Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. These were Cockburn’s rules for how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, CounterPunch will get a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC (This photo of Alexander Cockburn and Jasper, on the couch that launched 1000 columns, was taken in Petrolia by Tao Ruspoli)
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Bailouts for the Rich; Macaroni and Cheese for the Rest of Us

The Dow Jones’ Wonderfully Cheesy Addition

by MICHAEL HUDSON

The bailout of AIG to enable derivatives traders and other gamblers collect on their computer-driven bets is so enormous that it will take another article to describe. But in the meantime there is a development so wonderfully appropriate, almost poetic as a metaphor, that it cannot go unnoticed. The Dow Jones Company announced on September 18 that as of this Monday, September 22, 2008 it will replace ailing A.I.G. in the Dow Industrial Average with Kraft Foods. The company makes processed industrial products such as Cheez’it, Cheez Whiz and Oscar Meyer wieners, but is best known for the Macaroni and Cheese that Sam Kraft introduced in the Depression year of 1937. When milk and dairy products were rationed during World War II, these packaged meals were all that was available. Along with the company’s Hamburger Helper, much of the public may find itself obliged to eat more of this by the time the fallout from this week’s transition from Industrial Capitalism to Hedge Fund Capitalism runs its course.

How fitting a metaphor, not only the notorious Depression Diet, but the fact that the Kraft process is fake cheese. About as real as the default guarantees that A.I.G. “insured,” Velveeta and similar so-called “cheese products” are made out of Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC). “The general definition of MPC is a blend of dry dairy ingredients from 42% to 90% casein (pure dairy protein) made by ultra filtering skim milk, retaining anything the size of a protein or larger (bacteria, somatic cell, etc.) and then drying that to form a powder,” describes the Agribusiness Examiner. “Not manufactured in the U.S., MPC’s are added to cheese vats – on the cheap yielding more end products with ‘savings’ retained by the manufacturer.”

The resulting products are not considered milk by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definitions. This fact legally obliges Kraft to spell many of its consumer items “Cheez” under the “truth in labeling” laws. The intention is for the children at whom most of Kraft’s advertising is aimed will think that this is an affectionate diminutive for the company’s cheesy chemicals, confusing it with real dairy cheese. Much as Kraft’s products are aimed mainly at kids, so about three quarters of A.I.G.’s derivative insurance guarantees for trillions of dollars of computer-driven trades were pawned off on gullible European financial institutions.

Much in line with Thomas Gresham’s quip that “Bad money drives out good,” so Kraft now accounts for no less than 57 percent of the U.S. “cheese” market. And in the sphere of finance capital, the massive computerized derivatives trading insured by A.I.G. has diverted pension fund savings and bank credit away from tangible investment to something almost unworldly, neither tangible capital nor even financial capital, but bets and straddles on cross trades.

Kraft also makes Oscar Mayer meats, mainly frankfurters and other sausages, providing a model for the investment banking industry to emulate with its packaged mortgages (toxic CDOs, collateralized debt obligations), the financial equivalent of sweepings off the floor. People who know what go into sausages or CDOs rarely want to buy them. But a lot of money has been made selling them. And the government is now giving the blessing. There is no health plan for Americans reduced to Kraft Cheez diets, but there is now indeed a financial health plan for all the traders who have choked on the $450 billion unpayable derivatives trades that A.I.G. is said to have insured.

The moral seems to be health and bailouts for the wealthy; let the rest eat Cheese and Macaroni.

MICHAEL HUDSON is a former Wall Street economist specializing in the balance of payments and real estate at the Chase Manhattan Bank (now JPMorgan Chase & Co.), Arthur Anderson, and later at the Hudson Institute (no relation). In 1990 he helped established the world’s first sovereign debt fund for Scudder Stevens & Clark. Dr. Hudson was Dennis Kucinich’s Chief Economic Advisor in the recent Democratic primary presidential campaign, and has advised the U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Latvian governments, as well as the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

 

 

Kraft “Cheese?”: Adulterated Food? FDA: Don’t Ask! Don’t Tell! The Agribusiness Examiner, May 7, 2001.

Your Ad Here