FW: The Economist: Why and when to go in

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMnetzero.net
Sun Jan 7 23:01:50 MST 2001


>>This election disenfranchised the American electorate. There is no
precedent for
such a thing in American history. The fact that democracy is hypocrisy, a
sham,
corrupt, is a covenant with greed, etc., changes nothing. The failure of
democracy is
still a great disaster and a great tribulation. When it is lost, everything
else is
lost too, and not just the hypocrisy etc. which is always its handmaiden,
but is not
its essence. Do not deride democracy, that is a political error. Without
democracy,
there cannot be bourgeois civil society, social peace, culture or, in the
end,
production.<<

Mark,

    As you may know, I was probably the one person on this list most up in
arms about this election, or more precisely, its outcome. But the truth is
that there is PLENTY of precedent for this in American history, including
fairly recent American history. Elections get stolen over here all the time,
although it is considered extremely bad form in the bourgeois press to
report on it.

    And stolen elections are the least of it. Take, for example, a recent
case of bullet balloting, when for some reason the outcome of the election
fails to conform to what's desired. Here in Dekalb County, Georgia, on
November 7 the electorate made the mistake of voting for some n****** rabble
rouser for sheriff. Seems the old sheriff was under investigation or
indictment or caught live on TV with his hand in the cookie jar, and it came
out about three weeks before the election, so the voters wound up electing
the wrong guy.

    The new sheriff promised to clean up and fire a bunch of deputies and
look into what his soon-to-be-predecessor was doing. So on a Friday night a
week before Christmas he was gunned down in his driveway by a death squad.
He was shot 14 times. Nobody saw a thing. The Georgia
authorities --including his own sheriff's department-- are investigating it,
just as assiduously as they've investigated the thousands of other lynchings
and executions of uppity n****** over the past 130 years or so. Or do you
think Margaret Mitchell made up everything in Gone with the Wind?

    You never even heard of the case of this DeKalb County sheriff, right?
It's not even news here in Atlanta anymore. Happened three weeks ago.
Ancient history.  As they say in the news media, get over it.

    Dekalb County includes part of Atlanta proper, and the two main towns
within the county are Decatur and Stone Mountain. When I came to this part
of the world a decade ago the mayor of what people affectionately referred
to as the People's Republic of Decatur was Mike Meyers, who did not mind
saying he was a socialist. Decatur had its own foreign policy, we were
sister city with the Burkina Fasso, which was undergoing a revolution.

    A couple of miles down the road was Stone Mountain. Stone Mountain had
this guy who'd been mayor like since Roosevelt's time. Teddy Roosevelt. And
he was Grand Kleagle of the Georgia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Well,
actually he claimed to have retired from that a long time ago, like in
mid-1989. This was in 1990 when I saw him interviewed on it.

    Well, today both Decatur and Stone Mountain have Black mayors, or at
least did the last time I checked 3 or so years ago. The county has a large
immigrant and Black population. But some things in the South never change.

    One of them is counting votes. Counting, let's be real, n****** votes.
Those people in Florida are such pikers. The most they could do was throw
out 14% of the vote in one county. Here in Georgia, In Ben Hill County,
18.8% of the presidential vote was flushed down the toilet. That doesn't
mean that George II stole the Georgia presidential electors in the counting,
too, as he did in Florida. He won by 300,000+ votes in this state, and if
they threw out 100,000 votes in Georgia it was simply  to keep in practice,
the constitution says Blacks are 3/5ths of a person and Georgia, by God,
practices what the constitution preaches. Proportionately, Georgia threw out
MORE votes just as a matter or routine than the Republicans managed to in
Florida with all their conspiracies and the President-designate's own
brother in charge of the state.

    I remember coming through Atlanta as a teenager in 1964 or 1965, on my
first big trip away from home, going to stay with an aunt in New York to see
the World's Fair. "Separate but equal" was no longer the law of the land but
they still had the signs up at the bus stations. White entrance. Colored
entrance. White water fountain. Colored water fountain.

    Until the mid-1960s, Black people couldn't vote AT ALL in the South.
They had property requirements, poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather
clauses, the works. And for those that just didn't get it, they had
lynchings. Scores of lynchings. Every year. Year after year, decade after
decade. "Coon hunting," they called it. Yes they did.

    We don't have lynchings anymore. What we have instead aren't even called
homicides, but buried deep somewhere in mortality statistics, "deaths caused
through the intervention of officers of the peace." Hundreds of them, every
year. And, yes, as our good sheriff-elect here found out, the occasional
anonymous death squad hit.

    By and large, the American people don't know anything about the history,
nor do they know what is going on in their own country today. You put the
bourgeois politicians and the bourgeois press in charge of educating
children and informing people, and that's what you get.

    This in not an exaggeration. The average American hasn't got a clue
about what went down in Florida. Not one. You think because you read it in
the London papers or saw it on the Beeb it's common knowledge. Just ain't
so. The Orlando Sentinel story about the 130 Gore vote pickup in Lake County
did not even make it into the Florida State Associated Press wire circuit.
You'd think it was news. Here a news organization had gone in, looked at the
ballots, and saw enough votes that in at least three surrounding counties
were considered perfectly legal votes and counted, that Gore not Bush would
have been certified the winner. In that one heavily Republican county that
Bush took by a 15% margin, the votes were there, rejected by the machine and
untouched by human hands. Untouched by the conscious 2-1 decision of a
Republican-dominated canvassing board on election night.

    No other newspaper or any kind of news media outlet in the entire
country picked it up. Not that they didn't know about it. It's amazing, like
a chain reaction, now that there is an internet there isn't a half-decent
newsroom in the nation where there aren't a couple of people who hear about
this sort of thing, and they quickly email the stories to their friends.
But, as far as the editors and executive producers are concerned, "the
election is over, get over it. The story now is the transition."

    You know. "The news is whatever we say it is."

    When one of the Black Congresswomen from Florida got up yesterday during
the electoral college vote tally in Congress and said her district included
part of Lake County and tried to explain what happened, how on election
night the republican-dominated canvassing board decided to throw out the
votes of people who had written in Gore or Bush where the paper ballot said:
"WRITE IN", or how two of the precincts she represents in Duval county had
1/3rd of the vote annulled, vice-president Gore, acting as president of the
Senate, gaveled her down.

    And when she walked off the floor to tell the press about it, they
didn't it carry it on TV, preferring the meaningless ceremonial rollcall
instead, and when they covered it in the papers today they gave absolutely
none of the details, just that a handful of Blacks protested.

        Instead for five weeks the American people were bombarded with
cretinous stories about hanging chads, the minutiae of election machinery,
and the lack of standards. Since then it's been all transition, all of the
time. Most people still don't know that the heaviest nullification of votes
in Florida took place in paper ballot counties, not in punch-card machine
counties. That's hidden well away in the New York Times interactive guide to
the Florida recount, if you study the percentage annulled map, and compare
it to the voting equipment used map, you'll see it's so. But what they don't
tell you there is that those are heavily Black counties. For that you'd need
to look up the statistics county-by-county or do what I did, which is to
actually LISTEN to what people like Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and (yes)
Cynthia McKinney and the rest are saying. I have the advantage of working in
a newsroom, so I get to the see the events "raw," uncensored, and so I CAN
listed to them.

    Most people don't know it was mostly Blacks whose votes were tossed out.
Of the tens of thousands of domestic reports written or broadcast on the
recount and the controversy, only three or four actually presented even a
bit of the evidence of the pattern of discrimination, and 99.9% never even
mentioned that there were charges of discrimination against Blacks. It was
all about chads.

    A case in point is the Miami Herald. They've done an analysis showing
that it was Black votes which were thrown out at a rate many times those of
whites. But if you look for the story, you're not going to find it. You
won't even pick it up with a search engine. You can send an
ultra-intelligent bot crawling through the site and you still won't pick it
up. But if you go to their page "Florida Count -- what went wrong" go down
to the section called "graphics" and click on the link called, "voting
machines graphics," it's there. That's where you'll see that in "central
optical scan" counties, 16% of the votes in Black precincts was discarded,
compared to 1% of the votes discarded for white precincts with precinct
optical scanners. This is the URL:

http://www.herald.com/content/archive/news/flacount/photoart/votemachine1228
.gif

    You'll notice something odd about the presentation. It is in tiny type
scanned as a graphic at a fairly low resolution. That's why no bot or search
engine will discover it. It is the most peculiar thing I've seen on a web
page in the longest time. Moreover, as opposed to the stories, there is no
indication this graphic was ever actually *printed* in the paper, although
it was clearly created and typeset for that purpose, no one outputs type for
the web on an imagesetter and then scans it, that's just not the way web
pages work.

    The other interesting graphic is called "Problem precinct graphics."
Again, it is the same thing. It shows that at majority Black precincts, 10%
of the votes were thrown out versus 3% for all other precincts. That URL is
as follows:

http://www.herald.com/content/archive/news/flacount/photoart/badvote1228.gif

    Something tells me these two graphics were prepared for an article that
never saw print. Somehow, the people involved succeeded in getting the
graphics posted -- but that's it.

    And, of course, then there's the other issue. And that's the fact that
Bush LOST the election, with or without Florida, by half a million votes.
The bourgeois press says it was a toss-up, a squeaker. You've got to admit
it takes a certain, well, perspective to consider a half million --whether
it is dollars or people-- to be an insignificant, vanishingly small number.

    The real reasons the bourgeoisie doesn't want to change the electoral
college system are mainly two. First, it effectively disenfranchises a good
section of the working class. It does. For example, by and large Democrats
don't care how many people go out to vote in a state like New York. On the
presidential level, it belongs to them, at least in any election close
enough to be a real battle. The other reason is constitutional cretinism,
this idea of the Constitution as this sacred screed that only the high
priests on the Supreme Court can possibly understand. Like the part of the
Constitution that says Republicans get to have the presidency. More than 200
years the constitution has been around, and until last December 12, no one
suspected that was in there.

    Nationwide, about 2% of the presidential vote was annulled. It wasn't
just Florida or Georgia, it's the United States. Knowing know what we do NOW
about how this all works, it is pretty safe to say that Al Gore didn't just
have the half-million vote lead over Bush he was officially credited, if all
the votes had been counted, his lead would have been closer to a million.

    But all of this is a tightly-held secret. The press won't utter a word.
The politicians neither, and it is easy enough to simply ignore the few that
dare to do so. Most Americans don't know. How they might react if they did
know is a different question. But no one is going to tell them, at least not
quite yet.

    Look at the SWP's paper, The Militant. They say this was just an
outburst of factionalism among the bourgeois politicians because the
*Democrats* tried to steal the election. That's what *most* people in this
country basically think was going on, too. That's what the press, and even
the democrats themselves, in 1001 subtle and not so subtle ways, told them.
And even the Militant, which SHOULD know better, swallowed the Republicans'
lies hook, line and sinker.

    The exception, of course, is the Black community. They know better. The
Black community has its own newspapers in some places, radio stations, and
even national talk radio shows. Word travels fast. And they believe it
happened in Florida because it happened where they live, too. And because it
happened to their parents and grandparents and great grandparents, once they
stopped being slaves.

    This may well turn out to be a problem for the bourgeoisie. I certainly
hope so. They've got one or two people on the Supreme Court that believe and
said this administration has been illegally elected. They've got (at least)
half the Congress that thinks that (as professional politicians, they take
special interest in how to steal elections). Not, mind you, that most of
them care, that's the way the game is played, but the fact can come in handy
as a weapon down the line. And there's more than a dozen in Congress willing
to say it out loud, either because they DO care, or because the mood of
their constituents is such that they've got no choice but to care. And
they've got a damned fool for a President who is too much of a jerk to not
let himself get pushed around or sweet-talked by his right-wing buddies.

    He did okay while James Baker was holding his hand. He got high marks
all around for Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. But naming Ashcroft as
Attorney General is like waving a red flag in front of an enraged bull as
far as the Black community, and many working people, are concerned. And it's
clearly a sop for someone who couldn't even defeat a dead man to get
re-elected, that's how popular his representation of his state these past
six years was. His opponent up and died in the middle of the campaign.
Croaked. Passed on. Went to meet his maker. Ashcroft STILL lost.I think the
U.S. is the only "democracy" that can boast of having not only an active
graveyard vote, but also graveyard candidates, and senators-elect.

    Then he's nominated Linda Chavez. She's a real Marie Antoinette type.
That Guatemalan undocumented worker living in her house wasn't a domestic
employee, Ms. Chavez was just trying to, well, HELP her, and, gee, she had
no IDEA she was "illegal." And no, the woman wasn't an EMPLOYEE or SERVANT,
gee, that would be illegal and, anyways, if the woman had been an employee
why sure Ms. Chavez would've paid the taxes, so obviously she wasn't an
employee. She just did a few odd jobs around the house. To help out. And for
money.

    The first reaction of Bush's people has been to defend her. She's ALWAYS
helping people like that, we're told. How noble. These jerks are too stupid
to jump ship even when an iceberg has sliced it open below the water line
like a tin can.

    And then there's the economy. No, I don't mean the great fabricated
California electricity gouge, or the spike in gas prices due to the coldest
November and December on  record. (More proof, by the way, if you believe
the bourgeois reporters or certain other people, of global warming.)

    I'm talking about the collapse of the great Internet Dot Com bubble,
courtesy of the Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve. I don't know if the
decision was political, but three or so years ago, Greenspan was already
warning about the "irrational exuberance" of the stock market, so it's an
interesting question to ask why he waited. Sooner or later, there was bound
to be a price for the wholesale creation of trillions of dollars in
fictitious capital, and the bill has come due. And it's come due because
Greenspan said, pay up now, the party is over.

    The problem, of course, isn't inflation. The problem is that it is very
hard to confine that kind of mass of fictitious capital to one sector of the
economy where everyone knows and understands it is not real money, but crazy
monopoly money. Once the fictitious capital created by stock manipulation
becomes commingled with the rest of the capital, as happened in Japan, all
the capital gets watered down and the only way out is a massive "write-down"
of ALL capital. Because capital doesn't create ANY surplus value, not one
penny, it all comes from labor, and the massive expansion in capital sooner
or later means that just about ALL enterprises become unprofitable. You've
got to spread what little surplus value there is among many, many more
dollars of capital, and the rate of profit collapses. And with it, the
economy.

    The clearest signal that the fictitious capital of the dot-com sector
had broken out of quarantine and infected the economy as a whole was AOL's
takeover of Time Warner. Time Warner Honcho Jerry Levine, who has yet to
place one correct bet on anything involving modern technology, figured it
was a great deal to sell a company that by any objective criteria is really
worth four or five times what AOL is worth, because even with a massive
dilution of Time Warner shareholder's equity, they'd still come out ahead
because AOL was so massively overvalued.

    And so here we are, a year later, and now Time Warner is propping up
AOL's share price.

    But more to the point of what's really going on in the economy are the
special promotion emails from places like PC parts mail order and internet
retailer Tiger Direct.

    Until late November, 128 MB PC-133 sdrams were selling for more than a
dollar a megabyte. Then Tiger offered them for $59.99. The only possible
conclusion is that one, or more, memory manufacturers got caught in a
financial squeeze so tight they had to dump massive amounts of memory into
the retail aftermarket at giveaway prices. The week after Christmas brought
another sign. Tiger Direct is offering AMD Athlon 950Mhz processors for
$200, about half the price for this high end chip. But it comes complete
with the motherboard, which indicates that some PC assembler wound up in a
squeeze also, and had to liquidate the overstock in an awful hurry. Then
there's the report that year-on-year December PC sales declined 24% in the
U.S.

    But it's not just PCs. The dot-com sector is awash in layoffs, some
sites have carried out two or three rounds of cuts, and others are just
liquidating, a penny or two on the dollar, if that. Construction is down,
auto sales are down, brick-and-mortar retailers are holding liquidation
sales and closing shop. It is a classic crisis of overproduction, just like
you read about it in the textbooks -- provided you read the right textbooks,
of course!

    How deep and long the slump will be is anyone's guess. In gauging it,
however, it is important to compare it not to some arbitrary figure, like
zero growth, but the real sustained growth rate of the U.S. economy over the
past few years. By that measure I suspect it may well be the sharpest
deceleration in GDP growth since the 70s, or perhaps since the depression of
the 30s.

    Will this turn into another depression? I don't think so, or not, at
least, mostly on the basis of what's going on in the United States. The
contraction may be sharp and deep, but business will pick up again, and I
see no reason to believe that the extraordinary advances in real labor
productivity, or if you prefer efficiency, that have come from technical
improvements are at an end.

    But the U.S. economy does not live in splendid isolation from the rest
of the world. The third world, in particular, is in terrible shape, and if
even the stimulus from good times in the U.S. wasn't enough to stop the
generalized downward drift, the impact of a US crisis will be all the more
devastating.

    The situation in a lot of ways is like the one that Japan faces. Its
financial sector held gizillions of yen in bad loans, which they could not
recognize as losses, for the entire financial system would have been
insolvent. Similarly, American banks hold huge amounts of paper from all
sorts of countries which is simply uncollectable. And it is the attempt to
make the payments on this debt that is strangling the economy of many third
world countries. Sooner or later, some country will declare a moratorium or
repudiate its obligations, and then all bets will be off. Right now it is
functioning like a Ponzi scheme, with new debts and bailouts being used to
pay the old. The problem is that this only accelerates the debt spiral, and
at some point this house of cards has to collapse, it is as much of a
"bubble" as the dot-com stock market valuations were.

    I don't have a good feel for how long the international financial system
can go on putting one band-aid on top of another, but it is obvious that the
pressure is growing all the time and that sooner or later no amount of band
aids will hold the thing together. Whether through a financial crisis that
spirals out of control, or a popular explosion and social revolution, this
bubble will burst.

    There's no question but that the cyclical crisis of overproduction will
hit mostly during the Bush presidency. If it is JUST that he will be lucky.
But if the broader international crisis coincides with it, or comes a couple
of years down the road, the I think finally what happened in Florida may
come into sharper focus for the American people.

    Because, frankly, I don't see where George II can do anything about it.
His "solution" to the domestic slump is as phony as a three dollar bill. And
the net stimulus it will provide will be exactly zero. That's because the
money Bush proposes to pump back into the economy through tax cuts was
ALREADY being pumped back into the economy in the form of paying off the
debt.
Arguably, from a bourgeois monetarist point of view, debt repayment is
preferable as it puts a further downward pressure on interest rates. But
Bush really only had two ideas in his domestic platform, the tax cut and the
privatization of social security through the stock market, and that last one
is as dead as Ashcroft's opponent in the Senate race.

José

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Jones" <jones.mark at btconnect.com>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2001 11:43 AM
Subject: RE: FW: The Economist: Why and when to go in









More information about the Marxism mailing list