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Finance, The New Face Of Warfare - Michael Hudson
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JUAN GONZALEZ: President Obama is leaving today for a ten-day visit to Asia, with scheduled stops in India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. In South Korea, Obama will attend the G20 meeting, where US monetary policy is expected to be high on the agenda.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it will pump $600 billion more into the US economy and keep interest rates at historically low levels. The short-term impact of the Fed’s move, known as quantitative easing, has been a jump in stock prices across the globe, but many nations have accused the US of waging a currency war by devaluing the dollar. Brazil’s president-elect Dilma Rousseff said, quote, "The last time there was a series of competitive devaluations, it ended in World War II."

China has accused the US of uncontrolled money printing. By devaluing the dollar, the Fed is cheapening the price of US exports and making foreign imports more expensive. In addition, the low interest rates are encouraging US corporations to make massive investments overseas, cheaply buying up foreign real estate, natural resources and stock.

AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest, Michael Hudson, says finance has become a new form of warfare. Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City. A former Wall Street economist, he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire.

Michael Hudson, welcome to Democracy Now!

MICHAEL HUDSON: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Why warfare?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the object of warfare is to take over a country’s land, raw materials and assets, and grab them. And in the past, that used to be done militarily by invading them. But today you can do it financially simply by creating credit, which is what the Federal Reserve has done. It’s created $600 billion. It hasn’t gone into the economy. The head of the Fed is known as "Helicopter Ben" because he talks about dropping money into the economy. But if you see helicopters, they’re probably not your friends. Don’t go out and wait for them to drop the money, because the money is all going electronically into the banks. And the Fed has said, we want to give the banks so much money that they will lend it out so you can begin to bid up prices on real estate again and pull the banks out of the real estate negative equity that it’s in. So the purpose, according to the Fed, is to raise the price of real estate, to inflate asset prices. But that’s not happening. The actual banks have lent less today than they did in 2007. So the money is going abroad. And it’s going abroad not really to buy foreign companies so much, but to speculate in currency.

Now, the Fed and the Congress, two weeks ago, said, "We want China to raise its currency by 20 percent." This would create billions and billions of dollars of bonanza for Wall Street banks, and it would enable them to earn their way out of debt by essentially looting the China central bank, the Brazilian central bank, the Turkish central bank and the other central banks, because you can now borrow money in America at one percent. So you’d put down, let’s say, a billion dollars of your own—a million dollars of your own money, borrow $99 million of the bank’s money—that’s $100 million. You would buy Chinese currency, RMB, for $100 million. You then say, "Raise your currency by 20 percent," which is what the Fed has asked them to do. That means that your million dollars now has turned into a $20 million gain, because $100 million is now worth $120 million. You’ve made a 200 percent profit. And for Wall Street, they deal in billions, not millions. And so, this would enable the banks to make up their money by buying out, essentially, foreign currency. They’re doing the same in Australia. It’s currency gamble.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, and meanwhile, the impact, because obviously this decision was made the day after the elections at the Fed meeting, they saw what the political landscape was. There wasn’t going to be any kind of stimulus coming from Congress, so they had to come up with a stimulus for Wall Street the day after the elections. But the impact on the American people of maintaining these historically low interest rates—you know, as we were talking earlier before the show, if you have a little bit of money in a savings account right now, you’re getting virtually no interest. So you’re, in essence, being pressured to end up going into the stock market to be able to get any kind of return on your money—those who still have savings. The same thing with the pension funds. What’s happening to the American people as a result of this same kind of policy?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, if they have money to put in pension funds or savings, they’re only able to get about one percent, if they keep it safe. Otherwise, they’re taking a risk in the stock market. But the key is not simply lowering interest rates. The idea is to flood the economy with credit so the banks will lend out more debt. And if the Fed’s policy works, then housing prices are going to go back up so high that most consumers are going to have to pay 40 percent of their income for housing. They’re going to have to pay more money for credit card debt. The purpose is to help the banks make money at the expense of the economy. It’s not to help the economy at all. That’s the really important thing. When they say the economy, they mean—the Fed means its constituency: the banks. And the banks’ product is debt. And that’s what they’re trying to produce.

AMY GOODMAN: Is this inflationary?

MICHAEL HUDSON: It will inflate asset prices. It won’t inflate consumer prices. It’s actually deflationary for consumer prices, because if you’re an American consumer and you spend 40 percent of your income for housing, 15 percent for debt service to the bank, 11 percent goes out in your FICA wage withholding, and about ten to 15 percent in actual income taxes, that means that the average American has maybe one-third or a quarter of their salary to actually spend on goods and services. So they have to spend so much on debt service and finance and insurance and real estate that there’s no money to buy goods and services, so that’s why so many stores are closing throughout the cities on the big shopping streets. It’s deflationary for the economy, inflationary for the people who have wealth, inflationary for the banks. And it’s the banks really at the expense of the economy.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But there is the reality now that the world has changed dramatically over the last thirty or forty years, and you have now this sort of new independent force on the world scene, even in finance, which is the countries like China, Brazil and other countries of the third world that are, in essence, standing up on some of these issues. What’s happening in terms of their reaction?

MICHAEL HUDSON: The world is dividing into two currency blocs. And over the last few months, China has gone to Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, and said, "We want to avoid using the dollar altogether." They’re treating it like a pariah currency. They’re saying, "Well, let’s make a currency swap. We’ll give you our Chinese RMB, you give us your currency, the baht, and we’ll do our trade in our own currency. We are isolating the dollar, so that people are not going to use the dollar anymore." That’s why the dollar is plunging on world foreign exchange markets. The whole world that America created after World War II of open markets is now closing off. And it’s closing off, really, because the United States is trying to rescue the real estate market from all the junk mortgages, all the crooked loans, all of the financial fraud, instead of just letting the fraud go and throwing the guys in jail like other economists have suggested.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to play a comment from the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. We interviewed him recently. He was talking about the Federal Reserve and its attempt to inject liquidity into the US economy.

JOSEPH STIGLITZ: So the money isn’t going into the American economy. The lending is actually below what it was in 2007. In a globalized economy, the money is looking for the best place to go. And where is it finding it? In the emerging markets. So, the irony is that money that was intended to rekindle the American economy is causing havoc all over the world. Those elsewhere in the world say, what the United States is trying to do is the twenty-first century version of "beggar thy neighbor" policies that were part of the Great Depression: you strengthen yourself by hurting the others. You can’t do protectionism in the old version of raising tariffs, but what you can do is lower your exchange rate, and that’s what low interest rates are trying to do, weaken the dollar. The flood of liquidity abroad is trying to push the exchange rates abroad. And they say—they’re saying, "We can’t allow that."

AMY GOODMAN: That’s economist Joe Stiglitz. Professor Hudson, your response?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That was, I think, the best interview on your show that Professor Stiglitz has ever done. Last Saturday, I was in Germany at an economic meeting, and we were discussing this very interview there. And what they’re pointing out is that in Europe, in Germany and all of Europe, it’s illegal for the central bank to finance government debt. All of Europe is being subjected to austerity now because of the way in which their constitution is written. So they’re saying, "Wait a minute. When we run a deficit, we have to raise interest rates and impose austerity. And in the United States, they are doing just the opposite. They’re lowering interest rates to buy us out."

And the interview of Professor Stiglitz here was quite right. America is doing all of this. The Fed is doing this to cover up the huge fraud that he talks about. He’s right. These people should be in jail, and you shouldn’t bail them out. You’re keeping the debt that was run out by the junk mortgages and the fraudulent lending, you’re keeping that in place, pricing American labor out of the market, and making it impossible for America to earn its way out of debt. So, in Europe, they’re saying, "How can America ever repay these dollar debts that they’re running up?" They can’t repay, and that’s why the euro is going up against America. And that’s why they say, "We want to now talk to the BRIC countries, to China, to the third world, and move into a currency area with them and just isolate the dollar, so they can’t do the kind of financial warfare that they’ve been engaging in.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, in terms of how countries can respond, one of the things that obviously a lot of the Asian countries did during the financial crisis in late 1990s was currency controls—in essence, trying to prevent foreign capital from either leaving or entering the country. Is that something that you envision something this country is beginning to do?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes, there is only one country that did that, and that was Malaysia under Prime Minister Tun Mohamad Mahathir. He would not sell the domestic currency to the foreign speculators, so George Soros and the others who sold the currency short, hoping that the central bank would use all of its money just to defend its currency and then be emptied out, they couldn’t cover their position, so they were squeezed. But countries like Korea, where the meetings, the G20 meetings, are this week—the IMF went and said, "You owe money you can’t pay. George Soros has raided you. You have to sell Americans your electric companies. You have to sell Americans your car companies." And this was a grab that, in the past, in past centuries, there would have had to be a military invasion to take over. And now they’re doing it financially. And they’re angry over there.

AMY GOODMAN: You were advising Kucinich when he was running for president.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What is—overall, what do you think President Obama should do, and what do you think he did wrong, since people say it’s the economy that took him down in the elections?

MICHAEL HUDSON: He has always represented Wall Street’s interest. The deal he—his protector in the Senate was Joe Lieberman and part of the Democratic Leadership Council. And during the last presidential campaign, he won because he said he was for change. And Dennis Kucinich kept saying, "Here is the change in the law that I’ve recommended." He said exactly what he would do. Mr. Obama never said what he would do. And it’s obviously the case that he saw that the public wanted change. If you want to get elected, you say that you’re for change.

But what he’s turned into is the third Bush-Cheney administration. He’s reappointed the worst of the Bush people, like Tim Geithner as the Treasury secretary. He’s kept on the most right-wing of the Clinton people as his economic advisers. He is essentially in Wall Street’s pocket. And that’s not changed at all. And that’s why so many people were so disappointed. They believed that he was going to be for change, and he’s a good speaker, but he had no intention of doing the change at all, as we now see.

And he still has not come out and said that America needs anything except more debt, more bailouts for the banks. People were angry because the banks were bailed out. And now the Republicans will say he didn’t give them enough. They’re angry because he didn’t give Wall Street enough and cut taxes enough on the rich. That’s not why people are angry. They’re angry because he gave money to the rich, the exact opposite. So, I guess you could say Mr. Obama and Mr. Kucinich are at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

AMY GOODMAN: What should he do right now?

MICHAEL HUDSON: What he should do is, essentially, bring the debts down to the ability to pay. He had promised that he was going to renegotiate mortgages to the current value of housing. That would mean writing down housing by about 30 percent, so it could be affordable again. But he hasn’t done that. In the government, he has prevented the state attorney generals from prosecuting financial fraud and from forcing the banks to renegotiate the mortgages down to what American consumers can afford. And Mr. Obama has blocked this. And so, all fifty—

JUAN GONZALEZ: And also what the real value of many of those properties are.

MICHAEL HUDSON: The market—either the market price or the rental price. So, essentially, people would pay for the—to own a house pretty much what you’d pay to rent. That’s the definition of equilibrium in economics. But right now they’re paying much more on their mortgage than they could go and rent an apartment for, and they can’t afford it. People are out of work. And the result is that there is a debt squeeze. And so, that’s why I said this is deflationary, not inflationary. What should be inflated are American wages, American living standards, tangible investment. Instead, what’s inflated is debt and the financial sector at the expense of the production and consumption.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what do you expect to happen at the G20 meeting that’s coming up now?

MICHAEL HUDSON: The same thing that happened two weeks ago: absolutely nothing. They will all agree that the soup was very good, that the food was nice, and that they will have further discussions. But America will not get any of what it’s asking for from them, because they’re going to say, "Look, we’re not going to let you create electronic keyboard credit and buy out our real estate and our industry and empty out our bank reserves like you did in the 1997 Asia crisis." That’s never going to happen again, and the world is going to begin splitting into two currency blocs: the BRIC bloc and the dollar bloc.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, distinguished research professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, author of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#2
Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street's "Super Rich": The Financial End Time has Arrived

by Prof. Michael Hudson

Global Research, November 16, 2010

Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his bipartisan willingness to renew the tax cuts for the super-rich enacted under George Bush ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by Mr. Obama’s promise to rise above partisan politics – by ruling on behalf of Wall Street, now that it is the major campaign backer of both parties?

It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.

Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). This is nearly double what it received a generation ago. The rest of the population is being squeezed, and foreclosures are rising.

Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. Today’s financial elites will win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help them rather than shepherd them into debt peonage as the economy settles into debt deflation.

We are dealing with shameless demagogy. The financial End Time has arrived, but Mr. Obama’s happy-talk pretends that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and stay home, as they did earlier this month. So “two years” means forever in politician-talk. Why vote for a politician who promises “change” but is merely an exclamation mark for the Bush-Cheney policies from Afghanistan and Iraq to Wall Street’s Democratic Leadership Council on the party’s right wing? One of its leaders, after all, was Mr. Obama’s Senate mentor, Joe Lieberman.

The second pretense is that cutting taxes for the super-rich is necessary to win Republican support for including the middle class in the tax cuts. It is as if the Democrats never won a plurality in Congress. (One remembers George W. Bush with his mere 50+%, pushing forward his extremist policies on the logic that: “I’ve got capital, and I’m using it.” What he had, of course, was Democratic Leadership Committee support.) The pretense is “to create jobs,” evidently to be headed by employment of shipyard workers to build yachts for the nouveau riches and sheriff’s deputies to foreclose on the ten million Americans whose mortgage payments have fallen into arrears. It sounds Keynesian, but is more reminiscent of Thomas Robert Malthus’s lugubrious claim (speaking for Britain’s landed aristocracy) that landlords would keep the economy going by using their rental income (to be protected by high agricultural tariffs) to hire footmen and butlers, tailors and carriage-makers.

It gets worse. Mr. Obama’s “Bush” tax cut is only Part I of a one-two punch to shift taxes onto wage earners. Congressional economists estimate that extending the tax cuts to the top 2% will cost $700 to $750 billion over the next decade or so. “How are we going to go out and borrow $700 billion?” Mr. Obama asked Steve Croft on his Sixty Minutes interview on CBS last week.

It was a rhetorical question. The President has appointed a bipartisan commission (right-wingers on both sides of the aisle) to “cure” the federal budget deficit by cutting back social spending – to pay yet more bailouts to the economy’s financial wreckers. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might better be called the New Class War Commission to Scale Back Social Security and Medicare Payments to Labor in Order to Leave more Tax Revenue Available to Give Away to the Super-Rich. A longer title than the Deficit-Reduction Commission used by media friendlies, but sometimes it takes more words to get to the heart of matters.

The political axiom at work is “Big fish eat little fish.” There’s not enough tax money to continue swelling the fortunes of the super-rich pretending to save enough to pay the pensions and related social support that North American and European employees have been promised. Something must give – and the rich have shown themselves sufficiently foresighted to seize the initiative. For a preview of what’s in line for the United States, watch neoliberal Europe’s fight against the middle and working class in Greece, Ireland and Latvia; or better yet, Pinochet’s Chile, whose privatized Social Security accounts were quickly wiped out in the late 1970s by the kleptocracy advised by the Chicago Boys, to whose monetarist double-think Mr. Obama’s appointee Ben Bernanke has just re-pledged his loyalty.

What is needed to put Mr. Obama’s sell-out in perspective is the pro-Wall Street advisors he has chosen – not only Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke (who last week reaffirmed his loyalty to Milton Friedman’s Chicago School monetarism), but by stacking his Deficit Reduction Commission with outspoken advocates of cutting back Social Security, Medicare and other social spending. Their ploy is to frighten the public with a nightmare of $1 trillion deficit to pay retirement income over the next half century – as if the Treasury and Fed have not just given Wall Street $13 trillion in bailouts without blinking an eye. President Obama’s $750 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 2% is mere icing on the cake that the rich will be eating when the bread lines get too long.

To put matters in perspective, bear in mind that interest on the public debt (that Reagan-Bush quadrupled and Bush-Obama redoubled) soon will amount to $1 trillion annually. This is tribute levied on labor – increasing the economy’s cost of living and doing business – paid for losing the fight for economic reform and replacing progressive taxation with regressive neoliberal tax policy. As for military spending in the Near East, Asia and other regions responsible for much of the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, Congress will always rise to the occasion and defer to whatever foreign threat is conjured up requiring new armed force.

It’s all junk economics. Running a budget deficit is how modern governments inject the credit and purchasing power needed by economies to grow. When governments run surpluses, as they did under Bill Clinton (1993-2000), credit must be created by banks. And the problem with bank credit is that most is lent, at interest, against collateral already in place. The effect is to inflate real estate and stock market prices. This creates capital gains – which the “original” 1913 U.S. income tax treated as normal income, but which today are taxed at only 15% (when they are collected at all, which is rarely in the case of commercial real estate). So today’s tax system subsidizes the inflation of debt-leveraged financial and real estate bubbles.

The giveaway: the Commission’s position on tax deductibility for mortgage interest

The Obama “Regressive Tax” commission spills the beans with its proposal to remove the tax subsidy for high housing prices financed by mortgage debt. The proposal moves only against homeowners – “the middle class” – not absentee owners, commercial real estate investors, corporate raiders or other prime bank customers.

The IRS permits mortgage interest to be tax-deductible on the pretense that it is a necessary cost of doing business. In reality it is a subsidy for debt leveraging. This tax bias for debt rather than equity investment (using one’s own money) is largely responsible for loading down the U.S. economy with debt. It encourages corporate raiding with junk bonds, thereby adding interest to the cost of doing business. This subsidy for debt leveraging also is the government’s largest giveaway to the banks, while causing the debt deflation that is locking the economy into depression – violating every precept of the classical drive for “free markets” in the 19th-century. (A “free market” meant freedom from extractive rentier income, leading toward what Keynes gently called “euthanasia of the rentier.” The Obama Commission endows rentiers atop the economy with a tax system to bolster their power, not check it – while shrinking the economy below them.)

Table 7.11 of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) reports that total monetary interest paid in the U.S. economy amounted to $3,240 billion in 2009. Homeowners paid just under a sixth of this amount ($572 billion) on the homes they occupied. Mr. Obama’s commission estimates that removing the tax credit on this interest would yield the Treasury $131 billion in 2012.

There is in fact a good logic for stopping this tax credit. The mortgage-interest tax deduction does not really save homeowners money. It is a shortsighted illusion. What the government gives to “the homeowner” on one hand is passed on to the mortgage banker by “the market” process that leads bidders for property to pledge the net available rental value to the banks in order to obtain a loan to buy the home (or an office building, or an entire industrial company, for that matter.) “Equilibrium” is achieved at the point where whatever rental value the tax collector relinquishes becomes available to be capitalized into bank loans.

This means that what appears at first as “helping homeowner” afford to pay mortgages turns out merely to enable them to afford to pay more interest to their bankers. The tax giveaway uses homebuyers as “throughputs” to transfer tax favoritism to the banks.

It gets worse. By removing the traditional tax on real estate, state, local and federal governments need to tax labor and industry more, by transforming the property tax onto income and sales taxes. For banks, this is transmuting tax revenue into gold – into interest. And as for the home-owning middle class, it now has to pay the former property tax to the banker as interest, and also to pay the new taxes on income and sales that are levied to make up for the tax shift.

I support removing the tax favoritism for debt leveraging. The problem with the Deficit Commission is that it does not extend this reform to the rest of the economy – to the commercial real estate sector, and to the corporate sector.

The argument is made that “The rich create jobs.” After all, somebody has to build the yachts. What is missing is the more general principle: Wealth and income inequality destroy job creation. This is because beyond the wealthy soon reach a limit on how much they can consume. They spend their money buying financial securities – mainly bonds, which end up indebting the economy. And the debt overhead is what is pushing today’s economy into deepening depression.

Since the 1980s, corporate raiders have borrowed high-interest “junk bond” credit to take over companies and make money by stripping assets, cutting back long-term investment, research and development, and paying out depreciation credit to their financiers. Financially parasitized companies use corporate income to buy back their stock to support its price – and hence, the value of stock options that financial managers give themselves – and borrow yet more money for stock buybacks or simply to pay out as dividends. When the process has run its course, they threaten their work force with bankruptcy that will wipe out its pension benefits if employees do not agree to “downsize” their claims and replace defined-benefit plans with defined-contribution plans (in which all that employees know is how much they pay in each month, not what they will get in the end). By the time this point has been reached, the financial managers have paid themselves outsized salaries and bonuses, and cashed in their stock options – all subsidized by the government’s favorable tax treatment of debt leveraging.

The attempted raids on McDonalds and other companies in recent years provide object lessons in this destructive financial policy of “shareholder activists.” Yet Mr. Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission is restricting its removal of tax favoritism for debt leveraging only for middle class homeowners, not for the financial sector across the board. What makes this particularly absurd is that two thirds of homeowners do not even itemize their deductions. The fiscal loss resulting from tax deductibility of interest stems mainly from commercial investors.

If the argument is correct (and I think it is) that permitting interest to be tax deductible merely “frees” more revenue to pay interest to banks – to capitalize into yet higher loans – then why isn’t this principle even more applicable to the Donald Trumps and other absentee owners who seek always to use “other peoples’ money” rather than their own? In practice, the “money” turns out to be bank credit whose cost to the banks is now under 1%. The financial-fiscal system is siphoning off rental value from commercial real estate investment, increasing the price of rental properties, commercial real estate, and indeed, industry and agriculture.

Alas, the Obama administration has backed the Geithner-Bernanke policy that “the economy” cannot recover without saving the debt overhead. The reality is that it is the debt overhead that is destroying the economy. So we are dealing with the irreconcilable fact that the Obama position threatens to lower living standards from 10% to 20% over the coming few years – making the United States look more like Greece, Ireland and Latvia than what was promised in the last presidential election.

Something has to give politically if the economy is to change course. More to the point, what has to give is favoritism for Wall Street at the expense of the economy at large. What has made the U.S. economy uncompetitive is primarily the degree to which debt service has been built into the cost of living and doing business. Post-classical “junk economics” treats interest and fees as payment for the “service” for providing credit. But interest (like economic rent and monopoly price extraction) is a transfer payment to bankers with the privilege of credit creation. The beneficiaries of providing tax favoritism for debt are the super-rich at the top of the economic pyramid – the 2% whom Mr. Obama’s tax giveaway will benefit by over $700 billion.

If the present direction of tax “reform” is not reversed, Mr. Obama will shed crocodile tears for the middle class as he sponsors the Deficit Reduction Commission’s program of cutting back Social Security and revenue sharing to save states and cities from defaulting on their pensions. One third of U.S. real estate already is reported to have sunk into negative equity, squeezing state and local tax collection, forcing a choice to be made between bankruptcy, debt default, or shifting the losses onto the shoulders of labor, off those of the wealthy creditor layer of the economy responsible for loading it down with debt.

Critics of the Obama-Bush agenda recall how America’s Gilded Age of the late 19th century was an era of economic polarization and class war. At that time the Democratic leader William Jennings Bryan accused Wall Street and Eastern creditors of crucifying the American economy on a cross of gold. Restoration of gold at its pre-Civil War price led to a financial war in the form of debt deflation as falling prices and incomes received by farmers and wage labor made the burden of paying their mortgage debts heavier. The Income Tax law of 1913 sought to rectify this by only falling on the wealthiest 1% of the population – the only ones obliged to file tax returns. Capital gains were taxed at normal rates. Most of the tax burden therefore fell on finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector.

The vested interests have spent a century fighting back. They now see victory within reach, by perpetuating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, phasing out of the estate tax on wealth, the tax shift off property onto labor income and consumer sales, and slashing public spending on anything except more bailouts and subsidies for the emerging financial oligarchy that has become Mr. Obama’s “bipartisan” constituency.

What we need is a Futures Commission to forecast just what will the rich do with the victory they have won. As administered by President Obama and his designated appointees Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, their policy is financially and fiscally unsustainable. Providing tax incentives for debt leveraging – for most of the population to go into debt to the rich, whose taxes are all but abolished – is shrinking the economy. This will lead to even deeper financial crises, employer defaults and fiscal insolvency at the state, local and federal levels. Future presidents will call for new bailouts, using a strategy much like going to military war. A financial war requires an emergency to rush through Congress, as occurred in 2008-09. Mr. Obama’s appointees are turning the U.S. economy into a Permanent Emergency, a Perpetual Ponzi Scheme requiring injections of more and more Quantitative Easing to to rescue “the economy” (Mr. Obama’s euphemism for creditors at the top of the economic pyramid) from being pushed into insolvency. Mr. Bernanke’s helicopter flies only over Wall Street. It does not drop monetary relief on the population at large.

“The Wurst of Obama: He’s Carving the Middle Class into Sausage Filler as a Super-Meal for the Rich.”
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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