In the news, it was reported these past days that the Government of Canada has spent 1 billion Loonies providing "security" for the G8/G20 meeting in Toronto. The security costs include 5 million dollars for a fence, which left 995 million dollars for other unstated purposes.
There is probably no one in the Western World who has not heard of Marie Antoinette's famous disconnect -- the one that led to her other; and it would appear to be a proposition that governments -- like people -- reaching the end of their viabilities suffer from certain connection deficits. What kind of irreality could have seized the Harper government to spend such lavish sums on protecting a Coddled Club of twenty big wigs in the middle of a Great Recession which is daily costing people their presents and their futures? One is reminded of Hoover the Great, who donned and dined in a tuxedo thinking it would give an "uplift" to the dispirited hobos of Hoovervilles.
There was an Antonine innocence (or at least insouciance) to Hoover's disconnect. Neither the ill-fated queen nor the ill-fated president were malicious people. On the contrary, it was their very good naturedness (and Hoover's indisputable humanitarian instincts) that made their remove from the reality of others so maddening. The same cannot be said for that creamy face scumbag, Harper. Harper, and the neo-liberal hoodlums he hosts, understand very well what they are about. Their disconnect is connected to a fear that is born of their own social and economic guilt. Although they don't care about the dislocations and deprivations their policies will cause, they do know that their policies will cause them. What we see on the streets of Toronto is the shadow of their own self-betraying conscience.
The brioche of the matter is very simple. The meeting in Toronto is aimed at deciding whether to save the banks or to save large non-bank corporations. Obama-Geithner-Bernake have saved American banks and now want to promote trade in order to push the American corporate economy back into the clover. This is called "ending the recession" -- although it is understood and admitted that it is an End-Of-Recession that will not -- repeat not -- involve an End of Joblessness. In other words, OGB is pushing The People be Damned Option 1.
Europe (and particularly Angela Merkel) is pushing The People be Damned Option 2, otherwise known as "Save Our Banks!--The Sequel" Throughout 2008 and 2009, Europe was quite Le Smug. Those uncouth Americans had wrecked themselves with their Wild West Finance. One could cut the swell of Budenbrooksian self-righteousness with a busser-knife. In fact, Germany, and France too, even played the victim, quietly accepting U.S. taxpayer monies for assorted injuries to their banks at the hands of the credit-swapping genies of Wall Street.
But lo and behold! Quite on their own Swiss, German and French banks were out lending massive sums to those credit-unworthies now known as the PIGS of Europe. To be sure, Goldman Sachs played a "constructive role" in cooking Greece's books; but it took a sure-as-hell willing fool to be duped. As the Wall Street Journal put it with inimitable bluntness, Greece is a nation of taxis and tourists; it couldn't "produce" its way out of a paper bag and will never have an "economy" that can repay its debts. This is news?
Of course, Greece is small pork. The real pigs in the poke are Spain and Italy with outstanding debts of one trillion each. That leaves European banks holding a lot of worthless paper. The answer? Austerity & Privatisation. The People have to get used to doing with less and - in Greece's case in particular, in addition to that, what it has in terms of national infrastructure needs to be privatized. (Indeed two weeks after the "rescue package" was announced a "privatisation schedule" was also announced.)
And so the meeting at Toronto boils down to arguing over imperilled salmon fumée whether to pursue Austerity or a Jobless Recovery. Which side of yes we have no bananas do you prefer?
If there were a Protocols of Toronto this would be it; and there is no way these demons do not know that they are Screwing the People big time. They might turn out their media-cannons to dumb-wit the populace but they know that if the people knew they would be up in arms. Ergo: SECURITY.
In fact, once one perceives that todays coddled cadre of leaders is just a milder speaking version as the same neo-con beast we illusorily got rid of at the last election, it can be seen that they have always had a guilty conscience. Back in 2004 the chipsters reported on the announced development of crowd control weapons -- including slippery jelly, sonic cannon and burn lasers -- avowedly aimed at defending against "terrorists" -- or, as the police chief of Toronto called them yesterday, "multi-issue terrorists". You see in the Austerity Police State a person with an issue (e.g. joblessness, hunger, health care or clean air) is a "terrorist".
There is, in reality, no serious security threat to the very precious leaders of the G8/20. There will be the usual carnival protests by powerless progressives accompanied by assorted minor acts of vandalism by anarcho-theatre groups. But a torched cop car and some smashed windows do not topple Empires and -- more even more importantly-- come nowhere close to presenting a danger to well guarded leaders within their security-perimeters.
So unlike hapless Hoover or the unhappy Autrichenne, the disconnects of todays leaders are in fact well connected to what they are about. Today, their police goons are in fact firing plastic bullets at the shadowy spectres of their haunted conscience; tomorrow they will fire real burn lasers and deaf rays at the truly desperate.