A Matter of Life and Death

Foreword excerpt from the book Crossing The Rubicon ~ The Decline Of The American Empire At The End of The Age Of Oil by Michael C. Ruppert / published 2004

Shared with permission from Mr. Ruppert

The real deal on corporate media

by Catherine Austin Fitts

In 1990, a New York Times reporter writing about my work implementing financial transparency and controls as an Assistant Secretary in the first Bush administration resigned to prevent the Times’ Washington Bureau Chief from intentionally falsifying the story.  The bureau chief kept his job, a first rate investigative reporter left the news profession, and the story was buried.  This manipulation protected 1980’s black budget fraud at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).  It was one of my many lessons on the economic interests and political loyalties of corporate media.
Indeed, during the 1980’s, the savings and loan industry and government insurance programs were stripped of an estimated $500 billion by syndicates of military, intelligence, and private financial interests.  The profits were used to buy up banking, industrial, and media companies and to finance political campaigns.  From a greater position of political, judicial, and economic power in the 1990’s, these same syndicates then stripped an estimated $6 trillion of investors’ value in pump and dump stock market and mortgage market schemes and an estimated $4 trillion of taxpayer money from the US federal government.
In 1997, the Washington Post killed a cover story on my efforts to help HUD insure the integrity of its mortgage programs, thus making possible the subsequent disappearance of $59 billion from HUD as a part of this orgy of “piratization” of government assets by private interests.  Soon thereafter, when I attended a private invitation-only reception with colleagues at her home, Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post, snubbed me by refusing to greet me in her receiving line.
Washington Post corporate interests profited from HUD programs used to gentrify Washington, DC neighborhoods.  Check out the last few pages in Graham’s autobiography – it’s there in black and white.  What’s not to be found in the pages of the Washington Post or Graham’s book is the “real deal” on who has profited from insider real estate development or narcotics trafficking in these same Washington neighborhoods – or from reinvestment of the resulting profits in stocks of local corporations like the Washington Post.
 
I do not mean to single out the New York Times or the Washington Post.  I have had similar experiences with the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report and Dow Jones Newswire, to name a few.  Trusted friends and colleagues have experienced similar situations with numerous newspapers, magazines, and networks owned and operated by corporate media interests.

George Orwell once said that omission is the greatest form of lie.  That’s the best description I knew of corporate media today.

 

The growing power of media
The cost to you of supporting corporate media is not just the subscription prices or the time lost to advertisements.  It’s the cost of omission – failing to tell you what you need to know.  Consider that this cost includes:
–  Your share of the $10 trillion that has been moved out of the US stock market and government without your having been informed by an alert and objective news media in time for you to take actions to protect yourself and your family.
–  The dilution of your Constitutional freedoms and the vesting of power in a small group of individuals who defraud you (the public) of staggering sums of money and then use that money to buy up media and control your government and judiciary and to compromise your rights and the rights of the people around you.
–  The impact on you and your children of having your streets and schools overwhelmed with dangerous narcotics and prescription drugs.
Our financial system depends on liquidity.  In turn, liquidity depends on a popular faith in the system’s “rule of law.”  Global leadership’s power depends on the ability to combine criminal cash flows with liquid stock market and government securities.  This is why Mike Ruppert’s From The Wilderness [and currently Collapsenet.com] and a growing global network of Internet media are accomplishing so much as we shift our readership and subscription dollars to them.  The powers that be are highly motivated to protect the legitimacy of their financial system.  If a little bit of well-placed illumination exposes some of this criminality, the criminals take notice.  That little bit of illumination can also embarrass them a lot in front of their families and neighbors.  Who wants to go to a PTA meeting after Mike Ruppert has explained that you are on the board of, or a lead investor in, a company complicit in slave trafficking or the torture of children?
David can defeat Goliath if we provide the resources to finance the stones – as you have helped do by buying this book.
The record speaks for itself
The fact that America and many countries around the globe are being strip-mined in a manner that results in the destruction and “piratization” of our infrastructure and natural resources, the reduction of the value of our personal assets and retirement and health care benefits and the abrogation of our civil liberties is not something that the corporate media has made clear to you. Mike Ruppert has.
Allegations that the CIA and Department of Justice were partnered with George H. W. Bush and Oliver North through the offices of the National Security Council in a little Iran-Contra arms and cocaine trafficking operation in Mena, Arkansas; and that Hillary Clinton’s law firm was helping launder the local share of the profits through state housing agency securities and investments were never addressed objectively by corporate media.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories and broke the story of the possible connection between these allegations and the Clinton impeachment.

It is highly unlikely that you read or heard in the corporate media that the price of gold was being manipulated to turn off our financial “smoke alarm,” or to “piratize” significant inventories of gold out of government and central banks globally at suppressed values.  It is highly unlikely that you read or heard that money was allegedly being siphoned off from federal agencies using PROMIS-type software programs and that important financial securities and investigation records were destroyed in the Oklahoma City and 9/11 attacks.  Mike Ruppert’s subscribers have read these stories.

You did not read or hear in the corporate media that the events of 9/11 “just happened” to resolve a stalemate in the defense appropriations subcommittee created when, in the face of the “disappearance” of $3.3 trillion from the Department of Defense and a five-year refusal to produce audited financial statements, Congress was challenged with achieving a significant increase in defense spending.  Or that the events of 9/11 allowed the Federal Reserve to adopt highly inflationary monetary policies that postponed dealing with serious financial system flaws.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories.

You did not read or hear in the corporate media that our lives and economy are entirely dependent on fossil fuel, that world oil and gas production will soon decline, and what these facts have to do with the events of 9/11 and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Mike Ruppert covered these stories.

All these facts and allegations have been made abundantly clear by Mike and his publication From The Wilderness.  While corporate media refines the art of profitable omission, Mike Ruppert has risked his name, his financial security, and his life to warn us – again and again.

[Gabrielle again – I need to explain that Mike’s site From the Wilderness is archived and still available for anyone to view and search through.  I’ve used it many times to vet information because Mike’s work is solid – the kind of work I strive to do.  The reason why I am sharing this is so you will understand the historical importance of his book, Crossing the Rubicon and that membership to his site could now, quite literally, save your life.  We all see what’s going on in the new media now – the crackdown on protesters, the signing of the treasonous NDAA bill, the rising cost of fuel, and the tensions now rising with the US and Iran.  Mike predicted damn near everything that’s happening.  Get a membership to get your finger on the pulse of the world – and protect yourself.  Your government isn’t going to do it.  Back to the excerpt…]

An info cop’s beat: Watching your back

Through his website, radio talk-show appearances, speeches, DVDs, monthly newsletter, and email updates, Mike has been telling us for years what he sees, hears, and feels about “the real deal.”

Mike Ruppert had to leave the Los Angeles Police Department because he tried to prevent government-protected narcotics trafficking.  After learning that the corporate media would not tell the truth about this important story, Mike became a publisher.  In the face of widespread public denial of the fact of our economic dependence on “narco-dollars” and warfare, Mike persisted.  Mike is determined to help us face and recover from our financial addiction to an estimated $500 billion – $1 trillion of annual US money laundering.

In one sense, Mike is still a cop.  He’s publisher as “info-cop.”  His “info-beat” is the intelligence we need to protect ourselves – even if the lifting of the shades of denial means exposing our own complicity in the enjoyment of the fruits of the trickle down of dirty money.

Throughout the years, I have heard a lot of criticism of Mike and his work.  For example:
Mike is too aggressive.

It’s true that Mike is unbelievably aggressive.  Mike’s aggression is one of the reasons I am a subscriber to From The Wilderness.  I want to hear about danger real loud, real clear, and on a real-time basis.  I want Mike shouting “fire!” while I still have time to get out of the theater alive.  It takes incredible aggression to stand up to the military banking complex and the academics, think tanks, not-for-profits, and corporate media they fund.  All the money on the planet can, and does, buy a lot of attack poodles.  It is full-time entertainment just watching them nip at Mike’s heels and piddle on the fire hydrants when he’s around.

Mike has a point of view.

It’s true.  Mike always expresses an opinion on matters covered in his stories.  He is both a commentator and activist in a new genre of what Al Giordano of Narco News calls “authentic journalism.”  This is another reason why I am a subscriber.  A point of view is worth a heap of analytical power.  Mike’s job as “info-cop” is not to have an objective point of view.*  His job is make sure we are safe by sharing the information we need.  The only potential risk we can price adjust for, or dismiss is the risk of which we are aware.  If that kind of journalism comes with a vision and a perspective from the writer, I want that too.

Mike is “in your face.”

Mike is not shy.  You disagree?  You have a problem?  You got a question?  You can take it to Mike, have it out with Mike, and speak your mind with Mike.  Mike will say it to your face loud and clear.  You can do the same.  The only thing you can’t do is get him to agree with you when he does not.  Mike’s temper is big – but not has big as his heart.

Mike’s courage and intelligence can save not just your time and your money, but your life.
This one’s true, too.  I’m a case in point.

~~~~~~

So am I, as I am sure so many others can say now that have read Rubicon since and seen Mike’s appearance in the movie Collapse.  It moved me to write, make changes and take time away from a lot of things in my life to confront these crises – there are many.  After the BP disaster is when I found Mike’s work and I came to realize the stark truth about peak oil.  I spent six months alone in a hotel room, writing and integrating this information in hopes of finding some way that I could share it, as well as focus on solutions.  It was a long, dark, rabbit hole of wrangling with my own cognitive dissonance [and personal consumption habits].

* As for the observation about Mike’s job as “info-cop” not having an objective point of view, I was reminded of a quote from Hunter S. Thompson [I love my writers with moxy, if you can’t tell…] and I have often thought of Mike as my “Gonzo-Intel” – because he is not afraid to tell it like it is.  The quote : “So much for Objective Journalism.  Don’t bother to look for it here – not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of.  With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism.  The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” – Hunter S. Thompson

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Michael Ruppert at his home during the #Occupy Fear and Loathing Media Tour in December.  There is more video footage of my interview with him on the way – but I wanted to convey to you, in the best way I knew how – how important this man’s work has been and continues to be, not just to me personally.  I think it’s imperative for us all and why I am proud to make my site a Collapsenet affiliate.  I thank Mike for granting permission to use excerpts from Rubicon to convey this message to my readers.

Now, as I put on my Gonzo hat, I share with you an edited quote from Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction for good measure : “If I’m curt with you it’s because time is a factor.  I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this.  So, pretty please…with sugar on top. Buy a fucking membership.”

Collapse is happening so quickly now that I don’t have time to keep up with the signs – Mike and his team can and I trust them.  I am making my own preparations and hope you do too.

Here is Mike’s most recent interview on The Joe Rogan Experience

[Special thanks to Max Mogran at Oil Free Fun.]

This chart appeared in Crossing the Rubicon in 2004 but was originally published in a book
called, The Oil Crash and You, by Richard Duncan…in 2001.

BURN THE OLIVE TREE, SELL THE LEXUS ~ Free Market History 101

by Greg Palast and Oliver Shykles

[This essay grew out of Palast’s remarks in a debate with Thomas Friedman before a World Economic Forum meeting in Cleveland in April, 2001.  Dated?  Yes.  Relevant?  Even more so now.  We must know the destructive history of ‘free market’ capitalism and bonehead economics in order to reasonably address (and get past) the complete myth of ‘growth’.  We have to create a new meme for sustainable, local solutions so they can take root and thrive.  You can’t know where you’re headed if you don’t know where you’ve been. ~ Gabrielle]

Globalization is really neat. Just ask Thomas Friedman. He has a column in the New York Times and he wrote a big, fat best-selling book, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” which explains it all to us – the marvels of the New Globalization Order.

Now right there in my Lexus book it says that in this brave new world we will all have internet-enabled cell phones which will allow us to trade Amazon.com stock and, at the very same time, we can talk to Eskimos. The really exciting part is we will all be able to do this from our bedrooms in our pajamas.

When he’s not in his pajamas Friedman is in fact one of a gaggle of happy-go-lucky globalizers running around chirruping the virtues of globalization in its current form. He lays out, on a level of detail never seen before, the ability of globalization to democratize three key areas: technology, finance, and information. He argues that everyone in this global New World Order will have access to the all the technology, finance and information they need to live healthy and happy lives.

And so when I finished reading his book I thought to myself, “Wow! This is a future I want to be a part of.” Just imagine, every village from the Andes to Shaker Heights will be connected, empowered and enabled and that’s one heck of a future. I want this and I want it now. But hold on a minute … I just picked up the paper and it said that 100,000 people massed in Genoa to protest against the G8: that is the eight largest industrial nations driving forward globalization. And 10 months before 20,000 people had gathered in Prague to demonstrate against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: two of the key international agencies driving free trade expansion, a guiding force behind globalization.

So what the heck is wrong with these protesters, don’t they understand? Haven’t they heard about the Eskimos? Don’t they understand economics? As the Prime Minister of Britain, Tony Blair, explains, “The protests and people who indulge in the protests are completely misguided. World Trade is good for peoples’ jobs and peoples’ living standards”, “These protests are a complete outrage.” But, you have to forgive youth it’s lack of sophistication. They obviously haven’t read the Gospel of Globalization according to Thomas, nor their daily scripture, the New York Times.

The answers were first became widely known as “Thatcherism” in Britain and “Reaganomics” in the US and then later as “The Washington Consensus”. As Friedman puts it, “The Golden Straightjacket first began to be stitched together […] by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. That Thatcherite coat was soon reinforced by Ronald Reagan.”

In fact, it’s a very lucky thing that global capitalism happens to be such a good system because as far as Friedman is concerned it’s now the only one left. Socialism, communism and fascism have all gone kaput, “The Cold War had the Mao suit, the Nehru jackets, the Russian fur. Globalization has only the Golden Straightjacket.” And so all that’s left in our closet is Friedman’s golden straightjacket but it’s okay because, as Friedman puts it, “the tighter you wear it the more gold it produces.” So strap yourselves in! Everyone still breathing okay? Then I’ll continue.

So there are no dissenters now, we all agree, we’re all wearing the same straightjacket. As Friedman explains on page 106 of his book, it was all democratic, we all got to take part in the debate. And I thought about this and I remembered that we did have a choice, Friedman was right. We had our choice of George W. Thatcher, Reagan Clinton Bush or Al Thatcher Reagan Gore. You see, there’s no room in the golden straightjacket for anyone who doesn’t agree. And as Friedman himself admits, “it is increasingly difficult these days to find any real difference between ruling and opposition parties in those countries that have put on the Golden Straightjacket … be they led by Democrats or Republicans, Conservatives or Labourites, Christian Democrats or Social Democrats.”

So just when I was getting sized up for my own straightjacket, and boy was I excited, I read that there were riots in Ecuador. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my, why are they in the streets?” There are people in the streets and there are tanks too. And I thought to myself, “Perhaps the Internet is down, perhaps they’re trying to unload their Amazon.com stock which is dropping like crazy. They can’t log on. It’s all jammed up. I mean, the future’s on hold here. Will someone please call AOL.”

Right on the front of one of them it said “restricted distribution” and “it may not otherwise be disclosed without World Bank authorization.” It was a “confidential”, for eyes only, document. I couldn’t resist the temptation so pretend you never saw what I’m about to reveal to you – when you’ve finished, rip out this chapter and eat it right up. So I opened up the document. It was called The Ecuador Interim Country Assistance Strategy. I read this strategy and it included a schedule for raising the price of cooking gas. Now, they used to call these things “Structural Assistance Plans” but oops, they got a bad name, so like all the best PR firms, they did the right thing and changed the name. Now they’re known as “Poverty Reduction Strategies ”. Nothing like a little whitewash to keep people quiet. But the people of Ecuador weren’t keeping quiet, so I read on …

Along with the forced hike in cooking gas prices the World Bank required the elimination of 26,000 government jobs. Other poverty reduction strategies included a cut in pensions and a cut in real wages nationwide, by half no less, all this through World Bank directed macroeconomic manipulation. Part of the plan included the handing over of a license for a trans-Andes pipeline controlled by British Petroleum. I wasn’t sure; perhaps I had become confused. Maybe they meant that the poverty reduction program was a poverty reduction program for British Petroleum.

In all, the World Bank and IMF helpfully “suggested” 167 strategies as part of its loan package. But Ecuador was broke, that’s why it had asked for the World Bank’s help in the first place. It desperately needed the wampum, so desperately in fact that it had no choice but to accept these strategies. I shall, therefore, refer to these “strategies” as conditions, which is what they are, loan conditions. No ifs, no buts, sign on the line thank-you very much.

Oddly I didn’t read about Structural Assistance Plans or the 167 conditionalities for Ecuador in my Lexus nor in the Times. But just hold on a moment, what happened to democratic finance? Thomas Friedman, our new apostle, said that anyone can obtain finance capital now, it’s all democratic. Hey, he said, even David Bowie can issue bonds (to the tune of $55 million no less). Maybe Ecuador’s problem was that it didn’t have a rock star to co-sign with them.

But there’s a bigger problem here, these conditions weren’t just put together especially for Ecuador. Any country in crisis receiving a loan package from the World Bank gets a neat little set of conditions along with their loans, 111 on average. Now you’d think that if they were doing all these wonderful things to reduce poverty they would want to shout it from the rooftops. Hey, perhaps they’re just modest. In fact, talk about modesty – did you know they even found a cure for AIDS? Yes indeed, I kid you not.

But before I tell you how they did it you first have to understand all the conditions, all the little nuggets that can be found in the pockets of our golden straightjackets. So let’s enumerate them just as Thomas Friedman does on page 105 of his book. Okay, privatization is number one. Second is deregulation: you’ve got to get rid of all those dull bureaucrats and their thick rule books, you know they just get in the way of things. Next is free trade: drop the borders between people and all the nice things they want. Four, free up the capital markets, let capital flow in order to generate business and jobs worldwide. Five, support those international agencies which enforce our new international order – the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and let’s not forget the good ol’ World Trade Organization. In other words don’t dye your hair green and go into the streets of Seattle and break the windows in a Starbucks. And finally: you must look for a market-based solution. Remember, that’s the one that gives you the “win-win” situation.

Now, I can tell you that it’s with the market based solution that they found a cure for AIDS in Tanzania. Now in Tanzania the silly things used to give away health care. Can you believe it? So what World Bank said was, “You’ve got to stop being so scatterbrained and start charging for medical care”, “You’ve got a health care crisis and you’ve got to cure it with our market based solution”.

In a nation with 1.4 million people with HIV/AIDS that means a lot of visits to the hospital. So when you start charging those people to visit the hospital they stop coming. In Dar Es Salaam the number of hospital visits dropped by 53%. That’s quite a cure and I don’t think anyone could beat that.

Now, globalization has many other “success” stories. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher took the electricity system and she privatized and deregulated it. Electricity used to cheaper in Britain than in the US but now consumers pay 70% more per unit than their American counterparts. The same process was applied to the gas system and the charges shot up to a level some 60% higher than in the US where some type of regulation still exists. Water in the US is still mostly a publicly owned system but the British, still not satisfied with the privatization and deregulation of the gas and electricity industries, went about the same process with the water industry. Now the happily straightjacketed folks there pay 250% more than we do in the US.

So tickled were they with their clever programs of privatization and deregulation they decided to spread the good news. The system spread, via a World Bank loan condition, to Brazil. There the electricity industry was targeted and the Rio Light Company of Rio de Janeiro was taken out of public hands. The new British, French and American owners came along and said, “Just look, look at this bloated and inefficient company and its huge payroll”. So they immediately set to work making it lean and mean. And mean it was: they knocked off 40% of the workforce. But there was a problem; the workers knew where the transformers were. So the lights in Rio de Janeiro started flickering and Rio Light is now know as Rio Dark. But that was not all, for a flickering light system the people of Rio de Janeiro got to pay double what they had paid prior to privatization. But don’t panic; it’s not all doom and gloom. There was a huge increase in profits.

So after the failed attempt at privatization in Brazil they said, “well, let’s try it again, we’ll do it right this time. We’ll go to India”. And that failed, so they went to Pakistan: the attempt there became one of the reasons why they had a military coup. So they went to Chile and that didn’t work there either. So they said, “Let’s try, one more desperate time. We’ll go to a place that understands the future. We’ll go to California and they’ll get it, they’ll be able to deal with deregulation. They’ll get the wonderful effects of reductions due to the miracles of the markets. There’ll be competition and prices in California, which are too high, will plummet.” In fact when the Californian legislature voted to de-regulate the price of electricity, they even changed the law to the effect that prices would fall 20%. Yet, year on year prices rose in the wholesale market in California. Actually in one year they rose 380%. So faced with a terrible problem in California they went to Cleveland instead.

While I was in Cleveland to debate Thomas Friedman I got a letter from my friendly-faced hotelier. It read: “Dear Guest, due to the current energy issue, a surcharge is being applied nightly to all guest accounts’. Well I’ll tell you it’s not an “energy issue”. It’s a crisis. And it’s not a crisis of energy; it’s a crisis of globalization. It’s a crisis of a plan that never seems to work.

I used to work as an advisor with the utility commission of Ohio, amongst others, and we were thinking about what to do about the billions spent on nuclear plants and other wasteful projects that went nowhere. That was in the 1980s, in the bad old days before de-regulation, so the answer we came up with was simple: you put a cap on the price. You just put a cap on it. You regulate in the public’s interest. But little did I know that we should have looked for the market-based solution. I am now reading Paul Krugman. Now he is the guy that appears in the New York Times with Thomas Friedman. So there it was, Friedman the globalizer and Krugman the globalizer and they agree with each other. Krugman says, “I know the solution to bring down the prices of supplies: what we should do is remove all caps and allow electricity prices to rise.” And I said, “Wow!” I didn’t think of it; that’s really deep. If you want the prices to go down you raise them. And I thought about that. It’s like a one hand clapping thing.

I have to confess I didn’t understand it at all. I said, “This is beyond me. I had better go to one of the gurus of globalization. I mean one of the inventors of market-based solutions. You know: the top banana.” So I went to Cambridge University with my camera crew from BBC. And I sat down, for several hours, with the man himself; the voice of globalization, Professor Joseph Stiglitz. Now Stiglitz was the chief economist of the World Bank. The guy who wrote some of these plans and conditions. The guy who came up with these market based solutions. And so I said, “You’ve gotta answer this for me. I’m really losing it, Professor Stiglitz. To cut electricity prices you raise the prices. To cure AIDS, you raise the price of medicine. To stop the hemorrhage of capital in Ecuador, you remove capital controls on the export of capital. I don’t get it.”

And so he explained it to me sort of like this, “You see, in the Middle Ages, they used to put leeches on people’s bodies when they were ill and they would get sicker and sicker. And you know what they would say? They would say, “You know what? You know what’s wrong? There’s still blood.” So they would apply more leeches. And that’s how the globalisation program works. You just keep applying leeches and if a little deregulation seems to be making the system sick what you need is more deregulation to try to cure the system.“ And I said, “You know what? You don’t sound like you’re wearing your straightjacket.” And he replied, “Well I’m not, not anymore”. Despite the fact that there’s supposedly no dissent, he was dissenting; and this is the guy who conceived the system.

So I asked him “What happened here then?”, and he said, “Well, you know, economics is a science. It’s a dismal science, but it’s a science. And you know what the problem with globalization and the program of privatizations, deregulation, liberalisation of capital markets are? They don’t work.” And he told me to take a look at Latin America in the period 1960 to 1980. In the Dark Ages in which they had all kind of government regulations, controls, quasi-socialist economies and government intervention, Latin America’s per capita income grew by 73%. The same went for Africa; its per-capita income grew by 34%. But it was “inefficient” and we thought we could do better with free-market solutions. And so it began in 1980, with the International Monetary Fund and then the World Bank, sending out structural assistance programs with loan conditions. They said, if we’re going to give you money, you’ve got to change your economy.

Then came the economic miracle. Latin America, in the next 20 years in its straightjacket, went from 73% growth per capita income to just about nothing: 6%. Africa, which had grown at a pokey 34% during those 20 years, has since dropped by 23%. The privatization program became what Professor Stiglitz called the “briberization” program. What happened was that privatization became the means to sell off the country to bandits who then had no reason to operate businesses so instead they just sold off the assets. And that’s what happened in Russia and there it resulted in a depression. I said to him, “You sound like a bitter man. Did it work for anyone, is it all doom and gloom?” He said, “Oh no, you look at the numbers for Asia; the World Bank always talks about how well Asia did. That’s because of China and the tremendous growth it experienced.” And I asked him what China’s trick was and he replied, “They didn’t listen to us!” China said, “We’re not privatising; we’re not liberalizing. Worry, keep your straightjacket.”

I asked him if there were any other good stories. He said, “Yeah, Botswana.” “So what did they do?” I asked. He said – no points for guessing – Botswana, it turns out, also said “Forget it.” Botswana was the one nation in Africa that refused the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s help.

So it had all gone bad. The protesters were going to be out in the streets this week and there were protests going on in Ecuador. In fact, when we talk about protests we think about Seattle and Genoa and the claims that all these white college kids are just out there because they don’t know what to do with themselves, and because they just don’t understand economics. But what you didn’t hear about was the 400 protests that took place in the Third World in 1999 alone. There they understand exactly what’s going on.

But how come we never hear about these demonstrations on our televisions or in our newspapers? Well, it’s because Thomas Friedman the globalizer, on the political left, writing in The New York Times, agrees with Milton Friedman the globalizer, on the political right. And the opinion in The Times matches the opinion in the Washington Post, which matches the Financial Times which matches ABC, NBC, BBC and CBC and any other mainstream media outlet you care to mention. And so it would seem that everyone agrees now. That is everyone who is doing quite well, thank you very much, out of globalization and out of the suffering of billions of people. They are not going to tell you about suffering on the streets in the First World and the Third World caused by the undemocratic international agencies and our supposedly democratically elected governments (the idea of democracy is based on a choice – a real choice, not a choice between globalistas and globalistas). They won’t tell you that this system is a mess because it is not in their best interests to do so.

Currently the wealth of the world’s 475 billionaires is greater than the combined income of the poorest half of humanity. But Friedman still wants to assure us that, “The answer is free-market capitalism. Other systems may be able to distribute and divide income more efficiently and equitably, but none can generate income to distribute as efficiently as free-market capitalism.” I’m sure that the poorest half of humanity feels much better now Mr Friedman, thank you.

But there was nothing wrong with the international control of trade when the World Bank – that is the World Bank that John Maynard Keynes devised – came along and rebuilt the nations that had been flattened by World War II. The International Monetary Fund also helped by correcting the imbalance of trade that resulted from changes in commodity prices. But things changed in 1980 when we all climbed into our golden straightjackets with Thatcher, Reagan and Milton Friedman. The agencies were taken over by the Free-Market Believers who had plans for structural adjustment, globalizing and economies free of government.

“So where did we go wrong?” I asked myself. In my pile of confidential papers I found a General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) from the secretariat of the World Trade Organization. You’re not supposed to see this either, but what the heck. This document contains a discussion of something called the “necessity test” and it tells you the real plan behind the several “democracies” Friedman says are the gift of globalization.

The “Necessity Test’ appears within GATS article 6.4. Now I know this has nothing to do with trading stock in your pajamas, but this is what globalisation is really about. This is the plan for the establishment of a panel which will set national laws and regulations. What this innocuous looking article means is that only those regulations of a nation which are “least burdensome” to business for “legitimate policy purposes” are allowed. Legitimate policy purposes? But I thought that’s what nations had Congresses and Parliaments for: it is for Congress and Parliament to decide what is legitimate and what is not. A “necessity test” already exists in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); this will be expanded in the FTAA and this is why there were people in the streets in Quebec in April 2001.

So what happened under NAFTA with this “Necessity Test”? Well, there’s an interesting story here: it’s the story of the case of Metalclad, a US based company who wanted to build a toxic dump in Mexico. It was one of the new breed of globalizers following the advice of Larry Summers, who said that the Third World is under polluted from an economic point of view. Summers is the guy who was US secretary of the Treasury and Stiglitz’s predecessor at the World Bank, so he must know what he’s talking about. He was also the guy who demanded that Stiglitz be fired for dissent. (So now there cannot be any dissenting, because we all agree, right? There is no dissent now, because if you dissent your head is cut off and put on a spike on L Street, Washington. But I digress) So Metalclad wanted to put a toxic dump into a central Mexican state, on top of an aquifer, no less. And Mexico said, “You know, we have our rules. You can’t put a toxic dump above our water supply.” And Metalclad said, “Have you read NAFTA?” And so Metalclad took Mexico to court under the NAFTA “Necessity Test” rules.

But the NAFTA disputes panel is not like the courts as you know them, where things are open. The NAFTA disputes panel is secret, closed to the public. So Metalclad made their case and it turned out that Mexico was being “trade restrictive”. So not only did Mexico get a toxic waste dump right on top of their aquifer but they also received a bill for millions of dollars for delaying the toxic dumping.

But it’s not just Mexico that has experienced the full force of NAFTA, California now faces a bill for $976 million as punishment for not changing its anti-pollution laws. The trade restrictive hooligans there wanted to stop a Canadian company from selling them their toxic gasoline additive.

But I just couldn’t get Ecuador off my mind so I went back to Stiglitz and asked him about how those pesky folks got into financial trouble in the first place. He told me the International Monetary Fund and World Bank years ago forced Ecuador to liberalize its capital markets, remove all restrictions on ownership of bonds on the movement of money across borders. This way, capital can easily flow in and flow out. But the capital flowed out and it flowed out. So the IMF said, my god, you gotta get that money back, start raising interest rates! So Ecuador raised their rates 10 … 20 . 30 … 40 … 50 … 60 … 70 … 80 … 90%. But that caused the economy to go into the tank. Then the World Bank said “Well you can’t raise interest rates anymore, so start selling everything that isn’t nailed down.” And when that money was used up to pay creditors the bank ordered a price rise on items like cooking gas.

Yet despite the World Bank’s success, some people didn’t want to put on their golden straightjackets. In 2000 there was a protest in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was a protest against the privatization and deregulation of the local water company and it was led by the local Archbishop and a union leader named Oscar Olivera. The privatization and deregulation was part of the World Bank’s cure because Cochabamba had problems; only 35% of the people there had good drinking water. So of course the World Bank said we have an idea: let’s privatize the water company. And so they passed Cochbamba’s problems to Bechtel, an American company, and International Water of London because they will know what to do, they will apply a market-based solution. And they did: they raised the price of water. That’s why there were people on the streets.

Hugo Banzar, who used to be Bolivia’s dictator but who had now become president, sent in the tanks. And then I got this note which told me that two days later a 17 year-old, Hugo Daza, had been killed, shot through the face. A friend of mine, who knows his family, told me that he was just in town to run an errand for his mother. In the protests that ensued four more people were shot dead. Jim Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, was asked about the incident a couple of days later. He said, “The riots in Bolivia, I am pleased to say, are quieting down’. He then went on to warn the Bolivians that they had better start paying their water bills.

A year later the protesters won, and the price of water dropped. But then it started creeping up again. Then I got another note telling me that Oscar Olivera and the Archbishop, head of the human rights committee, had led another peaceful protest. The authorities had responded by sending in close to 1,000 heavily armed members of the Bolivian security forces to disperse the peaceful marchers with tear gas, beating them and confiscating their personal possessions. Oscar Olivera went missing.

It turned out that he had been detained by the authorities, an action which contravened Bolivian law: Article 7 of the Bolivian constitution guarantees citizens the right to protest and the freedom to meet and associate for legal ends. I understand now why Thomas Friedman, despite talking at length about the democratization of technology, of finance and of information, only once mentions the democratization of democracy and it’s right there on page 167 where Friedman proudly explains democracy IMF-style: “It’s one dollar, one vote.”

I’ve gotta go now, I gotta get my cell phone, get in my pajamas and tell those Eskimos what’s really goin’ on.

Who Killed Economic Growth?

Richard Heinberg proposes a startling diagnosis in this short video presented by fine folks at the Post Carbon Institute.


Indeed, there are many issues and nuances left out but this is a good start to answering the how’s and why’s we all need to come to grips with so we can move forward.  You’ll find other issues and those mentioned in the video are addressed in the book from which this material was excerpted: http://www.endofgrowth.com

Please share widely.

Preparedness | Personal Security

submitted for your consideration by Gabrielle Price

After viewing a streaming event in LA where Mr. Michael C. Ruppert was a guest speaker, I was struck by the three words that he told everyone to remember: Prepare, prepare, prepare.

With the market’s erratic behavior on top of the current disaster in Japan that unfolds hourly, it’s time to address one of the main issues of preparedness when facing systemic industrial and economic collapse.  I will be addressing the current events but for now, I want to focus here at home as our media is focused on points east.  There are valuable lessons to be learned from Japan in how to prepare for other things happening under our noses in the US.

One thing that Mr. Ruppert stressed upon the crowd he addressed was what to expect in what will undoubtedly be called an ‘economic tsunami’.  His concern is the rise in civil unrest that will occur when lack of basic resources becomes the next inconvenient truth America awakens to.  As oil prices continue to rise, we will see a decline of Western cognitive dissonance.  Whether you feel this is good or bad makes no difference to reality, but a very stark line will be drawn between needs and wants – then shock will set in.  Now if you think people fighting over televisions at Christmas was bad – it will be nothing compared to people fighting over loaves of bread.

Once store shelves become increasingly bare, whatever civilized behavior you may be accustomed to could take a dark turn down the road to Jerry Springerville.  The United States public at large is simply not as calmly enlightened as the Japanese public – especially when you consider the religious fervor and ’smile or die‘ optimism running roughshod over reason in this country.  Even as we see the worst unfold in Japan, we can learn valuable lessons in humanity through their calm example.

As much as I like to think that the best in people arises during times of great pressure – I must be a realist and therefore have concerns about public and personal safety.  I decided to seek out a knowledgeable friend to address some questions regarding personal security.

Mr. K.D. Wheeler is a 20 year veteran in the protective services industry, a former bail enforcement agent, private investigator, and former United States Marine.  His word is one I can trust as a friend and former serviceman who continues to uphold an oath to the constitution which remains unshakable.  He also shares my concerns and agreed to answer some questions.

Personal Security Q n A with Mr. K. D. Wheeler

First thing that comes to mind for me is home perimeter security.  Depending on how large the property is, what things should be kept in mind and is there specific gear/technology available that you would recommend for home security?

In our post 9/11 world there are many options for commercial and home perimeter security systems.  The technology being used ranges from motion & heat sensors to fiber optics.  I’ve only had experience with government facilities when it comes to perimeter security systems (microwave systems) and these are far too exotic and expensive for home use.  You can check in your area for what systems are available for home use.  It will be a system that will use motion/heat sensors in a horizontal field with a coverage area of 40-80 ft.  These can be used in a combination with security cameras and connected to your home PC or DVR.  The cost would range from moderate to very expensive depending on the bells and whistles and if you’re using one of the many home security providers like, ADT, Brinks, etc.  If you are technically proficient, you can design and configure your own perimeter system using the same options mentioned before.  At this time there is nothing available on the market that I would recommend above all others.  It really comes down to what you are willing to spend.

In regards to personal security – there are many people who may be uncomfortable when it comes to talk about weapons.  Especially for women.  Education is key to comfort levels – are there books or seminars available that can help or is a ‘hands on’ education the best route?

Although firearm sales have tripled in the last few years, there are many people who are extremely uncomfortable with weapons.   There are books available on the subject, but I would recommend taking a training class when it comes to all firearms.  States that allow a concealed carry license also have a firearms safety class.  These are usually included with the concealed carry course, but most are stand alone classes that are provided by your state for a relatively small fee.  I would also recommend taking a close combat class.  Theory and class work are all fine and good.  Familiarity with your firearm is one thing, practical application is quite another.

These classes are moderately expensive ranging from $250-$1000 and usually last for a few days to a week.  Courses will cover everything from positions, reloading under fire, situational awareness, low light shooting….all of the circumstances that one would encounter in the real world are covered in these courses.  There are many independent instructors available and the NRA has them as well.  There are also courses that are tailored for women.  Check to see if they are available in your area.  If you are contemplating purchasing a firearm, safety and proficient use of it are paramount.  Courses are available for hand guns as well as rifles.  Most accidental firearm shootings are because gun owners were unsafe with their weapon or panicked and shot a loved one.  Do not add to these statistics.

Very good advice.  What types of personal protection do you recommend for those just contemplating home security?

Do a threat assessment on your personal safety.  Think of the areas you work and live in. What types of crimes occur in those areas?  Do you live in an urban environment, suburbs or rural?  All of this and more comes into play when thinking of personal protection.  If you do decide to purchase a home security system, get what you pay for. Home security systems are passive.  Meaning they only work when the bad guys have broken in.   The response will be an alarm and then your security provider calling you and/or emergency services.  Depending on what package you order, a security officer may respond as well.   The most practical personal protection is being aware of your environment.  Do not throw money at the problem, by purchasing a home security system, firearm, taser, mace or self defense class if you are not going to actually follow through and become proficient with it.  Most Americans live under the illusion of security.  They purchase a weapon, buy a security system or take a martial arts class for a short time, then become bored with it and drop it.  When a crime does occur or personal safety is at risk, most people panic and become a victim.

Take all of this into consideration when it comes to personal security.  What are your concerns and needs?  You can start by programming your local precinct or police dept into your mobile phone as well as 911 (speed dial).  Do the same if you have a home phone.  Call 911 and when the operator answers tell them you are simply running an emergency check and want to verify that your name and home address is what the operator has listed on their display.  Insure all doors and windows are secured.  Invest in dead bolt locks.  Do a key count.  You would be surprised how many people have “extra” keys floating about and who has them.  When it comes to personal security I recommend the K.I.S.S. system…Keep It Simple Stupid.  Be aware, be alert.  Make a checklist of pros and cons before spending the money on a security system or purchasing a weapon.

What kind of gear is necessary to stock up on in regards to maintaining or cleaning a weapon? Are their home alternatives to market products for maintenance that you can suggest?

If you have purchased a weapon you most likely have the equipment to maintain that weapon.  You will need a gun cleaner/lubricant/preservative and bore cleaning brushes.  Personally, I use Otis Technology Cleaning Kits.  It’s a small cleaning kit that can be used for handguns, rifles and shotguns and has all of the equipment you will need to maintain your weapon and is very inexpensive.

Right now, inexpensive is good so we appreciate that advice.  Getting to the nitty gritty – when a person is faced with an intruder or threat – I know a million things go through a person’s mind.  Having survived an attack several years ago; my first instinct was just to ‘get the hell out’.  Is there really any kind of mental preparation or home training for that?

Another excellent question and no, there is no home course you can use.  Humans are higher functioning animals, but animals nonetheless.  When confronted with an intruder most people panic and become submissive.  It’s instinctual, fight or flight response.  You have limited options.  If confronted and you can escape – run!  If it is personal property the intruder wants, throw it down and run, it can all be replaced.  Your life, however, cannot.  If the intruder wants to do you harm and you cannot escape – fight, scream, yell!  Make as much noise as possible, fight as hard as you can until you hurt your attacker and can then escape or disable your attacker until they are no longer a threat.

This is not a movie or TV show.  You will not suddenly have Bruce Lee-like fighting ability or quick draw skill with a weapon.  If you have the option to escape, do so.  If you have no other choice,  then fight as if your life depended on it – it just might just depend on it.  Criminals count on your panic and fear.  Use any weapons you have at hand and run to the most public area around you.  It doesn’t sound cool or brave, but it is the reality of the situation.

I can agree that breathing is a better choice than cool or brave.  When it comes to weapons specifically, should choice of home defense be separate from say, hunting weapons?

Actually not at all.  A weapon is a weapon is a weapon.  If you have a firearm and are safe and proficient with it’s use, use it.  I must put in this disclaimer that all firearms should be safe and  secure.  This means unloaded and placed in a gun safe or with a trigger lock.  Personally, I do not have children and I am proficient with weapons, so they are stored in a convenient area, loaded and ready for use.  If you have children at home or loved ones in your household that are unfamiliar with firearms, this should not be the case.  Safety, safety, SAFETY.

What’s a good rule of thumb for stocking up on ammunition?

A case of the ammunition you use for your specific weapon should be more than enough.  Unless you are a survivalist or stocking up for an end of the world scenario a case of ammunition for range use is fine.  I would like to add that if you have a handgun, and it was purchased for personal protection, spend the money and buy jacketed hollow point (JHP) over ball ammunition (FMJ).  Ball ammunition is best used for range qualification and target practice, while hollow points will be your most effective choice to carry in your firearm.

Weapons may not be an option for everyone so I believe it is a good time to be physically fit.  Do you recommend any self-defense training courses that would be of benefit?

There are many self defense systems.  Each has its pros and cons and some are more esoteric than they are practical.  Each practitioner will sing the merits of their system.  That being said, if I had to pick a system, it would be Krav Maga.  My reason for this is that the system is built upon efficiency and brutality.  Again, K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Last question is a “what if” scenario:  If you had to pick up and leave with a moments notice and all you could take was one backpack, what ‘must have’ items would you have ready to go?

The must have items I would have in my backpack would be :

Water – Several bottles.
Food – Dried jerky, MRE’s, Dried fruit and/or Trail Mix.
First Aid Kit
Medications if needed.
Flashlight with batteries.
Hunting knife
Lighters and water proof matches.
Mobile phone and charger
Hand Crank Emergency Radio
Compass
Flares

All items should be packed in water proof storage (zip tight sandwich bags if nothing else) and your backpack can be packed ahead of time and ready in case of emergency. Your backpack should be efficient and lightweight. The Marine in me suggests that you replenish your emergency backpack every 15-30 days (perishable food & water. Batteries every 90 days.)

My sincere thanks to K. D. Wheeler for sharing his expertise. [Oorah!] If there are other questions regarding personal security that you would like to see answered, please feel free to ask them in the comment section below.  I will pass them along to Mr. Wheeler and update as time permits.  I have listed items (as well as links throughout) and research material below that will help you assess your personal security needs.  As a rule of thumb, it’s best to have knowledge and tools and not need them than to need them and not have access to them at all.