approach to solving the economic crisis and touched upon policy changes with respect to the Middle East.

The Note: What a difference forthrightness and intelligence make.

©WCG, 2009