Category Archives: Costa Rica

Only Whites Are Expats?

Trash: White are COLONISTS essentially. We do not have the same primitive tribal link to the land that Mestizos or Africans do. So you move to Sydney and write your parents every day on e mail. Maybe a once a year trip.

I know many whites who moved to Australia from California. They did it simply to get away from NAM’s and be in a White individualist country. They were happy to do so…like I was happy to leave Greater Detroit.

First of all, residents of Europe are not colonists at all. They have all lived right where they are. The only White colonists are in South Africa, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

And what makes you think Australia is individualist? Last time I checked, it was quite socialist.

And for exactly the same reason that you say Whites leave the US, many people all over the world leave their lousy countries to move to a better country. There is an economic element of course, but there is also the notion that their own country is a Hellhole.

Bottom line is people all over the world move all over the place all the time.

Inside Latin America, there is huge migration. Costa Rica is now full of Nicaraguans. Cuba is full of Jamaicans and Haitians. The Dominican Republic is full of Haitians. Argentina is filling up with Bolivians and Peruvians. Plenty of Colombians have moved to Venezuela. Central Americans move to Mexico. And many Latin Americans have moved to Spain now due to the common language. The Whiter ruling class of Latin America seems to live about half their lives in Spain.

Many Latinos have come to the US and even Canada now. People from all over Latin America come to the US. Most are from Mexico and Central America – mostly from Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. From the Caribbean, we have many Cubans, Dominicans, and Haitians. Many South Americans such as Colombians, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, Chileans, Peruvians, Argentines, Uruguayans, and Bolivians. I have met South Americans from all of these countries in the US.

South Asians pour into the UK, US, Canada and the Gulf states.

Europe is filling up with Black Africans. Many North Africans moved to France and the Netherlands. All of Europe is filling up with Syrians. There are a lot of Iranians in the Nordic states. Turkey is full of Syrians, Crimean Tatars and Kirghiz.

Black Africans flood into South Africa and also the Arab states of North Africa. Libya and Egypt are full of Black Africans, mostly Nigerians. Right now there are some Nigerians in SE Asia and there are quite a few in China. Nigerians appear to be one of the more mobile groups of Africans.

Filipinos flood into China, the US, Australia, the Gulf and Jordan. Chinese move to Australia, the US and Canada. Koreans move to the US. China is full of Koreans.

Palestinians and now Syrians have been living all over the Arab World for some time now. Lebanese move to Australia.  Quite a few Egyptians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Syrians, and Yemenis moved to the US. Many Uighur Chinese have moved to Syria.

Polynesians move to the US and Australia.

Central Asians pour into Europe and the US. Residents of the Stans such as Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan move to Russia.

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Have Countries Improved by Moving Away from Social Democracy and Towards Neoliberalism?

HBD investor: Many countries floundered in various socialist schemes and their economies massively improved when they became less socialist.

None of this is true.

Many countries had problems with centrally planned economies with many or all state firms. This is called either state socialism or Communism and the record is not so wonderful. It isn’t so bad either. Been to Eastern Europe? See all that infrastructure? That was all built by the Communists. Go to Russia and see the same thing. Same in China. Communists built Russia and China up from nothing. They were nothing before, and Communism turned them into superpowers. They also had very high economic growth in industry and agriculture for decades. They massively expanded the nearly nonexistent education system. The Communists made monumental gains in housing in both countries. Health care improved to an incredible degree in both countries.

Now with Communism you can get great economic growth for a while, maybe a few decades, maybe more, but at some point it all starts bogging down in bureaucracy, lack of a pricing mechanism and a market, a lot of people just not working very hard and massive thievery of state property. In addition, the rate of economic growth slows. Although Communist countries usually wipe out poverty, in its place they only allow a relatively low standard of living. People probably want to live better than that. In addition, the collectivization of agriculture has been such a failure in Communist countries that I believe we should stop trying it. Production usually goes down by quite a bit and there are sometimes famines at the start if they try to do it too fast.

Yugoslavian Communism worked very well by the way, and they had a very good standard of living, the highest in Eastern Europe.

In addition, state socialist schemes with central planning had a lot of problems in Syria, India, Tanzania and other places. It just doesn’t work very well.

On the other hand, some form of social democracy is the norm all over the world. It’s not true that social democratic countries did a lot better as they shed most of their social democracy and adopted neoliberalism. The world has been doing that for a long time now and the record is in. It’s been a massive failure.

All of Europe except the UK is voting in Left parties, and at least the people want more social democracy and less neoliberalism. There’s no move towards neoliberalism and away from social democracy in Europe outside of Latvia and the UK.

There is no neoliberal free market capitalism in the Arab World. Arabs actually don’t believe in neoliberalism because Arabs and Muslims are sort of “naturally socialist” people. The Gulf states are huge social democracies. There is a lot of social spending and considerable state involvement in the economy in much of the Arab World.

Iran has been pretty much a socialist country ever since the Revolution. There is vast social spending, and the state is involved in the economy. Afghanistan is collapsed, but Communism was actually pretty popular there. Pakistan has been run by social democratic parties in recent years. India is officially a socialist country. It’s written right into the Constitution. An armed Maoist group is very powerful in India. Communist Parties have been running the states of West Bengal and Kerala for decades. Nepal is run by a coalition government consisting of a socialist party and a Communist party. The large opposition is made up of Maoists. I believe Sri Lanka is run by a social democratic party.

Myanmar’s been socialist forever. Vietnam and Laos are Communist. Cambodia has been run by Communists in recent years. The Philippines is a bad example, but they have free state health care for all, and education is free through the university level. Indonesia recently elected a socialist, a woman. The very popular newly elected president says he is a socialist. An armed Maoist group is very active in the country.

Australia and New Zealand are longstanding social democracies on the Canadian model.

Canada is a longstanding social democracy.

The largest party in Mexico is a member of the Socialist International, and the oil industry is state owned. Education is free through the university level, and health care is also free. El Salvador and Nicaragua are now run by former Marxist guerrillas, the FMLN and the Sandinistas. Costa Rica has been a social democracy since after World War 2. Honduras recently elected a leftwing president who was quickly overthrown in a state-sponsored coup. The military is still in power in Honduras, but everybody hates them.

A socialist party called Lavalas, the party of Jean Bertrande Aristide, continues to be the most popular party in Haiti, even though it has been declared illegal. To show you how popular Lavalas is, in the last election they ran in, they got 92% of the vote. During his short reign, Aristide built more schools than had been built in the entire 190 years before him.

A number of Caribbean island states are members of the Bolivarian economic bloc set up by Venezuela. Most Caribbean political parties are leftwing parties with the words socialist, revolutionary, workers, labor, or popular in them. Cuba is Communist and has a lower infant mortality rate than we do. A few years ago, they also had a longer life expectancy than we did.

Venezuela is still run by the Chavistas, a socialist party. Ecuador is run by a Leftist. Peru recently elected a leftwing Indian, although he has not been able to do much as his hands are tied. Brazil has been electing the socialist PT or Workers Party for many years now. A former Marxist guerrilla was the most recent president, and she was only removed by an illegal US-sponsored legislative coup. Paraguay elected a Leftist Catholic priest, a preacher of Liberation Theology, but he was soon overthrown in a legislative coup. The illegitimate party is now in power.

Uruguay has been a social democracy forever, and it is now governed by a former Marxist guerrilla. Juan Peron put in a social democracy in the 1950’s. Argentina was recently governed by a leftwing husband and wife team who alternated in the Presidency. Chile has been electing presidents from the Socialist Party for about 20 years now. The most recent Socialist, Michelle Bachelet, is a radical, but it remains to be seen what she can do. Chile has a huge class divide, the upper and lower classes  want to murder each other, and there are regular violent protests, leftwing versus rightwing street brawls, and riots, lately by students.

In Latin America, radical neoliberalism was imposed for 20 years, and it failed so badly that the whole continent has been electing leftwingers ever since.

I do not know much about Africa, but most African parties have been officially social democratic for a long time now. The Communist Party was recently part of a South African government. If anything has failed in Africa, it is neoliberalism.

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Illegal Immigration in Latin America

S. D. writes: Argentinians, partly Italian, do not suffer from illegal immigration or let Indians reconquer them.

In fact, Argentina has a very serious illegal immigration problem right now, as many mestizos and even Indians have moved into the country from Bolivia and Peru. Most of them have moved to Buenos Aires where they live in vast, crime-ridden slums. Mestizos are responsible for a wave of street crime in the capital.

In Latin America, illegal immigration is generally no big deal, since for the most part, everyone is more or less the same race. There are many illegal Colombians in Venezuela, illegal Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, illegal Jamaicans and Haitians in Cuba and illegal Peruvians and Bolivians in Argentina. In all of these countries, the illegals are simply regularized from time to time in large numbers, since the idea is that the illegals are the same race as the natives.

There is not much of a problem of illegals working for less than natives in Latin America, as they are always getting regularized, and after they are legal, they work for the same wages as natives. Further, wages are lousy for most everyone in Latin America, so the natives are already working for a low wage, and you can’t go much lower than a basement unless you are burying bodies.

There are a couple of exceptions where illegals are treated very poorly in the region.

In the Dominican Republic, the illegals are Haitians, and they are treated horribly, used as almost slave labor on sugar plantations and regularly rounded up and shipped back to Haiti with considerable brutality. Race plays a factor here, as Dominicans are mulattos – about half Black – and Haitians are pretty much pure Black. The mulattos feel much superior to the Black Haitians who are for all intents and purposes just niggers to the Dominicans.

There are quite a few Central Americans in Mexico, typically on their way to the US, but they are treated horribly, raped and brutalized by police and other Mexicans and shipped back home.

It is not known why Mexicans is so cruel to Central Americans, but perhaps they hate each other. I know when my mother was in Guatemala on vacation, she tried to use some Mexican money in a store, and the Guatemalan woman at the cash register spat at her, cursed and threw the money to the ground. Apparently she despised Mexicans for some reason.

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There Are Good Ruling Classes and Bad Ruling Classes

William Playfair Web writes:

TJF –

The ruling classes of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras leaves lower and middle income people few options but to leave

The ruling class is typically descended from the people of the European nation of Spain who are white or at least whiter than the native inhabitants of those countries. Hence, they are of higher IQs.

Do you believe higher IQ people rising to the top to become a ruling class is a good thing? I take it you are not a libertarian?

Yes, ruling classes exist all over the world. China, Iran, the Arab World, all of Europe including Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have ruling classes. As do New Zealand and Australia.

The difference is that the ruling classes of Latin America are stone evil. Those are the most evil ruling classes on the face of the Earth. I am convinced that the only way to deal with them is simply to eliminate them altogether, to take them out. That’s what the Cubans did, and they did the right thing. They wiped the Cuban ruling class off the face of Earth. Yes, they went to Miami, where they are now the ruling class of Miami, but the ruling class of Cuba was simply exterminated. That’s the only way to deal with these monsters. You just need to flat out get rid of them.

I include the ruling classes of Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay in this category. However, the elites in Peru and Venezuela often ruled via fake “socialist” parties that were actually members of the Socialist International!

These people are just evil. They do not believe in democracy, much like our vile and despicable conservative ruling class. Whenever the Left comes into power, these ruling classes overthrow it in some way or another. They used to do it by military coup, and they still do (see Honduras) but now they have other methods (fake impeachment in Brazil and Paraguay, fake corruption scandal in Brazil, economic sabotage and street rioting in Venezuela and Brazil, fake claims of human rights abuses/dictatorship and assassinations in Venezuela).

So there is really no peaceful road to socialism (or even social democracy) in Latin America. Maybe Lenin was onto something with his talk of parliamentary cretins. The Leninists have always said that it would be nice if the Left could take power peacefully, but the ruling classes will not allow the Left to come to power peacefully because power does not give up without a fight. Therefore the ruling class has to be overthrown by force. I really do believe that they are correct. Look what happens when you try to do it peacefully: Allende, Chavez, Gaitan, Zelaya, Juan Bosch, Cheddi Jagan, Dilma Rouseff, Arbenz, Father Aristide. It doesn’t work.

I would put the ruling classes of Mexico and Costa Rica in a different category.

Mexico’s ruling class is actually part of a revolutionary party that is a member of the Socialist International. The reason Mexico did not have a Leftist revolution in the 1980’s was because, as my mother put it when I asked her why not, “They already had their revolution.” Mexico has long had great relations with Cuba and for the entirety of the war, the Marxist FMLN guerrillas of El Salvador had their head offices in Mexico City itself. They have national health care, free education to the university level and most of the rural land is owned by the state as “ejidos,” which are rented out for use by any peasants who wish to farm them.

However the elite did steal an election from a Left candidate in 1988, 25 years ago. The Mexican ruling class will only go so far with their shabby socialism.

The ruling class of Costa Rica for some reason made a class compromise and a social contract with the people sometime after WW2. They also decided to get rid of their military altogether. The fact that Costa Rica has historically been one of the Whitest countries in Latin America may have been one of the reasons that they were able to put in a social democracy. Reagan ordered them at gunpoint to destroy their social democracy in the 1980’s. I understand that they took much of it apart, but a lot of it still exists.

I have not heard a lot of bad things about the ruling classes of Panama, Belize, most of the Caribbean islands, the Guyanas and even Uruguay.

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The Real Reason for Venezuela’s Economic Problems

This video shows the truth about Venezuela’s economic problems. In short, the economic problems are being caused 100% by the Venezuelan capitalists and the Venezuelan rich, and 0% by the Chavistas.

First of all, the lie that the shortages are typical of socialist and Communist systems. Many socialist economies on Earth have no shortage problems whatsoever. It is true that Communist countries have tended to be plagued by chronic shortages for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately this appears to be more of a feature of the system instead of a patchable bug.

The error here is that Venezuela is a Communist country. Since Communist countries have chronic shortages and Venezuela is a Communist country, the shortages are being caused by the fact that Venezuela is a Communist country. This argument is utter nonsense and it shows you just how retarded most of the rightwing Chavez-haters and the Lying Western Media are. Actually I think LWM know better and and are lying on purpose like they always do, but I am not sure about your average stupid dittohead.

First of all, Venezuela is not a Communist country. Some might even argue that it is not a socialist country, but that is more up for grabs. The fairest analysis of Venezuela from those on the Left is that it is some sort of a social democratic country similar to what exists in Europe and most of the world. Yes that is correct. Venezuela has a social democracy, which is the typical economy of the average state on Earth. Social democracies do not typically have shortages of products. In fact, product shortage is not a known feature or bug of a social democracy. Not to say that there are not problems with this model, but shortages is not  one of them.

What is incredible is that this country is so demonized by the US because of the fact that it has an economy like that of all of our European allies and that of most of the world. However, since the Monroe Doctrine, the US has been committed to never allowing any progressive governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. Hence most governments that were even social democratic ion nature were destroyed by the US, which called all of these moderate governments “Communists.”

So you can see that the US will only allow rightwing and centrist governments in the Hemisphere. Lately they have moderated this a bit and are apparently ok with the PT government in Brazil and Bachelet in Chile. And for some bizarre reason, the US long supported social democracy in Costa Rica and even before that in Mexico. The reason for these exceptions is not known, however in the 1980’s, Reagan put extreme pressure on Costa Rica to dismantle their social democracy.

The truth is that the entire economy of Venezuela is controlled by the private sector. So if there are shortages, that means that the Venezuelan capitalists are creating them on purpose for some reason.

First of all, let us look at the main Lying Western Media bashing point: inflation. Inflation has nothing to do with Chavez. High inflation has been ongoing since 1980. The reason is the “Dutch Disease” problem – the Venezuelan economy is completely dependent on oil, and that is the cause of almost all of the inflation right there.

There may be some other reasons. The Venezuelan economy boomed through most of the Chavez years when it had a high rate of economic growth. High economic growth can cause inflation. In addition, there are now many more consumers in Venezuela.

Chavez so dramatically improved the standard of living of the 90% of the country living in poverty that now they can afford to buy many more things that they could not afford before. For instance, before Chavez, only well to do people could afford to buy milk. Most Venezuelans could never afford it. Hence the shortages of it are not particularly missed by most of the population, whose attitude is, “Yes there are milk shortages now, but at least we can buy it sometimes. Before we could never buy it ever.”

Price controls were put in to control inflation. These price controls have been put in for a long time now and the shortages are fairly recent. The Lying Western Media want to have it both ways. They bash the Chavistas for inflation and then they blast them for the anti-inflation measures that they put in. That’s neither logical nor fair but it is typical of the rightwing mind.

At any rate, the price controls are apparently not causing the latest round of shortages because the price controls have been in effect for years and there were few shortages then.

Instead the shortages are being caused by the currency market.

Hear me out. Since the start of the Chavez regime, the Venezuelan rich and  capitalists have engaged in massive capital flight. This happens most times whenever a leftwing government is elected anywhere. The rich and the investors simply start sending all of their money out of the country, in the case of Venezuela, they mostly sent it to Miami.

Capital flight cannot be allowed to go on. If it continues, eventually it will devalue the currency so much that you will get a currency crash, which is an economic catastrophe. So the capital flight had to be stopped. The Venezuelan government put in capital controls and currency controls to regulate the amount of dollars coming into and going out of the country.

In other words, all of the dollars in the country were being routed through the government which fixed their value at a certain rate. If the private sector wanted dollars to import goods or for whatever reason, they would have to buy them from the state. The state was quite willing to sell dollars to anyone who could show a need for some. Later controls were put in and you could only access dollars for certain reasons such as overseas travel. However these rules were soon abused.

Be as it may, over time, problems developed in the value of the dollars that the state held. I am not sure what it was all about, but I think the state dollars were starting to be worth less than the dollars on currency markets. I am not sure why the state did not adjust the value of the dollars but possibly that move may have been fraught with all sorts of bad possible consequences. As time went on, a black market in dollars developed. When it started, the black market dollar was worth twice the state dollar. Now the black market dollar is worth 20-25 state dollars. Do you see where this is going now?

If you follow, obviously almost all dollars in the country are going to end up routed through this black market at some time or another due to profit potential.

Capitalists would come to the state asking for dollars to import products. The state would dole out the dollars and the capitalists would use the dollars to import goods. However, these goods bought with cheap state dollars could now be sold on the black market or in Colombia for the black market dollar price for tremendous profits. Hence, we arrive at a situation where 30-40% of the goods imported to Venezuela by the capitalists are routed out of the country, typically to Colombia, for the higher profits involved. So there is the reason for your shortages right there. The shortages are being caused by the profit-seeking of the capitalists.

I suppose the state could set the state dollar value much higher, even matching the black market value. However, I understand that this is a bad idea for a number of reasons. The state began to be reserved in how many dollars it was handing out. The capitalists would say they wanted the dollars to import goods but then they would turn around and use those dollars to import the goods and then send them out of the country or they would simply invest the dollars in some speculative activity.

The state began to get wary about handing out dollars and started demanding proof that the capitalist were going to use them for the reason that they said they were. At one time, this started adding to the shortages because now the capitalists were importing fewer goods as they had fewer dollars to import with, but they were sending a huge amount of imports out of the country anyway so I am not sure how big of a factor this was in the end.

The state has few recourses to this problem as long as the dollar black market exists. I suppose they could try to shut down the black market but efforts to shut down black markets usually do not work very well. There are other possibilities. One is to let the Venezuelan currency float, but this is also fraught with risks, for instance the bolivar could rise or fall quite a bit in value, both of which might be problematic. A huge fall would definitely be a problem. But they may have to take that risk.

Recently the state devalued the bolivar. A lot of people screamed about this as this supposedly means the economy is in trouble but that is not necessarily always true. The Lying Western Media screamed and yelled about this, insisting that it meant that the Venezuelan economy was collapsing. Keep in mind that according to the disgusting Venezuelan opposition and the Lying Western Media, the Venezuelan economy has been in a state of collapse, near collapse or soon to collapse every single year that Chavez was in office. If you look at economic figures, you can see how absurd this is. You guessed right. The Venezuelan opposition lies almost continuously about just about everything you could imagine.

The truth was that the bolivar was overvalued. I am not sure if that is good or bad, but it doesn’t sound real bad to me. It sounds better than a collapsing currency. When your money is overvalued, it is usually a good idea to devalue your currency. It is a sound economic decision.

The Venezuelan economy is indeed in bad shape now, but that is mostly due to the collapse of oil prices. All major oil producing nations are experiencing the same phenomenon. The collapse in oil prices is not the fault of Venezuela and indeed is a plot by the US and the Saudis to ruin Russia over Russia’s involvement in Syria and the Ukraine. That the Lying Western Media is screaming about Venezuelan economic problems caused by an oil price collapse that was not their fault shows you how repulsive the Lying Western Media is.

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The Welfare State in Mexico and Latin America

Jason Y writes:

Also, imagine what Latin American immigrants think about the US welfare state? I mean, no shit. Of course, they’re going to overload welfare. They probably think they’re in paradise. I mean they came from right wing BDSM style hell-holes, where the wealthy 2 percent gives them nothing.

In Mexico, there is always health care at the state owned clinics. You might have to stand in line all day, but you will get seen. And everyone has food in Mexico. If you can’t make it in the city, you just go out to the rural areas and work on an ejido. The state owns a lot of the rural land in Mexico and they have divided up this land into plots called ejidos. They are sort of like small villages with lots of farmland all around them. The farmland is all owned by the state. You work the land and get whatever food you raise off the land. This is one of the legacies of the revolution.

So it is like China in that sense that if you can’t make it in the city, you can always go out to the rural areas and survive. I believe that all public education in Mexico is also free too, all the way up to university level. They have recently been talking about putting in a fee system, but they had to back down after a lot of protests.

Venezuela now has a fairly well developed welfare state and Argentina and Uruguay have had them for a long time, battered as they are.

Costa Rica had a welfare state for a long time except in the 1980’s under Reagan there was tremendous pressure to get rid of it. I am not sure what has happened since.

I believe that most of those countries do have free state health care and often free university education. But there might not be any doctors around and the university and health systems may be very much underfunded.

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Answering the Libertarians and Their Lies

Repost from the old site.

I decided to make a post about libertarians, radical free market fundamentalist religionists, and Far Right economics in general.

On Libertarianism, I think it is very important to answer some of the nonsense that is being parroted nowadays by the free market fundamentalists – libertarians – right wing extremists – amongst us. As the center of the US Right has gotten more and more extreme since the 1970’s, their arguments and policies have gotten more and more insane, irrational and ideological.

With the Right nowadays we are dealing with a nation of robotic ideologues – they no longer care anything for fact, theory, or science. Rightwing doctrine, more and more, resembles a kind of religion for its ideological adherents, and in that way it is similar to the leftwing orthodoxy that continued to enrapture some the Left in recent decades, even as it developed serious problems before their very eyes.

Into the 21st Century, the Right is bolder and wilder than ever. Formerly, the more honest ones at least used to acknowledge that socialism was better at providing for basic needs, health care, education and social support than capitalism. No more. Now total libertarian free market capitalism has become some sort of miracle nostrum that will cure all ills.

Poor health figures, health system doesn’t meet the needs of the people? No problem, just totally privatize the health system and all the problems go away. Problems with distribution of water, electricity, sewage, roads, parks, day care? Not a problem. Just get the state out of the way, deregulate, and let the corporations run it all.

The debacle of electricity deregulation in California is simply the typical result of privatization and deregulation of electricity the world over, for decades now, since the 1930’s.

We have case study after case study, with predictable results each time the “new experiment” is tried. The California experiment saw service plummet and investors get screwed, precisely the failures that led to the creation of public utilities in the 1930’s.

Utility companies maliciously rigged markets, cut off supplies to the starving state, formed monopolies and engaged in gleeful price-gouging of helpless consumers.

Deregulation of the financial industry and stock market is likely to cause financial panics, stock crashes and both economic recessions and depressions. It has in the past, it will in the future.

Deregulation of telecommunications in the US put the public system into the hands of a fewer and fewer people and sent cable prices through the roof.

It has facilitated a wild crime spree by major telecom firms, as these firms engaged in an orgy of out-and-out robbery of consumers, blatantly deceptive and unintelligible calling plans, deliberate over-billing, bumping consumers into other calling plans without telling them, and other outrages.

Privatization of water in Bolivia was a catastrophe – prices shot up, service was terrible, and many lost access to water.

Airline deregulation saw massive concentration in airlines, many cities lose air coverage and service go into the gutter. The price structure of airline flights became seriously disturbed to where a flight to a city 350 miles away might cost far more than a trip all the way across the country to a major hub.

Deregulation of trucking saw prices climb, service suffer, safety regs get tossed out the window, the accident rate go up, roads get destroyed by overloaded trucks and thousands of small firms get wiped out while a few super-firms took their place.

The last effect caused the peonization of the US independent trucker, a cultural icon. Self-regulation of any industry has meant no regulation, and consumers, workers and society are harmed every single time it’s done. Every time, every place, no exceptions. Got it?

The much-maligned OSHA regulations save 10,000’s of lives every year and we can prove it. Pollution regs do the same and clean up the planet besides, and we have the darn statistics to prove it.

Reducing environmental regulations dealing with water, air and toxics means lots of injuries and deaths, time after time, in place after place, in society after society. We are talking about effects so predictable here that if we were scientists, we could almost describe them as natural laws.

The latest insanity is the line that the way to solve health care problems is to totally privatize the health care system, because, as we all know, “socialism fails”.

This slander, this canard, against socialist health care, that it fails to meet the basic needs of human beings, needs to be answered forcefully, for the Libertarian Big Lie continues, ranting louder and louder, despite figures all over the world that conclusively show “socialized medicine” outperforming more private systems time after time and place after place.

In Nicaragua, after the Sandinistas took power in 1979, the health figures showed great improvement (along with education and literacy figures). When the Sandinistas were thrown out of power in an election cheered by liberals across America, the first thing the liberals’ hero, the ultrareactionary Chamorro, did, was wipe out government health care and free education.

At $30 a year, many parents could not afford to send their kids to school, so the kids dropped out. The health figures started going down right away. “Socialized medicine” fails again.

Cuba’s health figures have long been tops in Latin America and in 2002, for the first time, Cuban infant mortality figures actually beat US figures, where income is 20 times higher. The Latin state that often comes closest to Cuba is Costa Rica in health, education and housing figures, and as such, Costa Rica is bandied about by enemies of the Cuban Revolution.

But Costa Rica’s figures are due to the fact that Costa Rica has the most highly-developed social democracy in all Latin America, which it seems to have retained, despite frantic, bullying efforts, starting with Reagan’s orders to Arias in the 80’s, by the US to force Costa Rica to dismantle its social programs. “Socialized medicine” fails again.

In India, the state of Kerala, run by Communists off and on for the last 30 years, has developed a good state health system compared to the rest of India. When comparing Kerala to the rest of India as a whole, Kerala’s health figures are much superior. “Socialized medicine” fails again.

The social democracies in Europe have the best health figures on Earth, due to their evil, failed, inferior “socialized medicine”. “Socialized medicine” fails again.

Japan’s high health figures are accounted for by the fact that Japan has long had a virtual social democracy, with a lifetime employment system and generous benefits, including health care, taken for granted by Japanese corporations. “Socialized medicine” fails again.

And on and on and on and on.

The fact is, capitalism is bad for your health, period, exclamation point. It’s a rule of nature, like gravity or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

What would a libertarian health care system look like? Simple. Like the health care system we had in most of the past few centuries on much of the planet, where only the well-off could afford to go to the doctor or buy medicine and the poor were left to beg for succor or sicken and die, which they did, by the hundreds of millions.

Want some examples, close to home? I know a number of folks who are disabled and therefore simply cannot work at any real job in the real world (they could maybe get by on a severely pampered part-time job with friends or family, but that’s not real life). Their disability check every month is the only thing that enables them to survive at all.

Without that check, they would need to depend on the kindness of friends or family, or, lacking that, they would go homeless, live on the streets, lack for food, shelter, medical care, etc.

I have known many poor workers who lacked for health insurance and had such a low income that they felt they could not afford to go to the doctor. So, they ignored health problems until they got worse and worse, and now they have chronic health problems.

One of them was thrown off Medicaid when he and his wife (both workers) earned just over the limits. Consequently, he stopped going to the doctor for months and felt he could not afford to buy his prescriptions. He lacked his meds, including a blood pressure drug and a blood thinner needed for a blood clot, for 5 months.

Another railed against “socialized medicine” but felt she could not afford insurance so she never went to the doctor or dentist. Now she has severe chronic knee problems and serious teeth problems.

She may need to have all her teeth pulled since she never went to the dentist because she felt she could not afford it. The knee problem may also have been exacerbated by lack of medical care. The reality is that this is what will happen to many people if we do away “state health care”.

This is what happens all over the world. I have friends in the Third World who tell me stories about their countries. It’s clear that people are dying in these places all the time because they cannot afford doctors or medicines. Their stories are true; I hear them with my very own ears.

What would a radical free market system do for education? Prices would go through the ceiling and quality would go down in many cases. Every teacher I know who taught at both private and public schools told me the quality of the program was much worse at private schools, where the owners scrimped on everything and shafted the teachers while flying around on their private jets.

I suppose the radical free-marketeers would like to get rid of public roads too. Let me tell you a story about roads. Up here in the mountains, we have private and public roads. Every single private road is utterly terrible and many are outright dangerous.

They are full of potholes, if they are paved at all. Why? Because in order to fix the road, each homeowner on the road would have to pitch in to fix it. No one wants to pay, so the road never gets fixed. Never, ever.

If you want to know what the libertarian vision looks like, just go to the Third World, where the state doesn’t pay for anything and the public sphere is decrepit, abused, nonfunctional, dangerous, inadequate, nonexistent or for the rich only.

Look at America pre-1900, where schools, doctors, hospitals, roads, electricity, sewage, and old-age supports did not exist or were luxuries for the moneyed only. The elderly, sick, poor and jobless simply sickened or died, in huge numbers. Tens of millions of Americans never went to school.

That’s the libertarian dream, or nightmare. We know what it looks like because it’s been tried in the past for centuries, the world over, in culture after culture. We can see its devastation in the 3rd World as we speak.

There need be no illusions at all about what radical free market fundamentalism will really bring, and we need to shout down the free-market ideologues and religionists with every lie they shower us with. Loud. Often. In their face. And never stop until we turn their dishonest roar into a whisper in the background.

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“Latin America’s Twenty First Century Capitalism and the US Empire,” by Dr. James Petras

An excellent analysis of the current scene in Latin America by Marxist James Petras. We often wonder what exactly is going on here or there in the world. For the answer in Latin America, Petras answers a number of important questions. What’s amazing is I can’t find one single area in which he’s wrong in his analysis below. Hence, this analysis is immaculate. If any of you can find anywhere below where he is wrong, let us know. A good tutorial on the Latin American politico-economic scene. Warning: Runs 45 pages.

Political Power and the World Market

The twin nemesis of Latin America’s quest for more equitable and dynamic development, US imperial and local oligarchic power have been subject to profound changes over the past decade. New capitalist classes both at home and abroad have redefined Latin America’s relation to world markets, seized opportunities to stimulate growth and forged cross class coalitions linking overseas investors, agro-mineral exporters, national industrialists with a broad array of trade unions, and in some countries peasant and Indian social movements.

Parallel to these changes in Latin America, a new militarist and financial political configuration engaged in prolonged wars, colonial occupations and widespread speculation has weakened the structural economic links – dominance – between US imperial economic interests and Latin America’s dynamic socio-economic classes.

In the present conjuncture, these basic changes in the respective class structures – in the US and Latin America – define the contours, constraints and ‘reach’ of the imperial classes as well as the potential autonomy of action of Latin America’s leading socio-economic classes.

Notions which freeze Latin America in a time warp such as “500 years of exploitation” or which conflate earlier decades of US political-economic dominance with the present, have failed to take account of recent class dynamics, including popular insurrections, mass electoral mobilizations and failed imperial-centered economic models which have redefined the power equation between the US and Latin America.

Equally important, fundamental changes in market relations and market competition has lessened US influence in the world market and opened major growth opportunities for new and established sectors of Latin America’s capitalist class, especially its dynamic export sectors.

Understanding imperialism, especially the US variant, requires focusing on class relations, within and between countries and regions, the changing balance of power as well as the impact of fundamental changes in world market relations. Equally important the private economic institutions of imperialism (banks, multi-national corporations, investors) are contingent on the composition and policies of the imperial state.

Insofar as the state defines its priorities in military and ideological terms and acts accordingly, by channeling resources in prolonged wars, the imperial policymakers weakens their capacity to sustain, finance and promote overseas private economic interests.

As we shall analyze and discuss in the following sections, the US has suffered a relative loss of political and economic power over key Latin American regimes and markets as its military commitments have widened and deepened over time. The result is a Latin American political configuration which has changed dramatically over the past two decades.

Latin American Political-Economic Configurations and US Imperialism

The upsurge of social movements, the subsequent ascent of center-left political regimes,the dynamic economic growth of Asian economies and the consequent sharp increase in prices of commodities in the world market has changed the configuration of political power in Latin America and between the latter and the US between 2000-2010.

While the US exercised almost absolute hegemony during the period 1980-1999, the rise of a militarist caste promoting prolonged imperial wars in the Middle East and South Asia and the rise of relatively independent national-popular and social-liberal regimes in Latin America has produced a broad spectrum of governments with greater autonomy of action.

Depending on the criteria we use, Latin American countries have moved beyond the orbit of US hegemony. For example, if we examine trade and investment, all the major countries, independent of ideology, have to a greater or lesser degree diversified their markets, trading and investment partners. If we examine political alignments, we find that all the major countries have joined UNASUR, a regional political organization that excludes the US.

If we examine policy divergences from the US on major regional issues, such as the US embargo on Cuba, its efforts to isolate Venezuela, its proposed military bases in Colombia, Washington remains in splendid isolation, to the point that the new Colombian President Santos, chooses to “postpone” implementation in favor of maximizing billion dollar trade and diplomatic ties with Venezuela.

If we focus on ideological divergence between the US and Latin America, particularly on global issues of free trade, military coups and intervention, we find a variety of positions. For example, Brazil opposes US sanctions against Iran and supports the latter’s program of uranium enrichment for peaceful uses. If we focus on joint US-Latin American military exercises and support for the Haitian occupation, most Latin countries – with the exception of Venezuela – participate.

If we examine the issue of bilateral trade and regional trade agreements, the US proposals on the latter were voted down, while several countries pursue (so far with little success) the former. On a rather fluid measure of ‘affinity for neo-liberal’ ideology, in which a mixture of elements of statism, deregulated markets and social welfare co-exist in varying degrees, we can draw up a tentative 4 fold division between “left”, “center left”, “center right” and “right”.

On the “left” we can include Venezuela and Bolivia which have expanded the public sector, economic regulations and social spending.

 

On the “center-left” we can include Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador which have increased social spending, public investment and increased employment, wages and reduced poverty, while vastly increasing private national and foreign investment in agro-mineral export sectors.

On the center-right we can include Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay, which embrace free market doctrines, with mild poverty programs and an open door to foreign investment.

On the right we find Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, all of whom line up with Washington on most ideological issues, even as they may be diversifying trade ties with Asia and Venezuela.

Internal shifts in class power within Latin America and the US have spurred divergences. Latin America has witnessed greater policy influence by a more ‘globalist elite’ less tied to the US, and an emerging ‘nationalist bourgeoisie’, and greater pressure from reformist working class and public employees trade union. In contrast within the US industrial capital has lost influence to the financial sector and exerts little influence in shaping economic policy toward Latin America, beyond rearguard ‘protectionist’ measures and state subsidies.

The US ruling political elite, highly militarized and Zionized, shows little capacity to engage in launching any major new initiatives toward recapturing markets in Latin America, preferring massive military expenditures on wars and paying tribute to their Israeli mentors.

As a result of major socio-political shifts within the US and Latin America and the singular importance of dynamic changes in the world market, there are four axis of power operating in the Western Hemisphere.

The emerging economic power of Brazil and the growth of intra-regional trade within and between Latin American economies.

The dynamic expansion of Asian trade, investment and markets leading to a long term, large scale shift toward greater economic diversification.

The substantial financial flows from the US to Latin America in the form of “hot money” with destabilizing effects, as well as continued substantial investment, trade and military ties.

The European Union, Russia and the Middle East as real and potential influences in particular settings, depending on the countries and time frame.

Of these 4 ‘vectors of power’, the most significant in recent times in reshaping Latin America’s relation to the US and more importantly in opening up prospects for 21st century capitalist growth, is the boom in commodity prices and demand – the dynamic of the world market. On the ‘negative side’, the prolonged US-EU economic crises has limited trade and investment growth and encouraged greater Latin American integration and expansion of regional markets.

A serious threat to Latin America’s growth, autonomy and stability is found in the US currency devaluation and subsequent overvaluing of Latin currencies (especially Brazil) imposing constraints on industrial exports and prejudicing the manufacturing sector. Equally important US and EU manipulation of interest rates – downward – has driven speculative capital toward higher interest rates in Latin America, creating destabilizing “bubbles” which can derail the economies.

US Empire Strikes Back: Protectionism, Devaluation and Unilateralism

By the middle of 2010 it was clear that the US economy was losing the competitive battle for markets around the world and was unable to reduce its trade and fiscal deficit within the existing global free trade regime. The Obama regime, led by Federal Reserve head Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Geithner unilaterally launched a thinly disguised trade war, effectively devaluing the dollar and lowering interest rates on bonds in order to increase exports and in effect ‘overvalue’ the currency of their competitors.

In other words the Obama regime resorted to a virile “bugger your neighbor policies”, which outraged world economic leaders, provoking Brazilian economic leaders to speak of a “currency war”. Contrary to Washington’s rhetoric of “greater co-operation”, the Obama regime was resorting to protectionist policies designed to alienate the leading economic powers in the region.

No longer in a position to impose non-reciprocal trade agreements to US advantage, Washington is engaged in currency manipulation in order to increase market shares at the expense of the highly competitive emerging economies of Latin America and Asia, as well as Germany.

Equally prejudicial to Latin America, the Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates leads to heavy borrowing in the US in order to speculate in high interest countries like Brazil. The consequences are disastrous, as a flood of “hot money”, speculative funds flow into Latin America, especially Brazil, overvaluing the currency and provoking a speculative bubble in bonds and real estate, while encouraging excess liquidity and public and private consumer debt.

Equally damaging the overvalued currencies price industrial and manufacturing out of world market competition, threatening to “de-industrialize” the economies and further their dependency on agro-mineral exports. US resort to unilateral protectionism tells us that the decline in US economic power has reached a point where it struggles to compete with Latin America rather than to reassert its former dominant position.

Protectionism is a defense mechanism of an empire in decline. While Washington can pretend otherwise, the weapons it chooses to arrest its loss of competitiveness in the short run, sets in motion a process of growing Latin America integration and increased trade with Asian economies, which will deepen Latin America’s economic independence from US control.

Latin America’s Center-Left and the US: Economic Ties Trump Geopolitical Strategies

The consolidation of Latin America’s center-left regimes has had major consequences for US policy, namely a reconciliation between arch-adversary Venezuela and Washington’s foremost ally, Colombia. The power of the market, in this case over $4 billion in Colombian exports to Venezuela, has trumped the dubious advantage (if any) of being Washington’s military launching pad in Latin America.

The election of Lula’s chosen candidate Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil, the likely re-election of Chavez in Venezuela and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina, means that Washington has little leverage to reverse the dynamic diversification and greater autonomy of Latin America’s leading economies.

Moreover, as the political rapprochement between Venezuela and Colombia, including the mutual extradition of Colombian guerrillas and drug traffickers demonstrates, closer economic relations are accompanied by warmer political relations, including a tacit pact in which Colombia abjures from supporting the rightwing opposition in Venezuela, while the latter does likewise toward the Left opposition to Santos.

The larger meaning of this obscuring of ideological boundaries is that Latin America’s economic integration advances at the expense of US prompted ideological divisions. The net result will be the further exclusion and diminution of the US as the dominant actor in the Southern Hemisphere. At the same time it should be remembered that we are writing about greater capitalist integration, which means the continued marginalization of class based trade unions and social movements from strategic economic policy making positions.

In other words, the decline of US hegemony is not matched by an increase in working class or popular power. As both decline, the big winner is the rising business class, mostly, but not exclusively the agro-mineral, financial and manufacturing elites linked to the Latin American and Asian markets.

The prime destabilization danger now includes US currency wars, the growing potentially volatile extractive exports and the high levels of dependence on China’s (and Asian) appetite for raw materials.
Imperial Wars, Free Trade and the Lumpen Legacy of 1990’s

One of the paradoxes leading to the current eclipse of US hegemony in Latin America is found in the very military and economic successes in the 1990’s. A broad swathe of North and Central American and the Andean countries has witnessed the rise of what we call “lumpen political-economic power” which has devastated the formal economy and legitimate political authority.

The concept of “lumpen” is derived from ‘lupus’ or Latin for ‘wolf’ a metaphor for a ‘predatory’ actor, or in our context, the rise of a political and economic class which preys upon the public and private resources and institutions of an economy and society. The lumpen power elites are based on the creation of a dual system of legitimate and illegitimate political authority backed by the instruments of coercion and violence.

The emergence and formation of a powerful lumpen class of predatory capitalists and their accompanying military entourage is what we refer to in writing of the “process of lumpenization”. Today “lumpenization” no longer merely entails the overt violent organizers of illicit production, processing and distribution of drugs but an entire array of ‘offspring’ economic activity (kidnapping, immigrant smugglers, etc.) as well as large scale long term interaction with ‘legitimate’ economic institutions and sectors, including banking, real estate, agriculture, retail shopping centers, tourist complexes, to name a few.

Money laundering of illicit funds is an important growth sector, especially providing important flows of capital to and from major US and Latin American financial institutions. Today over three-quarters of Mexico’s territory and governance is contested by over 30,000 organized armed lumpen led by centralized political-economic formations. Central America is a major transit point, production center and terrain for bloody lumpen struggles for power and revenue collection.

Colombia is the major center for ‘raw material production’of drugs, marketing,and import and export center under the leadership of powerful lumpen capitalists with long standing ties to the governing political, military and economic elite. The lumpen economy has supply chains further south in Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay and distribution networks through Venezuela and Brazil as well as multi-billion dollar money laundering and financial links in the Caribbean, the US, Uruguay and Argentina.

Several important issues to keep in mind in discussing the lumpen political economy.These include: (1)the growth in size, scope and significance over the past 20 years (2) the increasing economic importance as the ‘legitimate’ economy goes into crises (both cause and consequence) (3) the increasing public cynicism as previously thought of “legitimate” economic and political actors (capitalists) engage in multi-billion dollar financial swindles and are “bailed” out by political leaders.

The ‘boom’ in lumpen political-economic growth can be dated to the end of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, coinciding with several major historical events in the region.

These include: the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement; the US-oligarchy defeat of the revolutionary movements in Central America and the demobilization but not disarmament of the paramilitary and armed militia; the total militarization and paramilitarization of Colombia especially with the advent of Plan Colombia (2001) and the end of peace negotiations; the deregulation of the US financial system in the mid 1990’s and the growth of a financial bubble economy.

What is striking about all the countries and regions experiencing ‘deep lumpenization’, is the profound disarticulation of their economies and smashing of their social fabric due to free trade agreements with the US (Mexico and Central America) and the large scale US military intervention during their civil wars (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia).

The US politico-military intervention left millions without work and worse, destroyed the possibility of reformist or revolutionary political alliances coming to power and carrying out meaningful structural changes.

The restoration of US backed neo-liberal-militarist collaborator regimes left the young unemployed peasants and workers with three choices: (1)submit to degradation and poverty (2) emigrate to North America or Europe (3) join one or another of the narco-trafficking organizations, as a risky but lucrative route out of poverty.

The timing of the rise and dynamic growth of lumpen power coincides with the imposition of US free trade and political victories in the aforementioned regions. From the early 1990’s forward lumpen power spreads across the region fueled by NAFTA decimating the Mexican small producers and the US imposed Central American “peace accords” which effectively destroyed the chances of socio-economic change and dismantled but did not disarm the militias and paramilitary gunmen.

Case Studies of Lumpen Dual Power: Mexico

Mexico, unlike the other major economies of Latin America did not experience any popular upheavals or center-left electoral outcomes during the late 1990’s or early 2000. Unlike Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, in which new center-left regimes came to power imposing regulatory controls on financial speculation, Mexico witnessed electoral fraud and signed off on NAFTA, deepening its ties to Wall Street. As a result it experienced a series of financial shocks, undermining its capacity to launch a more diversified trading and investment model.

Unlike Argentina which launched state directed employment generating investment policies, Mexico, under US tutelage, relied on emigration and overseas remittances to compensate for the loss of millions of jobs in agriculture , small and medium manufacturing activity and retail sales.

While popular uprisings and mobilization in Latin America led to the rise of center-left regimes capable of securing greater independence in economic policy from the US and the IMF, the Mexican elite literally stole elections in 1988 and 2006, blocking the possibility of an alternative model. It successfully repressed alternative peasant movements in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero unlike the successes in Bolivia and Ecuador.

While the center-left regimes captured the economic surplus from the agro-mineral sectors and increased public and private investment in production and social spending, Mexico witnessed massive illegal and legal outflows of investments into speculative ventures in the US: an outflow of over $55 billion between 2006-2010.

Regional migration within Latin America fueled by high growth, led to rising income; overseas immigration depleted Mexico of skilled and unskilled labor; in some cases ‘return migration’ from the US of deported gang members, with arms and drug networks fueled the growth of lumpen power . With the severe recession, US immigration policy led to the closing of the border, the massive deportation of Mexican immigrants and the decline of the major source of foreign earnings: remittances.

Pervasive and deep corruption throughout the cupula of the Mexican political and economic system, combined with the decline of the legitimate economy, the absence of channels for popular redress and Washington’s insistence that militarization and not social investments was the solution to rising crime, led to the huge influx of young recruits to the growing network of lumpen-capitalist directed narco enterprises.

With almost all US and Mexican financial institutions and arms vendors as willing partners and an unlimited pool of young recruits with a ‘lean and hungry look’, Mexico evolved into a fiercely contested terrain between a half dozen rival lumpen organizations,and the Mexican military, with nearly 30,000 deaths between 2006-2010.

Lumpenization: Central America

Drug gangs dominate the streets of the major cities and countryside of all the countries which were militarized during the US backed counter-revolutionary wars between the 1960’s to early 1990’s. US proxy military dictators and their civilian clients, in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras decimated civil society and particularly the mass popular organizations.

In El Salvador over 75,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were uprooted, driven across borders or into urban shanty towns.

In Guatemala over 200,000 mostly Mayan Indians were murdered by the US trained “special forces” and over 450 villages were obliterated in the course of a scorched earth policy.

In Nicaragua, the Somoza dictatorship and the subsequent US financed and trained counter-revolutionary (“contra”) mercenary army killed and maimed close to 100,000 people and devastated the economy.

In Honduras, the US embassy promoted and financed in-country and cross-border counter-insurgency operations which killed, uprooted and forced thousands of Honduran peasants into exile.

Highly militarized Central American societies, in which US funded and armed death squads murdered with impunity, in which the economy of small producers was shattered and ‘normal’ market activity was subject to military assaults, led to the growth of illegal crops, drug and people smuggling. With the so-called “peace agreements”, the leaders of the insurgents became “institutionalized”in elite electoral politics,while large numbers of unemployed ex-guerrillas and demobilized death squad militia members found no place in the status quo.

The neo-liberal order imposed by the US client rulers with its free market ideology built “fortress neighborhoods”, hired an army of private “security” guards, while the productive bases of small scale agriculture was destroyed. Millions of Central Americans faced the familiar “routes out of poverty”: outmigration, forming or joining criminal gangs, or attempting to find an economic niche in an unpromising environment.

Outmigration for semi-educated former members of armed bands led to their early entrée into armed groups, deportation back to Central America, swelling the ranks of narco traffickers in their “home country”. Highly repressive immigration policies implemented in the new millennium closed the escape valve for most Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty.

Former guerrilla fighters and their families, abandoned by their former leaders embedded in electoral parties, turned their military experience toward carving a new living, as security guards for the rich, or as armed traffickers competing for ‘market shares’ with and against the discharged deathsquad militia members.

Between 2000-2010, the annual number of homicides exceeded the number of deaths suffered during the worst period of the civil wars of the 1980s. US imposed peace agreements and the neo-liberal order which resulted, led to the total lumpenization of the economy and polity throughout the region, the practice of electoral politics and even the election of “center-left” politicos in El Salvador and Nicaragua notwithstanding.

Lumpenization was a direct consequence of the ‘scorched earth’ and ‘mass uprooting’ counter-insurgency policies which were central to US re-establishing dominance in the region. Economic and personal insecurity and social misery were the price paid by imperial Washington to prevent a popular revolution.

Case Study: Colombia

The ties between the world centers of finance and the most degenerate and blood curdling ruler in the Western Hemisphere were most evident in the slavishly laudatory puff-pieces published in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal in praise of President Alvaro Uribe, while over 3 million Colombians were driven off their lands, several thousands were murdered, over a thousand trade unionists, journalists and human rights activists were killed.

Two thirds of his Congressional backers were financed by narco-traffickers. Incarcerated deathsquad leaders identified top military officials as their primary supporters. All of Colombia’s Presidents collaborated closely with US military missions and all were financed and associated with the multi-billion dollar drug cartels, even as the Pentagon claimed to be engaged in a “war against drug trafficking”.

Landlords and their financial and real estate backers organized private militias, which terrorized, uprooted and killed hundreds of thousands of peasants, others fled to the urban slums, or across the border to neighboring countries. Others joined the guerrillas, and still others were recruited by the death squads and military.

With the advance of the guerrilla armies and then President Pastrana’s opening to peace negotiations, President Clinton launched a $5 billion dollar military scheme, “Plan Colombia” to quadruple Colombia’s air and ground forces and deathsquads.

With Washington’s backing, Alvaro Uribe, a notorious narco-deathsquad politico, so identified by US officials, took power and launched a massive scorched earth policy, murdering and displacing millions of peasants and urban slum dwellers in an effort to undermine the vast network of community organizations sympathetic to the agrarian reform, public investment and anti-military program of the guerrilla movements.

Mass terror and population flight emptied whole swathes of the countryside; livelihoods were destroyed and landlords in alliance with drug cartel bosses and Generals seized millions of acres of land. For the financial and respectable mass media, the massification of terror mattered not: the insurgents were ‘contained’, driven back, put on the defensive. They trumpeted the killing of key guerrilla leaders: foreign corporate property was secure.

Rule by Uribe, the military and the narco-death squads secured US power and influence and created an ideal “jumping off” location for destabilizing the democratically elected Venezuelan President Chavez. The latter was especially important by the mid 2000’s when Washington’s internal assets attempted coup and lockout were resoundingly defeated in 2002-03.

Having gained strategic territorial advantage over the guerrillas, Washington in collaboration with Uribe moved to shift the balance of power between the narco-deathsquads and the state: a disarmament and demobilization and amnesty was proclaimed. The result was detailed revelations of the deep structural links between narco-deathsquads and the Uribe police state regime, up to and including family members and cabinet ministers.

While ‘nominally’ the cartels are in retreat, in fact, they have become decentralized .Equally important top politicos and military officials continue to collaborate in the production, processing and shipping of billion dollar cocaine exports … with major US banks laundering illicit funds.

Rule of Lumpen-Capitalism in the Imperial System

Drug trafficking has deep roots in the economies of North and South America and has profound ramifications throughout their societies. One cannot understand the tremendous growth of US banking and financial centers if not for the $25 to $50 billion dollar yearly income and transfers from laundering drug funds and double that amount from illegal money transfers by business and political leaders directly and indirectly benefiting from the drug trade.

Lumpen capitalists, their collaborators, facilitators paramilitary mercenaries and military partners play a major political role in sustaining the imperial system. Washington’s major influence and principle area of dominance resides in those countries where lumpen power and deathsquad operations are most prevalent, namely Central America, Colombia and Mexico.

Both phenomena are derived from US designed ‘scorched earth’ counter-insurgency strategies that prevented alterations, modifications or reforms of the neo-liberal order and blocked the successful emergence of social movements and center-left regimes as took place in most of Latin America.

The contemporary imperial system relies on lumpen capitalists, their economic networks and military formations in practically every major area of conflict even as these collaborators are constant areas of friction.

As in Afghanistan and Iraq today and in Central America in the recent past and in Latin America under the military dictatorships, the US relies on drug traffickers, military gangsters engaged in extortion, kidnapping, property seizures and the pillage of public property and treasury to destroy popular movements, to divide and conquer communities and above all to terrorize the general public and civil society.

The singular growth of the financial sector especially in the US is in part the result of its being the massive recipient of large scale sustained flows of ‘plunder capital’ by lumpen rulers and their economic partners via ‘political crony’ privatizations, foreign loans which never entered the local economy and other such forms of pillage characteristic of ‘predator’ classes.

The deep structural affinities between Wall Street speculators and Latin lumpen-capitalists provided the backdrop for the ascendancy of a new class of lumpen financiers in the imperial financial centers: bogus bonds, mortgage swindles, falsified assessments by stock ratings agencies, trillion dollar raids on state treasuries define the heart and soul of contemporary imperialism.

If it is true that the promotion and financing of lumpen warlord capitalists was an essential defense mechanism at the periphery of the empire to contain popular insurgencies, it is also true that the growth of lumpen capitalism severely weakened the very core of the imperial economy, namely its productive and export sectors leading to uncontrollable deficits, out of control speculative bubbles and massive and sustained reductions of living standards and incomes.

Lumpen classes were both the agencies for consolidating the empire and its undoing: tactical gains at the periphery led to strategic losses in the imperial centers. Imperial policymakers resort to terrorist formations resulted from their incapacity to resolve internal contradictions within a legal, electoral framework.

The high domestic political cost of long term warfare led inevitably to the recruitment of mercenary lumpen armies who extracted an economic tribute for questionable loyalty. Lacking any popular constituency, mercenary armies rely on terror to secure circumstantial submission. Having secured control, local warlords preside over the rapid and massive growth of drugs and other lumpen economic practices.

The alliance of empire and lumpen capitalists against modern secular and traditional insurgencies, brings together high technology weaponry and primitive clan based religious-ethnic racists in Iraq and Afghanistan and deracinated psychopaths in the case of Colombia, Mexico and Central America.

For Washington military and political supremacy and territorial conquests take priority over economic gain. In the case of Colombia the scorched earth policy undermined production and lucrative trade with Venezuela. Imperial ascendancy had similar consequences in Asia, the Middle East and Central America.

When Lumpen Power becomes a Problem for the Imperial State

Lumpen capitalism develops a dynamic of its own, independent of its role as an imperial instrument for destroying popular insurgency. It challenges imperial collaborator regimes. It displaces, threatens, or cajoles foreign and domestic capitalists. In the extreme, it establishes a private army, seizes territorial control, recruits and trains networks of intelligence agents within the armed forces and police, undermining imperial influence.

In a word lumpen organized military capitalism threatens the security of imperial hegemony: newly emerging predators threaten the established collaborators. The imperial attempts to use and dispose of lumpen counterinsurgency forces has failed; the demobilized paras become the professional gunmen of a “third force” – neither imperial nor insurgent.

The decimation of the reformist center-left option, which took hold in Latin America, precludes a socio-economic alternative capable of integrating the young combative unemployed, stimulating the productive economy, diversifying markets and escaping the pitfalls of a US centered neo-liberal order.

The divergence of priorities and strategies between Latin America’s center-left and Washington has as much to do with economic and class interests as it has with ideological agendas. For the US security means defeating the rising power of lumpen military economic formations in their remaining ‘power bases’. For Latin America, security concerns are secondary to diversifying and boosting market shares within Latin America and overseas.

Lumpen power is currently under the political control of domestic rulers in Latin America; it is out of control in US clients. The US solution is military; the Latin approach is greater growth; social expenditures and police repression especially in Brazil. The Latin solution has greater attraction, evident in Colombia’s break with the US military base and encirclement strategy toward Venezuela. Colombia’s new President opted for $8 billion dollar trade deals with Venezuela’s Chavez over and against costly million dollar military base agreements with the US.

Clearly the US economic decline in Latin America as a direct result of its reliance on military and lumpen power, is in full force. The driving force of accelerated decline is not popular insurgency but the attraction and lucrative opportunities of the economic marketplace within Latin America and beyond for the local ruling classes. Insofar as militarism defines the policies and strategies of the US Empire there is no remedy for the challenges of lumpen power in its ‘backyard’. And Washington has nothing on offer to recapture a dominant presence in Latin America.

The world market is defeating the empire. Latin America’s twenty-first century capitalists are leading the way to further decline in imperial power.

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An Examination of the Frog Extinction Epidemic

Repost from the old site.

Although many factors are involved in this epidemic, one of the worst is the Chytrid fungus epidemic. It is being spread by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes chytridiomycosis. This fungal disease is devastating frog populations all over the world, but particularly in Australia, and North, Central and South America.

The devastation in Central America has been particularly acute, with many species simply vanishing from the face of the Earth. Bd is just now spreading here in the US, with serious devastation of Sierra Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog populations in the Sierra Nevada. However, some populations are apparently surviving the epidemic with some some survivors intact and thereupon rebuilding their populations.

A paper in Nature (Pounds 2006) made the case that the chytrid epidemic was being driven by global warming. They suggested that Bd had always been there but had only become pathogenic in the face of global warming.

A new paper (Lips 2008) in the journal PLoS Biology challenged that theory with some interesting data. I did not read the Pounds paper, but the Lips paper was quite convincing.

Their argument is rather simple. If Bd had always been there, it would not show a spread rate typical of a spreading disease epidemic. Instead, it would tend to erupt in all places at once.

Lips’ team showed first of all that Bd had not always been in the environment, that is, it was not an endemic. It appears to have escaped from an Australian lab around 1970 and from there spread through Australia. From Australia, it made its way to the Americas.

We can see several places where it seems to have been introduced, and we can plot the years of introduction on a map. So Bd is acting like an invasive alien species.

Bd appears in Costa Rica in 1987 and then heads south to Panama. It seems to be following mountain ranges there too. The number of species lost in Costa Rica is very large.

Bd spread in South America following two introductions, one in 1977 and one in 1980. The 1980 Ecuadorian introduction heads both north and south along the Andes. The 1977 Venezuelan introduction heads south along the Andes. For some reason, Bd in South America is sticking to the Andes.

This is precisely how we would expect an epidemic following an introduction by an alien species to operate – a geographical spread from a point of introduction with a rate of spread in miles per year. Furthermore, the testing of many specimens in museums failed to find Bd in any of them prior to 1977. This suggests strongly that Bd is an invasive alien fungus that was not present in the environment before.

An alternative hypothesis was not tested but did occur to me: That even though Bd was an alien exotic invasive fungus spreading after accidental introduction, global warming had somehow made Bd much more lethal to frogs. I can’t figure out a way to test that hypothesis, and I guess none of the researchers are considering it. The Pounds team is sticking to their guns on this one, but I think that they are wrong.

It’s a good mind exercise to read academic science journal articles that test scientific hypotheses against competing hypotheses. It’s hard to read that stuff, but if you can get through it somehow, personally I find these brain puzzles to be a lot of fun. If you see learning as virtually a sensual activity as I do, this kind of stuff is almost as fun as a vacation, sports, sex or any other other purely sensual activity.

Learning and thinking is actually a blast, to me anyway. Try it sometime!

References

Lips, Karen R., Diffendorfer, Jay, Mendelson III, Joseph R., Sears, Michael W. 2008. Riding the Wave: Reconciling the Roles of Disease and Climate Change in Amphibian Declines. PLoS Biology 6:3.

Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, et al. 2006. Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature 39: 161–167.

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Sexmaniacman Praises Sex Crimes

Repost from the old site.

Sexmaniacman kept reading the news in the papers and on the Net, and could not believe his eyes anymore.

A US diplomat goes to Brazil and “molests” some “little girls” aged 14-17, which Sexmaniacman assumed is perfectly legal in Brazil. He comes back to the US and gets arrested on “pedophile” charges.

A gay man “molests” a 15-year-old gay “little boy” prostitute in the Philippines, comes home to the US, and is arrested and labeled “pedophile”. His arrest is uncovered when he goes to work for a local politician and his career is shot.

A local US mayor with long hair and a beard like a ZZ Top musician “molests” a 15-year-old “little girl”. He’s sentenced to prison and reviled by a town who hopes he stays away for a long time.

Roman Polanski gives a 13-year-old girl a Quaalude long ago, “molests” her, flees the phony prosecution for the sanity of France, where he remains to this day.

Mark Foley does little more than talk dirty to some “little boy” pages aged 16-17 (some of whom apparently enjoyed it), never touches any of them even once, and is labeled “pedophile”.

In the UK, a father takes pictures of his kids on a slide in the park and insane irate mothers order him to stop taking pictures, and when he refuses, they go to the cops. Obviously he’s a child molester. Whoops. He’s just a father taking pics of his own kids.

Sexmaniacman looks at all the “pedophiles” above and cheers them on, despite the hysteria, although he thinks Mark Foley was an idiot. Sexmaniacman figures that if these guys want to have sex with teenagers, that’s their business. Sexmaniacman realizes it’s illegal, and he hopes he won’t do it himself, but he can’t see it as a sin.

We’re in the midst of madness. Child Molester Mass Hysteria, to be precise.

Sexmaniacman did lots of “molesting”, and had lots of fun, back in the day. He was 18, 19 and 20, and the women and “little girls” never stopped coming. The females were all ages, but plenty were 14, 15, 16 and 17. He had sex with them all, and then he got up in the morning and did it some more. He’s proud of it to this very day. Nowadays, he’d be a “pedophile” for doing that. Back in the day, it was just good times.

Sexmaniacman had some “pedophile” friends. One was 28 years old, had a 16-yr-old “little girl” girlfriend, and “molested” her regularly.

Sexmaniacman cheered his friend on for this dastardly “pedophile” episode.

Sexmaniacman had another friend, Killerdude. He was 29 years old, and they were over at Killerdude’s Mom’s house getting high as kites and laughing their asses off. Killerdude’s little sister’s 15-yr-old girlfriend walked out of the bedroom and out the front door, waving goodbye. Killerdude confided to Sexmaniacman that he had just had sex with that “little girl” the other day.

His sister had approached Killerdude, said her friend wanted to have sex with him, and would he do it? He obviously obliged. What else could he do but “molest” her, right?

Sexmaniacman approved, and cheered his “pedophile” friend on.

Sexmaniacman gave up on the young girls when he turned 21. After that, they needed to be 18. In dubious cases, he even asked for ID.

Sexmaniacman read a pdf on the Net about Costa Rica. There are all kinds of American men down there having all sorts of sex fun with girls and women. In Costa Rica, a girl is a woman at age 13.

So you could say that Costa Rica is just a nation of sex perverts and child molesting sick fucks, and the whole country needs to be arrested. The males all need prison or castration or preferably both, and the females all need lifetime therapy for “getting molested”.

Sexmaniacman cheers on Costa Rica in their freedom of choice and thumbing their nose at Child Molester Mass Hysteria.

There are men down there, American men, the pdf said, older guys, and some are having sex with underage girls. It didn’t really give ages, but the implication was they were 14-17 years old. The guys were also doing it with women. They were just screwing anything, like any real man does if he gets a chance. The Costa Ricans wouldn’t do anything about it because they didn’t think it was a crime.

Sexmaniacman cheered them on, all of them, the American men doing this, the Costa Ricans for shrugging their shoulders, and the girls for having a good time. He didn’t think he would want to go to Costa Rica, or any foreign land, and do it himself, since teenage girls hardly interested him much anymore, but he didn’t care if another guy did.

The idiots in the US government, egged on by the Child Molester Mass Hysteria sweeping the land, passed a weird and retarded law. Only women and pussy-whipped married men would ever pass such a bitchy law, but pass it did.

It bizarrely extended the purview of US law overseas! If an American man of any age goes to a foreign land and has sex with a girl or boy who is 17 years and 11 months old or younger, he goes down on US child molesting laws!

Although at first it would seem that US law should never extend to crimes committed in foreign lands, which are properly the purview of those foreign lands, Sexmaniacman realized that this happened for a reason.

Actual Western pedophiles were going to Philippines, Thailand and other places and having sex with really young kids, because it was more or less legal over there, and the locals didn’t care. In order to put a stop to this, the US and Western Europe passed some laws to bust pedos when they went overseas to molest little kids.

Otherwise, Western pedos would run around the world seeking out 3rd World hellholes where no one cared about pedo stuff, and dollars shut up everyone. In order to put a stop to this, anti-pedo laws were passed in the West extending Western law to other nations.

Sexmaniacman thought long and hard about this, and finally decided that this was really weird and legally obtuse, but still unfortunately right and proper in the case of Westerners having sex with actual little kids, but not with teenagers.

One thing Sexmaniacman bemoaned with the coming of Child Molester Mass Hysteria was the extinction of statutory rape, a perfectly valid category, and its blurring with actual pedophilia with young kids. Child Molester Mass Hysteria came to America, and quickly, a 17-yr-old girl and a 9-yr-old girl were the same thing. They were both “children”, and those of all ages who had sex fun with them were all sick evil pedo fucks.

Even teenage boys were going down on these sissy, bitchy pedo laws for the crime of proving their manliness by sticking it to their teenage girlfriends. It was as if Iraq or Iran had come to the USA. A 13-yr-old boy and his girl have some sex fun, videotape it on cell phones and pass it around. The boy, but not the girl, goes down on charges of distributing child pornography. Just as the feminazi bitches would have it.

The anti-pedo laws, the blurring of teenage sex fun with sick child sex, the idiot wind attacking virile teenage boys and young men – they were all part of the war American women and girls were waging on real American men and boys. The bitches’ wormboy boyfriends, vaginized male allies and pussy-whipped husbands defending the chastity of teenage daughters – they were all behind this bullshit too.

Real American men and testosterone-charged American boys, the few that were left, should have stood up to this attack on manliness, but they were too scared of the pedo charge to speak up.

Millions of vaginized males and girlymen all over America stood up alongside their pants-wearing, hysterical girlfriends and wives, screeching defense of the fake honor of hymenless 17-yr-old girls all over our fair land.

There were some serious issues here. Sexmaniacman had to agree. What was to be done?

You couldn’t exactly legalize sex between adults and teens all the way down to age 14 or so. Otherwise you would have guys 40 and 50 walking down the street in broad daylight with their 15-yr-old girlfriends in tow. Sexmaniacman decided that that would not do.

How’s about we went back to the old days, Sexmaniacman suggested?

Two laws.

One called statutory rape, judiciously prosecuted against egregious cases of sex between men and girls and gay boys 14-17. Another, child molesting, for sex between adults and girls and boys under the age of 14.

Overseas, clearly there was a national interest in the West to stop pedos from heading to SE Asia to have sex with little kids. If the Thais won’t stop it, doggone it, we will. Sexmaniacman nodded his approval.

But Sexmaniacman could see no national interest in busting a Western man of any age for messing with a teenage girl in some sweltering foreign land. That was beyond absurd.

Child porn. Sexmaniacman pondered the very phrase, and lately did so frequently, and he didn’t even feel guilty. He loved to think about child porn, since it offered so many legal and philosophical quandaries.

Child porn! The phrase alone drove Americans to paroxysms of madness.

It actually posed a most difficult case, Sexmaniacman noted. To merely look at the stuff was a crime. Child porn was on the Net, and you could find it if you really, really tried. Could you stumble upon it? Highly dubious.

Sexmaniacman felt that in analogy, child porn seemed like the case of a book in a library. It sat on a special shelf called the Internet Shelf. The book was out there in plain view, but there were signs next to it saying DO NOT LOOK AT THIS BOOK! ILLEGAL! LOCAL ORDINANCE BLA BLA BLA! Now and again, some maniac thrillseeker would grab the book and sneak a glance at a few pages.

They would almost always be caught, and the police would haul them away. They would be bashed in the press and their communities as sickos for looking at a book in the library, and their careers and lives would be ruined.

Although this scenario seems absurd, Sexmaniacman realized that that’s pretty much how it is with child porn. It’s out there on the Net, but if you look at it, you’re going to prison. It has to be just about one of the only things on Earth, Sexmaniacman noted, that, if you look at it, you go to prison. Think about it, real hard. Anything else illegal to steal a glance at? Anyone?

Sexmaniacman pondered the weird legal and philosophical arguments for why looking at something , say, child porn, or anything, really, should be illegal:

Child porn is the portrayal of a crime.

Therefore, when you look at it, you violate the kid’s privacy. Ok, but the kid has no idea you looked at their pic. Sexmaniacman felt it was impossible to argue that by stealing a glance at their porn pic, you have psychically harmed this kid via telepathy.

Furthermore, Sexmaniacman pointed out that there are all sorts of videos out on the Net that depict crimes, sometimes homicides. You can even find them on this blog. Should those not be illegal too? After all, they portray a crime, no? Or should they be allowed because the victims are dead and can’t be harmed anymore?

When you look at child porn, you create a market for it, and that makes producers abuse more kids.

Well, ok, Sexmaniacman nodded. But once again, the criminal appears to be the person who made the child porn, not some guy looking at a picture.

What about trafficking? Sexmaniacman agreed this was a tough one. Here things get more dicey. Now you are actually making money off kids getting molested. He noted that this is getting quite close to actual harm, but there are still some problems.

Sexmaniacman offered up the scenario of the stuff being traded back and forth by pedos for free. No profit is involved, but Sexmaniacman figured we can’t really legalize it, can we? If we did, child porn trading sites would open up all over the web, and probably those who make the stuff would create more of it. Sexmaniacman felt that society had an interest in preventing that.

No matter that merely looking at the stuff constituted quite a bizarre sort of crime. Sexmaniacman offered up, “What if we acted logical and said it was legal to look at the stuff, but not to peddle it?” But then he noted that child porn sites would pop up all over the web, just for folks to “look at”. Society clearly has an interest in preventing that.

As far as the Internet goes, Sexmaniacman felt that probably the present state of affairs is the best. Child porn is quite illegal, hence it is extremely difficult to find, although with enough effort and hours of searching by savvy Net users, it’s surely out there. So child porn is rare and very hard to find. It’s almost impossible to stumble upon it by accident. This is probably the way it ought to be, he agreed.

Sexmaniacman pointed out that if we allowed folks to look at it, websites would sprout up all over, and hundreds of thousands or millions of people would be looking at the stuff, just like they are feasting on all the other shock stuff out there. And that didn’t seem right to Sexmaniacman.

Sexmaniacman bemoaned the fact that child porn, child molesting and statutory rape are subjects that are banned from polite conversation, and frankly all conversation, in today’s Idiot America. The only talk allowed about these subjects is to rant about how we want to castrate the sick fucks who “molest”. No problem ever got solved by not talking about it, or only talking stupid about it.

Just to piss people off and make them hate him more than they already did, Sexmaniacman deliberately brought up these subjects, especially in public, just to watch the freakouts and hard stares.

Despite the fact that hardly anyone was talking sensibly about this sick stuff but Sexmaniacman, he noted that these areas opened up a lot of interesting philosophical and legal dilemmas that do not have easy answers.

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