Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

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….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

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

Dr. Hank's Expensive Elixir

A Bailout to Nowhere

by RICHARD RHAMES

“…The capital we thought was there is gone. A lot of it was actually translated over the years into Hamptons villas, Gulfstream jets, and other playthings that will now go up on Ebay or some equivalent as we turn into Yard Sale Nation in a general liquidation of remaining assets….Everything is for sale and nobody has any money.”

– James H. Kunstler, 9/15/08

The tremors come faster now. Candidate McCain mimics Herbert Hoover asserting that the economic “fundamentals” are sound, even as Wall Street asset Hank Paulson announces the latest lofting of US Treasury life preservers. The fiscal flotation devices will allow Hank’s cohorts a “soft landing” in more comfortable climes than await the majority here in America the Deflating.

Even the corporate media, reflexively dedicated to promoting “consumer confidence” and keeping the gullible in their seats long enough for the swag-toting executive larcenists to make for the exits, murmur about a new 1929.

With the usual misdirection, the press reports plummeting Wall Street stock prices as if they mattered to ordinary people. In fact, as economist Dean Baker has repeatedly pointed out, “[T]he stock market is not a good barometer of the economy’s health. It can be driven up as a result of a redistribution from wages to profits, or simply as a result of irrational exuberance. Neither is good for the economy as a whole, although anything that pushes up stock prices is obviously good news for the small minority of people who own substantial amounts of stock.”

Meanwhile, Baker’s colleague at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Mark Weisbrot informed Miami Herald (9/1/08) readers that real — inflation adjusted — wages have been virtually stagnant for 34 years. Since 1973, as the stock market climbed, “productivity — the amount that workers produce per hour — increased quite substantially…” But, while this “ ‘useable productivity’ — the increased production that we can expect to be reflected in rising wages –” rose 48 percent from 1973 to 2007, paychecks didn’t. The “economy” grew but only the well-connected at the top benefited. Wall Street exulted in the new profits extracted from the under-compensated toil of the same working people who were now repeatedly urged to cheer the increasing fortunes of their masters.

As the downscale waged workers fell behind, they were offered EZ credit, first through deregulated credit card loan sharkery, and then, as the real estate bubble was ruthlessly inflated, through the infamous “home equity extraction” gambit and/or serial “house flipping.” Their “defined benefit” pension plans —deferred wages — were converted into crap-shoot “defined contribution” schemes and Enron-ized.

Most people’s “wealth” is represented by their house and maybe their car. People were encouraged to feel (and act) richer as the housing bubble and its heady irrational exuberance seemed to boost house values by $8 trillion nationwide. But now the music has stopped, the chickens flutter home to roost, and the piper shrieks for payment. As massive asset deflation continues, housing prices return to their long-term historic levels, and on average Baker notes, that vanishing $8 trillion in illusory “housing bubble wealth” translates into a $110,000 hit per homeowner. These hapless folks, “will see much of the equity in their home disappear.”

Since so many Americans essentially re-mortgaged themselves in bubble time — using their house as an ATM machine through an equity withdrawal — and continued to consume at a level their stagnant or declining wages no longer allowed, this implacable (and unfinished) deflationary swoon spells real pain.

Yet the media / political focus is on the Wall Street Weak and Dr. Hank’s hundred billion dollar injections. Pundits and “analysts” worry aloud about the fate of a rumored “free market economy” — a construct that exists only in the misty realm of unicorns, Easter bunnies, tooth fairies, “honest Republicans”, and “good corporate citizens.”

Sadly and unsurprisingly the story is an old an familiar one: Government socializing costs and risk while securing the outlandish private profits of society’s greediest people. There’s nothing new here.

The more interesting question is whether we are at a point in our rather lamentable and bloody history when the usual tricks may no longer work. In a country that no longer manufactures much except weapons of war, or cultural weapons of mass distraction, kept afloat mainly by massive infusions of foreign capital, with a domestic / domesticated population famously dependent on “credit” and buried in personal debt, are we approaching the End of Something?

As James H. Kunstler has reminded us lately, in that last great greed-induced deflationary spiral, called the Great Depression, the US had not yet squandered its vast oil and gas reserves, its productive industrial base, demeaned and vanquished its proud and self-conscious working class, depopulated its agricultural landscape, emptied and beggared its great cities. And outside of a few genocidal romps against the American Indian and the “pockmarked Khadiak ladrone” Filipinos, the population had not perhaps yet acquired the taste for blood, booty, and blitzkrieg that now so exemplifies The American Way.

“The Great Depression of the thirties never came to an end,” wrote John Kenneth Galbraith (American Capitalism, 1952). “It merely disappeared in the great [W.W.II] mobilization of the forties.” And — by the 1950s –in an effort to prevent another Depression, “the permanent war economy was born.” For decades, a not-yet bankrupt America found the money for easy living, suburban sprawling, and endless war: Guns and butter.

But now the butter may have to be put aside. Our foreign creditors grow weary of enabling our haughty bloodlust. The European Union, with its prosperous cities, assertive worker culture, and strengthening currency has surpassed the US in economic size and power — not to mention standard-of-living.

Presidential candidates flatter a distracted public that the US is “the hope of the world — the shining city on the hill.” But like much of their hucksterism, it’s a comforting lie. That hour (if ever it existed) has passed.

Something less congenial this way comes.

RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine (just north of the Kennebunkport town line).

 

 

Your Ad Here

 

 

 


Dr. Hank's Expensive Elixir

A Bailout to Nowhere

by RICHARD RHAMES

“…The capital we thought was there is gone. A lot of it was actually translated over the years into Hamptons villas, Gulfstream jets, and other playthings that will now go up on Ebay or some equivalent as we turn into Yard Sale Nation in a general liquidation of remaining assets….Everything is for sale and nobody has any money.”

– James H. Kunstler, 9/15/08

The tremors come faster now. Candidate McCain mimics Herbert Hoover asserting that the economic “fundamentals” are sound, even as Wall Street asset Hank Paulson announces the latest lofting of US Treasury life preservers. The fiscal flotation devices will allow Hank’s cohorts a “soft landing” in more comfortable climes than await the majority here in America the Deflating.

Even the corporate media, reflexively dedicated to promoting “consumer confidence” and keeping the gullible in their seats long enough for the swag-toting executive larcenists to make for the exits, murmur about a new 1929.

With the usual misdirection, the press reports plummeting Wall Street stock prices as if they mattered to ordinary people. In fact, as economist Dean Baker has repeatedly pointed out, “[T]he stock market is not a good barometer of the economy’s health. It can be driven up as a result of a redistribution from wages to profits, or simply as a result of irrational exuberance. Neither is good for the economy as a whole, although anything that pushes up stock prices is obviously good news for the small minority of people who own substantial amounts of stock.”

Meanwhile, Baker’s colleague at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Mark Weisbrot informed Miami Herald (9/1/08) readers that real — inflation adjusted — wages have been virtually stagnant for 34 years. Since 1973, as the stock market climbed, “productivity — the amount that workers produce per hour — increased quite substantially…” But, while this “ ‘useable productivity’ — the increased production that we can expect to be reflected in rising wages –” rose 48 percent from 1973 to 2007, paychecks didn’t. The “economy” grew but only the well-connected at the top benefited. Wall Street exulted in the new profits extracted from the under-compensated toil of the same working people who were now repeatedly urged to cheer the increasing fortunes of their masters.

As the downscale waged workers fell behind, they were offered EZ credit, first through deregulated credit card loan sharkery, and then, as the real estate bubble was ruthlessly inflated, through the infamous “home equity extraction” gambit and/or serial “house flipping.” Their “defined benefit” pension plans —deferred wages — were converted into crap-shoot “defined contribution” schemes and Enron-ized.

Most people’s “wealth” is represented by their house and maybe their car. People were encouraged to feel (and act) richer as the housing bubble and its heady irrational exuberance seemed to boost house values by $8 trillion nationwide. But now the music has stopped, the chickens flutter home to roost, and the piper shrieks for payment. As massive asset deflation continues, housing prices return to their long-term historic levels, and on average Baker notes, that vanishing $8 trillion in illusory “housing bubble wealth” translates into a $110,000 hit per homeowner. These hapless folks, “will see much of the equity in their home disappear.”

Since so many Americans essentially re-mortgaged themselves in bubble time — using their house as an ATM machine through an equity withdrawal — and continued to consume at a level their stagnant or declining wages no longer allowed, this implacable (and unfinished) deflationary swoon spells real pain.

Yet the media / political focus is on the Wall Street Weak and Dr. Hank’s hundred billion dollar injections. Pundits and “analysts” worry aloud about the fate of a rumored “free market economy” — a construct that exists only in the misty realm of unicorns, Easter bunnies, tooth fairies, “honest Republicans”, and “good corporate citizens.”

Sadly and unsurprisingly the story is an old an familiar one: Government socializing costs and risk while securing the outlandish private profits of society’s greediest people. There’s nothing new here.

The more interesting question is whether we are at a point in our rather lamentable and bloody history when the usual tricks may no longer work. In a country that no longer manufactures much except weapons of war, or cultural weapons of mass distraction, kept afloat mainly by massive infusions of foreign capital, with a domestic / domesticated population famously dependent on “credit” and buried in personal debt, are we approaching the End of Something?

As James H. Kunstler has reminded us lately, in that last great greed-induced deflationary spiral, called the Great Depression, the US had not yet squandered its vast oil and gas reserves, its productive industrial base, demeaned and vanquished its proud and self-conscious working class, depopulated its agricultural landscape, emptied and beggared its great cities. And outside of a few genocidal romps against the American Indian and the “pockmarked Khadiak ladrone” Filipinos, the population had not perhaps yet acquired the taste for blood, booty, and blitzkrieg that now so exemplifies The American Way.

“The Great Depression of the thirties never came to an end,” wrote John Kenneth Galbraith (American Capitalism, 1952). “It merely disappeared in the great [W.W.II] mobilization of the forties.” And — by the 1950s –in an effort to prevent another Depression, “the permanent war economy was born.” For decades, a not-yet bankrupt America found the money for easy living, suburban sprawling, and endless war: Guns and butter.

But now the butter may have to be put aside. Our foreign creditors grow weary of enabling our haughty bloodlust. The European Union, with its prosperous cities, assertive worker culture, and strengthening currency has surpassed the US in economic size and power — not to mention standard-of-living.

Presidential candidates flatter a distracted public that the US is “the hope of the world — the shining city on the hill.” But like much of their hucksterism, it’s a comforting lie. That hour (if ever it existed) has passed.

Something less congenial this way comes.

RICHARD RHAMES is a dirt-farmer in Biddeford, Maine (just north of the Kennebunkport town line).

 

 

Your Ad Here