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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 38,338
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Posted by Octafish | Fri Feb 21, 2014, 05:16 PM (4 replies)
The Genealogy of the Crisis
Puerto Rico and Wall Street’s 21st Century Debt Peonage Imperialism
by VICTOR M. RODRIGUEZ
CounterPunch, FEBRUARY 19, 2014
Puerto Rico is usually thought of as a tourism destination or is usually invisible in the U.S. media. In recent times, its fiscal and economic crisis has led to inaccurate comparisons with Detroit or Greece whose fiscal crises have attracted much media attention. As usual, the mainstream press looks at the illness without looking at the root causes. And the comparisons are usually risky because they tend to ignore history and the nuances of each case. Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, its fuzzy political relationship with the United States is always described with euphemisms (“Commonwealth”) in order to avoid the undeniable truth: Puerto Rico is a colonial possession of the United States in the 21st century. The colonial model that was developed after World War II is entering a stage of complete collapse and the colonial government has few alternatives to repair the economic crisis. But the United States, like an alcoholic has always been in denial of the fact that a democratic nation has colonies. But in Puerto Rico the wall of denials is cracking and threatening to impact the U.S economy and national security.
The Fiscal Debt of Puerto Rico
In the meantime, as a result of the failure of the colonial system to provide the momentum for the economic development of the island, the colonial government, especially since the 1970s began to rely on debt to pay for basic public services and to pay for previous debt. Since last February 4, 2014, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch have downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor which were considered necessary but only helped to avoid a further lowering of the credit rating. Also, despite the announced radical measures by the governor of Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to reduce appropriations by $170 million and plans to have a balanced budget for 2015, Standard & Poor surmised that the government may have to return to the market to cover a 2015 deficit. This is a chaotic situation given that the public debt of Puerto Rico is $70 billion dollars or 102 per cent of the island’s GNP the highest of any state in the U.S. The debt income ratio is 83 per cent (Villamil, 2014) almost 14 times the same measure as New York, California or Illinois. The island is paying close to $3.7 billion a year to service the debt. To compound the situation the population is declining, the labor participation rate has declined to 41.3 per cent (one of the lowest in the world). In addition, the unemployment rate is 15.4 per cent, highest than any state of the U.S.
Colonialism and the Failure of Economic Development
The Achilles heel of any effort to heal Puerto Rico’s financial crisis is its inability to expand its economic growth in a self-sustaining way. While according to the governor there is an increase in revenues that may help the island avoid a deficit in 2015, the reality is that Puerto Rico decades ago chose a growth and not a developmental path that was limited by its colonial status. Puerto Rico cannot issue its own currency, because of cabotage laws enacted by Congress in 1920 Puerto Rican trade has to utilize the U.S. merchant marine, the most expensive and likely the most inefficient in the world. It is also unable to protect its local production because it does not have the power to raise tariffs. Its poultry sector, its agriculture, housing construction and even its once thriving banking sector are also in a crisis. Three major banks were liquidated by the FDIC. Puerto Rico also cannot enter into trade agreements with its neighbors directly it has to use the United States government as an intermediary. In fact, contrary to the experience of Detroit, Puerto Rico cannot go into bankruptcy. To add insult to injury, Puerto Rico’s constitution requires the government to pay general obligation bond holders before it fulfills other regular governmental obligations. In other words, services to the citizenry could be further cut to pay for its fiscal debt. At this point, with the reduction of the island’s credit rating even if they wanted they could not afford the higher interest rates that the markets have imposed. For many years Puerto Rico bonds did pretty well in the market offering higher interest rates than those bonds issues by states and municipalities in the U.S. The constitutional clause and the backing of the colonial government made these bonds very profitable to its buyers. For example California was paid 2.375 for its bonds while Puerto Rican bonds earned between 8 and 10% (2013). Now that bonds have been reduced to a junk status this source of income is almost closed to Puerto Rico. Finally, raising taxes in an already regressive tax system will only further accelerate the depressed economy. Puerto Rico’s economy, while the U.S. economy is enjoying a modest recovery, is in it eight recessionary year. Its GNP has been reduced by 15 per cent in real terms.
The Genealogy of the Crisis
Puerto Rico’s colonial governments have relied upon tax exemption benefits to muster economic growth since the failure of a modest import substitution effort in the 1940s. This effort was modeled on similar efforts in Latin America to develop industries that had some linkages to the local economy and that would reduce the dependency on imports. The intellectual template for this effort was the “Chardon Plan,” Carlos Chardon was the first Puerto Rican chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico (1931-35). In 1935 he developed the framework for what was to become the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA) created by the Roosevelt administration to help solve some of Puerto Rico’s economic problems. The local government provided some resources and had the support of a progressive colonial administration under Governor Rexford G. Tugwell (1941-46) who was appointed governor of the island by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With government financing, publicly owned industries were created (like the Tennessee Valley Authority), enterprises like a glass bottle plant, a cement plant, a box carton plant and other agencies with the purpose of decreasing the reliance on imports, provide some resources for local industrial development and provide local employment. Most of the publicly owned initiatives were labor intensive. Unfortunately, management problems and political problems led to the eventual privatization of these enterprises. Politicians both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. had complained calling this a socialist experiment a complaint that resonated among conservative sectors in the U.S.
The first effort after World War II to improve the economy was called “Operation Bootstrap” which was a misnomer because Puerto Rico was not pulling itself by the bootstraps instead it was relying on U.S. corporate investment in labor intensive light industry. Initially these enterprises provided significant local employment. However, because the colonial government provided generous tax incentives to these corporations it also reduced the tax revenues for basic services. While the tax incentives attracted corporate investment that increased employment the fiscal situation of the island remained under control. From 1950 to 1970 the model had some success in attracting U.S. capital because since U.S. workers had not been allowed to strike during World War II U.S. capital had accumulated huge profits during the war. Then after the war, since the traditional economic rivals of the United States, Japan and Germany had their industrial base demolished the U.S. became the dominant economic power.
This unique combination of factors created a niche that helped Puerto Rico achieve some economic growth, however, no development. The income per capita in in the U.S. 1950 was $1,935 (Dietz, 2003) or six times larger than Puerto Rico’s. As the industrialization program developed under these conditions it achieved some success, by 1960 income per capita in the island had reached $723 and by 1970 it had doubled to $1,857. During a short period there was a convergence between the local economy and the U.S. For example, during the first two decades 1950-1970s the U.S. per capita gross domestic product (GDP) as a multiple of the island’s income was only four in 1960 ($2,915) and then in 1970 it was only 2.7 times ($5,050) greater than Puerto Rico’s (Dietz, 2003). The income convergence between the U.S. and Puerto Rico began to slow after 1970, and through 1990s remained virtually unchanged. But while in absolute terms there were increases in income, the position of the economy of the island relative to the United States remained static, the convergence ended. One factor that stabilized local income was the federal transfers to the island that began in 1975 when food stamps were approved for Puerto Rican residents. This infusion of money helped the commercial sector and brought many out of deep poverty. But in addition to the federal transfers one factor that aided in the reduction of poverty and the unemployment rate was the massive emigration of Puerto Ricans. The industrialization process included the overt and deliberate promotion of emigration to the United States as an escape valve. During the 1940s and 1950s Nationalist activism created fear of political disruption in Puerto Rico and the United States. In 1950s there was a Nationalist insurrection and in 1954 nationalists engaged in armed action against congress.
Posted by Octafish | Thu Feb 20, 2014, 10:57 AM (0 replies)
Whistle-blower Donna Busche fired at Hanford
By Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press
Published: February 18, 2014, 11:34 AM
Busche worked for URS Corp., which is helping build a $12 billion plant to turn Hanford’s most dangerous wastes into glass. Construction of the plant has been halted over safety concerns. Busche has filed complaints with the federal government, alleging she has suffered retaliation since filing her original safety complaint in 2011.
Central to the cleanup is dealing with 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. The waste is stored in 177 aging underground tanks, many of which have leaked, threatening the groundwater and the neighboring Columbia River.
The U.S. Department of Energy is investigating Busche’s safety concerns, while the U.S. Department of Labor is reviewing her complaints about retaliation and harassment.
URS Corp. said in a statement it encourages employees to raise safety concerns.
“We do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” URS said, adding Busche was fired for reasons unrelated to the safety concerns. “Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny.”
"Fired for cause." What a coincidence.
Posted by Octafish | Wed Feb 19, 2014, 11:16 AM (0 replies)
The following report should be read by anybody who cares about the United States of America.
'I’m sorry, Ed. There’s nothing I can do': Shocking untold tale of the Chilean government's plot to KILL Ed Koch...and how CIA director George Bush couldn't help
* Then a New York congressman, Koch won the ire of South American dictators he'd begun a crusade to help oust in the name of democracy
* Exiled Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier was assassinated days before Koch was warned in a shocking act of terrorism in Washington
* A new book links the threat on Koch to what was known as Operation Condor, a top secret terrorism corps involving Pinochet and other despots
In The Condor Years, John Dinges reveals Bush knew of Condor threats against Koch but failed to warn him until Letelier's spectacular murder
By JOSHUA GARDNER
Daily Mail (London), PUBLISHED: 10:58 EST, 18 February 2014
Ed Koch's status as a beloved New York City mayor hid a shocking untold history: the late politician was the target of a widespread South American terror operation's 70s-era assassination plot, a new book revealed Tuesday.
While still serving as a New York congressman working to oust ruthless despots from beleaguered countries like Chile and Uruguay, Koch received a phone call in 1976 from then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush telling the future mayor to watch his back.
Just days before, Washington saw its worst act of terror ever when an exiled Chilean ambassador was snuffed out with a car bomb on Embassy Row. Bush called to tell Koch he was next, and there was nothing he could do.
'Listen, my agents have gotten news that there’s a contract out on your life,' Bush told the horrified four-term congressman in a conversation recalled to author John Dinges by Koch.
Cue Operation Condor: an alliance of six Latin American countries led by Chile and Pinochet which formed secretly as a means of collaborating when one country wanted an enemy on foreign soil dead.
Posted by Octafish | Tue Feb 18, 2014, 02:18 PM (11 replies)
History untaught and unreported: The admiral on the right in the picture below ran a spy operation on the president at left.
The reason? He thought Nixon was going soft on communism.
Al Haig, The NSC and the White House Spy Ring: The Nixon Story You Never Heard
Montana State University, Jan. 2014, M
Over three decades ago on December 21, 1971, Richard Nixon approved the first major cover-up of his administration. He did so reluctantly at the behest of his closest political advisers, Attorney General John Mitchell, Domestic Counselor John Ehrlichman, and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. The public remains ignorant of this seminal event in Nixon’s first term and journalists and historians have largely ignored it. The question is why? A recently released Nixon tape transcribed from an enhanced CD produced by the Nixon Era Center provides the clearest answer to this thirty-year-old Nixon secret.
On that December day Nixon agreed to cover-up a criminally insubordinate spying operation conducted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff inside the National Security Council because of the military’s strong, visceral dislike of Nixon’s foreign policy. In particular, the JCS thought Nixon gone “soft on communism” by reaching out to the Chinese and Russians, and they resented Vietnamization as a way to end the war.
As early as 1976 Admiral Elmo Zumwalt publicly made these military suspicions and resentment abundantly clear in his book, On Watch: A Memoir. “I had first become concerned many months before the June 1972 burglary,” Zumwalt wrote, “(about) the deliberate, systematic and, unfortunately, extremely successful efforts of the President, Henry Kissinger, and a few subordinate members of their inner circle to conceal, sometimes by simple silence, more often by articulate deceit, their real policies about the most critical matters of national security.” In a word, Zumwalt, like many within the American military elite, thought that Nixon’s foreign policies bordered on the traitorous because they “were inimical to the security of the United States.”
This atmosphere of extreme distrust led Admiral Thomas Moorer, head of the JCS, to first authorize Rear Admiral Rembrandt C. Robinson and later Rear Admiral Robert O. Welander, both liaisons between the Joint Chiefs and the White House’s National Security Council, to start spying on the NSC. For thirteen months, from late 1970 to late 1971, Navy Yeoman Charles E. Radford, an aide to both Robinson and Welander, systematically stole and copied NSC documents from burn bags containing carbon copies, briefcases, and desks of Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, and their staff. He then turned them over to his superiors.
The most striking aspect of this tape is the passive role played by Nixon–the so-called original imperial president. First, he is out-talked by the others throughout this fifty-two-minute conversation. Toward the end of tape, the president can be heard saying to his advisers in a loud voice that the JCS spy activity was “wrong! Understand? I’m just saying that’s wrong. Do you agree?” A little later he called it a “federal offense of the highest order.” Up to this point, however, John Mitchell told the president that “the important thing is to paper this thing over” because “this Welander thing . . . Is going to get right into the middle of Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
In other words, Nixon would have to take on the entire military command if he exposed the spy ring. Moreover, this expose would take place in an election year and when the president had scheduled trips to both China and the Soviet Union to confirm improved relations with these countries–which the military opposed. Taking on the military establishment with such important political and diplomatic events on the horizon could have proven disastrous for the president’s most important objectives and revealed other back-channel diplomatic activities of the administration. Later in his memoirs the president said that the media would have completely distorted the incident and exposure would have done “damage to the military at time when it was already under heavy attack.”
In contrast, at the time all three men agreed with Nixon about the seriousness of the crime committed by the JCS. Mitchell even compared it to “coming in (to the president's office) and robbing your desk.” However, they advised him to do no more than to inform Moorer that the White House knew about the JCS spy ring, to interview Welander (who was later transferred to sea duty), and to transfer Radford. Moorer subsequently denied obtaining any information from purloined documents, fallaciously claiming that Nixon kept him fully informed about all his foreign policy initiatives. If this had been true there would have been no need for Moorer to set up a spy ring. Welander, for his part according to this tape, had initially refused to answer questions about the spying he was supervising on the questionable grounds that he had a “personal and confidential relationship” with both Kissinger and Haig.
Yeoman Radford stole from Henry Kissinger's briefcase on secret trip to China...
...in all he may've copied more than 10,000 documents.
"I didn't know he screened through the thing, but I knew he did carry 'em to me and I just returned from San Clemente and I had been told every damn thing that was in there...I gave the things back to (Alexander) Haig." -- Thomas H. Moorer, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
History shows that the brass hats who run the Pentagon are just as liable as any lowly journalist to forget for whom they work. Thanks to NSA and all the rest of the oxymoronic alphabet soup of an Military Industrial Intelligence Community, while we don't need to remind them what we think of that, as they're listening and reading just about everything that's transmitted, they know. We do need to remind them of who's the boss. And as long as there's a Constitution, We the People will.
PS: To H20 Man, who long ago reminded me of this story on Democratic Underground, and to my brothers and sisters on DU, especially those who gave me Valentine's hearts and have given me so many other truly heartening ideas over the years, thank you.
Posted by Octafish | Sat Feb 15, 2014, 07:27 PM (31 replies)
They were wrong because the pretzeldent lied.
Posted by Octafish | Sat Feb 15, 2014, 10:50 AM (1 replies)
They're just better, by their own estimation...
Eugenics and the Nazis -- the California connection
SFGate.com, Published 4:00 am, Sunday, November 9, 2003
Hitler and his henchmen victimized an entire continent and exterminated millions in his quest for a so-called Master Race.
But the concept of a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed master Nordic race didn't originate with Hitler. The idea was created in the United States, and cultivated in California, decades before Hitler came to power. California eugenicists played an important, although little-known, role in the American eugenics movement's campaign for ethnic cleansing.
Eugenics was the pseudoscience aimed at "improving" the human race. In its extreme, racist form, this meant wiping away all human beings deemed "unfit," preserving only those who conformed to a Nordic stereotype. Elements of the philosophy were enshrined as national policy by forced sterilization and segregation laws, as well as marriage restrictions, enacted in 27 states. In 1909, California became the third state to adopt such laws. Ultimately, eugenics practitioners coercively sterilized some 60,000 Americans, barred the marriage of thousands, forcibly segregated thousands in "colonies," and persecuted untold numbers in ways we are just learning. Before World War II, nearly half of coercive sterilizations were done in California, and even after the war, the state accounted for a third of all such surgeries.
California was considered an epicenter of the American eugenics movement. During the 20th century's first decades, California's eugenicists included potent but little-known race scientists, such as Army venereal disease specialist Dr. Paul Popenoe, citrus magnate Paul Gosney, Sacramento banker Charles Goethe, as well as members of the California state Board of Charities and Corrections and the University of California Board of Regents.
Eugenics would have been so much bizarre parlor talk had it not been for extensive financing by corporate philanthropies, specifically the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman railroad fortune. They were all in league with some of America's most respected scientists from such prestigious universities as Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton. These academicians espoused race theory and race science, and then faked and twisted data to serve eugenics' racist aims.
Stanford President David Starr Jordan originated the notion of "race and blood" in his 1902 racial epistle "Blood of a Nation," in which the university scholar declared that human qualities and conditions such as talent and poverty were passed through the blood.
In 1904, the Carnegie Institution established a laboratory complex at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island that stockpiled millions of index cards on ordinary Americans, as researchers carefully plotted the removal of families, bloodlines and whole peoples. From Cold Spring Harbor, eugenics advocates agitated in the legislatures of America, as well as the nation's social service agencies and associations.
The Harriman railroad fortune paid local charities, such as the New York Bureau of Industries and Immigration, to seek out Jewish, Italian and other immigrants in New York and other crowded cities and subject them to deportation, confinement or forced sterilization.
The Rockefeller Foundation helped found the German eugenics program and even funded the program that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.
Much of the spiritual guidance and political agitation for the American eugenics movement came from California's quasi-autonomous eugenic societies, such as Pasadena's Human Betterment Foundation and the California branch of the American Eugenics Society, which coordinated much of their activity with the Eugenics Research Society in Long Island. These organizations -- which functioned as part of a closely-knit network -- published racist eugenic newsletters and pseudoscientific journals, such as Eugenical News and Eugenics, and propagandized for the Nazis.
...and in their own minds.
Personally, and as a Democrat, I believe all people are created as equals under the law.
Posted by Octafish | Fri Feb 14, 2014, 04:04 PM (1 replies)
Prescott Bush was a Nazi-whore, but his father Samuel was worse (WWI)
Sold arms to both sides, starting a family tradition.
Charming. A real sweetheart.
Posted by Octafish | Fri Feb 14, 2014, 01:32 AM (0 replies)
Didn't matter, anyway. The Administration didn't need anything to strip the Fairness Doctrine from the FCC books.
Obama FCC Kills 'Fairness Doctrine' Dead, As Requested by Congressional Republicans
By BRAD FRIEDMAN on 8/22/2011, 3:35pm PT
In apparent response to GOP leaders of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee who requested in June that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski "strike the Fairness Doctrine from the agency's rulebook," the former corporate media executive has announced exactly that today, striking the rule, and 82 others, from the official FCC rulebook...
Ending enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine, which had served the nation well since the early days of radio in 1949, paved the way for Rush Limbaugh and other hard right commentators to use the public airwaves as little more than a one-sided propaganda tool. The situation was exacerbated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, as signed by President Bill Clinton, under the pretense that it would allow for greater competition in the broadcast media market. The act allowed for virtually unrestricted corporate ownership of local radio and television stations and ultimately gave a handful of corporate outlets unfettered control of almost all of the nation's limited broadcast bandwidth.
Washington, We the People have a problem. You've forgotten who you work for.
Posted by Octafish | Thu Feb 13, 2014, 09:17 PM (0 replies)
"Money trumps peace." -- George Walker Bush
Posted by Octafish | Thu Feb 13, 2014, 08:18 PM (0 replies)