Monday, May 18, 2009

Private Clarity, Public Confusion - 19th May 2009

Every week I discover new things about the world that I didn't know before. I thought it might be useful to share them with you in a format that's quick and easy to pass on. Bullet format is good for me ;-)

(i) Henry "Kissinger was the "most frequent visitor" to the George W. Bush White House as an unofficial political advisor on Israel and the Middle East—including the invasion and occupation of Iraq." [1] (The Australian Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, continues to meet regularly with him).

(ii) Walmart is China's fifth-largest export market, ahead of Germany and Britain. [2] “Wal-Mart is responsible for approximately 10 percent of the United States' trade deficit with China.... Hillary Clinton, whose husband championed "free trade" deals like NAFTA, sat on the Board of Wal-Mart between 1985-1992….[The US] deficit with China has ballooned ...contrary to the promises made by politicos of both parties at the time….According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute [3], America's balance-of-payments deficit with China (of which approximately $18 billion dollars is created by Wal-Mart) was responsible for the loss of 1.5 million manufacturing jobs [in the US] between 1989 and 2003.”[4]

(iii) The huge trade imbalance between the US and China is a relatively recent phenomenon and began to make itself alarmingly apparent the year China joined the WTO (in 2001) [5]

(iv) A recent New York Times article, that describes the emergence of the above huge trade imbalance, fails to point out the very significant role of US and other transnational corporations in this global dilemma. [6] With one single company representing 10% of trade between the US and China this is a very significant omission.

(v) China "and other exporters"(large TNCs exporting from China I presume) kept the value of the Chinese currency low by sending much of their profits back to the US buying investments in Fannie, Freddie, and U.S. Treasury debt. These funds helped to keep interest rates low, which stimulated both consumption and speculation....Bloomberg later reported "A failure of U.S. mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be a catastrophe for the global financial system, said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to China's central bank. 'If the U.S. government allows Fannie and Freddie to fail and international investors are not compensated adequately, the consequences will be catastrophic,' Yu said in e-mailed answers to questions yesterday. 'If it is not the end of the world, it is the end of the current international financial system'." [7]

(vi) A board member of the Reserve Bank of Australia - Roger Corbett - is a Member of the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc as well as Fairfax Media Limited (one of Australia's oligopoly media empires). He is also Deputy Chairman, Non-Executive Director of PrimeAg, a corporation established in December 2007 and that has set its sights on a massive land and water grab in Australia using a lot of investor money from overseas. [8]

(vii) "Between 1986 and 1989, U.S. Treasury Secretary .. Timothy Geithner was employed at Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Lawrence Eagleburger's Kissinger Associates influence-peddling firm." [9]

"It may be discovered that the Human Race possesses an ignorance which is far superior to any intelligent life form in the Universe." So said 'jN Hodges'. (Who is jN Hodges?)

[1] Henry Kissinger From Wikipedia on 19th May 2009

Many Australians are alarmed with the far right leanings of the new Labor Government under Kevin Rudd. Both the current Rudd and the former Howard administrations have used billions of dollars of taxpayer funds to transfer vast amounts of land to a selected handful of transnational corporations and to subsidise their corporate agribusiness operations. The latter include native forest destruction of a vast scale.) Now a company called PrimeAg whose Deputy Chairman is Roger Corbett (see below) is set to buy up these failed and heavily-subsidised landholders. One of these is Futuris. It owns a major stake in Forest Enterprises, my tormenting neighbour! Futuris has grabbed 1.4% of Australia's land mass. This could represent around 10% of Australia's agricultural land!

See: Sowing the seeds of a northern farm stampede
Matthew Stevens | October 27, 2007
Article from: The Australian,25197,22655071-5001641,00.html

[2] The Economic Crisis: A Wal-Mart Economy Dimension. Michael Perelman. Econospeak 18th October 2008
[3] U.S.-China Trade, 1989-2003 - Impact on jobs and industries, nationally and state-by-state
A Research Report Prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
By Dr. Robert E. Scott, Director of International Programs, Economic Policy Institute. January 2005
EPI Working Paper #270

[4] Wal-Mart's 'China Price' By Joshua Holland, AlterNet. Posted November 7, 2005.

[5] The China Puzzle by Bob Dinetz
Published: May 13, 2009

[6] The China Puzzle by Bob Dinetz
Published: May 13, 2009

[7] The Economic Crisis: A Wal-Mart Economy Dimension
Posted October 17, 2008

[8] Sowing the seeds of a northern farm stampede
Matthew Stevens | October 27, 2007
Article from: The Australian,25197,22655071-5001641,00.html



Anonymous said...

I don't know who jN Hodges is, but Frank Zappa said: "Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."

Anyhow I don't think its just stupidity we are dealing with here - its capitalism and capitalists.

Shag from Brookline said...

For some reason this post is a reminder to take another peek at C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite." Also, I hear strands of "I wonder who's Kissinger now" which in turn brings to mind aphrodisiacs.

Myrtle Blackwood said...

"In America today, men of affairs are not so much dogmatic as they are mindless. For dogma has usually meant some more or less elaborated justification of ideas and values, and thus has had some features (however inflexible and closed) of mind, of intellect, of reason. Nowadays what we are up against is precisely the absence of mind of any sort of public force; what ware are up against is a lack of interest in and fear of knowledge that might have liberating public relevance. And what this makes possible is the prevalence of the kindergarten chatter, as well as decisions having no rational justifications which the intellect could confront and engage in debate.....

The intellectual ought to be the moral conscience of his society, at least with reference to the value of truth, for in the defining instance, that IS his politics. And he ought also to be a man absorbed in the attempt to know what is real and what is unreal."
'On knowledge and power'
C Wright Mills, 1955.
From: 'Power, Politics and People - The collected essays of C Wright Mills'. Edited by Irving Louis Horowitz. 1963
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