Friday, March 27, 2009

US political system: 'fundamental corruption'

The Quiet Coup
The Atlantic: The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured out government -- a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets... If the IMF's staff could speak freely about the US, it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we're running out of time.

A Tiny Revolution: There's been a common phenomenon in the third world over the past three decades or so. A country's financial sector, in collaboration with the larger financial world, would create some type of gigantic economic fuck up. The IMF would then (in collaboration with the local financial elites) step in and provide loans in return for what was called 'structural adjustment.' Structural adjustment involved getting rid of any kind of social spending that made life bearable for everyone else. In other words, the country's financial elites would use the catastrophes they'd created themselves in order to do what they'd always wanted to but couldn't get away with in normal times.

Glenn Greenwald, Salon: The key dynamic underlying all of this -- the linchpin that allows it all to happen and, historically the primary hallmark of a deeply broken nation -- is the total elimination of the rule of law for the ruling class, with a simultaneous intensification of the law as a weapon against the citizenry... We have (and are continuing to solidify) exactly the state of affairs that political science literature and the American government itself have long self-righteously warned other countries is the prime enabler for tyrannical rot: a two-tiered system of justice which exempts the country's elites from accountability.

There is fundamental corruption in our political system that has led to all of this... Our political class cheers on treasury-draining wars, allows financial elites to rob and pillage, witnesses huge transfers of wealth to the richest, and then when the whole thing explodes, the 'real fiscal answer' is for ordinary Americans to have their Medicare benefits 'slashed' and Social Security benefits reduced.

Desmond Lachman, The Washington Post: In the twilight of my career, when I am hopefully wiser than before, I have come to regret how the IMF and the US Treasury all too often lectured leaders in emerging markets on how to 'get their house in order' -- without the slightest thought that the United States might fare no better when facing a major economic crisis... If we insist on improvising and not facing our real problems, we might soon lose our status as a country to be emulated and join the ranks of those nations we have patronized for so long.
Image source here: 'What the IMF would tell the United States if it could'