Economics

German elections 2017: 8 proposals for Germany's progressives

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 16/09/2017 - 2:43am in

Germany needs new
narratives and policy agendas in order to energise a new politics across Europe
– a politics which will reflect the common interest of the majority of
Europeans.

German elections 2017 - ballot paper. Angela Merkel (CDU) has represented Stralsund in the German parliament since 1990. Stefan Sauer/Press Association. All rights reserved.Germany is pivotal. It is, and ought
to be, a country central to the European project. But this project is in
trouble because of a political failure to align the interests of most Germans
with those of most other Europeans. Thus, Germany needs new narratives and
policy agendas in order to energise a new politics across Europe – a politics
which will reflect the common interest of the majority of Europeans. But who
will spread these new narratives and policy agendas? So far, the campaign for
the upcoming German elections has not been encouraging in that regard. Ahead of
the 2017 German federal elections next September 24, DiEM25 acknowledges the
issues at stake and has taken action. Here’s how:

We tabled a proposal for DiEM25’s
German Provisional National Committee to circulate among our German collectives.
They discussed the document, whenever possible took it to public gatherings,
amended it, and most critically, reached out to like-minded Bundestag
candidates to endorse and commit to enact if elected. This was in the same
spirit as our
French members approached their parliamentary elections last June
.

DiEM25’s German activists have moved
fast and are in the process of confirming a list of candidates willing to adopt
DiEM25’s proposed policy agenda for Germany. We will publish the list ahead of
the elections. Below you can read our original proposal, “8 proposals for
Germany’s Progressives.”

Germany is pivotal. It is, and ought to be, a
country central to the European project. But this project is in trouble because
of a political failure to align the interests of most Germans with those of
most other Europeans. All sentences beginning with “the Germans…”, whether they
contain positive or negative evaluations, are misleading, generalising, and end
up undermining the common interest of a majority of Europeans and progressive
politics in general. We created DiEM25 to provide new narratives and policy
agendas that energise a new politics across Europe, which makes visible and gives
voice to the common interest of the majority of Europeans. This is why Germany
is central to DiEM25’s politics (it was not by accident that DiEM25 was
inaugurated in Berlin!). For progressive candidates in the upcoming federal
elections in September, DiEM25 has the following eight proposals:

1. On Germany’s social market model

Germany rose to envy-of-the-world status thanks to
a social contract that offered the working class strong protection (and seats
on the boards of directors of large companies) if it conformed to a flexible
rule-bound, free-market environment in which business could get on with it. In
conjunction with local banks linked to differently sized industries, and in a
positive global environment, the so-called “German economic miracle” unfolded.

However, since the creation of the euro and the
banking crisis it caused, German economic competitiveness has increasingly been
bought at the expense of Germany’s social market model. The casualisation of
many workers, the repression of wages, the doubling of the proportion of
‘working poor’ Germans, the Christian Democrats’ increasingly confident attempt
to limit social spending and public investment – all these developments are
quietly turning Germany’s social market model into an empty shell that only
resembles what German social democrats had once thought they had achieved.
Moreover, more ‘structural reforms’ that will further reduce the life prospects
of millions of Germans are currently being tried and tested elsewhere in the
Eurozone.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Explain to the people of Germany that the (limited)
achievements of the German model are under serious threat and that, moreover,
the developments in the rest of the eurozone are enabling the dismantling of
the German social market tradition. Defending and making necessary
improvements to Germany’s social democratic institutions and model goes hand in
hand with opposing the coalition’s policies in the Eurozone.

2. On the euro

Progressive German candidates are already ringing
alarm bells across the Federal Republic, to warn voters of a gross and
dangerous falsehood: the notion that Germany is doing well out of the euro
crisis and that its leaders have shepherded the European flocks well and wisely
during it. The reason is simply: precisely the opposite has been the case.
Germany is much weaker as a result of the crisis and Europe is at an advanced
stage of disintegration as a result of how the German government has mismanaged
Europe’s social economy and its resources.

Yes, it is true that the crisis has created a large
surplus for the federal budget (due to the massive suppression of interest
rates charged to roll over Germany’s debt) and a huge influx of capital into
the Frankfurt banks (due to capital flight from weaker economies whose citizens
fear Grexit, Italexit etc.) But these surpluses are a sign of weakness, not
strength. They are the sign of massive current and future hardship for a
majority of Germans. To have the German establishment celebrate them as
indicators of economic health is to add insult to injury.

When a country like Germany reports its lowest
level of investment (as a percentage of national income) at a time when
investors are paying its government to borrow and savings are at the highest
level in the nation’s history… When that country’s elites insist that the
various surpluses must be maintained through further wage repression of the
squeezed German working class, as a means to undermine the French and Italian
working classes and give an excuse to the French and the Italian governments to
squeeze their own workers… When in a country like Germany everyone is a saver
(governments, families and companies save more than they spend/invest), thus
being forced to entrust their hard-earned savings to other countries that they
must then control via austerity and threats… When an ageing country that feels
a need to save for its future is creating the economic forces that push
interest rates below zero, thus depleting its own savings… When all this
happens, you know that the country in question is in trouble.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Make German voters aware of one basic thing: We are
all in this together! No country is ring-fenced from the crisis. Germany cannot
hide behind its surpluses without crushing its workers and its pension funds.
If our monetary union is in the grip of vicious imbalances, misery is shared
between the weaker citizens everywhere – whether they live in surplus or in
deficit countries.

3. On a
European New Deal

It is because we are all in this together, because
there can be no solution for Italy’s or Greece’s problems that does not include
an end to German mini-jobs, ‘uberisation’, underinvestment, etc., that Germany
needs a European New Deal.

Now, a majority of Germans have been convinced that
a European New Deal means Germany paying for the rest of Europe. They are right
to think that Germany is rich, but not that rich. However, they are wrong to
believe that a European New Deal means German taxpayers paying more to fund the
social welfare, investment projects and banking systems of the rest of Europe.
To demonstrate this, and the way forward, DiEM25 has put together its European New Deal Policy
Paper
.

 We call on progressive
candidates in the German elections to:

Initiate a large social, political and cultural
debate around the idea of a European New Deal, and use our European New Deal
Policy Paper as a framework for this transformation.

4. On European democracy

Most Germans want to be embedded in a democratic
Europe. But at the same time, most German citizens fear that the price their
country is being asked to pay for a democratic EU is one that Germany, however
rich it may be, cannot afford.

DiEM25’s European New Deal argues that this is not
the case! Indeed, the price a majority of Germans are today paying for the lack
of a functioning democracy at EU level is large, and wasted. To move beyond the
politics of fear and despair in line with our European New Deal, German
progressives should also discuss the idea of a constituent assembly process
envisaged by DiEM25’s Manifesto that can open a broad social, political
and cultural process towards a proper democratic European Constitution.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Start a debate on the idea of a European
constituent assembly process and of a Democratic European Constitution.

5. On the Green Transition

German governments and industry have made great
strides in producing and sponsoring renewables, recycling and Green practices.
However, the key to the Green Transition that Europe and the planet needs is
massive investment. And massive investment in the green technologies and
processes of the future is impossible outside the macro-financial framework of
a European New Deal agenda as outlined by DiEM25.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Deepen and expand their commitment to the politics
of a democratic social-ecological transformation by putting forward an agenda
that combines austerity cancellation, financial sector regulation and green
investment-led recovery, and which therefore could serve as a framework for
this transformation.

6. On technological sovereignty

German industry prides itself on its technological
progress. Nonetheless, when it comes to digital technologies, despite German
industry’s expertise, Germany’s companies, society and government rely on
Silicon Valley’s platforms in a manner that is harmful to technological
sovereignty.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Demonstrate to voters that Europe’s technological
future cannot be left to German and American multinationals. Our economies and,
indeed, our democracies depend on developing open source platforms that enhance
our productivity and capacity to work together, without being exploited by the
world’s latest form of monopoly power.

7. On refugees and migration

Merkel’s initial positive reaction to the influx of
Syrian refugees in the summer of 2015 has been vilified and classified as a
spontaneous error. Her capitulation to ‘realpolitik’, and her despicable
subsequent treaty with the Turkish President, has completed a nationalist and
racist turn across Germany’s establishment.

But civil society is resisting. Its resistance must
be celebrated and reinforced!

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Take Merkel to task for having betrayed her own
initial instinct to “let them in”. Put forward tangible policies that are true
to the spirit of “let them in” and which spread across Europe a sensible,
humanist and realistic approach – not only to refugees but also economic
migrants. Aim to stop the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

8. On maintaining peace

Merkel, after a recent meeting with President
Trump, announced that Europe must take its fate in its hands and no longer
“rely on the kindness of strangers” for its defence. This is correct. However,
progressives should beware: we do not need a European substitute of NATO. We do
not want a European pact spreading belligerence and weapons near and far. We do
not want another shameful European intervention like in Libya in 2011. We do
not want a European threat that gives Putin more excuses to clamp down on
Russian democrats.

We call on progressive candidates in the German
elections to:

Demand blocking the sale of weapons to repressive
regimes, as many progressives already do. With worldwide arms sales up 7 per
cent to €4.03 billion in the first half of 2016, Germany is responsible for
conflicts around the world. With arms sales to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United
Arab Emirates, Algeria and others, Germany is directly supporting repressive
regimes and wars, which subsequently lead to migration and refugee crises.

Fight for an Internationalist Europe that
treats non-Europeans as ends-in-themselves. A Peaceful
Europe committed to all efforts to
de-escalate tensions in its East
and in the Mediterranean, acting as a bulwark against the sirens of militarism
and expansionism and proving its commitment by blocking the sale of weapons. An
Open Europe that is alive to ideas, people and inspiration from all over
the world, recognising fences and borders as signs of weakness spreading
insecurity in the name of security. A Europe that finally acknowledges its
responsibility for the historical crimes of colonialism and imperialism. A Liberated
Europe
where privilege, prejudice, deprivation and the threat of violence
wither, allowing Europeans to be born into fewer stereotypical roles, to enjoy
even chances to develop their potential, and to be free to choose more of their
partners in life, work and society.

Country or region: 

Germany

EU

Topics: 

Democracy and government

Economics

Ideas

International politics

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

Confirm this!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 11:00pm in

10

Mark Tansey, “Coastline Measure” (1987)

 

I’ve been over this before.

But I continue to be amazed at the ubiquitous, facile references to science, evidence, and facts and the derision that is directed at the proposition that we live in a post-truth world. On topics as diverse as climate change, globalization, and the role of the working-class in electing Donald Trump, commentators invoke Truth, with a capital t, as an obvious, unproblematic characteristic of making statements about what is going on in the world.

To me, they’re about as silly—and dangerous—as attempting to measure the coastline using a tape measure.

This is the case even in studies, such as those conducted by Tali Sharot [ht: ja], about the supposed diminishing influence of evidence and the existence of confirmation bias.

The very first thing we need to realize is that beliefs are like fast cars, designer shoes, chocolate cupcakes and exotic holidays: they affect our well-being and happiness. So just as we aspire to fill our fridge with fresh fare and our wardrobe with nice attire, we try to fill our minds with information that makes us feel strong and right, and to avoid information that makes us confused or insecure.

In the words of Harper Lee, “people generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”

It’s not only in the domain of politics that people cherry-pick news; it is apparent when it comes to our health, wealth and relationships.

At one level, this makes sense to me. There’s a great deal of confirmation bias when we try to make sense of various dimensions of lives and the world in which we live.

But. . .

I also think people are curious about things—information, experiences, and so on—that don’t seem to fit their existing theories or discourses. And, when they do attempt to make sense of those new things, their ideas change (and, of course, as their ideas change, they see things in new ways).

Perhaps even more important, while people like Sharot acknowledge that people often “accept evidence that confirms their preconceived notions and assess counter evidence with a critical eye,” they never consider the possibility that the people who are conducting the research concerning confirmation bias are themselves subject to that same bias.

Why is it always people out there—you know, “the ones who are thinking about health, wealth, and relationships”—that cherry-pick the facts. What about the so-called scientists, including the ones who invoke the Truth; why aren’t they also subject to confirmation bias?

Sharot invokes “the way our brain works”—without ever acknowledging that she and her coinvestigators also use one theory, and ignore or reject other theories, to make sense of the brain and the diverse ways we process information. Others rely on the “scientific evidence” concerning climate change or the gains from globalization or the existence of a resentful white (but not black or Hispanic) working-class, which in their view others deny because they don’t believe the obvious “facts.”

What’s the difference?

I can pretty much guess the kind of response that will be offered (because I see it all the time, especially in economics): the distinction between everyday confirmation bias and real, Truth-based stems from the use of the “scientific method.”

The problem, of course, is there are different scientific methods, different ways of producing knowledge—whether in economics or cognitive neuroscience, political science or physics, anthropology or chemistry. All of those forms of knowledge production are just as conditioned and conditional as the way nonscientists produce (and consume and disseminate) knowledges about other aspects of the world.

As for me, I can’t wait for this period of fake interest in capital-t Truth to pass. Maybe then we can return to the much more interesting discussion of the conditionality of all forms of knowledge production.

Tagged: chemistry, climate change, economics, epistemology, globalization, knowledge, mind, neuroscience, physics, political science, post-truth, science, Trump, truth, working-class

Next time it will be different. That’s because it will be much worse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 7:29pm in

Tags 

Economics

The Tax Justice UK to mark the tenth anniversary of the Northern Rock crisis at the Royal Society of Arts last night was fascinating.

Prof Daniela Gabor explained why we have a shortage of some sorts of debts in the UK right now, as I have often said of government debt.

Prof Daniel Mugge (who has the amazing title of Professor of Political Arithmetic at the University of Amsterdam) made clear that financial crises are a first world luxury created by overfed optimism that inflates the quantity and value of debt, which in itself is always a measure of inequality.

Nick Shaxson talked about the need for political change to challenge the neoliberal thinking that competition conquers all that has, however, led to the continuing rise of rent-seeking monopolies.

I offered comments on the theme discussed here yesterday, but strongly supported Daniel’s view that some assets are horribly overpriced, and that this is deliberately overfed optimism.

Take two examples. The first is the world wide stock market index, now at an all time high this week:

Add in UK property prices:

And Daniel had a great slide showing how much greater the market value of UK government debt is than its nominal value. The excess is about £500 billion right now – all of which has, by definition, to unwind before these debts are repaid. This is his chart:

What was my big takeaway of the event? I would say it is that we will have another crisis, and next time it will be different. That, however, will be because it will be much worse than last time simply because the scale of asset over valuation is so much greater this time round.

If and when interest rates rise (and the Bank of England is suggesting it may do just that) and if and when they try (I emphasis the word try) to reverse QE, as they  hinted they might only yesterday (although their hints are notoriously unreliable) then I suspect the time to a tipping point will begin to reduce, sharply. And, as the stock index chart shows, whilst it takes quite a while for an over valuation to arrive the down sides tend to happen pretty quickly. There is ample talk of cliff edges when it comes to Brexit but that’s a minor hillock to fall off compared to the cliff from which a major asset revaluation will cascade.

It could, of course, be argued that this might be the best way that there is to reduce wealth inequality. I have to say that is not the way I look at this. The stress that a radical asset revaluation will create is enormous. Pension funds will be in massive deficit. Insurance company solvency will be challenged. Households will have negative equity. Banks will have big holes in their balance sheets, and could easily fail. Tax revenues will fall. And there will be a recession as a result. And because there’s further to fall than last time, and the range of over valued assets is greater, and the scale of personal indebtedness is higher, let’s not beat about the bush, this time it’s betting to be uglier than last.

And for the record, there’s very little we can do to stop this happening. The overvaluations exist. The supposed robustness of the banking and financial systems about which so many are so smug is dependent upon them and so there is no willingness to address them.  And the Bank of England and others are willing to lie to defend the status quo, as are all those politicians still wedded to the failed neoliberal model.

In that case we have three options.

The first is design systems to prevent this happening again, such as better regulation, wealth taxation, international tax cooperation, universal basic incomes, better training in the nature of tax and money, and so on, all of which have to be underpinned by a new political narrative.

Second, we have to ensure there are tools to deal with this crisis when it arrives like the Green New Deal and People’s Quantitative Easing, both of which remain pretty much unique in their potential role in any recovery.

Third, we have to be ready. We do not know when this will happen. We are in a Gramscian moment waiting for the new to be born. But it will be. Until then we despair knowing that what will come will be horrible, and base our appraoch on the optimism that there are solutions available for politicians to use when this moment arrives.

In the meantime, hold any savings in cash. That’s not financial advice. It’s just what I am doing.

When is a genocide a genocide?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 6:02pm in

(Or, why is the world allowing the Rohingya to be
slaughtered?) There is a genocide happening before our eyes. If only we can
bear to look.

lead Rohingya Muslim refugees wait for relief on the Bangladesh side of the border after fleeing violence in western Myanmar, Sept. 11, 2017. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/Press Association. All rights reserved.My heart has broken. Many times, in many ways over the past twenty
days. It has been splintered, hammered, shattered, parched, starved and numbed
beyond recognition.

As a human rights advocate who has worked on the Rohingya
issue for about ten years, I have experienced my fair share of despair in the
face of the many atrocities this community has endured. Through my work, I have
become familiar with an ever-growing list of violations against them, which
have increasingly convinced me that the Rohingya – widely recognised as the
most persecuted minority in the world – are the victims of crimes against
humanity and genocide. Not a conclusion I arrived at lightly, but one which I
have grappled
with
over time.

Even so, nothing prepared me for the last twenty days.

I lack the vocabulary to process, let alone describe what has
been happening in Rakhine state. Such extreme expressions of hatred, bigotry
and violence are beyond my comprehension. The thought of being at the receiving
end, beyond my imagination.

What words do I know to capture the agony of a two-year-old
being burnt alive, her parents forced to watch. Or a teenager gang-raped by a
horde of men, just after her father has been shot point blank? How can I even begin
to describe the sheer fatigue of a man forced to walk for a week, gun-shot
wounded, without any food, while carrying his grandmother? Or the all-encompassing
loss of a woman – home burnt, family killed, dignity torn to shreds?

Can my imagination be wild enough to understand the courage
of a mother who gives birth to her baby while fleeing blood thirsty genocidaires,
or the desperation of another whose starving, traumatised and fatigued body
cannot produce breastmilk for her infants? What about the nine-year-old child
who overnight became the sole protector of her one-year old brother, and had to
carry him across borders to safety? Or the disabled man who crawled on all
fours for days to escape his persecutors? Or the woman, who within touching
distance of the relative safety of Bangladesh, treads on a landmine planted by
the Burmese army? What words in what language can describe the sense of
betrayal that must be felt by the countless IDPs who are starving to death
because international humanitarian aid no longer reaches them?

Possibly over 400,000 refugees in twenty days. 20,000 a day.
Almost a thousand an hour. Each of them scarred, starving, traumatised, hunted,
degraded, persecuted, fatigued. Each of them denied their identity, branded
liars, systematically persecuted, deemed too ugly to be raped by the Burmese
state, its propaganda machine and murderous mobs.

And not for the first time.

The Rohingya have been beaten down, detested, dehumanised,
destroyed. Over and over and over and over again.

There is a genocide happening before our eyes. If only we
can bear to look.

The Rohingya genocide

The Rohingya genocide didn’t begin on 25 August 2017, or
September 2016, or even June 2012. It has been steadily going about its
business as the world went about its own, for many decades.

Under international law (the UN
Genocide Convention
and the Rome
Statute
), genocide is defined as killing, causing serious bodily or mental
harm, inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical
destruction, imposing measures to prevent births or forcibly transferring
children of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intention of
destroying the group in whole or in part. 

For over 40
years
, the Burmese state has been engaged in wholescale persecution
of the Rohingya; denial and deprivation of their nationality; denial of their
history and identity; restrictions on marriage and children; forced
malnutrition and forced labour; restrictions on education, healthcare and
movement; arbitrary arrests and killings; all with the cumulative intent of
denying their participation in society, driving them out and destroying them.
This systemic
and structured persecution
has been interspersed with waves of acute
violence carried out by state and non-state actors alike – in 1978, 1991, 2012,
2015; and has been fuelled by the most vitriolic propaganda campaign which has
brainwashed a country into reviling and fearing the most vulnerable and
downtrodden among them.

For too long, the calls of human rights actors have been
ignored, dismissed, muted. For too long, other labels have been used so as not
to offend. ‘Inter-communal violence’ cried the world in 2012, when the state
apparatus lined up with Rakhine extremists to kill, plunder, drive out and displace
hundreds of thousands of Rohingya: ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ whispered
the activists who saw a deathly 40-year-old pattern. ‘Inter-communal
violence’ cried the world in 2012…: ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’
whispered the activists who saw a deathly 40-year-old pattern.

Genocide never happens in isolation, nor is it inevitable.
It is denied, enabled, enforced; through lies, complicity, counter-narratives,
propaganda, turning a blind eye, weighing human life against economic and
geopolitical gain. For genocide to be possible, the right environment has to be
carefully cultivated over many years. For it to actually be carried out, the
rest of the world has to be too divided, conflicted, selfish or indecisive to –
even for a short moment in time – come together to protect those under fire. In
the Rohingya genocide, we see all these ingredients and more.

Statelessness

The arbitrary denial and deprivation of Rohingya’s Burmese
nationality has played a pivotal role in how they are perceived
and treated
. Rohingya have faced targeted exclusion and persecution at
least since the 1970s; but it was the 1982 citizenship law which entrenched
their statelessness. The Rohingya were denied citizenship because they are an
unwanted minority. Once made stateless, this was used to reinforce the dominant
narrative that they are not from Burma, that they are illegal immigrants from
Bangladesh. Their statelessness was drawn on to deny their identity (they are
Bengali, there are no Rohingya) and their history. It became the justification
for the suffocating restrictions imposed on them. It mattered not, that there
was no international law or historical basis for any of this. The statelessness of the Rohingya, their resultant treatment
and the surrounding discourse, paved the way for what was to follow.

The jihadist
terrorist narrative

Myanmar justifies its brutalisation of the Rohingya, by
pointing to the ‘jihadist’, ‘terrorist’ ARSA. It is a convenient narrative that
feeds off a wider global islamophobia. The state – and particularly the
military – is intent on painting the Rohingya as violent extremists for two
reasons. First, to attribute state crimes against the Rohingya to the Rohingya
themselves. Second, to garner domestic and international support for the terror
that the military is unleashing.

The amateurish propaganda footage of the state, of clearly
non-Rohingya torch bearers setting houses alight has been dwarfed by the
testimony from among the over 400,000 refugees who have fled to Bangladesh, as
well as the few reports that have been possible for independent reporters
within Rakhine state. There is no doubt that the ARSA are a violent group, though
their size and capacity appears to be grossly exaggerated. And while violence
is never the answer, it is worth bearing in mind that members of many minority
groups, including others in Myanmar, have resorted to armed resistance in the
face of much less than has been meted out to the Rohingya over the decades. It
is also important to note that ARSA’s public demands have been for equal rights
and protection of the Rohingya, an independent UN investigation and
accountability for perpetrators. A convenient
narrative that feeds off a wider global islamophobia…

Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is increasingly criticised for her position
on the Rohingya. However, many of these criticisms still flatter. She is
implored to break her silence. She is called upon to exercise her moral
authority to ease the Rohingya pain. She is sympathised with for being in an
impossible position. She is given more latitude than a slowly turning oil
tanker. Her pedestal may not be as shiny or tall as it used to be, but world
powers are still propping it up. She shields their inaction, as she shields
army action. The ever-diminishing sense is that things cannot be so bad if she
has not spoken out.

There is however, another way of perceiving her. She has not
been silent. She has used her voice to stoke hatred against the Rohingya, to
ridicule the testimonies of survivors of genocide. To accuse humanitarian
actors of colluding with terrorists. To justify the denial of the Rohingya
identity. she is only silent in her unwillingness to speak the name ‘Rohingya’.
And so, she no longer has any moral authority to speak of. She is a failed
leader, who is watching her country burn, her people turn against their
neighbours, her military perpetrate the most unspeakable and atrocious crimes
and who has taken a calculated and cynical decision to stand with the
oppressors. World
powers are still propping it up. She shields their inaction, as she shields
army action.

The military

These oppressors are first and foremost, the Burmese
military, which is led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. The testimonies of
victims have consistently and repeatedly identified the military as the primary
perpetrators. Rakhine mobs have also played a crucial, violent role. But the
Burmese military, which still controls the country and which has set itself the
objective of finishing its unfinished business from 1942 is the all-powerful
hand that is orchestrating the unspeakable violence. Pushing the Rohingya out
is not only ideological, it is also economic. Plans for a special
economic zone in Maungdaw
are already in the public domain. Ownership of
burnt land reverts to the state. Natural
gas pipelines and the extractive industries are lucrative beyond belief
. The
military, stands to profit immensely from its crime against humanity. 

Fake news

In the absence of a strong presence of media or independent
monitors, accusations of fake news are commonplace. The propaganda front is as
important as ever, to whet the appetite for genocide and to deflect and deface
any critical attention. The same state which denied UN investigators entry and
does not allow journalists free access to the affected area, is seeking to
benefit from the resultant near impossibility to verify testimonies.

All news that exposes its hand is deemed to be fake. The state
is also producing its own fake news, forcing those under its control to enact
burnings, so the Rohingya can be blamed for committing mass harakiri. It is
terrifying that despite the sheer weight of evidence, countless Burmese choose
to believe the state version, and even international actors do not disregard it
completely. And so, legitimacy is being given to the lies that perpetuate
genocide
.

The international
community

This crisis has yet again highlighted the failures of the UN
to rise above partisanship, bureaucracy and ineffectiveness, despite the
consistent and increasingly louder warnings and pleas of its Human Rights
Office.

The international community appears finally, slowly, to be being
jostled out of its slumber of complicity and indifference. Too slow to prevent
the unimaginable suffering of so many, and it is still unclear if any decisive
action will be taken. Pushing the Rohingya out is not only ideological, it is
also economic… The military, stands to profit immensely from its crime
against humanity.

It is unthinkable that the Burmese military continues to
benefit from arms trade and training from many of the world’s super powers.
That even after the genocide began, they were mooted as a viable option to don
the blue helmets of UN Peacekeeping forces.

The genocide of the Rohingya has proven without doubt and at
great cost, that the world was too hasty to lift sanctions on Myanmar and
congratulate it for its democratisation gains, while lining up to do trade with
the mineral rich country. Such are the times we live in though, that such proof
alone isn’t enough to guarantee a stronger, more principled international
response.

'Islami Andolan Bangladesh' march to Myanmar Embassy to demand, Stop genocide on Rohingya in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on September 13, 2017. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

The Rohingya refugee making factory

Country or region: 

Myanmar

Topics: 

Civil society

Conflict

Democracy and government

Economics

Equality

International politics

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

We don’t need to give money to the BVI: loans would do a better job

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 4:28pm in

Boris Johnson is apparently struggling to find ways to give development aid to the UK Overseas Territories that are too wealthy to benefit from the aid budget. As ever, Johnson is wholly misguided in his efforts.

Of course these islands have suffered badly, and of course they need aid but their high GDP per capita is not an accident, even if not everyone who lives there will see all the benefits of it. Rather, that high GDP per capita is an indication of their tax haven activity and, in turn, their ability to fund their own recovery.

What the islands need is liquidity and resources now. So let’s provide both. But let’s not worry about digging into the aid budget. Just as £1bn could mysteriously be found for Northern Ireland when needed so too can the money for these islands be found now. But better still, we don’t even need to find a budget to take the money from. Just lend it instead. Nothing could be easier to do: after all government can create money at will for that purpose just as banks can.

Charge interest on this loan by all means, but make it modest.

Be fair and require repayment over the life of the assets.

And build in incentives to give up tax haven activity into the loan conditions. So waive part of the capital for accounts published on line, and more for trusts doing the same. Then add another waiver for public beneficial ownership data and maybe a bit more for having a corporation tax. Give the islands a choice. But make opacity cost.

That way help is given now and tough decisions can be deferred. But international tax abuse gets a local price. And those in these places can either pay it or elect politicians who reform their practices. Now what could be fairer than that?

Counterpunch: Bernie Sanders Outlines His Plans for ‘Medicare for All’

Today’s Counterpunch has a piece by the radical, progressive Democratic politician, Bernie Sanders, reblogged from the New York Times. In it, Sanders discusses the outrageous scandal that 28 million Americans have no medical coverage, despite the fact that their country spends more on healthcare than almost any other nation. He points out that this is because the insurance-based healthcare system is designed not to give Americans access to decent healthcare, but to enrich the companies’ executives and shareholders. He describes how many Americans cannot afford healthcare, and are forced to cut down on the drugs they need, simply because they cannot pay for them. He argues that the experience of Canada, and the Medicare programme brought fifty years ago, both show that single-payer healthcare is cheap, popular and effective.

He states that he intends to introduce a bill for Medicare for All into Congress next Wednesday, and outlines how he envisages an initial four year transition period from the current American system. He also makes it plain that there will be concerted opposition to his proposal.

His piece begins

This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?

We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.

All over this country, I have heard from Americans who have shared heartbreaking stories about our dysfunctional system. Doctors have told me about patients who died because they put off their medical visits until it was too late. These were people who had no insurance or could not afford out-of-pocket costs imposed by their insurance plans.

I have heard from older people who have been forced to split their pills in half because they couldn’t pay the outrageously high price of prescription drugs. Oncologists have told me about cancer patients who have been unable to acquire lifesaving treatments because they could not afford them. This should not be happening in the world’s wealthiest country.

Americans should not hesitate about going to the doctor because they do not have enough money. They should not worry that a hospital stay will bankrupt them or leave them deeply in debt. They should be able to go to the doctor they want, not just one in a particular network. They should not have to spend huge amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not they have the coverage they expected.

Even though 28 million Americans remain uninsured and even more are underinsured, we spend far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In 2015, the United States spent almost $10,000 per person for health care; the Canadians, Germans, French and British spent less than half of that, while guaranteeing health care to everyone. Further, these countries have higher life expectancy rates and lower infant mortality rates than we do.

Please go to the Counterpunch site and read the whole article. It’s at:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/why-we-need-medicare-for-all/

The state and state-funded healthcare systems of the European countries have contributed immensely to their people’s health and wellbeing, ever since Bismarck introduced it in Germany in 1875 in an attempt to steal working class votes away from the socialist SDP.

And it’s driving the Reaganites and Thatcherites of the corporate sector up the wall, because it denies them so much of the juicy profits that comes from the insurance-driven sector. That’s why the Tories over here have been privatizing the NHS piecemeal by stealth ever since the days of Maggie Thatcher. It’s why the corporate bosses of the big healthcare firms, like the fraudster Unum, came over here at the beginning of New Labour’s tenure in office to lobby Blair to privatize the NHS.

And it’s part of the reason the Blairites, Tories and Lib Dems, and their paymasters in big business and lackeys in the media, including the Beeb, fear and hate Jeremy Corbyn, as the Republicans and the corporatist Democrats around Hillary Clinton despise Bernie Sanders in the US.

Any civilized country has to demand proper medicine for its people, regardless of the demands of the corporatists to keep it the expensive privilege of the affluent. So, go Bernie! And may Corbyn also win in his fight to renationalize the NHS.

BBC de-growth video recommends basic income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 11:33pm in

In a recent video released by the BBC, anthropologist Dr Jason Hickel argues for a form of planned de-growth which includes the provision of basic income. Hickel is employed by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which for several years has been ranked second in the world for social sciences by the QS World University Rankings. In

The post BBC de-growth video recommends basic income appeared first on BIEN.

Where modern macroeconomics went wrong

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 7:13pm in

Tags 

Economics

DSGE models seem to take it as a religious tenet that consumption should be explained by a model of a representative agent maximizing his utility over an infinite lifetime without borrowing constraints. Doing so is called micro-founding the model. But economics is a behavioral science. If Keynes was right that individuals saved a constant fraction […]

The foundations of the next economic crisis are a refusal to acknowledge failure and a denial of the facts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 6:12pm in

Tags 

Economics

I have this morning already noted that today marks the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Northern Rock. I have also noted that i have been engaged on that and related issues on this blog ever since (this will be the 14,390th posting of an article on this site). I will be discussing what I have learned in a discussion at the Royal Society of Arts this evening. I will also be offering my explanation as to where we are now, a decade on.

This last part is the easy bit and the element I will focus on. The simple fact is that we are in denial. What we’re in denial of is three things. The first is that the world did change. The fact is that the banking crisis did signal the end of neoliberalism: whatever it might have promised failed with the queues at Northern Rock and the subsequent collapse of Lehman. It was simply not possible thereafter to suggest that light touch, unfettered market capitalism where competition could supposedly ordain the correct allocation of resources for society was tenable as a basis for organising society. It had showed that it did not work; that it externalised its costs and that it imposed burdens far greater than any supposed benefits it could deliver.  And yet we remain in denial on that fact: the political aim of most policy since mid-2010 (but not in 2008 to 2010) has been to restore neoliberalism to its perch, and that cannot and will not happen because it is impossible to do.

The second thing we’re in denial about is the fact that policy and politics have been in conflict since 2010. Quantitative easing is the obvious example of this. If markets worked it should not have required £435 billion of government created money to keep the financial system solvent and flowing since 2009, but it has, and that intervention did not produce inflation (the current bout of inflation being Brexit and not QE created). The government has stepped in, because it has had to. The failure of austerity, or perhaps the inability of government to deliver the balanced budgets it promised, is the second indication of this. Whatever the political will, the fact is realpolitiks did not permit austerity in the way neoliberalism continually demanded. The real world is not the same as the space the policy wonks and their ministerial adherents think it is, bit this is still denied, not least by the Bank of England.

Third, there has been outright denial. An outright denial of the fact that money has been printed to keep the economy afloat. And an outright denial that government debt is not in excess of £1.7 trillion as a result (88% of GDP) but is instead £1.3 trillion, or 66% of GDP because the government simply cannot owe itself money and it owns £435 billion of its own debt. Just as there has been a denial that cutting staff at HMRC might have contributed to the tax gap, and that this was a policy choice. And a denial that austerity has not worked, which as a result requires that the government keeps saying it will deliver it even when it so obviously cannot and it is so harmful to keep trying to do so.

This combination of failure, a refusal to acknowledge it and a consequent denial of the facts that are so obvious that they really cannot be avoided is toxic. These factors are in themselves the risk that we now face. Unless we are willing to look for new economic models, embrace them, tell the truth about what they require of us, and plan to use them to best effect we simply set out to fail. And that is what is happening, aided and abetted by the fact that behind this whole process of denial there is a toxic risk that is not being addressed, which is that the debt that created the 2007 crisis can still be tolerated now. It cannot be.

Debt is a measure of a wealth divide: those who have not owe to those who have. That’s what it is all about. There is no more or less to it than that. And at the end of the day that is what has to be corrected, which is why the toxic finance system that continues to create and fuel the growth of that debt has to be addressed. But right now denial is not letting that happen. And that’s where the basis of the next crisis will be found.

The Bank of England: still living in a world of legal denial of the fact that it makes new money for the government

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/09/2017 - 5:41pm in

Tags 

Banking, Economics

A reader of this blog shared the following email exchange between him, and the Bank of England with me and asked me to comment upon it. I do so with his explicit permission to share the correspondence.

Glynn Worthington wrote to the Bank saying:

Hello,

I came across this article from Tax expert Richard Murphy, which says that taxes are not used/are not necessary to fund public spending.

Further reading shows this is not a new revelation, going back (at least) to Keynes and former Head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Beardsley Ruml.

Can this be correct? It seems to me that it must be. How can you rely on me for money that only you can issue?

Could you please confirm or deny this?

MPs are often asked “which taxes would you raise to pay for this”, but this would seem like a malformed question, if Richard Murphy is correct.

http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2016/08/07/note-to-prospective-labour-leaders-tax-has-never-ever-paid-for-government-spending/

Thanks,

Glynn Worthington

The Bank of England replied as follows:

Dear Mr Worthington,

Thank you for your email. The proposal you refer to falls outside of the Bank of England’s remit as a central bank and accordingly, we are not in a position to consider it. The Bank’s responsibility currently is clearly defined and fiscal policy, including responsibility for taxation policy, falls to the Government.

As compelling as the proposal you refer to may seem, it would be illegal, as it violates Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty, which forbids central banks from financing government spending.

In addition, the idea of printing money to fund public services could undermine faith in the fiscal and monetary framework. Printing money would cause inflation which cannot easily be reversed if it became too high. Excessive inflation is not good for the economy as it effectively reduces the value of money. More money is needed to purchase goods and services. People on fixed incomes such as those that are retired would see a decline in their purchasing power and generally consumers and businesses would also be less likely to spend due to the uncertainty. This would impact economic output and in turn economic growth.

Also, if the inflation rate is high in comparison to other countries, domestic products become less competitive as goods and services will cost more in comparison to elsewhere.

I hope the above information answers your question. Thank you once again for writing to the Bank of England.

Kind regards,

Brendan Manning

Public Enquiries Group

Bank of England|Threadneedle St|London EC2R 8AH|+44 (0)20 7601 4878

enquiries@bankofengland.co.uk

So what does this mean? Am I right, or are they?

I have to say that the answer is laid out between the lines of the Bank of England’s letter. They say that it would be illegal for them Bank to finance government spending. And so they claim that they have not done it. But, let’s not beat about the bush here. let’s call that out for what it is. It’s a lie. And everyone knows it is a lie.

As the Bank of England says on its own web site:

Quantitative easing (QE) is an unconventional form of monetary policy where a Central Bank creates new money electronically to buy financial assets, like government bonds. This process aims to directly increase private sector spending in the economy and return inflation to target.

How does that work? In a time when the government has issued substantial new debt (more than £1.1 trillion since 2008) it was widely believed by the finance community that this process would suck too much money out of the private sector economy and reduce real levels of investment and so economic activity. As a result the Bank of England bought that debt back from those private sector actors that had bought it in the hope that this might encourage them to invest alternatively.

But in the process what they did was take away from the private sector its role in providing loan finance to the government and implicitly took on that task itself. In fact, quantitative easing has been sufficient to cover all government borrowing from 2012 to 2016. And in that case it is quite clear, and obviously true, that the Bank of England has quite emphatically provided financing to the government for the purposes of covering its spending. That is all QE can and does do.

And that’s obvious by the fact that the Bank ends up owning large parts (about 25%) of the government’s total debt which it has quite explicitly funded through the creation of new money as a result. This cannot be denied. As a result the Bank of England is lying.

And yes, it probably is breaking the law as well, but since it’s happening all across Europe and it has been universally decided (one ongoing court action in Germany apart) to ignore this fact because it is clearly in the public interest to ignore such a badly conceived piece of law, no one cares.

What is more it has printed money: it says so on its own website. Again, its denial is a lie.

And that has not created inflation. The suggestion that it might is another lie.

So why is it doing this? Three reasons. One because it is pretending it is not breaking the law.

Second, because it remains committed to a version of economic theory on money, money creation and inflation that died ten years ago, but which the Bank of England has refused to bury (there’s another post on this coming next on this site).

Third, because I strongly suspect that the Bank is part of a conspiracy that spreads beyond the City that does not want to know that money can be printed for use for social purposes like creating full employment, funding the green economy, delivering the NHS we need and providing the social security safety net that most have to rely on.  They want it to be thought that money is in short supply when the evidence is that the Bank can create it as it wishes.

To be blunt, the Bank is lying because it knows there is a Magic Money Tree but that it does not want to use it for the benefit of the people of this country, which shows that it is neither apolitical or independent of the government in its actions.

That’s my explanation for the Bank of England’s reply. Their lawyers are welcome to contact me if they wish. I’d win in court.

Pages