Scope of Mass Mobilization Anti-coup Movements in South America, Collection of 25 Stories

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Colombia Enters The Maelstrom Of Latin American Revolution
By María J. Espinosa, Marxist.com.
November 24, 2019 | Resist!

Above photo: Massive mobilization in Colombia against Duque.

Colombia – On 21 November, a powerful general strike paralysed Colombia. Originally called to reject a package of measures by the right-wing government of Ivan Duque, including a counter reform of the labour laws, a counter reform of pensions and massive cuts in education, it became the focal point for accumulated anger. The strike was the largest the country has seen since 1977 and there were mass demonstrations in every town and city. The government responded with repression and threats. This only served to escalate the situation.

In response, there was a spontaneous call for the continuation of the strike on Friday, 22 November when protests continued. The government has now militarised Bogota and declared a curfew across the capital and other cities. Duque is extremely unpopular, with 69 percent opposing him even before the strike. The movement has the strength to bring him down but is lacking a clear leadership.

With this, Colombia has joined the tidal wave of the Latin American revolution and the insurrections we have seen in Ecuador and Chile. That this is happening in Colombia, a country that was presented as a bulwark of the most reactionary right wing is extremely significant. The myth of a “conservative wave” in Latin America, peddled by right-wing commentators and demoralised “left” academics alike, which did not have any basis in reality, and can now be decisively put to rest.

We publish here an account from a comrade in Bogota.

Full story at Popular Resistance, this link

Ecuadorian Opponents Reject Lenin Moreno’s Economic Reform (28)

By Juan Manuel Boccacci,  Pagina 12, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau.
November 24, 2019 | Resist!

The government criminalizes social protest by imprisoning members of the Rafael Correa party, the Citizen Revolution.

The Lenin Moreno Administration is moving in two fronts since the mass mobilizations that took place in Ecuador about a month ago. On the one hand, it is criminalizing social protests so opponents can be charged with “rebellion.” This is how they managed to imprison members of Rafael Correa’s political party, Citizen Revolution, as well as leaders of indigenous organizations. Three legislators of this movement requested asylum at Mexico’s Embassy to Ecuador in this connection. On the other hand, the Government is trying to impose economic measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Days ago, opponents rejected a mega economic reform bill adapted to the markets.

Political Persecution and Criminalization of Social Protest

The three legislators of Rafael Correa’s party continue inside Mexico’s Embassy, a month after they for political asylum. Warned about the beginning of prosecution against them and impending arrests, they decided to seek shelter with the Mexican Government. Four other representatives of the same party are on pre-trial detention charged with “rebellion.” The most prominent of these cases is that of the Pichincha province prefect, Paola Pabon, who has been imprisoned since October 15th. “The Attorney General called for her arrest based on tweets,” messages posted on Twitter, Pabon’s lawyer Ramiro Aguilar Torres told Pagina 12. “According to the law, ‘rebellion’ is defined as funding, creating, commanding or inciting an armed movement in the pursuit of violating the Constitution, rising up against the National Assembly or the President.

Full story at this link, here
https://popularresistance.org/ecuadorian-opponents-reject-lenin-morenos-economic-reform/

Elections Between Witch Hunts, The Coup Plan In Bolivia
By Marco Teruggi, Orinoco Tribune.
November 24, 2019 | Educate!

NOTE: Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK and Wyatt Reed are reporting live from Bolivia.

A colleague who had to leave Bolivia writes to me. She is being chased along with her partner who, they told her, they are looking for him to “liquidate him”. Since before Evo Morales was forced to resign, a list of names began to circulate; its application accelerated from that moment. It was Arturo Murillo, de facto government minister, who was responsible for putting it in black and white: he talked about “hunting” three leaders, after chasing parliamentarians accused of “sedition” and “subversion.” Communication minister Roxana Lizárraga pointed to “journalists and pseudo-journalists”, and on Thursday the Telesur TV channel was taken off of Bolivian television stations.

The strategy of decapitation and persecution is part of the coup d’etat architecture that moves according to a series of planned steps. The first was to force the resignation of Evo and Álvaro García Linera. The second, build a de facto government, materialized from the self-proclamation of Jeanine Añez. The third, initiated before and deepened in these days, is the persecution of leaders, along with the beginning of militarized repressions. The latter was announced with the decree to exempt the armed forces from criminal responsibility and an additional budget credit of four thousand eight hundred million dollars.

Full story at Popular Resistance

Maduro Denounces Bribery Attempts On Army Officers

By Telesur English.
November 24, 2019 | Educate!

The Venezuelan president stressed that despite the bribes the Venezuelan officers have remained loyal to the Bolivarian Revolution.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced this Sunday that the country’s right-wing has received more than US$400 million with the objective of buying politicians, policemen and members of the Bolivarian National Armed Force, to put them at the service of foreign nations’ interests.

During an interview for the ‘Jose Vicente Hoy’ show, Maduro affirmed that despite bribes, the Venezuelan Armed Forces have remained loyal to the Constitution, the Venezuelan people, and the Bolivarian Revolution.

However, the head of state informed there are people imprisoned for giving in or being caught taking such illegal money.

We have dismembered, with the participation of our own armed force officers, more than 47 attempts to recruit officers to put them at the service of Colombia’s strategy and the gringos,” Maduro said, adding that the Venezuelan Armed Forces “will never again kneel down to the gringos, nor will it ever again serve the oligarchy of this country.”

Real whole story here

 

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By Alan Macleod, Mintpress News.
November 24, 2019 | Educate!

Above photo: Anti-government protesters block a road during a demonstration called by opposition politician Juan Guaido, who’s urged masses into the streets to force President Nicolas Maduro from power, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Nov. 16, 2019. Rodrigo Abd | AP

Fresh off a successful military coup deposing leftist President Evo Morales in Bolivia last week, the United States attempted to overthrow the government of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela this weekend. The events, however, went barely noticed outside the South American nation, as the attempt proved to be a complete fiasco. 

U.S.-backed self-declared President Juan Guaidó, who had tried multiple times earlier in the year to depose Maduro to no avail, had long publicly targeted November 16 as the date of his latest insurrection, calling on all Venezuelans to rise up and fight in the streets against the “dictatorship.” That way, he explained on social media, they could build up national and international pressure on Maduro

The United States lent its considerable weight to the attempt. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave his blessing to the coup, stating:

(see the whole story at Popular Resistance here)

31 US orgs denounce Bolivia
By Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
November 21, 2019 | Resist!

Above photo: Protest in front of the OAS in Washington DC, against the Coup in Bolivia (Photo-Credit: Cele León)
NOTE: As we post this statement, Bolivians marching from Senkata to La Paz, carrying the bodies of those who were massacred, are being attacked by police and military using tear gas.

We, the undersigned US organizations condemn the civic-military coup in Bolivia and the brutal repression unleashed by the police and military authorized by the self-proclaimed anti-Indigenous “President” of Bolivia, Senator Jeanine Áñez.

The regime has burned the Wiphala, flag of the Indigenous nations of Bolivia; decreed an exemption to prosecution for the police and military for the use of lethal force against demonstrators; and has criminalized democratically elected officials and rank and file members of organizations associated with the deposed government. These decrees led to the massacre in Cochabamba on November 15 in which police and the armed forces opened fire on demonstrators killing five people and wounding more than 100, as well as the massacre of Senkata on November 19 in which at least 8 people were killed and at least 30 wounded. They have also led to the deployment of military, police and private intelligence agencies to hunt down and arrest political opponents of the coup regime.

Get the full story here

Latin American Protesters Are Demanding New Economic Models (23)
By Nazaret Castro, Inequality.org
November 21, 2019 | Create!

In Chile, Haiti, and Ecuador, demonstrators want more than narrow policy changes. They want to transform the economic systems that have increased inequality for decades.

It’s not 30 pesos: it’s 30 years.” This slogan, one of the most frequently used in the mass protests in Chile, explains in seven words what has triggered the biggest mass demonstrations in living memory in this Andean country since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It was not the increase of 30 Chilean pesos (41 cents) in the subway fare but the accumulation of decades of neoliberal policies, which have turned the Chile of today into one of the most inegalitarian countries in Latin America.

The subway fare rise, one of the highest in the region, unleashed, in the words of Argentine sociologist Maristella Svampa, “an unprecedented generalized experiment in civil disobedience” that began on 7 October, when a group of high school students called for a mass avoidance of fare payment. Five days later, the popular uprising took to the streets.

A violent outbreak was to be expected because it was the only way out. When the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was discussed in Congress, for example, we went on marches, we asked for meetings and consultations, and we were ignored: the system continues along the path of social injustice,” says Alejandra Parra of Environmental Rights Action Network.

See the full story here:

Almagros Talk shut down youthYouth Shut Down Luis Almagro’s Talk In Paraguay
By Telesur.
November 20, 2019 | Resist!

Above photo: Young people expressed rejection of the presence of the Organization of American States Secretary General, Luis Almagro, in Paraguay. @FrenteGuasuPY Screenshot

Young people prevented Almagro from giving a talk on “Democracy and Development” at a university in Asunción.

Paraguay – Social and political organizations of Paraguay expressed their rejection of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, and at the same time expressed their solidarity with the people of Bolivia and the legitimate president of that country, Evo Morales.

This Tuesday, Almagro, a Uruguayan national, planned to offer a talk on “Democracy and Development” at a private university in Asunción, however, social, political and student organizations threw the head of the inter-American organization from the academic venue, according to the collaborator from teleSUR in Paraguay, Osvaldo Zayas.

In the expressions of repudiation there were shouts like “murderer!”, “Almagro, your hands have blood!”, “Coup!” And “Almagro fascist, you are the terrorist”.

Read Youth Shut Down OAS on Popular Resistance

Bolivia – A Color Revolution – Or A New Surge For Latin American Independence?
By Peter Koenig, Globalresearch.ca
November 20, 2019 | Educate!

Like Túpac Katari, indigenous Aymara leader more than 200 years ago, confronting the Spaniards, Evo Morales was betrayed and ‘dismembered’ by his own people, recruited and paid by the agents of the most destructive, nefarious and murderous dark elite that governs and has governed for over two hundred years our planet, the United States of America. With their worthless fiat-Ponzi-pyramid money, the made-out-of-thin-air US dollar, they create poverty throughout the globe, then buy off the weak and poor to plot against the very leaders that have worked for years to improve their social conditions.

It’s become a classic. It’s being called a Color Revolution, and it’s been taking place on all Continents. The list of victim-countries includes, but is not exhaustive – Colombia, Honduras, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, in some ways also Uruguay (the current left-leaning government is powerless and has to remain so, otherwise it will be “changed”… that’s the name of the game) – and now also Bolivia. – Then there are Georgia, Ukraine, Iraq, South Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Indonesia; and the lawless rulers of the universe are attempting to “regime change” North Korea, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua – and on a larger scale China and Russia (I just returned from China – where the Government and people are fully aware what Washington’s intentions are behind every move they make).

Get the whole story at Popular Resistance:

National Lawyers Guild Statement On The Military Coup In Bolivia
By Staff, Nlginternational.org
November 20, 2019
| Educate!

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) strongly condemns the military coup that took place in Bolivia on November 10, followed by the self-declared presidency of extreme right-wing Bolivian senator Jeanine Áñez, in violation of the Constitution of Bolivia.

There is strong evidence that U.S. elected officials and agencies worked to foment this coup in the Plurinational State of Bolivia against elected President Evo Morales, at the expense of indigenous people, campesinos and social movements of the poor and working class and in violation of the OAS Charter, the UN Charter and international law and resolutions.

The role of the Organization of American States (OAS) is particularly troubling, especially as the OAS leadership is serving as a proxy for U.S. political maneuvers throughout the region, despite the position of many American states in opposition to this intervention.

We also express our strongest solidarity with the people of Bolivia who continue to march, organize and resist despite facing harsh violence and military repression. We emphasize the importance of ending U.S. intervention in Bolivia and throughout Latin America and urge the restoration of legitimate civil government and democracy in Bolivia.

The Coup Violates the Constitution of Bolivia

President Morales’ eligibility to run for re-election was established by the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, which in 2017 abolished term limits as violating the American Convention on Human Rights. This decision overturned the results of a 2016 referendum which would have prohibited Morales from running.

Read full Natl Lawyers Guild statement

Evangelical Groups Are The New U.S. Tool For Coups In Latin America
By Staff, Resumen Latinoamericano, translation, North America bureau
November 20, 2019
| Educate!

There are not enough intellectual tools to analyze the religious war used by the United States to support its coup d’états in Latin American countries. This is how historian and theologist Enrique Dussel comments about the ousting of Evo Morales in Bolivia and the region’s current political scenario.

Interviewed by Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui, Dussel recalled that in the region, “Bolivia, together with Haiti, were the poorest countries and while its wealth increased as no other. No one would have expected a reaction there. A significant issue is the reaction of a class sector previously in poverty that became middle class thanks to progressive governments. They have other aspirations which have nothing to do with overcoming poverty. Subjectivity has changed. They turn to consumerist subjectivity, in which they believe that certain right-wing projects could solve their new hopes,” reported the Explicito website.

Catholics vs. evangelists

Dussel commented that some of “those who overcame poverty in Bolivia are subjects, hoping at heart to be neoliberal consumerists. And here comes the issue, in a coup d’état such as (Chile’s Augusto) Pinochet, the same as some Argentinean military officers, the process was headed by people who said they had to guarantee a right-wing Christian Catholic western civilization against communism.”

Read the story in full here

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The Coup D’Etat In Bolivia Is A Coup Against The Region

By Staff, Indefenseofhumanity.org
November 19, 2019
Educate!
Above Photo: carol smiljan/Flickr
The Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity reiterates its most emphatic rejection of the coup d’état against President Evo Morales, his government and the democratic institutions of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, which has submerged the country into an escalation of violence against the people, its historical project and even against other countries.
We denounce the systematic persecution being carried out against political, social, indigenous and peasant organizations and against any initiative or mobilization to demand the return to democratic institutions. Using operations of massive repression and the selective identification of objectives to be completed, the civilian and military strategy of the coup has left, in five days, the death of 24 people, hundreds injured and mass arrests without respect for any procedure of rights.
(get the whole story here)

Venezuela Rejects Coup-Mongering Calls From The US (17)
By Staff, Telesurenglish.net November 19, 2019 | Resist!

Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza demanded U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to assume the failure of the U.S. interference policy against Venezuela. | Photo: VTV
In Venezuela, the US and their lackey, Juan Guaido tried to build on the coup in Bolivia and failed. Instead of a protest to support the coup, there was a massive protest in support of the constitutional government of Venezuela led by President Maduro and opposed to US imperialism. KZ
Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister emphasized that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence should deal with “impeachments and his internal affairs.”
The Venezuelan government rejected Saturday a statement from United States Vice President Mike Pence, who called on the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) to carry out a coup d’etat in the country.
(whole story at this link)

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Above Photo: From Socialistorganizer.org (Bolivia Direct pic)

By The Organizer, Socialistorganizer.org
November 19, 2019 | Resist!
Interview with a Political Activist in El Alto

[Note: The following interview with a Bolivian activist in El Alto, whose name is being withheld for obvious security reasons, was conducted by The Organizer editorial board member Alan Benjamin on Sunday, November 17. The interview is reprinted from the November-December issue of The Organizer.] (17)

Question: What is the situation in Bolivia in the aftermath of the coup? How is the resistance to the coup being organized?

Answer: After the conspiracy of the police, the military, and the right-wing leaders that led to the November 10 resignation of Evo Morales and placed the coup-plotters in the governmental palace, their first measure was to burn the Wiphala, the flag that represents the Quechua-Aymara peoples and that is recognized as one of the nation’s two flags in the 2009 Political Constitution of the State.

The burning of the Wiphala means the return to the heinous racism and discrimination by the traditional right wing. This action by the coup government, together with the self-proclamation by supposed “president” Jeanine Añez, has triggered the mobilization of scores of popular sectors, neighborhood councils, and youth from the city of El Alto, the main bastion of the struggles of October 2003 and 2005 that succeeded in ousting then-president Gustavo Sanchez de Lozada, known as the “Gringo Goni.” Workers and youth at that time had mobilized against Goni’s Hydrocarbons Law with protests that were met with large-scale repression, resulting in 60 deaths.
get the whole story on The Organizer

Cuban Doctors Who Provided Health Services In Bolivia Are Returning To Cuba By Redaccion Digital, Granma, translation Resumen Latino Americano, North America bureau (15)
November 19, 2019 | Educate!
Government sources have confirmed with Granma that the first group of the more than 700 Cuban medical professionals who provided medical attention in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, are returning to their homeland from the city of Santa Cruz, in a Cubana airliner.

On November 13, four members of the Medical Brigade in El Alto were arrested by Bolivian police as they were returning to their place of residence with money taken from a bank to pay for basic services and rents for the 107 members of the Medical Brigade in that region.

The arrest took place under the slanderous assumption that the money was used to finance protests. Representatives of the police and the Public Ministry visited the headquarters of the Medical Brigade in El Alto and La Paz and corroborated, based on documents, payrolls and bank data that the amount of money coincided with the amount regularly extracted each month.
the rest of the story is here


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What The Chilean People’s Enemies In The US Are Planning (14)
By G1 of Rebel Diaz, Blackagendareport.com
November 19, 2019 | Educate!

Elites in Chile take their cues from places like the University of Chicago, where the author witnessed technocrats plotting to save the ruling order from popular uprising.

Chile is the canary in the coal mine.”

Yesterday, I got last minute notice of a talk on the Chilean protests at (of all places) the University of Chicago. I didn’t know exactly what to expect but what I encountered was far more sinister than I could have imagined: a room full of technocrats — and soon to be 21st century Chicago Boys — dissecting the protests in Chile. I almost got security called on me, the lady next to me complained about my manner of talking (“gesticulating” with my arms lol), and I was called a violent machista for interrupting a white Chilean lawyer who was saying some right wing bullshit. But I stuck it out to get a full report on what the enemy is thinking right now. Some takeaways:
Get the full story on link


Above Photo: Lula da Silva speaking in front of the Metalworkers union on November 9, 2019, after his release from prison. (photo: Brian Mier)

As Lula Emerges From Prison, US Media Ignore How Washington Helped Put Him There
By Brian Mier, Fair.org
November 18, 2019 | Educate!

The Brazilian Supreme Court reversed a 2018 ruling on November 7, upholding the principle of innocent until proven guilty in the 1988 Constitution and declaring it illegal to jail defendants before their appeals processes have been exhausted. Within 24 hours, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was released to an adoring crowd of hundreds of union members and social movement activists who had maintained a camp outside the police station where he was held, shouting “good morning,” “good afternoon” and “good night” to him for 580 consecutive days.

(whole story is here)

After Morales Ousted In Coup, The Lithium Question Looms Large In Bolivia
By Vijay Prashad, Independent Media Institute|
November 18, 2019 | Educate!

The overthrow of the elected leader cannot be understood without a glance at the nation’s massive reserves of this crucial mineral.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was overthrown in a military coup on November 10. He is now in Mexico. Before he left office, Morales had been involved in a long project to bring economic and social democracy to his long-exploited country. It is important to recall that Bolivia has suffered a series of coups, often conducted by the military and the oligarchy on behalf of transnational mining companies. Initially, these were tin firms, but tin is no longer the main target in Bolivia. The main target is its massive deposits of lithium, crucial for the electric car.

Over the past 13 years, Morales has tried to build a different relationship between his country and its resources. He has not wanted the resources to benefit the transnational mining firms, but rather to benefit his own population. Part of that promise was met as Bolivia’s poverty rate has declined, and as Bolivia’s population was able to improve its social indicators. Nationalization of resources combined with the use of its income to fund social development has played a role. The attitude of the Morales government toward the transnational firms produced a harsh response from them, many of them taking Bolivia to court.
get the whole story at this link


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above photo: The “Wiphala” flag of indigenous peoples of Bolivia, now being suppressed by the Christia-fascist Eurosupremacist coup government.


Race Is Central To Both Revolution And Reaction In Latin America

By Glen Ford, Blackagendareport.com
November 18, 2019 | Educate!

The world birthed in the near extinction of one-fifth of humanity still exists, in the social relations bequeathed to the Americas by conquistadors and enslavers.

In Latin America, U.S. influence means White Power.”

The events in Bolivia lay bare the central role that racial subjugation has always played in the “New World,” a hemisphere whose “discovery” by Europeans resulted — within the span of only 50 years — in the death by genocide and pandemic of fully a fifth of the Earth’s human population. The Conquistadors frenzied “primitive accumulation” of precious metals, mined by enslaved Natives who died quicker than they could be replenished, created a demand for the capture and importation of millions of Africans with immunities to both European and tropical disease. For centuries, until deep into the 1700s, the vast majority of the Western Hemisphere’s population was Indigenous and Black, with African slaves comprising the great bulk of newcomers to the New World. Thus was laid the material basis for the rise of Europe, the beginnings of capitalism and the global supremacy of whiteness.

full story is here

In Bolivia, The American Empire Struck Back (10)
By Danny Haiphong, Ahtribune.com
November 18, 2019 | Educate!

Evo Morales’ fourth term was over before it began. After winning the latest presidential election by over 600,000 votes, a flurry of violence on the part of the U.S.-backed opposition in Bolivia pressured Evo to step down. Evo’s home was vandalized and several party members of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) threatened with violence. The coup in Bolivia, which was solidified by recommendation from the military, is the latest of dozens of military coups spearheaded by the United States over the last century and a half. U.S. imperialism has viewed Latin America as its backyard since 1823 when it declared the “right to protect” the region in the Monroe Doctrine. It was at this time that the American Empire replaced the Spanish Empire as the foreign power responsible for keeping Latin America in a state of oppression, dependency, and poverty.

whole story is here:

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By Telesur.

November 17, 2019 | Resist!
Above photo: A demonstrator holding a Wiphala flag reacts towards a member of the security forces during clashes between supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales and the security forces, in La Paz, Bolivia November 15, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

The decree also states that security forces may use firearms to suppress protests.

The de facto government of Bolivia issued a decree Saturday exempting Armed Forces and National Police from criminal responsibility when committing acts of repression against protesters who have taken to the streets to reject the coup d’etat.

The personnel of the Armed Forces, who participate in the operations for the restoration of order and public stability, will be exempt from criminal responsibility when, in compliance with their constitutional functions, they act in legitimate defense or state of necessity,” the decree reads.
read the whole story:


Chile, Bolivia and AFRICOM: Imperialism, Revolution & What We Must Ask Of Ourselves

by Eleanor Goldfield, Act Out!
November 17, 2019 | Resistance Report

Did the French Revolution go too far? And what the hell does that have to do with our place and time?? Meanwhile, people ask “when is the US going to reach that tipping point?” Well, I have some thoughts on that. As protests rage on in Chile, the echoes of a past we made play loudly in the streets. Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the African People’s Socialist Party joins us to talk imperialism, class warfare, revolution and more. “You can have peace on the plantation. But you have to say victory to the oppressed.”
YouTube video here

By Ana Paula Vargas and Vijay Prashad, Brasil de Fato.
November 17, 2019 | Educate!

Above photo: Brazilian ex-president Lula was freed on Friday, after 580 days in prison, following a Supreme Court ruling. / Gibran Mendes.

Supreme Court Verdict Was Not Directed at Lula, but at the Undemocratic Nature of the Judicial System in Brazil.

Just before 6 p.m. on Friday the 8th of November, Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva walked out of his prison in Curitiba (Brazil). Lula went to prison in April last year on a 12-year sentence. Five hundred and eighty days of prison are now over, as the Federal Supreme Court ruled that inmates who have not yet exhausted their appeals should not be held in prison.

In addition to Lula, about 5,000 Brazilians can be released based on the Supreme Court’s decision. According to the National Council of Justice (CNJ) this is the number of people arrested, exclusively and specifically, by conviction in second instance – and who were not, for example, target of preventive imprisonment. However, there are more than 190,000 prisoners in Brazil – the majority, black and poor – sentenced without trial, including those who were sentenced only in the first instance, and are imprisoned preventively.
(get the full story)

Coyote’ Alberto Ruz On The Rights Of Nature

By Alberto Ruz Buenfil, Chiara Lionello, and Antonio Giachetti, Resilience.org
November 16, 2019 | Create!


When and how was the idea of having a Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights born?

In 2009, during the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, Bolivian President Evo Morales publicly mentioned for the first time the idea of recognizing the Rights of Mother Earth. That same year, the government of Ecuador approved a law recognizing Earth as a living being with rights. In 2010 Bolivia submitted two proposals to the United Nations: first, to declare April 22 as the International Day of “Rights of Mother Earth;” second, to approve the “Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth.” Since 2012, I have, along with many other people, been taking such proposals everywhere throughout the planet. The governments of Bolivia and Ecuador have already passed legislation recognizing the rights of Mother Earth and protecting them in their respective Constitutions.
read in entirety here–

Coup D’etat In Bolivia: Audios Containing Details Of Alleged Coup Plan & US Involvement Emerge
By Staff, Orinocotribune.com
November 15, 2019 | Educate!

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced his resignation on 10 November after the heads of Bolivia’s armed forces and police urged him to step down amid ongoing violent protest in the country which erupted in the wake of the recent presidential election.

As Evo Morales stepped down as the President of Bolivia amid ongoing anti-government protests and the military urging him to resign, a series of audio recordings which allegedly feature opposition leaders calling for a coup against him were leaked via social media, El Periodico news outlet reports.
get more here

Lessons To Learn From The Coup In Bolivia

By Staff, Moonofalabama.org
November 14, 2019 | Educate!

Andrea Lobo writes at WSWS:
Bolivian president Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party was forced to resign Sunday evening by the Bolivian military in a coup backed by the United States. Last night, Morales tweeted that he is “leaving for Mexico” after that country agreed to grant him asylum.After three weeks of protests following the disputed October 20 presidential elections, the imperialist powers and their Bolivian client elite have overthrown the government of Morales. In the context of a deepening crisis of global capitalism and a resurgence of the class struggle internationally, including recent mass strikes among miners and doctors in Bolivia, the ruling class lost confidence that Morales and the MAS apparatus can continue to suppress social opposition.
Read in entirety here

Evo Morales, Camacho And The Coup In Bolivia

By Staff, Historicly.substack.com
November 14, 2019 | Educate!

Saturday, after the military and the chief of police defected, Evo Morales resigned from his presidency. Shortly, afterwards Luis Fernando Camacho stormed the presidential palace while his gangs ransacked the palace. He laid down the old Bolivian flag and the bible and remarked, “the bible returns to the presidential palace. The Pachamama (Mother-Earth in Quechua) will never be back to the government. Bolivia belongs to Jesus Christ”, which is of course an insult against the indigenous groups who form the plurinational of Bolivia.
whole story here:

Bolivia Set Back Twenty Years

By Stephen Sefton, Tortillaconsal.com
November 14, 2019 | Educate!
Photo: Filippos kolivas/Flickr
Western media are portraying the coup in Bolivia as the result of legitimate popular protests against electoral fraud. They base their accounts on yet another phoney, illegal report from a mission of the Organization of American States. The report openly violated the terms agreed with Bolivia’s electoral authority on the progam for the audit of the recent national election results and was key in accelerating the media impact of the fascist-led attack on Bolivia’s legitimate government. What Western media have deliberately covered up is the sheer hatred and extreme violence of Bolivia’s fascist-led offensive, identical to the hatred driving the US backed right wing aggression in Nicaragua and Venezuela.

whole story here:




Bolivian Senate’s Leader Attacked By Police And Coup Supporters

The Bolivian people are mobilizing to restore Evo Morales to the presidency and reverse the US-supported coup, but the police are responding with violence. They aided in preventing the Senate President, who is constitutionally next in-line to be the interim president, from entering the legislature. She is with the majority party, Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), the party of Evo Morales. A pro-coup mob assaulted her and kept her from entering the legislature to fulfill her constitutional responsibility. On Thursday at 4 pm the legislature meets and legislatures from Morales party, who control the legislature will move to block false interim president from taking power.

read the whole story here

The Powell Memo: 48 Years of U.S. Corporate Propaganda

In 1971, Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions.

The Powell Memo-In its Entirety, Here

Heritage FoundationHellaWhite

Occupy Madison’s Tiny House Village for Homeless–Group process, decision-making

Allen Barkoff gives the organizational history of Occupy Madison as it went from part of the Occupy Wall Street movement using the organizational theory, the consensus method of decision making and democracy fundamentals. There’s lessons in this history for any grassroots, mass movement getting organized in the nation today.

More history about the awful treatment given to homeless folks in the allegedly “liberal stronghold” of Madison, WI. Maybe this story will ring true in your city as well.
runtime: 10 min. 30 sec. approx.

Occupy Madison’s Tiny House Village for Homeless–The history 2008-now

Allen Barkoff gives the history of Occupy Madison as it went from part of the Occupy Wall Street movement against the ravages of the housing crash of 2008, the Great Recession, how that all led to the current plight of homelessness. Now, with Gentrification running rampant in Madison, what will happen with the population of homeless people?
runtime: 10 min.

OMbuildTimeline

Occupy Madison’s OM-Build Tiny House Village for homeless folks 5th Anniversary

From a protest movement, to a roving encampment, to a village.
Five years ago, Occupy Madison launched our OM Tiny Homes Village on Madison’s east side.
On Saturday, November 16, a 5th Anniversary presentation was held to celebrate community, dignity, and tiny ways to make our world more humane and sustainable.
There was live music, refreshments, tours of Tiny Homes, and discussions of OM Village’s past, present and future.
At the corner of North Third and East Johnson Streets, Madison, WI.

Luca Clemente’s Intro to OM Build Tiny Houses for Homeless 5th Anniversary

Heidi Mayree Wegleitner-Dane County Board–at OM Build Tiny Houses for Homeless 5th Anniversary

Tiny House Village Residents at OM Build 5th Anniversary in Madison

OM Build 5th Anniversary Tiny Houses Tour Sofia’s and Christopher’s

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Fracking for our energy: A legacy of decline

In the USA, the process of hydrofracturing (fracking) for oil and gas has produced astounding results in terms of energy produced per day from the major geological regions where petroleum and natural gas are extracted. These are the shale oil and gas fields. The oil coming out of fracked shales is called “tight” oil because it is tightly bound up with the rock formation, and the fracturing releases it and allows it to flow to the well head.

The chart below shows how rapidly U.S. oil production ramped up beginning at the end of 2008 when it stood at just 5 million barrels a day. At the time of this post, the Energy Information Agency is reporting U.S. daily production of 12.3 or 12.4 million barrels a day in total. Throughout this post we’ll refer to this period of January, 2009 – present as the “fracking frenzy.”

USoilProd2005-2017tightVSconv

Both presidential administrations since 2008 have claimed that the USA is achieving “energy independence” or “energy dominance” because of the fracking frenzy. Leaving aside the validity of such claims for now, the main point of this post is to examine the downside of the fracking frenzy, which is reported in oil and gas reports as the “Legacy Wells Decline” or legacy decline.

Each month, the Energy Information Agency publishes a report called the Drilling Productivity Report, which will appear in a new window if you click the link. Because the report focuses on productivity in drilling new wells for oil or gas, you see in the right column a list of the seven shale fields where almost all new oil or gas is being extracted. The report doesn’t cover “conventional” oil regions, which are covered elsewhere and not the point of this post, either.

Each Drilling Productivity Report shows “New oil well production per rig,” on a timeline, and the count of rigs operating for that resource in that field. Below that chart is the topic of this post, Legacy oil production change, thousand barrels per day.

At this point let’s briefly touch on how much energy we are talking about.  This will be important in establishing how many solar-panel equivalent megawatts, gigawatts and terawatts (trillion watts) would be needed to replace the same amount of energy, if it were even feasible. In some applications, this may never be feasible.

“The U.S. Internal Revenue Service defines a BOE as equal to 5.8 million BTU.[1] (5.8×106 BTU59°F equals 6.1178632×109 J, about 6.1 GJ [HHV], or about 1.7 MWh.)
Wikipedia entry on “Barrel of Oil Equivalent.”

So, a barrel of oil gives you 5.8 mega-BTU of energy, about 6.1 Gigajoules, or in terms familiar in renewable energy discussion, 1.7 megawatt-hours of energy.

Here are the legacy-decline charts for the shale oil fields reported out by the EIA:

AnadarkoOil-Aug2019BakkenOilLegacyAug2019
EagleFordLegacyAug2019NiobraraLegacyAug2019
PermianLegacyAug2019
Summed together, these charts show that the total legacy-well decline of these five largest shale regions (Appalachia and Haynesville shales are not significant for oil, but rather natural gas) amounts to 556,000 barrels of oil per day of decline.  Or, to put it in solar-panel terms, 945,000 Megawatt-hours energy decline per day.

So, the only way for U.S. oil production to be out-running the legacy decline rate of fracked wells is for new wells to bring on production at a higher rate. Which has been happening since the fracking frenzy began, as we say in this post, with the New Year 2009.  The EIA reports each field’s “Production change” in a chart like this. Unfortunately, in the August report, the Anadarko field (Oklahoma) did not have a net gain:

AnadarkoOil-Aug2019prodChange

How many oil rigs are there operating now (almost all in the shale regions)?

“Crude Oil Rigs in the United States decreased to 738 in September from 742 in the previous week. Crude Oil Rigs in the United States averaged 503.79 from 1987 until 2019, reaching an all time high of 1609 in October of 2014 and a record low of 98 in August of 1999.” -Recent report from Baker Hughes company.

If we “drill down” into the dominant narrative of “energy dominance” and “energy independence” being offered by the oil and gas industry and parroted out by the Cabinet-level Energy Department since the fracking frenzy began, we discover there are additional fatal flaws in this narrative, besides the legacy decline rate.

First, there is the question of what the total amount of resource being drilled and fracked actually is.  We can recall seemingly endless stories going back to about 2010 which attempted to define the size of, for example, the Bakken oil field in North Dakota. Various estimates were published, in terms of Gigabarrels (billions of barrels) the field might contain. Estimates ranged from just 4 billion, up to sky’s-the-limit billion. However, at the current rate of pumping 1.4 million barrels per day, if the rate is maintained all 365 days of the year, then we see that there is a half-gigabarrel per year being drawn down. Assuming the size of the Bakken is between 4 billion and sky’s-the-limit billion, eventually the resource will be half-depleted, which is normally called the “peak production point” in an oil field, of whatever size.

With respect to the size of the Permian Basin oil resource, it appears that in Energy Info. Agency reports, “Sky’s the Limit” appears to be the size.  In recent reports, the EIA shows the Permian region producing on a steady, upward, linear graph, amounts of oil that appear to have no upper limit. This contradicts the old concept of “Limits to Growth” which the Club of Rome attempted to introduce to Americans back in the 1970s, without success.

The oil and gas industry consultantant Art Berman is less giddy about the Permian Basin and the other major Texas shale “play,” the Eagle Ford region of south Texas. See pp 12-16 in his major presentation here:  Texas Energy Council 30th Annual Symposium,  Dallas, May 20, 2018.

Whatever the resource size of the Permian Basin, which appears to be the Great Hope of U.S. energy dominance, eventually the legacy decline of already-drilled wells will exceed the production from new wells, no matter how many new are being drilled.  On this blog, we will henceforth refer to this point in time as the “Fracking Bust,” which will mark the point of permanent U.S. fossil-fuel energy production decline.  There are not enough “conventional” (non-fracked) oil reserves remaining to the USA to be drilled and produced.  Even the ANWR reserve in Alaska would not replace for example, one million barrels a day of Bakken (North Dakota) light-tight oil once the decline rate reaches that 1 million mark.

Another aspect of the giddy claim of U.S. “energy independence” that bears debunking is the quality of the petroleum being produced. Many recent articles have been written about the U.S. fracking fields producing “the wrong kind of oil.” The oil is too light, as measured on the API specific-gravity scale. Here is a signature article briefly touching on this problem:  “America is producing the wrong kind of oil,” Bloomberg, Javier Blas, February 1, 2019. The fact that this is published on Bloomberg rather than a Leftist rant on Jacobin, or the ever-gloomy Post-Carbon Institute website, indicates that there is a problem:

Tight oil production actually makes the USA more energy-interdependent, not independent.  Likewise, it absurdifies the notion of U.S. energy dominance, since the source of the heavy crudes needed to blend with the light, tight oil to make products such as diesel fuel, jet fuel, or the heavy fuel oil used in container ship engines come from “enemy states” in OPEC.

From the viewpoint of folks trying to push the USA toward a Green New Deal and to “get off fossil fuels,” the problem of the future is what to do when the fracking bust occurs.

We discussed how 556,000 barrels per day is already lost to legacy decline rates, and the fact that this is .95 Terawatt-hours of energy equivalent per day which has declined.  That is about 344 Terawatt-hours per year, or about 1/12th of electrical-equivalent energy consumption per year for the whole USA (given as 4,000 Terawatt-hours or 4 trillion kilowatt-hours).

Total U.S. solar electricity generation for 2018 is given as 1.6% of total, or 64 Terawatt-hours annually, or .175 Terawatt-hours daily. That total is 18% of the amount of daily energy-equivalence LOST already to fracked oil wells in decline, over a 10-year span.

I think you can see the scope of the problem ahead.

Next post will examine the legacy of decline in fracked natural gas fields’ production.

The 6-D: Dollar-Denominated, Debt-Default, Deflationary Death spiral of our economy, Part II

Part II: Contributing factors to the Great Recession, and why “The Fix” fixed nothing.

In Part I, we defined the characteristics of a “deflationary economy” as derived from the inadequate wages and other income of the “non-elite workers” in the economy, those being 90% of our workforce in the USA.  In this Part II, we’ll see if we can make the case that this set of conditions is what led up to the “Great Recession” which is said to have begun in December, 2007 and “officially ended” in June, 2009 (New York Times headline, Sep. 20, 2010.

(See Part 1 here)

Let’s call this a “working hypothesis” and see if we can dig up evidence from the financial press, mass media in general, alternative economics (alt-econ) and other sources. Perhaps even some studies from academia.
Wikipedia seems as good a place to start as any on “Causes of the Great Recession,” wherein the entry describes a “balance-sheet recession or debt-deflation.

One narrative describing the causes of the crisis begins with the significant increase in savings available for investment during the 2000–2007 period when the global pool of fixed-income securities increased from approximately $36 trillion in 2000 to $80 trillion by 2007. This “Giant Pool of Money” increased as savings from high-growth developing nations entered global capital markets. Investors searching for higher yields than those offered by U.S. Treasury bonds sought alternatives globally.[1]

The temptation offered by such readily available savings overwhelmed the policy and regulatory control mechanisms in country after country, as lenders and borrowers put these savings to use, generating bubble after bubble across the globe.

While these bubbles have burst, causing asset prices (e.g., housing and commercial property) to decline, the liabilities owed to global investors remain at full price, generating questions regarding the solvency of consumers, governments, and banking systems.[2] The effect of this debt overhang is to slow consumption and therefore economic growth and is referred to as a “balance sheet recession” or debt-deflation.[3]

The fall in asset prices (such as subprime mortgage-backed securities) during 2007 and 2008 caused the equivalent of a bank run on the U.S., which includes investment banks and other non-depository financial entities. This system had grown to rival the depository system in scale yet was not subject to the same regulatory safeguards.[3] Struggling banks in the U.S. and Europe cut back lending causing a credit crunch. Consumers and some governments were no longer able to borrow and spend at pre-crisis levels. Businesses also cut back their investments as demand faltered and reduced their workforces. Higher unemployment due to the recession made it more difficult for consumers and countries to honor their obligations. This caused financial institution losses to surge, deepening the credit crunch, thereby creating an adverse feedback loop.[4]

Kimberly Amadeo had this article, “What was the bank bailout bill?” updated on Aug 22, 2019 on The-Balance-dot-com, which gets to the heart of why the “Fix” for the credit crisis did not “fix” the credit crisis but only set the stage for a much greater crisis down the road. It did nothing to “bail out” the non-elite workers who we discussed in Part I. Everything was geared, in autumn 2008, towards rescuing the rentier capitalist class.

Why the Bailout Bill Was Necessary

On September 16, 2008, the $62.6 billion Reserve Primary Fund was under attack. Investors were taking out money too fast. They worried that the Fund would go bankrupt due to its investments in Lehman Brothers. The next day, businesses pulled a record $140 billion out of money market accounts. They were moving the funds to Treasury bills, causing yields to drop to zero. Money market accounts had been considered one of the safest investments.

To stem the panic, the U.S. Treasury Department agreed to insure money market funds for a year. The SEC banned short-selling financial stocks until October 2 to reduce volatility in the stock market.

The U.S. government bought these bad mortgages because banks were afraid to lend to each other. This fear caused Libor rates to be much higher than the fed funds rate. It also sent stock prices plummeting. Financial firms were unable to sell their debt. Without the ability to raise capital, these firms were in danger of going bankrupt. That’s what happened to Lehman Brothers. It would have happened to the American International Group and Bear Stearns without federal intervention.

(Kimberly Amadeo has 20 years economic analyst experience and is the U.S. Economy Expert for The Balance)

Once Barack Obama had been inaugurated, he set to work on the “stimulus package” which became known as the ARRA, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Did this Act do anything to address the actual foundational causes for our economy to have become “deflationary?” There are a number of voices in the sphere of economics and alt-economics (the “Global South of economics”) who say,  No, not it did not.

Larry Beinhart contributed this piece in Huffington Post–

Why the Stimulus Package Failed

The stimulus package failed because it consisted mostly of tax cuts. Tax cuts are among the very worst ways to create jobs and certainly the most expensive.

The stimulus package authorizes 787 billion dollars. According to the official website (recovery.gov) $565 billion has actually been spent or credited. There are three categories of “stimulus.” Citing amounts spent, they are:

    1. $243.4 billion in tax cuts.

    2. $154.5 billion in contracts, grants, and loans. This is what we actually think of as a stimulus, construction and research projects.

    3. $166.8 billion in entitlements. This is mostly money to the states to help with unemployment insurance.

The whole story is here (click for link)

What the Stimulus Package did not do, and wasn’t intended to do, was to raise the real wages of the non-elite working class, as we described in Part I, nor to put substantial income into the hands of the non-working class, nor labor-force nonparticipants, either.  The demand destruction process ushered in with the onset of the Great Recession in December 2007 continues to this day, as the real wages of workers continue to stagnate.  If you’ve been following the non-progress of the nation’s labor force out of the recession, you’ve probably seen a number of charts that look like this one below:

ProductivityRealWages

The yellow line on the graph shows productivity gains. This is where you can clearly see the growth of wealth inequality, as productivity gains contributed to the incomes and the wealth of the wealthiest, the “1%”, the capitalist class, while the income (and resulting wealth) of the “99%” have stagnated.

This begs the question: if real wages remained stagnant, how were consumers able to keep driving the GDP higher, assuming that consumer spending indeed contributes 70% of the measured GDP?  Once again, let’s look at Wikipedia’s entry on “Cause of the Great Recession.”

Consumer and household borrowing

U.S. households and financial institutions became increasingly indebted or overleveraged during the years preceding the crisis. This increased their vulnerability to the collapse of the housing bubble and worsened the ensuing economic downturn.

  • USA household debt as a percentage of annual disposable personal income was 127% at the end of 2007, versus 77% in 1990.[66]
  • U.S. home mortgage debt relative to gross domestic product (GDP) increased from an average of 46% during the 1990s to 73% during 2008, reaching $10.5 trillion.[67]
  • In 1981, U.S. private debt was 123% of GDP; by the third quarter of 2008, it was 290%.[68]

Several economists and think tanks have argued that income inequality is one of the reasons for this over-leveraging. Research by Raghuram Rajan indicated that: “Starting in the early 1970s, advanced economies found it increasingly difficult to grow…the shortsighted political response to the anxieties of those falling behind was to ease their access to credit. Faced with little regulatory restraint, banks overdosed on risky loans.”[69]

Given that the “Stimulus Package” did not elevate the real wages of the non-elite American workers, and that the Great Recession had been caused by over-leveraging (taking on too much debt relative to income) by consumers, how would we expect the economy to have looked six years after the supposed ending of the Great Recession and the beginning of “recovery?”

Ilargi, writing in The Automatic Earth in August, 2015, offered this rather gloomy assessment of the condition of the working class in the global economy  (using the case of Greece in the EU as the horror story/dystopian warning signal to a better-off nation such as the USA).

The reason why Greece is where it is today, and why we will all be there tomorrow, we can by now for good reason call ‘deceptively simple’. That is to say, the global banking system that orchestrated the financial crisis refuses to take the losses on its extravagant bets, and it has the political clout to get its way, all the way. That’s all you need to know.

The losses are therefore unloaded upon the citizens of our respective nations. But the losses are far too massive for those citizens to bear. They, or rather we, will see our societies stripped of most things, most of the social fabric, that hold them together. Any service that costs money will be cut, progressively, until there’s very little left.

It happened in Greece, and it will happen all over the world. Mind you, this is nothing new; third world nations have undergone the same treatment for decades, if not forever. Disaster capitalism wasn’t born yesterday. What’s new is that it now takes place in the supposedly well-off part of the world, in this case the European Union. And it will spread.

The successive Greek bailouts that have now ruined the entire nation were “needed” to stem the losses on wagers, derivatives and other, incurred by global banks, French, Dutch, German, Wall Street, the City. The first bailout in 2010 also served the purpose of allowing the banks time to shift away from their exposure to Greek debt.

All bailouts, be they directly for banks, or indirectly through a country like Greece and then for the banks, have been set up according to the exact same MO. Greece’s economic reserves just happened to be a bit tighter, and moreover, the country was a convenient lab rat and scarecrow to prevent others from protesting the bailout system too loudly.

The whole system of bailouts, be it in Greece or in the US, was never anything else than a transfer of public money to private interests, with the express aim of making good on the lost wagers of that private sector. With impunity, no less.

And no, the losses have not disappeared. Nor have they been written down. They have instead been transferred to fester in dark vaults, hidden behind swaps and other derivatives, and on central bank balance sheets. But that won’t last either.

The Automatic Earth has warned of the imminent deleveraging and deflation for years, and now everyone is talking about deflation. No worries, guys. As you were. But do please try and understand how this works.

There’s all these losses, with no-one prepared to write down any of them (see Germany vs Greece), and the elites behind the banks unwilling to absorb any -the elites instead insist on getting richer even in a depression-. There is only one outcome left then: that you and me will have to become much poorer. They are our losses now.

The only way the rich can keep getting richer is if the rest of us keep getting poorer. Economic growth is a thing of the past. Deleveraging has started for real. Huge amounts of zombified ‘money’ are disappearing as we speak.

The quote is from the piece “Deflation, Debt and Gravity” appearing on the compilation The Automatic Earth Primer Guide 2017.

So we’ve reached a dead-end stage in our economic system, where the people in economic and political power are determined to maintain and increase the wealth and income inequality disparity to levels which are surely setting the stage for the next collapse.  Let’s call the next one, the Much Greater Recession.

None of the “Fixes” or “bail-outs” offered in the Much Greater Recession to come, will be aimed at “bailing-out” the working class with a much higher wage scale, nor the not-in-the-labor force population with a much higher social welfare payments scale. The 2020 elections round is bound to bring to the fore the Austerity Juggernaut which has been on hiatus while the Congress wrestled with the question of the President’s fitness for office, over the past 30 months. Austerity will be back, and it will bring on the next round of the Dollar-Denominated, Debt-Default, Deflationary Death spiral of our political economy.

In Part III we’ll examine the problem of the hyper-productivity gains in the economy which have left real wages flat. We’ll cast a nervous eye towards the sky and wonder when the Fragment of the Machines, the Robotics and A.I. Asteroid, will strike our working and non-working populations, and how this will contribute to a much faster economic death-spiral.

Stay tuned, and cheer up, won’t you?

StimulusPackage

6-D: The Dollar-Denominated, Debt-Default, Deflationary Death spiral of our economy-Part I

Part I:  What is a “deflationary economy?” What is the role of the “non-elite workers” in such a contrarian economy?

In order to have this discussion we need to define what a “deflationary economy” is. What are its features. What it looks like.

Before discussing why the “fixes” to the banking & credit system were wholly inadequate to address the depth of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, it’s important to look at the conditions that create a “deflationary” economic situation, as opposed to the conservatives’ constant bugaboo, “hyperinflation.”

The blogger “Stoneleigh” (Nicole Foss) began a series of Primers on deflation back at the time of the crisis. She explains–

“As we have consistently explained here at The Automatic Earth, inflation is an increase in the supply of money and credit relative to available goods and services, while deflation is the opposite. Deflation, moreover, is aggravated by a collapse in the velocity of money. Price movements are lagging indicators of monetary changes, but are also subject to a number of other drivers, such as scarcity and substitutability (or lack thereof).

“For this reason, price movements alone have no explanatory or predictive value. For instance, we have lived through a highly inflationary credit expansion over the last couple of decades, but prices have not reacted consistently. Some have risen, as one would expect, but others have fallen, due, for instance, to the effects of global wage arbitrage. For prices to fall in nominal terms during inflationary times, they must be going through the floor in real terms.

“Deflation would be associated, at least initially, with prices falling across the board, as the collapse of purchasing power would drastically reduce price support for virtually everything. In a deflation, people sell anything they can, in order to pay down debt, to meet margin calls and to cover the cost of living, once access to credit is cut off and earning an income becomes very much more difficult. This is a recipe for prices falling by perhaps 90% in nominal terms, but for goods and services to become simultaneously much less affordable, as purchasing power would be falling even faster. In other words, in real terms, prices rise (i.e. affordability decreases).”

Full explanation of the deflationary economy by “Stoneleigh” (Nicole Foss) from the depths of the Great Recession period: “The unbearable mightiness of deflation

In other words, deflation can be seen as a generalized fall in commodity prices “across the board,” and this includes the “price of labour-power,” or wages, as Marx explained:

“Marx believed that the long-run tendency of wages is downward. In the Poverty of Philosophy, he stressed the substitution of cheap, inferior goods for better, more expensive ones in the workers’ consumption. Bread gives way to potatoes, and linen to cotton. In Wages and Wage-Labor and Capital, Marx insisted that while the prevailing minimum wage in different countries varies, the tendency is toward equality at the lowest level. When wages fall after having risen somewhat during the boom, they never again recover their old level.” -Ashmit Sirohi

Marx spoke of the conundrum of workers thus–
“When society is in a state of decline, the worker suffers most severely. The specific severity of his burden he owes to his position as a worker, but the burden as such to the position of society.
“But when society is in a state of progress, the ruin and impoverishment of the worker is the product of his labour and of the wealth produced by him. The misery results, therefore, from the essence of present-day labour itself.
Society in a state of maximum wealth – an ideal, but one which is approximately attained, and which at least is the aim of political economy as of civil society – means for the workers static misery.

“It goes without saying that the proletarian, i.e., the man who, being without capital and rent, lives purely by labour, and by a one-sided, abstract labour, is considered by political economy only as a worker. Political economy can therefore advance the proposition that the proletarian, the same as any horse, must get as much as will enable him to work. It does not consider him when he is not working, as a human being; but leaves such consideration to criminal law, to doctors, to religion, to the statistical tables, to politics and to the poor-house overseer.”
See “Wages of Labour, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”

Insights from Our Finite World: When wages of non-elite workers are inadequate to drive economic growth

Retired actuary Gail Tverberg was a constant contributor to the peak-oil theory blog The Oil Drum, which is now discontinued. But she maintains her own site under the title Our Finite World.

In Gail’s finite world, the wages of the base-level working class, what she calls the “non-elite workers” are also of prime concern when examining the current “growth economy” orthodoxy and its failures.

Tverberg typically begins an essay with a discussion on the energy situation in the economy–whether there is adequate cheap, easy-to-get energy to continue powering growth forward. But then she inevitably turns toward the problem of the wages of the lowest segment of our working class:

“The wages shown on Slide 24 have already been inflation adjusted. Thus, in the period before 1968, wages for both the lower 90% of workers and for the top 10% of workers were rising rapidly, even considering the impact of inflation. Many families were able to afford a car for the first time. After 1980, the wages of the top 10% rose much more quickly than the wages of the bottom 90%.”

Gail-WagesOfBottom90pct

Tverberg offers a different way of defining “what is an economy?” or what is an economic system, in her piece “The world’s weird self-organizing economy” (click link for the whole piece):
The world’s weird self-organizing economy

The economy is one of many self-organized systems that grow. All are governed by the laws of physics. All use energy in their operation.

“Gail the Actuary” offers this introduction–

I am not an economist; I am a retired actuary. I have spent years making forecasts within the insurance industry. These forecasts were financial in nature, so I have had hands-on experience with how various parts of the financial system work. I was one of the people who correctly forecast the Great Recession. I also wrote the frequently cited academic article, Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis, which points out the connection between the Great Recession and oil limits.

Today’s indications seem to suggest that an even more major recession than the Great Recession may strike in the not too distant future. Why should this be the case? Am I imagining problems where none exist?

In constructing this multi-part alternative-economics blog series, we thought it best to seek out the ideas of those who are specifically not orthodox economists, or not economists at all, but rather, astute observers of the real goings-on in the real world we inhabit.

Further on in the “Weird Self-Organizing Economy” post we find that Gail the Actuary has acquired a deeper understanding of the problem of inequality of income and wealth, than you might expect to find from someone who has worked for large property-and-casualty insurance companies. She writes:

[5] Part of the world’s energy problem is a distribution problem; the world becomes divided into haves and have-nots in many ways. It is this distribution problem that tends to push the world economy toward collapse. 

There are many parts to this distribution problem. One is the distribution of goods and services (created using energy) by country. Over time, this tends to change, especially as commodity prices change. Oil exporters are favored when oil prices are high; oil importers are favored when oil prices are low. The relative values of currencies can change quickly, as commodity prices change.

Another part of this distribution problem is growing wage and wealth disparity, as more technology is added. If there is too much wage disparity, low-paid workers often cannot afford adequate food, homes, and transportation for their families. Their lack of demand for goods made with energy products (because of their low wages) tends to work through the system as low commodity prices. This happens because (a) there are so many of these workers and (b) these workers tend to purchase a disproportionate share of goods and services that are highly energy-dependent.

Gail Tverberg further shows what young folks would call a more “woke” awareness of the impact of income and wealth inequality upon not only the economy, but the whole society as the prospect of “collapse” is introduced. Gail:

When I talk about non-elite workers, I am talking about workers who are in the bottom 90% of the wage distribution. Elite workers will always have enough income for the necessities of life. There are so many non-elite workers in the world that they, indeed, do make a difference.

Also, the forces that adversely affect non-elite workers tend to have several effects:

  1. They tend to send a larger share of wages to elite workers, as the economy becomes more complex and more specialized.
  2. They tend to send more unearned income to elite workers, through capital appreciation, because elite workers can afford to buy shares of stock and expensive homes.
  3. The wealthy spend their income differently from non-elite workers. Non-elite workers tend to spend the bulk of their discretionary income on devices made using commodities, such as cell phones and automobiles. The wealthy are likely to spend their discretionary income in less energy intensive ways, such as investing in shares of stock and buying services such as private college education for their children.

History shows that economies tend to collapse when wage and wealth disparity becomes too great. Collapse can take various forms, including revolutions by the disgruntled underclass, increased susceptibility to epidemics, or the financial collapse of governments. Wars become more likely, as one country tries to aid its citizens at the expense of citizens of other countries.

What is the foundation of the deflationary cycle of our economy? It’s the destruction of the wage-labor system itself. Fighting for Jobs Jobs Jobs! will be useless if the jobs don’t pay enough to support the workers. And if increasing numbers are displaced and left out of the Jobs Jobs Jobs picture–by the Automaton, a full complete system of “the machine” described by Karl Marx in his notebooks entitled “Grundrisse.”

To venture further into non-orthodox political economy, let’s close this post with a Marxist view, offered by the League of Revolutionaries for  New America.

“Capitalism came to dominance during this leap from agriculture to industry as a stage in the development of private property. Now, like all the other stages before it, capitalism is facing its own demise. The capitalist system first developed upon, and in compatibility with, the new industrial means of production. With the introduction of the qualitatively new means of production – the new laborless technology – into the industrial system, a new leap has begun.

“The intricate network of all the various means of buying and selling is being disrupted as wage-labor, the source of all wealth, falls in value and price.”LRNA, “Revolution and the Tasks of Revolutionaries”

May/June 2018 Vol28.Ed3
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
P.O. Box 477113 Chicago, IL 60647 rally@lrna.org
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Part II is here