Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wall Street: "Rome" is burning? Part 5.

Wall street, 11/17/11, under lock down.
At the height of its power Rome's empire was vast as was its influence and control. Its boarders stretched from North Africa to the middle east. Almost 1/3 of the worlds population lived and died under the Caesars. Though Rome ruled through might-primarily-the American empire rules through financial influence-primarily-and might, when circumstance calls for it and the rest of the world cannot stop it. "The criminal fight against culture is only the reverse side of a criminal culture"[Klossowski]. The Roman empire was an autocracy/oligarchy while the American empire is an oligarchy/democracy. Both started out as republics then became empires through greed, need, blood and steel("the riddle of steel"?). The Roman empire influenced the world in its day and still does now. Some would say that after it "fell apart" it changed and became something else; the center of it moving down through the ages(the last place was Great Britain). Now the center is here, New York City, America. Rome was started by a criminal act and in a way, so was the U.S. If a nation is started by individuals who by their actions are criminals-rightly or wrongly-their deed becomes like a seed that will germinate, and grow into a tree of patriotism("patriotism is the virtue of the wicked". Oscar Wilde). The tree spawns more of it's itself, each generation in a way, depending on  which part of the tree your dealing with, gets worse then the last.  
By the 1870's the american national economy was the worlds largest(slavery, cotton?). The Spanish-American war and WW I confirmed its status as a military power-the beginning of the empire. "How our hearts burned with indignation against the atrocious spaniards, but when the smoke was over, the dead buried and the cost of war came back to the people in an increase in the price of commodities and rent-that is when we sobered up from our patriotic spree-it suddenly dawned on us that the cause of the Spanish-American war was the price of sugar...that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of American capitalist's"[Mark Twain]. Despite the awful, drastic, effects of the great depression, before the end of WWII American hegemony would be secure. U.S allies-economically exhausted by the war-accepted this[American]leadership. They need assistance to re-build their domestic production and to finance their international trade; They needed it to survive. The 2nd half of the 20th century would be under U.S hegemony. At the time one senior official at the bank of England described the deal reached at Bretton woods as 'the greatest blow to great Britain next to the war'. Largely because it underlined the way in which financial power had moved from the UK to the U.S. The "Bretton Woods system" had been established, and out of this would come the IMF and The World Bank. Over the next 30 years the income of most American would rise, but the nation would see its self embroiled in two more wars, numerous acts of political espionage and toppling of governments, civil strife, and the exporting of numerous factories and jobs to foreign countries(where the empire had control). 1971-President Nixon announces that the U.S will no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, effectively ending the "Bretton Woods system". Dec 18th- The U.S dollar is devalued for the 2nd time. 1973- The energy crisis begins in Oct. 1975- OPEC raises crude oil prices by 10%. U.S Banks are allowed to buy and sell stocks, which provided more competition for stockholders. 1979-The Federal Reserve system changes from an interest rate target policy to a money supply target policy. With the cold war still in play the U.S and its Western European allies used various method to bring about the over-throw of communist nations in south-eastern Europe. Even when experiencing down-turn and recession(for the middle class and below) the empires reach was great.An economic crisis erupted in the 1970s which was the product of disastrous errors by Yugoslav governments, such as borrowing vast amounts of Western capital in order to fund growth through exports. Western economies then entered recession, blocked Yugoslav exports and created a huge debt problem. The Yugoslav government then accepted the IMF loan. Despite Belgrade's non-alignment and its extensive trading relations with the European community and the U.S, the Reagan administration specifically targeted the Yugoslav economy in a secret sensitive 1984 NSD directive(NSDD-133). The Roman empire was an autocracy/oligarchy while the American empire is an oligarchy/democracy. Both started out as republics then became empires through greed, need, blood and steel("the riddle of steel"?). "According to a Congressional Budget Office Report, Trends in the distribution of household income, between 1979 and 2007, supports a basic claim of the OWS movement. That deep economic inequality is corrupting politics, culture and American society as a whole. The CBO report shows that over the last quarter century-1979-2007-the top 1% of income earners enjoyed far, far bigger real income gains that the other 99%. As a result, the share of total income earned by the top 1% rose dramatically-doubling from 10% to 20%-at the expense of falling shares of income for all of the other 99% of the U.S population. The 99% were falling ever further behind the top 1%. The latter's exploding luxury consumption shaped tastes and standards defining the 'American dream'. With wages stagnant in the U.S since the 1970's, the 99% tried to reach or keep the dream by sending more family members out to work more hours, and borrowing ever larger amounts, over the last 25 years. Eventually their exhaustion and stress from increased work coupled with unsustainable levels of accumulated household debt brought the economy to the brink of crisis. Mean while, the speculative excesses of the 1% who were enjoying unprecedented income and wealth gains took the U.S economy over the brink"[The Guardian]. The name of the game has and always been money. Even Julius Caesar realized that unless you stem and curb the polices that only benefit the rich and wealthy the Republic/empire is lost. While his was drowning in greed, crime, inflation and unemployment, Caesar made many changes(according to Michael Parenti)that would benefit the poor and working class in order to save the republic/empire. He canceled all rents for one year to those living in slum tenements. He reduced all debts to there pre-war levels, redistributed land to more then 20,000 families with 2 or more children. Caesar fixed it so that the interest people paid reduced the principal they owed, made laws to have 1/3 of every rich & wealthy land owners work force be freed men and woman or citizens. He slated for employment over 80,000 plebs on various public work project, in and outside of Rome. He raised tariffs on imported luxury goods to help domestic industries and to make the rich and wealthy pay something back to the state for their obscene lifestyles. While he certainly had his faults as a man and leader, he was practical and a reformer, not a revolutionary. And perhaps in our time its measures like these that my turn the tide in this, our economic turmoil and downturn. For us it begins with protest, but must go further. "Rome" is burning. And yes, we should care. "Art is the reason, art is the way"    

Wall street on 11/17/11. Most of the area surrounding the NYSE was off limits
to everyone, unless you worked or lived in the buildings there.
OWS Kitchen are @ Zuccotti park 
Photo by Robert Stonak. This was the rally where 700
protesters were arrested after trying walk across the road-way
of the Brooklyn Bridge

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