The Antidote

In the United States we have a breathtaking system of propaganda that is directly enabling our descent into neo-feudalism. This propaganda, disseminated by the dominant corporate media, is astonishingly effective in its depiction and framing of economic issues. And this sort of misleading economic reporting is everywhere. There’s not a day that goes by without some new revelation of falsehood posing as official wisdom. From the New York Times and the Washington Post, or, as I sardonically refer to them–Pravda and Izvestia, to the administration of Barak Obama, which has been shamelessly shilling for the “too big to fail banks,” to the Wall Street Journal, with some Pete Peterson clone explaining why the American people must sacrifice their first born.

It’s all lies.

Thankfully the internet provides an antidote to shoddy, ideological and misleading economic reporting in the form of Naked Capitalism. Creator, Yves Smith runs a first rate economic blog where one can read alternatives to the neo-liberal orthodoxy propounded by the corporate media. At NC, I’ve been exposed to the alternative economic world of Modern Monetary Theory, and to economist Michael Hudson and law professor William Black, at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where they teach.

At NC, I’ve also had a chance to read political theorist and former congressional staffer Matt Stoller, who has been invaluable in explaining how official Washington D.C. corruption works. His latest story, detailing the hidden subsidies in the ‘fiscal cliff” bill, has even caused such a stir that it’s been picked up by mainstream media. Matt points to this fact to argue that vigilant citizens can start to make difference.

So get over to Naked Capitalism pronto and take the antidote. And if you can, donate, like I did. Thanks Yves.

Update: Matt Stoller is on a roll. Today, he makes the case that American neo-feudalism is hugely enabled by the monopolies and oligopolies that exist in all facets of our day to day life. “Antitrust is the core problem here. Without restraint on behavior, corporate executives will work to grab as much market and political power as possible, because only market power and political power allows them to have pricing leverage without investment, risk, or innovation. Competition is the enemy of these businessmen. America has a long tradition of monopoly power and anti-monopoly sentiment and activism. From the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt to the early 1980s, America had a strong tradition of antitrust regulation rooted in the understanding that too much market power led to inefficiency and price gouging. This tradition ended under Reagan. Since this dramatic shift in antitrust enforcement, corporate power in every industry from cable to railroads to rental cars to banking to health insurance to pipelines has skyrocketed. The result has been inefficiency and price gouging. American electric utilities have dramatically reduced the number of people they have that can repair power lines, which is why it took so long to restore power after Hurricane Sandy. Increasingly, services provided by American corporate oligopolies are terrible… We know how to fix this. It’s called antitrust. And all we have to do is dust off some old law books, decide that greed isn’t the only core value we believe in, and get to work.”

Update 2: At Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi’s new article makes depressingly clear the federal government, in response to the Wall Street crash has “…made lying on behalf of our biggest and most corrupt banks the official policy of the United States government.” On a brighter note, he has one of the funniest quotes I’ve read in some time about the horrible decisions that were made.

“The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.”

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