Somewhere in Northern Spain, Oct. 16, 2011 –- Yesterday saw the world protest against the rule – note, not role, but rule – of banks in the “Democratic” world.
A couple of things to note: Capitalism has joined Communism as a dead form of government. Capitalism requires economic growth of at least 3% a year to continue the growth of demand that fuels production and profit. In a world of limits which we are only now beginning to experience, capitalism is impossible; because even if demand for oil, top soil, water, accommodating climate, etc., expands – which with the current rate of population growth, it most certainly will – the resources are no longer there to meet the increased demand.
Economist Kenneth Boulding, an English-born American recognized several this decades ago when he noted sardonically that “anyone who believes exponential growth can on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
‘Bye, bye, capitalism.
What will replace it?
Nobody knows; but that’s what the protests yesterday in the major cities of 87 nations around the globe were all about, whether the protesters knew it or not.
And that’s what Occupy Wall Street is all about, whether the young heroes and heroines who are bringing it into being know it or not.
There is less of everything to go around, and what may have been “banks’ fair share” in a world of plenty – although giving them even the benefit of that doubt is dubious -- now becomes fat cats’ preserve when in the United States, the “holy see” of capitalism, 15% of the population – 46.2 million people, including a third of those who grew up in the middle class – are now floundering below the poverty line.
At the same time, the U.S. government, first under Bush, then under Obama, has granted hundreds of billions of dollars in bail-out money to banks, which in turn have handed over millions of dollars in bonuses to their porker executives, who “Occupy Wall Street” contend are the ones who landed us in this sinking boat in the first place.
That’s why millions of people are pissed off: nice, polite, respectable people – college students, college grads, young people who grew up in the middle class and now find themselves unable to feed and clothe themselves and their families on the McDonald’s wages that are the only thing available. And how much longer even that will be around with fewer and fewer unemployed people able to afford even a Big Mac is anybody’s guess.
On my U.S. Social Security income of slightly less than $ 1100 a month, I, too, would be well below the poverty line if I lived in the U.S. But because I live in a small northern Spanish city where I can walk everywhere; where my upscale, comfortable apartment costs about $ 240 a month; where the heart meds which even on Social Security would me back close to $ 200 a month in America set me back only about $ 20 a month; and where I buy good, substantial food for about $ 120 a month, I live comfortably on my SS pension.
I’m even able to save $ 200-$ 300 a month – when I don’t send it to boyfriends who are living in even worse economies like Ukraine and Moldova.
In Rome, Georgia, where I lived last summer with my friends Bob and Jeanette -- hardly upscale New York or Chicago -- the incredible distances to stores made it impossible to live without a car. Adding costs of gasoline, licenses, pollution inspection, insurance, and repairs to the initial cost of the car, I would be broke if I lived in the U.S. even before I started paying rent and buying food and clothes.
And that’s typical of most of America. Congressional hearings in the mid-70s generated the jaw-dropping testimony that Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John D. Rockefeller joined forces to covertly destroy public transportation in the U.S. early in the 20th century so that Americans would be forced to buy cars, tires, and gasoline.
So these American industrial “heroes” are in large part responsible for the poverty that one out of six Americans suffers today.
I also learn from research reported on the Internet that 6% of the 72.9 million hourly-paid Americans earned wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour in 2010.
I also find that Social Security is keeping about 20.3 million old farts like me out of poverty.
And now Republicans are trying to destroy Social Security as a “hand-out” to the poor. I’ve got news for them. It ain’t no handout. Lord knows how much money I paid into this insurance program over the half century I was a wage earner – less than I will get out of it if I live as long as I hope to, but still a hell of a lot.
The number of Americans who lack access to basic necessities like food and health care is now higher than it was at the peak of the Great Recession, a survey released last Thursday found.
When I was a youngster, an often-heard admonition to kids who wouldn’t eat their vegetables (not me; I grew up in Iowa farm poverty and ate everything I could get my hands on) was: “Eat your beans. Remember the starving children of China.” But now a Gallup survey finds that the share of Americans struggling to put food on the table is three times as large as the share of the Chinese population in the same position!
What has happened?
In 1978, “to the laughter of many and the derision of a few,” he writes today, an East Indian dude named Ravi Batra published a book called, "The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism," in which he predicted that Soviet communism would vanish around the end of the 20th century, and that “crony or monopoly capitalism would create the worst-ever concentration of wealth in its history, so much so that a social revolution would start its demise around 2010.”
We saw the fall of Soviet style communism in 1989, and today, a year after 2010, we are seeing the groundswell of world anger at the “crony capitalism” that Batra predicted.
It is also instructive to note that Lech Walesa, the “solidarity” Polish labor leader and free-market capitalist who precipitated the downfall of Soviet communism when he led his Polish shipyard labor union in a successful protest against the Soviet occupation of Poland, has announced he is flying to New York to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“How could I not respond?” the 68-year-old hero told a Polish newspaper last Wednesday. "The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is something I understand.
"Capitalism is in crisis and not just in America,” he told the Lublin-based Dziennik Wschodni, "This is a worldwide problem. The Wall Street protesters have focused a magnifying glass on (it)."
What else has been happening to change my world? Well, for starters, my younger sister’s husband, who I said in the last column had been diagnosed with lung CA, died last Thursday.
I got the sad news in an e-mail from his son, my nephew Dennis, last Thursday night when I returned from A Coruna to apply for a new passport.
Applying for a new passport now means that I don’t have to leave Spain to renew my tourist visa for another three months because the new passport won’t have any of my former trips on it, and the Spanish officials will have only the date of the passport to count from. So I will have to renew my visa three months from whatever date the new passport has on it.
My old passport, which I applied for and received in Moscow in 2002, expires on April 1, 2012, but I don’t like waiting till the last minute to renew it. If something happened to delay it, I would be up the proverbial shit’s creek without a paddle.
So since I don’t have to go to Morocco or Moldova now, I had $ 300 that I was able to send Igor in Moldova for an operation on his throat and thyroid, which have been bothering him for quite a while.
I received an e-mail from him, which he translated into English using the translation program on his computer. Although it was better than the Japanese translations we used to get with Japanese-made “do it yourself” kits, there were still some things I simply didn’t understand. Anyway, following is the e-mail I got from him:
My favorite Dane, how are you doing, how are you?
I was in the hospital. I was told that everything is very bad ;-( impaired thyroid and throat chakra .....(don’t know what he means, but it sounds serious) and soon to close all airways in the throat :-( If not treated, if not to have surgery.
I have asked all in a light to loan the money for operations, who does not, and I have very much pain :-( I can not sleep, eat, drink, pain :-( if you would be next ... you would see how I suffer, as I feel bad, like suffocating :-(
for operations to $ 300
but Dane, this is not the operation that was with an oil cyst. I found an excellent clinic where they treat very well! Here I have right now, there was an operation on the coccygeal cyst. one operation, and all healed !!!!! and not too expensive .....
This latter disease is Dane I'm worried ...if the operation, I then would be absolutely healthy!! then I will be able to go to Moscow to earn money for to pay to you ....
already have a job, invite, a driver to work ....30.000-35.000 rubles. salary !!!!!
IF YOU CAN HELP PLEASE ?????? DANE
ALL YOU HOPE FOR DANE ...
waiting for a reply Dane
love, miss you, kiss!!
Igor is your favorite!
So what I deduce from that is that he has been able to cure his coccygeal cyst, and now his throat and thyroid constitute life-threatening illness. So I managed to send him $ 300 on top of sending Misha in Kiev, Ukraine, $ 100 for winter clothes. However, I told both that this was absolutely the last I would be able to send. I know, I already told Igor that, but let’s face it, I’m a pussy wimp when it comes to friends’ health needs – if I can afford it. But this time I really mean it! I have no more money.
In the meantime, Druzhka is coming Nov. 7. I don’t know when Sasha is coming – if at all. He wrote that he hadn’t earned enough money to come with Druzhka. I have written him twice asking when he is going to come, but he hasn’t answered. I suspect that he has a girlfriend and is delaying his arrival to spend more time fucking her. Time, I guess, will tell.
I’ve done no more on my book. Basil has asked me to give his wife long-distance lessons in English, which I am willing to try – to see how it works. I have already sent the diagnostic test.
Next move is hers.
So now we’ll see what happens with the Spanish and Italian “indignados” and the U.S. “Occupy Wall Street” protests. Maybe there is still hope after all. Doubtful, but maybe.
See also related pages:
Chapt. #322 - OWS offers the promise of some justice in a dying world
Chapt. #320 - Sasha’s coming in November :-)
This day years ago:
2003-10-17: Chapt. #17 - “My God Can Beat Your God”