Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Gilding the lily posted by Richard Seymour
The rich are beautiful people. They never set a foot wrong, and yet everyone is constantly out to get them: the haters, the whiners, the terrorists, the jealous, the hippies, the lefties, the liberals, the protesters, the welfare queens, the quakers, the bakers, the candlestick makers etc. You, hypocrite lecteur, have never actually tried to live their lives, yet you persist in finding them at fault for some putative flaws. You're just jealous of their freedom. The latest challenge faced by the rich is that their mega-welfare-handout might not be processed through the system as rapidly as they had anticipated. The reason is that there might actually be some slight reflex in the state that still demands legislative review and judicial oversight.
Apparently, there are some little flaws to the proposed bail-out that cynics might carp about. For one thing it really does look like a parachute for the empire, in that it will bail out any global financial institution that happens to have what Paulson deems 'significant' investments in the US economy, whether they are in deep trouble already or not. This looks like a move to consolidate America's faltering command of the financial system and to ensure that the global appropriation of labour continues to operate overwhelmingly in the interests of US capital. Secondly, there are no protections for homeowners or taxpayers, no limits on executive remuneration, no plans to stimulate the economy, and no demands for reciprocity (ie, we give you $700bn, you give us...). This is just throwing money at the ruling class. So, as one might have predicted, the crisis is being used to shore up the class power of the rich through a massive act of expropriation. Thirdly, so it seems, the legislation includes a clause ruling out executive or judicial oversight of any part of this wealth transfer. So, the state is taking the opportunity to enhance its ability to act on behalf of capital without accountability.
Obama initially backed the Bush administration, but is offering some opposition to the current plans. A slew of right-wing commentators are also opposed, on the grounds that they thought all this bullshit about the 'free market' and 'moral hazard' and 'accountability' was in some sense meaningful. Only the reactionary statists of the Bush administration could force 'fiscal conservatives' into the same corner as liberals and leftists. No wonder the markets rallied on hearing of the Bush administration's plans: the owners saw a naked attempt to restore profitability by jacking the taxpayer further, thus ensuring a future 'belt-tightening' period of restricted income for Americans workers. And now we have an interesting bit of blackmail to deal with: if the legislation doesn't pass very quickly and without amendment, the markets may tumble again, thus threatening jobs, growth and trade.