I have been talking these few days about national labor and justice organizations teaming with Clinton and Obama Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals and how it is killing all of us but especially the people these organizations are supposed to support. Throwing the US membership under the bus when labor and justice does not educate the goals of neo-liberals and how these policies will effect the citizens of America.
Today I would like to talk of the Clinton/Obama neo-liberal media and non-profit political outlets. Most of what you see on social media are neo-liberal outlets and pundits. Petition groups are working on progressive issues and giving those email addresses to neo-liberal candidates who then pretend to support those issues.
Neo-liberals had as a goal with Clinton to capture and dismantle all that the progressive liberals did to bring a first world quality of life and wealth equality in America......so, what they did was capture the word liberal and progressive as their own. Now, if your policies become increasingly Wall Street, corporate, and naked capitalism while you call yourself progressive liberals-----people hate progressive liberals-----not the neo-liberals. Now I hear communities of color and some labor dismissing progressive liberalism because of this. THAT'S THE IDEA. I spend all day defining the difference ----neo-liberal is the opposite of progressive liberal----and not many understand so Clinton has done a good job of capturing political labeling.
They even float pictures of FDR and McGovern with images of Clinton and Obama and the current Congressional neo-liberals like Pelosi and Harry Reid. Neo-liberals capture words like Occupy-----the word Blue for Democrat, the word Left, and Democrats. Keep in mind----neo-liberalism has nothing to do with the Democratic Platform.
All of these social media political sights have things in common----they post memes for all of the 99% issues, a few pictures of FDR and then tell you to vote for a neo-liberal candidate or support Obama and Clinton's Presidential records. So, now we are told Democratic voters are disaffected and considering voting Republican because the 'Democratic Party' is failing them. When you follow a pundit or media outlet------ if they are not educating you as to why policies adopted by Democrats in Congress or your state house are bad for the Democratic base of labor and justice because after all most are neo-liberals -----please go elsewhere for your news.
NEO-LIBERALS ARE FAILING THEM
Democrats Organizing For America
Going Blue for America
The Knowledge Movement
Occupy the True Blue Party
College Democrats of America
Join the Coffee Party Movement
The Blue Route Careening Towards A More Progressive Future
Keeping Progressives and Liberals Engaged
Tales of a Real American Liberal
Americans Who Want Change In Government
Armed Democrats - Meme Bucket
The Pragmatic Progressive Page
VOTE straight BLUE
Sadly, our biggest and national AFL-CIO has made it official-----they are continuing to support neo-liberals and Clinton. So, the candidates they supported this election cycle were almost all neo-liberal.
Working America is the fastest growing organization for working people in the country today. As the AFL-CIO’s community affiliate, it focuses on building alliances among union and non-union working people. Website
This Blue Book is an incredible listing of sites that are overwhelmingly neo-liberal. If a site wants to advertise as Progressive----they would never include Obama and Clinton.
The Blue Book: A Directory of Progressive and Liberal Pages shared a link.
If people have not noticed that NPR/APM was taken over by Wall Street in 2010 to become global US Chamber of Commerce with MarketPlace controlling most content----you must not be listening. It is now simply a global corporate propaganda outlet to the world as Voice of America for corporations. All public media has been captured by corporate boards. PRI seems the only branch still sounding a bit progressive. I remember listening to the 2010 elections when the old guard NPR reporters threw up their hands and shouted -----'THEY ARE MAKING US REPORT SPIN, NOT JOURNALISM'. That is when the old guard disappeared and the corporate MarketPlace crew took over. NPR now always refers to itself as a corporation. They only allow neo-liberal and neo-con policy discussions and embrace the neo-liberal think tank Brookings Institution.
Paul G. Haaga, Jr. is the current acting CEO of NPR. He is the former Chairman, Chairman of Executive Committee and Director of Capital Research and Management Company. He retired from Capital Group at the end of 2012.
President of NPR
Paul G. Haaga, Jr., Acting President and CEO (October 2013- )
Chair of the NPR Foundation
Howard Wollner, Senior Vice President, Retired, Starbucks Coffee Company
Public Members of the Board
Fabiola Arredondo, Managing Partner, Siempre Holdings
Chris Boskin, Media Company Consultant
Patricia Diaz Dennis; Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Retired, AT&T
John S. Wotowicz, Managing Partner of Concentric Capital -- (Vice Chair of the Board)
I imagine all of those neo-liberal social media sites and all those memes and think that all of that information may come from a few people sitting in Hillary Clinton's office and saturating people's Facebook posts. The reality is that this is indeed the case. People on Facebook are encouraged to send memes because people do not have the attention to read my long blogs and commentary on memes I share. Think about what they say below and then think how we are becoming accustomed to selecting someone else's words in place of our own. This narrow the topics discussed just as we are narrowed when listening to political debates where the same talking points are repeated time and time again and the public is not allowed to ask questions that are original.
Maryland has one of the most captured public avenues for comment I have ever seen. We are supposed to hand a question to a moderator who then decides if it get read. THESE ARE OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR THINGS LIKE EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.
If you go to those Facebook political sites listed above you will see the same issue content over and over again and none of these sites talk about the issues I address in my blogs-----THE ISSUES PEOPLE REALLY CARE ABOUT.
This is what the article below shares as a concern and they are right-----it is why I constantly ask people to work to find their information and step outside the talking points with friends and family.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO INFORM.....THIS INFORMATION IS NOT CONSPIRACY THEORY!
Breaking Out of The Programmed Society
- Mar 15, 2011
We often hear about the effects of media in conflict. In the words of Ross Howard: “The media is a double-edged sword. It can be a frightful weapon of violence … [or] it can be an instrument of conflict resolution.” What is worth exploring alternatively is the less questioned impact of the media in non-conflict environments. There are the occasional debates about media freedom and transparency related to caricatures of holy men or the ethical dilemmas of Wikileaks, but my concern lies more with what we read on a day-to-day basis, who is controlling it, and what their intentions are. We naïvely perceive our ‘democratic’ institutions as fully functional and progressive entities and it seems we have become accustomed to the state of affairs. What we see on TV and read in the electronic and printed press is likely to be produced by one of a few global media conglomerates. Human beings have the choice of simply being the final receivers of a mechanical information organism or to use our rationality consciously to counter the potentially ‘darker forces’ behind the spectacle.
Without dismissing the benefits of global flows of information, it is evident that our daily intake of information has reached incredible levels. Sometimes, I wish I could ‘empty the trashcan’ of my mind. It is not hard to list examples of all-embracing information through our Facebook pages, iPads, electronic commercial boards and television. These information systems enable 24-hour processes of surveillance, which are further linked to our smartphones and even mp3 players. The technology systems know your friends, your interests, where you live, countries you have visited and the places you dream about visiting. How? Because you told them. By tracing your online preferences and identity, searches and movements, the technology has access to your online preferences, and can in turn choose what information to feed you back. This makes me think about what actors are giving this information to us.
Now replace the word technology with system. The system knows you. It knows where you live. In accordance with the tenets of your particular belief systems, you are creating a matrix for yourself that in turn feeds into your everyday choices in the off-line community. The line between the virtual and real world is becoming less distinct, leading to a three-way interaction between the system, the people behind it and the people using it. When discussing this topic, one can refer to mind control in George Orwell’s 1984 and pro-active prosecution in Minority Report. Sociologist Alain Tourain described as early as 1981 the emergence of a ‘programmed society’, under the control of a technocratic elite in which information and knowledge superseded material production as the key source of social power. Taken to the extreme, I am imagining the hard-wired employees of the giant media conglomerates programming codes for how to “better” develop our conduct.
Further, the more we embrace the technology, the more power we allow it to have over us. Whether or not this is a problem is up to you to decide. I am not trying to promote a conspiracy theory, but to describe a reality. The media has become the main channel for political, cultural and technical power, making up equally important components of social power. Social power is key. As argued in an earlier GC article by Dominik Lehhnert, current mainstream media enables Western cultural imperialism and the destruction of cultural identities, added to this, “the deregulation of public airwaves, combined with the popularity of neo-liberalism and the consolidation of the giant media corporations has led to a global oligopoly of powerful distribution.” Recognizing the existence of this force is paramount to our critical assessment of information absorption.
Article 51 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights entitles you to the right to freedom of information, but there is no enforcing mechanism out there to protect us from imposed information. The debate is taking new forms as the danger of limited ‘discourse’ has entered academic circles. Scholars in particular are noticing how a grand narrative or story can assert power ‘over’, simply by stating facts about a topic, thus giving life and stamina to an idea. Following the argument made by both philosopher Michael Foucault and later, scholar Tony Evans, of how knowledge equals power, institutionalized channels of communication are gaining more prominence in facilitating, understanding and highlighting differences of global dimensions.
Although the state is important for the regulation of global information, any attempt to counter the problem must not located within national boundaries. Mass media outlets independent of state control viagra sales online are often the worst perpetrators of deliberately selected information. Media houses are supposed to be watchdogs of the government, but the dogs are slowly being tranquilized by corporations and neo-liberal mechanisms that are promoting specific views and values. There is also a notable trend of Western governments investing in ‘system-security’, such as the U.S. National Security System operated by the federal government. Their reach includes protecting national monetary systems, withholding military information and responding to online threats, leaving the defense of human minds out of the equation. This obvious bias means that we cannot depend on the state to enact regulations concerned with protecting the mind from ‘information-inception’. Can we depend on you?
On the other side of the ‘power over’ we find the ‘power to'; they are opposite sides of the same coin. Individuals today hold so much more social power than before. I am not telling you to rush out and buy ‘Hacking for Dummies'; Twitter and Facebook can be utilized as tools for infiltrating the system from below. Activist and scholar Neil Stammers argues that social movements are the only way to achieve progress without the paradox of institutionalization. However, reforming the system is not enough; we need a revolution where the right to personal choice of information is a key demand. Brave individuals such as Julian Assange, Gene Sharp, Alex Jones and collectives like Anonymous have all launched forceful strategies against corporations and news agencies to restrain ’the war on our minds’.
In relevant debates, its important to add a solutions oriented dimension. In my earlier articles I have advocated the importance of having an open mind, thinking outside the box and providing constructive critique. Now I ask you again to be selective, trust your intuition and don’t let other people choose what you read. Limit your intake of corporate news; follow actual people instead. Twitter is a possible source for voicing personal opinions, emancipated of pressure from editors and supervisors. As stated in the I Ching- “You can swim with the river’s current without dissolving into it.” We exist in an ocean of information with only a drop of wisdom, which means we have to protect our minds from being polluted by the system.
This is a good overview of how the world see what neo-liberalism is and how the media plays a part-----citizens of America are now the same victims of neo-liberalism as those nations around the world.
We all know that neo-liberals are trying their hardest to phase out all public access media and communications-----from free TV and selling public airwaves-----to ending net neutrality----to pushing the Post Office to failure-----to consolidation of all media into the hands of a few global corporations----and as I spoke of above----the capture of our public media outlets. Autocratic governments must control communication and this is what has moved forward in the US. Note that most real journalists have been pushed to the internet with blogs like mine and ending net neutrality will make it hard for most Americans to access You Tube or video news feeds.
WE NEED PEOPLE TO WAKE UP=====GET ENGAGED IN POLITICS AND SEND THESE NEO-LIBERALS AND NEO-CONS PACKING! WE NEED LABOR AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS TO MAKE SURE THEIR LEADERSHIP IS WORKING FOR THEIR MEMBERSHIP AND THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA.
REVERSING THIS IS EASY PEASY!
If you notice, people abroad see US corporate markets being primarily military, security, fuel, and food. This is what most of our 'global markets' entail.
Media Control and Neoliberalism
As an introduction, we have a short video on media issues we face today. These are powerful tenets as Tamil issues have been squeezed out of the normal debate in India. The first step is to understand on what exactly are the impediments to debate. Hopefully you can connect the dots on who restricts the flow of news and information in India and Tamilnadu and who controls it.
This is a powerful documentary on propaganda and how it affects us on a daily basis.
Ever since journalists covered the World War/Korean War/Vietnam War and depicted the graphic violence, death, dismemberment and savagery of war, Governments have gone to great lengths to hide the macabre machinations of war and its aftermath.
The first method of media control was in controlling news released to the major news distributors (witness the rise of the press conference), secondly grooming’ newspapers to publish articles complementary to the official state line – primarily dealt with by ‘embedding’ journalists and giving them access to a ‘stage’, and thirdly: actively spreading disinformation which would strengthen their point of view. The modern day founding father for propaganda – Josef Goebbels of the Nazi’s would be delighted if he were alive today perusing our newspapers.
Currently what we see around us are large media firms ‘selling’ space for content in their news channels on, the internet, television and radio. Their budgets are large and consequently their clients includes: firms with unsavory projects, politicians with vested agenda’s, military’s with propaganda, and countries with pasts to hide. Furthermore the establishment of think tanks (Institutes of XYZ etc.) populated with academics, ex-bureaucrats, ex-military spooks and an assortment of narcisstic ‘intellectuals’, funded by corporations, military agencies and governments serve to legitimize goals and agenda’s and set the stage for what can charitably be termed as: mass hypnosis.
Consequently you are faced with a scenario where a ‘big’ media news channel ‘interviews’ an ‘expert’ from a corporately funded ‘think tank’ talking in a suitably serious tone on how useful it will be to ‘remove’ (kill/re-locate/destroy) about 450,000 people to set up a useful mining/industrial project which will ‘develop’ (enrich corporations pockets)and lead to the dawn of a new tomorrow for said peoples. You see this happening around you ad nauseum: apropos in crime, corruption, genocide, and scandals. Lock step in this are a breed of sycophantic, self-serving journalists or ‘media whores’ who gushingly agree with the ‘official’ view.
Two major players allow this to continue: Governments (who generally have more to hide than to be transparent) and Corporately owned media who maintain the old boys club of accruing profits and stifling alternate views.
A recent egregious example of state and corporately sponsored news has been the absence of reports on the butchering of 175,000 Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka and the killings of a large number of Tamil fishermen from southern Tamil Nadu. However there have been literally hundreds of news items on ‘peace and tranquility’ in Sri Lanka and the ‘absolute brilliant tourist spots’ to visit. ‘A new beginning’ cry the media whores, conveniently ignoring a genocide which took place.
It is interesting to note that the official perpetuators of the Tamil genocide have engaged an advertising agency/’lobbying firm’ in the United States to sell their goods and services. This leads to the question on who are their advertising minions in India. Is it news agencies? Is it the Indian Government? Is it the usual group of Corporations jockeying to sell the Sri Lankans goods and services? Or is it perhaps mining and drilling barons angling for mineral and oil deposits in Northern Sri Lanka? The entire sordid sequence of episodes over the last 5 years point to the systematic abuse by both the governments in India and Sri Lanka on disseminating news, the absolute failure of ‘corporate news’ papers on reporting it and the de-sensitization of the populace with ‘non- news’ . The end results have exposed the flaws of the Indian state in dealing with gross human rights violations in its immediate neighborhood, bringing into question the ability of the Indian state to uphold its own constitution.
A Neoliberal Field Guide by JASON HIRTHLER
In author and editor Michel Chossudovsky’s excellent book, “The Global Economic Crisis,” he quotes democracy’s bête noire emeritus, Henry Kissinger, who stated in that plain and bloodless manner, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people.” This cynical insight could be the mission statement of global corporate power bent on the total control of the world’s food and fossil fuel. As Chossudovsky and writers including James Petras and Michael Hudson variously illustrate, this goal is pursued largely through three techniques perfected in the killing fields and bombed out urban craters of the developing world, in the maquiladoras and sweatshops of the Third World, and in the borderless ether of global finance. Sometimes characterized as a neoliberal class war by the rich on the poor, elite policies are funded by Fortune 500s, implemented domestically by bought governments, and abroad by a two-tiered alliance of military power and perverted Bretton Woods institutions. Their proven strategies for success include illegal wars of aggression, building commodity monopolies, and rampant financial speculation. If there were ever a field manual made for neoliberal exploitation, these three models, and their representative case studies, would comprise its core chapters. Here are a few cases worth considering.
Blinded on the Road to Damascus: Warmongers at Work
When Abby Martin interviewed dissident writer William Blum on her Russia Today program, “Breaking the Set,” she asked him why he focused so squarely on foreign policy. With his inimitable frankness, Blum replied that it was because that was where the most damage is done. So let’s start there. Although engineered famines compete with war, nothing seems to quite match warfare in its capacity to extend its cruel hand into the past, present, and future. Like nothing else, war obliterates the cultural heritage of the past, slaughters and displaces the living, and deforms the unborn. Past, present, future—no generation untouched, no soil uncontaminated.
While militaries get all the press, the defense corporations that supply their arsenals too frequently skirt the media’s roving eye. Corporations like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grunman, Boeing, and General Dynamics comprise the American quarto of elite weapon makers. Generals at the Pentagon peruse their brochures over apple balsamic salads, checking off their preferred items: Hellfire missiles and military aircraft from Lockheed Martin, the latest in gun systems and ammunition from Alliant Techsystems and ArmaLite, Predator and Reaper drones from General Atomics, F-15 fighter jets from Boeing and Abrams tanks from General Dynamics. The list goes on. We know little about it in the States.
But if you live in Damascus, for instance, you may find yourself an unwitting “early adopter” of some of this leading-edge technology, like a Raytheon Tomahawk missile blasting its way through Syria’s antiquated missile-defense systems into your local hospital or perhaps into your living room. If you live in Waziristan, you may have already grown accustomed to the buzz of MQ-1 Predator drones in the high sky, surveilling your neighborhood for energetic youth bearing the hallmarks of terror. You are savvy enough to know, however, that should your neighbors be hit by a “signature strike,” you shouldn’t attempt to rescue any potential survivors lest you find yourself blown apart by a “double tap” strike, which targets first responders (or, friends of terrorists, according to Pentagon and CIA logic).
It’s no coincidence that Raytheon’s stock price hit a 52-week high on rumors of war with Syria. But aren’t these arms makers seeing their remits reduced? Sequestration? Don’t kid. Austerity? For whom? Northrup Grumman shares are up by 56 percent this year despite the theatrical claims of deficit reduction emanating from beltway bean counters. Northrup also enjoyed a tidy income spike of $38 million year over year. The message is clear: war is coming, one way or another, one place or another. For these corporations, war is good. War is bounty. War is a new guest wing on the CEO’s Monticello-like mansion. And a fresh coup in some remote and abstracted nation.
Jilted in Java: Speculating the World to Death
Many needless nonmilitary crises are caused by financial speculation. The collapse of the U.S. housing market was perpetrated largely by greed-driven derivatives trading and speculation. Likewise, the unnecessary spikes in commodity prices before the 2008 crisis owed much to the same speculative frenzies. When the price of wheat and rice and corn and oil double overnight for no good reason other than futures and options trading, billions are negatively affected—from the billons living on $2 a day, who suddenly can’t afford basic foodstuffs through no fault of their own, to the Western commuter who finds the rising price of gas unsustainable or sees his equity evaporate over a weekend.
Author Amy Chua, in her book World on Fire, pointed out several useful examples of the dangers of speculation, drawn from the finance-fueled collapse of the Asian Tigers in the late nineties. Let’s say you’re a tofu maker in Java. One day, unbeknownst to you, thanks to some clever price manipulations on the Chicago and London commodities exchanges, the price of soybeans triples. After some hand-wringing conversations with your wife, you pull your children out of school and put them to work so that you have enough money to buy the beans that you turn into tofu. Fortunately, the price of fuel is steady; you need about 100 liters a day of fuel to light your pressure cookers. Then the Indonesian government announces, with great fanfare and optimism, that it has rescinded its fuel subsidies based on the sage advice of the IMF, which promises that “free trade” will deliver an economic boom. Your wife walks in to the room. “Welcome to bankruptcy,” she says.
Far from Indonesia, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America are all heavily invested in some or all of the various trading boards, from Chicago’s CME to the NYSE to London’s International Commodity’s Exchange (ICE) and International Petroleum Exchange (IPE). Ever since the deregulation of futures under the Clinton administration, houses like Goldman have been able to stake huge commodity positions, even employing a derivative especially formulated for commodity indices. Over the last decade, money has poured into commodities futures, generating the price bubble that eventually wrecked small farmers and lined the pockets of banking behemoths like Goldman and JPMorgan.
Swindled in Addis Ababa: Cornering the Market
Instead of gun running or commodity swindling, some imperialists prefer the rather more serene methodology of agricultural dispossession. In market terms, this might be known as a monopoly, in that it dispossesses people of their market opportunities. Corporations like Monsanto, Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM), and ConAgra, use standing international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to smuggle their products into developing markets. The IMF Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) have always conditioned loans on the “liberalization” of the local economy. This often meant not only the acquisition of domestic industry by foreign capital, but also the eradication of protectionist measures designed to shelter fledgling domestic businesses, like small farmers, from infusions of competitive foreign products with absolute advantage.
This opening up to “free trade” instances two fairly cruel events. First, the dumping of Western agribusiness commodity surpluses on poor countries. The laws of the WTO stipulate unfettered market access for global agribusiness under the principles of free trade. Naturally, there are no agribusiness titans in Kampala dying to penetrate the American peanut market, so this trade is usually a one-way highway from the overflowing grain silos of the West. Generally, this “food aid” paradoxically leads to a loss of food security in a once self-sufficient land. Instead of producing beans or maize for local consumption, farmers are either pushed out of business or find themselves producing Arabica coffee beans for export to trendy Western cafes (while the government takes loans to import corn and other essential foodstuffs).
Second, and this is even more invidious, say you are a small farmer in an African country. As Chossudovsky has outlined numerous times in relation to Ethiopian agriculture, perhaps you’ve just marginally survived a terrific drought (brought on in part by climate change owning to the outsized and indiscriminate consumption habits of the Western world). Suddenly, with all the serendipity of a Countrywide lender approaching a unwitting mark, an NGO or perhaps an agribusiness agent himself is standing at your door, arms extended, cupping a handful of seeds for which he requires no recompense. You gratefully accept, thinking God has granted you a fresh bounty for your suffering.
A year later things have changed. You discover that either the seeds are “terminator seeds” that go sterile after their first harvest; or you discover that replanting the seeds requires a sizeable outlay of cash to the true owner of the seed, Monsanto. You are told that Monsanto owns the intellectual property rights to the seed variety, which is conjured in a laboratory in Missouri, building a new genetic form based on several existing strains, some of them drawn from your own backyard, hewed over millennia of local hybridization, which cost nothing, and the benefits of which were shared throughout the community.
Not only that, but you’ve got to purchase costly pesticides to ensure you achieve the promised yields at harvest. You might need a pre-emergent herbicide to kill the weeds and a post-emergent fungicide to kill the mold, and significantly more water, since the seed, although touted as drought-resistant, may requires more water at planting to achieve a healthy stand. You can’t afford all this, your crop collapses, your farm fails, and you think—suicide or lifelong shame? 270,000 thousand Indian farmers chose the former. It should be an oft-repeated trope that once the IMF enters a developing economy, it ceases to develop.
Of course, I’ve failed to mention the external cost of agribusiness to the local population. As a report on Argentina recently noted, cancer rates in rural communities there spiked almost simultaneously with Monsanto’s introduction of glyphosate, the infamous ‘silver bullet’ herbicide launched in 1996. While ‘Round Up Ready’ seeds have helped farmers make unproductive land arable, contamination of the water table and, subsequently, the local population, is frightening. In yawning self-defense, the global giant lamely rehearsed its warmed-over talking points about the safety of its toxins. They’ve probably had enough of the troublesome Argentines anyway, given that the government threw the IMF out of the country a decade ago. When it comes to smashing protectionist measures, there’s nothing quite so helpful as the dangling carrot of a multi-billion dollar IMF loan. Not too dissimilar from the sight of Commodore Perry sailing into Tokyo Bay with a squadron of steaming gunships. One inspired avarice, the other fear, but the result was much the same.
Bamboozled in Baghdad: Two for the Price of None
Of course, sometimes there’s no need to involve international lending organizations or the World Trade Organization (WTO) at all. In Iraq, after blowing apart Saddam Hussein’s vaunted Republican Guard, the Americans set up camp at Saddam’s presidential palace in Baghdad, crafting their neoliberal utopia under the gilded domes and marble columns of the fallen dictatorship. As Vice President Dick Cheney hustled no-bid reconstruction contracts into hands of his Halliburton friends, Viceroy Paul Bremer outlined 100 Orders designed to de-Bathify the government and neoliberalize the economy. Order 81 stipulated the use of “stable” plant varieties, a coded term for GMO seeds delivered on demand from Western agribusiness.
As a rough guide to the kind of money there is in agribusiness, Monsanto banks about a billion dollars a quarter—clean profit. They netted $1.48 billion in Q2 this year, coinciding with the infamous “Monsanto Protection Act”, which protects GMO seed producers from litigation over health risks. (This legislation received the Midas-like imprimatur of President Obama in March.)
Under the Viceroy (or is that the vizier?), oil, too, was quickly opened to Western multinationals through Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) that would apply to the dozens of unbuilt Iraqi oil fields. British Petroleum, ExxonMobil, and other oil conglomerates receive fresh oil exploration contracts when the U.S. occupies a country and shreds existing production arrangements (Often, it’s the French or Russians who get screwed in this regard).
One of the unmentionable crimes of Saddam Hussein was the fact that he nationalized Iraqi oil fields in 1972. ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell all have billion dollar production arrangements to mine Iraqi oil fields—this despite the Iraqi government’s unwillingness to sign the hydrocarbon law the Bush administration attempted to push through.
Of course, simply promising the local government a hefty slice of the pie also works. Shell has been wreaking havoc in Nigeria since the 1990s, mostly in the southern Niger Delta region. Various militant organizations have sprung up in largely vain attempts to wrestle control of their own resources away from the corrupt government and multinational alliance. Notably the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and its telling acronym MEND. Nonplussed, Shell has offered scant compensation for its oil spills in the region and last year pocketed $25 billion, a small rise over 2011, which naturally unsettled greed-soaked shareholders (as opposed to oil-soaked but penniless Nigerian villagers).
As Shamus Cooke recently wrote, “The essence of neoliberalism can be reduced to the following: government should be used exclusively to help big business and the wealthy with tax cuts, subsidies, privatizations, anti-labor laws, etc., while all government programs that help working and poor people should be eliminated. It’s really that simple.” Sadly, Cooke’s definition of the core of the neoliberal program is spot on—profits, by any means necessary.
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives and works in New York City.