Tag Archives: disaster capitalism

Excited Delirium Chapter 69: Aftershocks (Surreal Repair)

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Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 69 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.

While the rest of the world clamoured at the doorstep of Beijing, the city itself was slowly and painfully coming back to life.

Leading the charge to recovery was an unlikely crew: the tens of thousands of athletes, managers, trainers and other personnel that had arrived in Beijing in the previous weeks.

A vast salvation effort began, with the Olympic Village at the centre of activities. It was relatively unharmed, along with its inhabitants, during and after the quake, mainly because it was built to much more rigorous standards as demanded by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC. When compared to other new Chinese buildings, it was like comparing Bill Gates to a beggar. They weren’t even in the same universe.

Efforts to rebuild and assist the dying were slow at first, with the vast language barrier causing the greatest source of friction between all of the people who were contributing their skills. In time, however, language was a pale obstacle to the sheer will and determination of these heroes to do what was right. They were here to compete against each other, but they were loath to shirk their responsibilities as human beings, let alone as ambassadors to the planet.
Simple tasks like communicating locations and efforts were delegated to the speediest runners and sprinters, modern day Mercurys that kept everyone informed. Until communications returned to normal, these people played one of the most important roles.

Teams were then built to reflect a balance of skills. Weight-lifters, runners, swimmers, gymnasts and others were spread out across about 1,000 recovery teams, all with the objective of crawling into tight spaces, lifting mass that no normal person could imagine, acting as guardians or running back to the base to inform organizers of major finds, be they living or dead.

These teams were also assigned the task of finding living people, encouraging them to return to main Village and to volunteer for services after they had taken care of themselves. Most of the non-Olympians were asked to either work with others to scrounge for food and water or they were asked to leave as soon as possible so as not to tax the limited resources that the city had left. It was difficult for some to accept, but with a little encouragement, they realized that if they couldn’t contribute, they shouldn’t be making demands on this small, yet brave army of humanitarians.

Managers, trainers and other professionals were assigned to a make-shift triage and emergency centre that became one massive repair operation. Within 3 days, 250,000 people were inspected, operated on, sewn up or resuscitated; most of these people saved because for the first time in a long time, Beijing was overpopulated with people who had medical expertise. It was a non-stop, full-on rush of repair that finally eased off when people either stopped showing up or reports about the mortality level came in. Or the weaker ones finally fled, once roads and transportation became an option again.

As people waited, they camped out in open areas, like the Forbidden Palace or Tiananmen Square. By the end of Monday, this make-shift city-within-a-city had more than half a million inhabitants.

By the end of Monday, the rest of the world was finally able to peer into the black swirling mist and fog that surrounded China and Beijing, as communications were finally starting to show signs of life again.

It was the CCTV, or Chinese Central Television, that was able to feed stories the people of the West, as they anxiously awaited some kind of information about their loved ones.

But they would be disappointed: the CCTV had no official direction yet from the Chinese government, so all that was made available to the world’s eyes were misty details about the quake, the current situation and how many people were affected.

Even though the media of the world had converged on Beijing to report on the Olympics, they were powerless to report on anything to their homes because of power outages, lack of satellite feed or broken communication lines.

The world would have to wait until China was able to get its house in order.

[Author’s Note: I conceived of this plot component in 2006 and wrote most of these chapters into the story of ‘Excited Delirium’ during the course of 2007. I was stunned like the rest of the world when a tragic earthquake struck the province of Sichuan on May 12, 2008. Please believe me that I do not want to ‘profit’ from the suffering that the hundreds of thousands in this quake experienced. I remind all readers that this is a work of fiction and that my goals are to speak to the symbolic reference that’s used in the numerology along with the viewpoint of one fictional cult concerning the fate of the Chinese.]

(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 70

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

Creative Commons License
Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License .
Based on a work at www.exciteddelirium.ca .

 

Make Them Pay

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Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in the US research shows that nearly a third of 280 corporations surveyed didn’t pay taxes or even got a tax break.

More shocking with this news is that the corporations that were part of the survey – a mere fraction of the corporations in the US and Canada – received more than $223 billion in subsidies from various levels of US government.

All of this is proof that high corporate taxes are not the problem.

The more I read stuff like this, the more I want a simple tax system where there are NO deductions from income and a very reasonable and lower flat tax of, say, 10% on all activity.  This would solve a LOT of problems in most economies.

It would also put a lot of lawyers and lobbyists out on the street!

Koch Konnections (aka “If They Can Do It, We Can Too!”)

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The Koch Brothers.

What can I say about them?

Anyways, they have made a commitment to connect the 1% as thoroughly as possible with a view to ensuring that Americans and people elsewhere are constantly barraged with messages about libertarianism, anti-government sentiments and opposition to any kind of labour / union efforts.

So … if they can, why can’t ‘WE’?

What are WE doing to integrate our associations, affiliations, money flow, donations, charities and other efforts related to the progressive message in Canada, the US and elsewhere?  How are we presenting a unified front against these people who, ironically, look at solidarity as the model for their own survival?

What are WE doing to educate people everywhere about what the needs of all of us and not just those who can donate millions to political campaigns?

What are WE doing to protect ourselves?

Another Gentle Coup …

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Egypt.

Libya.  Kind of …

Now Greece?

Word has it that this morning, while Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou was meeting with French and German lenders leaders, he may have been chucked out of office by his own cabinet.

Quote:

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos led lawmakers opposed to the premier’s surprise decision to put membership of the euro to the Greek people after European leaders meeting in Cannes last night cut off aid to Greece. Papandreou will hold a meeting of his Cabinet at midday in Athens, according to a statement from the premier’s office.

These people that have effectively turfed the elected Prime Minister out of office would clearly prefer to eliminate democratic options than stare down their lenders:

“Greece’s position within the euro area is a historic conquest of the country that cannot be put in doubt,” Venizelos said in an e-mailed statement from the finance ministry. It “cannot depend on a referendum,” he said.

This ‘gentle coup’ – the replacement of a leader without any or much bloodshed – is another example of the western attacks on any country that dares to be different from the mainstream leadership.

As discussed yesterday, Greece is currently lead by socialists and social democrats, something that has a lot of corporate insiders and bankers in a state of horror.

Take caution is your country starts to lean left or you have a legal infrastructure that supports anti-usury laws (like the routinely maligned Arab League).  You’ll be next.

Why Greece?

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I want an answer to this questions:  why is Greece bearing the brunt of financial attacks in the past few months?

Why are the people of Greece having ‘austerity’ measures shoved down their throats more than any other country in the world?

We hear endlessly from the mainstream media about how Greece is in financial crisis because it’s not answering to the calls for tighter austerity measures or how the economy is going to collapse as a result of their debt burdens.

But I really want to know:  why Greece?

But Why Greece?

Greece is nowhere near the top when it comes to some of the typical economic comparisons:

Debt: CNBC ran a series looking at the total debt of the 20 largest debtor nations, at least when comparing external debt to GDP.  Greece was number 15 out of 20, owing $182 (182%) for every dollar in GDP.  This was more than the US (120%) and Australia (139%), but substantially better than countries like Germany (185%), France (250%), Belgium (336%) and, of course, Ireland (a whopping 1,382%).

To save you the boredom of going through each slide, the list of countries with respective debt per capita is as follows:

External Debt (as % of GDP) Gross External Debt (Billions) 2009 GDP (Est, Billions)
1 Ireland 1382.0% $ 2,380 $ 172
2 England 413.3% $ 8,981 $ 2,173
3 Switzerland 401.9% $ 1,304 $ 325
4 Netherlands 376.3% $ 2,550 $ 677
5 Belgium 335.9% $ 1,324 $ 394
6 Denmark 310.4% $ 626 $ 202
7 Sweden 282.2% $ 1,001 $ 355
8 Finland 271.5% $ 505 $ 186
9 Austria 261.0% $ 867 $ 332
10 Norway 251.0% $ 641 $ 255
11 Hong Kong 250.0% $ 816 $ 326
12 France 250.0% $ 5,370 $ 2,150
13 Portugal 223.6% $ 552 $ 247
14 Germany 185.1% $ 5,440 $ 2,940
15 Greece 182.2% $ 580 $ 318
16 Spain 179.4% $ 2,460 $ 1,370
17 Italy 146.6% $ 2,602 $ 1,770
18 Australia 138.9% $ 1,230 $ 882
19 Hungary 120.1% $ 225 $ 188
20 US 101.1% $ 14,825 $ 14,660
AVERAGE 303% $ 2,714 $ 1,496
SUM $ 54,278 $ 29,922

Debt per Capita: when looking at total debt per capita (using the same numbers in the CNBC report), Greece ranked as the 6th best country when it came to the total amount owing per person in this country:

Debt Per Capita Rank Index to Average
Hungary $ 22,739 1 20%
Italy $ 44,760 2 39%
US $ 48,258 3 42%
Germany $ 51,572 4 44%
Portugal $ 51,572 5 44%
Greece $ 53,984 6 47%
Australia $ 57,641 7 50%
Spain $ 60,614 8 52%
France $ 83,781 9 72%
Finland $ 96,197 10 83%
Austria $ 105,616 11 91%
Sweden $ 110,479 12 95%
Denmark $ 113,826 13 98%
Hong Kong $ 115,612 14 100%
Belgium $ 127,197 15 110%
Norway $ 137,476 16 119%
England $ 146,953 17 127%
Netherlands $ 152,380 18 131%
Switzerland $ 171,528 19 148%
Ireland $ 566,756 20 489%
AVERAGE $ 115,947 100%

Again, Ireland looks just disgusting with $566, 756 per capita owing (probably less if Bono would pay his taxes) and Greeks owe about $0.30 per every dollar that the British owe to global lenders.

There are a number of other ways to twist these basic numbers, but they keep telling me the same story:  Greece should not be facing the problems it’s facing and I smell a witch hunt.

Despite these very clear facts, many economists and other soap-boxers pretend to refer to a non-existent myth that there’s a difference in ‘ability to repay’, like the Swiss and Germans shit gold ducats while the Greece are completely incapable of taking care of the fiscal responsibilities.

This is, of course, a myth, and if I were Greek, I’d be pretty damn insulted with the regular insinuations that the British or Australians or others around the world are more capable of taking care of their own books than the creators of democracy.

So Why Greece?

We’ve seen that the facts tell a different story:  Greece is in substantially better economic condition than most EU countries, at least when you look at GDP per capita and total external debt to GDP.

It seems the ‘Greece bashing’ needs an explanation.

I have one:  Greeks elected socialists and the world bankers don’t like that.

Here’s a reprint of the table from above with political ‘leaning’ of each government.  Notice how Greece is one of the few that lean towards believing socialism is a viable political alternative to market politics.

Debt Per Capita Rank Index to Average Current Government
Hungary $ 22,739 1 20% Market / Capitalist
Italy $ 44,760 2 39% Market / Capitalist
US $ 48,258 3 42% Market / Capitalist
Germany $ 51,572 4 44% Market / Capitalist
Portugal $ 51,572 5 44% Socialist / Soc Dem
Greece $ 53,984 6 47% Socialist / Soc Dem
Australia $ 57,641 7 50% Market / Capitalist
Spain $ 60,614 8 52% Socialist / Soc Dem
France $ 83,781 9 72% Market / Capitalist
Finland $ 96,197 10 83% Market / Capitalist
Austria $ 105,616 11 91% Socialist / Soc Dem
Sweden $ 110,479 12 95% Market / Capitalist
Denmark $ 113,826 13 98% Socialist / Soc Dem
Hong Kong $ 115,612 14 100% Market / Capitalist
Belgium $ 127,197 15 110% Market / Capitalist
Norway $ 137,476 16 119% Socialist / Soc Dem
England $ 146,953 17 127% Market / Capitalist
Netherlands $ 152,380 18 131% Market / Capitalist
Switzerland $ 171,528 19 148% Market / Capitalist
Ireland $ 566,756 20 489% Market / Capitalist
AVERAGE $ 115,947 100%

NOTE:  I admit that I took a bit of a leap with some characterizations of each country, but finding this information was actually quite a challenge.  If corrections are needed, please post them in the comments and I’ll adjust the table.

Greece, Portugal and Spain all stand out as current social democratic or socialist countries.

In other words, there’s a very good possibility that because of the political bias of each of these countries, the banks have been shut out of the halls of parliament in Greece.  Admittedly, Norway and Denmark (and other countries that swing back and forth with conservative and SocDem governments) throw a kink into my description, but their external debt is admittedly much lower than other countries.

Anyways, the overt attack on Greece and the people of Greece is exactly how the bankers get their revenge.

What’s that?  They’re taking a write-down on their existing debt to the Greek government?  Well, if Greeks have their say, there won’t be anything to pay back.  They’ll declare bankruptcy and forfeit on EVERYTHING they owe, leaving the money junkies with nothing but a bunch of empty sacks.

As a result of this situation, the money junkies of Europe and elsewhere have risked the life of one of their debt addicts and they need to revive it before the addict dies.

Or … before something worse happens …

Enter the ‘Iceland Solution’

In 2008, Iceland faced a similar ruinous economic future. They were being threatened by external forces that were going to rip their economy apart, piece by piece.  The IMF forced the existing government to impose a whopping minimum 18% interest on any debts outstanding.

Early in 2009, the people of Iceland said no.  They handled things a different way.

A new left-wing government was formed early February, 2009 in response to the crisis and citizens demanding better.

The new government devalued the Icelandic Krona even further than it already had been, crushing the value of any outstanding debt.  By April 2009, the government had launched an investigation into some of the banks and other institutions that tried to ruin the economyOther business leaders have come under investigation for manipulating the economic situation to their benefit.

Greece – and any other country on the planet – can follow the same path.  Despite what the Euro-Zone junkies are trying to scare us with.  In fact, CNBC has already stated that Greece is the most powerful country in the world right now because the lenders are desperate to remedy the situation and avoid economic revolution.

A referendum is exactly what the Greeks should be entitled to instead of more austerity measures.  If they don’t get it, it will turn the country into chaos.  German and French hypocrites will have to step aside.

This is a path to our future that the bank-owned countries are desperately trying to avoid, as it would set and reinforce a dangerous alternative to dropping your pants and continuing on with issuing debt and driving your country to economic ruin over and over again.

It would force the Greeks to take ownership of their problems and possibly never borrow again.

And this has bankers terrified.

External Debt (as % of GDP) Gross External Debt (Billions) 2009 GDP (Est, Billions)
1 Ireland 1382.0% $ 2,380 $ 172
3 Switzerland 401.9% $ 1,304 $ 325
4 Netherlands 376.3% $ 2,550 $ 677
2 England 413.3% $ 8,981 $ 2,173
10 Norway 251.0% $ 641 $ 255
5 Belgium 335.9% $ 1,324 $ 394
11 Hong Kong 250.0% $ 816 $ 326
6 Denmark 310.4% $ 626 $ 202
7 Sweden 282.2% $ 1,001 $ 355
9 Austria 261.0% $ 867 $ 332
8 Finland 271.5% $ 505 $ 186
12 France 250.0% $ 5,370 $ 2,150
16 Spain 179.4% $ 2,460 $ 1,370
18 Australia 138.9% $ 1,230 $ 882
15 Greece 182.2% $ 580 $ 318
13 Portugal 223.6% $ 552 $ 247
14 Germany 185.1% $ 5,440 $ 2,940
20 US 101.1% $ 14,825 $ 14,660
17 Italy 146.6% $ 2,602 $ 1,770
19 Hungary 120.1% $ 225 $ 188
AVERAGE 303% $ 2,714 $ 1,496
SUM $ 54,278 $ 29,922