Obama Tax Hikes will hit Retirees, Middle Class, Veterans, Medicare…

Associated Press
September 19, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s not just millionaires who’d pay more under President Barack Obama’s latest plan to combat the deficit.

Air travelers, federal workers, military retirees, wealthier Medicare beneficiaries and people taking out new mortgages are among those who would pay more than $130 billion in government revenues raised through new or increased fees.

Airline passengers would see their federal security fees double from $5 to $10 for a nonstop round-trip flight and triple to $15 by 2017, raising $25 billion over the coming decade. Federal workers would face an additional 1.2 percentage point deduction from their paychecks to contribute $21 billion more for their pensions over the same period. Military retirees would pay a $200 fee upon turning 65 to have the government pay their out-of-pocket Medicare expenses. They’d also pay more for non-generic prescription drugs.

And it’ll cost corporate jet owners a new $100 fee for each flight.

The fees aren’t taxes. They’re charged to people who use government services or receive benefits such as taxpayer-subsidized health care, and they typically defray the government’s cost of providing a service. The fee on corporate jets and other private passenger planes, for example, would raise about $1 billion a year to help finance the cost of air traffic control. Recreational flyers won’t have to pay.

Many of Obama’s proposals are retreads from earlier budget proposals, including those submitted by his predecessors. Most have been rejected year after year. Some ideas, like requiring wealthier veterans to pay more for their health care, stir up opposition from powerful interest groups. Others, like the bigger security fee for flyers, seem too close to a ticket tax increase.

Administration budget documents describe the fees as savings.

But unlike Obama’s tax proposals, the new fees aren’t necessarily dead on arrival with Republicans. A group led by Vice President Joe Biden had tentatively agreed to increase the airline security fee before talks between the White House and Congress collapsed in June. The Biden-led group was also weighing an increase in pension contributions by federal workers, an idea that has riled organized labor and other Democratic-friendly interest groups.

“Why (would) the administration … propose a Social Security payroll tax holiday in its jobs bill, but simultaneously suggest a tax increase for middle-class federal workers?” asked Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

Another new fee would increase by one-tenth of a percentage point the fee that mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge lenders to guarantee repayment of new mortgage loans. The administration says the fee increase would add $15 a month to the monthly cost of an average new mortgage. Even without existing mortgages being affected, the fee increase would raise $28 billion over 10 years.

Some of the fees tilt toward the arcane. There’s a plan to save $3 million a year by developing an electronic records system for hazardous waste shipments. Another would produce $7 million more a year by giving the federal government a 50 percent share of receipts from geothermal leases on federal lands instead of 25 percent, with the remainder going to the states.

Another proposal would charge $4 an acre on non-producing oil and gas leases on federal lands, raising $1 billion over a decade. The idea is to prod energy companies to get their leases into production or give them up and allow others to develop them.

Russian President: New World Order with new Global Currency

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
June 19, 2010

As many other puppet presidents have done it before, Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev is taking his opportunity to call for a new world

Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev

order and to push the Russian currency up, as the new reserve paper.  “What had seemed untouchable has collapsed. The bubbles that created the illusion of flourishing economies have burst,” said the Russian president in St Petersburg.  As he opened Russia’s annual economic forum, Medvedev said the times when western corporations dominated the economy had ended and the new interest in Russia was a sign that the world was changing.

“For Russia this situation is a challenge and an opportunity.  And we should use it to build a modern, flourishing and strong Russia … which will be a co-founder of the new world economic order.” he added.  Talking in front of many businessmen from around the world, the Russia leader followed the steps of other governments and presidents as well as of non-governmental institutions.  In the past, George H.W. Bush, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Barack Obama, among others, have called for the formation of a new world order.  In fact, all those leaders have cited the creation of a centralized global entity as the only way to cure the many illnesses the world suffers from today.

Together with governments, there are supranational institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and their respective leaders, who have echoed the same calls for the creation of a new global order.  This order would have the power, will amass the resources of the planet and will decide how to use them.  The plan also includes the creation of a single monetary policy to which all countries will have to submit to.  The adherence to such policy will enable the countries to receive loans and aid packages that will make them more dependent on the foreign centralized organization, and less dependent on their own Constitutions and laws.  In fact, in the world seen through the eyes of people like Medvedev and the other power men, there is no need for nationality, sovereignty or identity.

Russia has already taken significant steps to aid the lifeline of the new world order -which has existed for many years now-.  The country will introduce a policy of zero taxation on capital gains which will indeed allow the free flow of monies in and out of, much like it happens in corrupt countries where this policy aides and enables money laundering through the banking system.  This would transform Russia into the new United States when it comes to moving large amounts of money coming from all places -drug trade, arms trade, slave trade- to circulate and make its way across the world.  Of course Medvedev did not present it like that.  Instead, he said his policy would allow companies working on long-term investments.  Russia, he said, “was improving the legal system to offer better protection for businesses against the long arm of bureaucracy.”  In other words, crime, of the kind recently experienced through Wall Street banks around the world will have a safe heaven in Russia.  What Mr. Medvedev’s words mean is that all the policies that allowed the bankers to suck countries dry of their resources will also exist in the world order he dreams about, where Russia is the new leader and he’s the new Al Capone.  Limits to bureaucracy means zero regulation or a perfect environment for the corporations to run their shady Ponzi schemes.

The Russian president also talked about something that would make any corporate businessman smile, even in the rainiest day.  Russia has completed the process of simplifying migration procedures, so that workers can go in the country; or better, Russia just like China will allow corporations to pay some of the lowest wages to its citizens in exchange for long working days with no benefits and no rights.  Again, it’s clear he did not present it this way.  He said Russia had changed to attract “highly-qualified specialists” from the financial and technology sectors.  “The state should not tear down the apples from the tree of economics,” he said.

Medvedev complemented his speech on a new world order by forcefully attacking the dollar and claiming that it was time for a new reserve currency.  “Only three, five years ago it seemed like a fantasy” to create a new reserve currency. Now we are seriously discussing it.”  He does not seem to be alone in that ride.  It seems China is up to the challenge as well.  In the meantime, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer added his voice to the Russian’s, but from a very different point of view, one that is rarely heard.  He said: “New reserve currencies don’t emerge by fiat. They emerge as countries change.”  A fiat currency is paper or electronic  money that is not backed up by a nation’s industry or production, but by an inflated system of blind trust on what a piece of paper says it is worth.

Apparently, both Russia and China think it is time for the East to drive the world and its markets.  “We really live at a unique time, and we should use it to build a modern, prosperous and strong Russia, a Russia that will be a co-founder of the new world economic order,” he said.  The problem with Medvedev’s vision is that his plan will not work, at least not for as long as he wants.  Although he intends to build something new, better and different, he plans on using the same old policies that brought us to the disaster he so clearly criticizes.  He wants prosperity, a modern economy and a strong Russia, but he wants zero regulation, a centralized dictatorial government and no sovereignty.  Maybe he forgets that Capitalism, the real Capitalism, was born from free independent nations that based their development on the use of their resources to produce quality goods that benefited the world.  Instead, he wants a global economy filled with cheap, slave-made products that need to be changed every few months.  He wants the best workers, but will follow the same old low-paying policies that maintains Asia’s and Latin America’s people in a continuous feudal model of development.

“If the world depended completely on the dollar, the situation would have been more difficult,” Medvedev reminded the audience.  So why does he want a single global currency, then?

Some Big Lies of Science

Global Research

“[T]he majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”– Harold Pinter, Nobel Lecture (Literature), 2005

The maintenance of the hierarchical structures that control our lives depends on Pinter’s “vast tapestry of lies upon which we feed.”

Modern science as modern medicine have been used to subdue the global population.

Therefore, the main institutions that embed us into the hierarchy, such as schools, universities, and mass media and entertainment corporations, have a primary function to create and maintain this tapestry. This includes establishment scientists and all service intellectuals in charge of “interpreting” reality.

In fact, the scientists and “experts” define reality in order to bring it into conformity  with the always-adapting dominant mental tapestry of the moment. They also invent and build new branches of the tapestry that serve specific power groups by providing new avenues of exploitation. These high priests are rewarded with high class status.

The Money Lie

The economists are a most significant example. It is probably not an accident that in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century the economists were the first professional analysts to be “broken in,” in a battle that defined the limits of academic freedom in universities. The academic system would from that point on impose a strict operational separation between inquiry and theorizing as acceptable and social reform as unacceptable [1].

Any academic wishing to preserve her position understood what this meant. As a side product, academics became virtuosos at nurturing a self-image of importance despite this fatal limitation on their societal relevance, with verbiage such as: The truth is our most powerful weapon, the pen is mightier than the sword, a good idea can change the world, reason will take us out of darkness, etc.

So the enterprise of economics became devoted to masking the lie about money. Bad lending practice, price fixing and monopolistic controls were the main threats to the natural justice of a free market, and occurred only as errors in a mostly self-regulating system that could be moderated via adjustments of interest rates and other “safeguards.”

Debt

A debt-based economy to enslave the people was established after the appearance of fractional reserve banking.

Meanwhile no mainstream economic theory makes any mention of the fact that money itself is created wholesale in a fractional reserve banking system owned by secret private interests given a licence to fabricate and deliver debt that must be paid back (with interest) from the real economy, thereby continuously concentrating ownership and power over all local and regional economies.

The rest of us have to earn money rather than simply fabricate it and we never own more when we die. The middle class either pays rent or a mortgage. Wage slavery is perpetuated and degraded in stable areas and installed in its most vicious varieties in all newly conquered territories.

It is quite remarkable that the largest exploitation scam (private money creation as debt) ever enacted and applied to the entire planet does not figure in economic theories.

Economists are so busy modeling the ups and downs of profits, returns, employment figures, stock values, and the benefits of mergers for mid-level exploiters that they don’t notice their avoidance of the foundational elements. They model the construction schedule while refusing to acknowledge that the terrain is an earthquake zone with vultures circling overhead.

Meanwhile the financiers write and re-write the rules themselves and again this process does not figure in macroeconomic theories. The only human element that economists consider in their “predictive” mathematical models is low-level consumer behaviour, not high-level system manipulation. Corruption is the norm yet it does not figure. The economies, cultures and infrastructures of nations are wilfully destroyed in order to enslave via new and larger national debts for generations into the future while economists forecast alleged catastrophic consequences of defaulting on these debts…

Management tools for the bosses and smoke and mirrors for the rest of us – thank you expert economists.

The Medicine is Health Lie

We’ve all heard some MD (medical doctor) interviewed on the radio gratuitously make the bold proposal that life expectancy has increased thanks to modern medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Life expectancy has increased in First World countries thanks to a historical absence of civil and territorial wars, better and more accessible food, less work and non-work accidents, and better overall living and working conditions. The single strongest indicator of personal health within and between countries is economy status, irrespective of access to medical technology and pharmaceuticals.

It’s worse than that because medicine actually has a negative impact on health. Medical errors (not counting misattributed deaths

Modern medicine forgot about the power of natural cures and decided to create artificial toxic alternatives.

from correctly administered “treatments”) are the third leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer, and there is a large gap between this conservative underestimate in the number of medical error deaths and the fourth leading cause of death [2]. Since medicine can do little for heart disease and cancer and since medicine has only a small statistical positive impact in the area of trauma interventions, we conclude that public health would increase if all MDs simply disappeared. And think of all the time loss and stress that sick people would save…

One of the most dangerous places in society is the hospital. Medical errors include misdiagnoses, bad prescriptions, prescriptions of medications that should not be combined, unnecessary surgery, unnecessary or badly administered treatments including chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and corrective surgeries.

The lie extends to the myth that MDs anywhere near understand the human body. And this well guarded lie encourages us to put our faith in doctors, thereby opening the door to a well orchestrated profit bonanza for big pharma.

The first thing that Doctors Without Borders (MSF) volunteers need to do in order to contribute significantly in disaster zones is to “forget their medical training” and get to work on the priority tasks at hand: water, food, shelter, and disease propagation prevention; not vaccinating, or operating, or prescribing medication… Public health comes from safety, stability, social justice, and economic buying power, not MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) units and prescription drugs.

These bone heads routinely apply unproven “recommended treatments” and prescribe dangerous drugs for everything from high blood pressure from a sedentary lifestyle and bad nutrition, to apathy at school, to anxiety in public places, to post-adolescence erectile function, to non-conventional sleep patterns, and to all the side effects from the latter drugs.

In professional yet nonetheless remarkable reversals of logic, doctors prescribe drugs to remove symptoms that are risk indicators rather than address the causes of the risks, thereby only adding to the assault on the body.

It’s unbelievable the number that medicine has done on us: Just one more way to keep us stupid (ignorant about our own bodies) and artificially dependent on the control hierarchy. Economically disadvantaged people don’t die from not having access to medical “care” – They die from the life constraints and liabilities directly resulting from poverty. How many MDs have stated this obvious truth on the radio?

Environmental Science Lies

Exploitation via resource extraction, land use expropriation, and wage slavery creation and maintenance are devastating to indigenous populations and to the environment on continental scales. It is therefore vital to cover up the crimes under a veil of expert analysis and policy development diversion. A valued class of service intellectuals here is composed of the environmental scientists and consultants.

Environmental scientists naively and knowingly work hand in hand with finance-corporate shysters, mainstream media, politicians, and state and international bureaucrats to mask real problems and to create profit opportunities for select power elites. Here are notable examples of specific cases.

Freon and Ozone

Do you know of anyone who has been killed by the ozone hole?

The 1987 Montreal Protocol banning chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is considered a textbook case where science and responsible governance lead to a landmark treaty for the benefit of the Earth and all its inhabitants. How often does that happen?

At about the time that the DuPont patent on Freon(TM), the most widely used CFC refrigerant in the world, was expiring the mainstream media picked up on otherwise arcane scientific observations and hypotheses about ozone concentration in the upper atmosphere near the poles.

There resulted an international mobilization to criminalize CFCs and DuPont developed and patented a replacement refrigerant that was promptly certified for use.

A Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded in 1995 for a laboratory demonstration that CFCs could deplete ozone in simulated atmospheric conditions. In 2007 it was shown that the latter work may have been seriously flawed by overestimating the depletion rate by an order of magnitude, thereby invalidating the proposed mechanism for CFC-driven ozone depletion [3]. Not to mention that any laboratory experiment is somewhat different from the actual upper atmosphere… Is the Nobel tainted by media and special interest lobbying?

It gets better. It turns out that the Dupont replacement refrigerant is, not surprisingly, not as inert as was Freon. As a result it corrodes refrigerator cycle components at a much faster rate. Where home refrigerators and freezers lasted forever, they now burn out in eight years or so. This has caused catastrophic increases in major appliance contributions to land fill sites across North America; spurred on by the green propaganda for obscenely efficient electrical consumptions of the new appliances under closed door (zero use) conditions.

Sun over-exposure as well as artificial tanning are dangerous, not sun exposure.

In addition, we have been frenzied into avoiding the sun, the UV index keeps our fear of cancer and our dependence on the medical establishment alive, and a new sun block industry a la vampire protection league has been spawned. And of course star university chemists are looking for that perfect sun block molecule that can be patented by big pharma. And as soon as it is, I predict a surge in media interviews with skin cancer experts…

Acid Rain on the Boreal Forest

In the seventies it was acid rain. Thousands of scientists from around the world (Northern Hemisphere) studied this “most pressing environmental problem on the planet.” The boreal forest is the largest ecosystem on Earth and its millions of lakes were reportedly being killed by acid from the sky.

Coal burning plants spewed out sulphides into the atmosphere causing the rain to be acidic. The acid rain was postulated to acidify the soils and lakes in the boreal forest but the acidification was virtually impossible to detect. Pristine lakes in the hearts of national parks had to be studied for decades in attempts to detect a statistically significant acidification.

Meanwhile the lakes and their watersheds were being destroyed by the cottage industry, agriculture, forestry, mining, over fishing and tourism. None of the local and regional destruction was studied or exposed. Instead, scientists turned their gaze to distant coal burning plants, atmospheric distribution, and postulated chemical reactions occurring in rain droplets. One study found that the spawning in aquarium of one fish species was extremely sensitive to acidity (pH). Long treatises about cation charge balance and transport were written and attention was diverted away from the destruction on the ground towards a sanitized problem of atmospheric chemistry that was the result of industrialization and progress rather than being caused by identifiable exploiters.

As a physicist and Earth scientist turned environmental scientist, I personally read virtually every single scientific paper written about acid rain and could not find an example of a demonstrated negative impact on lakes or forests from acid rain. In my opinion, contrary to the repeated claims of the scientist authors, the research on acid rain demonstrates that acid rain could not possibly have been the problem.

This model of elite-forces-coordinated exploiter whitewashing was to play itself out on an even grander scale only decades later with global warming.

Global Warming as a Threat to Humankind

In 2005 and 2006, several years before the November 2009 Climategate scandal burst the media bubble that buoyed public opinion towards acceptance of carbon credits, cap and trade, and the associated trillion dollar finance bonanza that may still come to pass, I exposed the global warming cooptation scam in an essay that Alexander Cockburn writing in The Nation called “one of the best essays on greenhouse myth-making from a left perspective” [4][5][6].

My essay prompted David F. Noble to research the question and write The Corporate Climate Coup to expose how the media embrace followed the finance sector’s realization of the unprecedented potential for revenues that going green could represent [7].

Introductory paragraphs from Global Warming: Truth or Dare? are as follows [4]:

“I also advance that there are strong societal, institutional, and psychological motivations for having constructed and for continuing to maintain the myth of a global warming dominant threat (global warming myth, for short). I describe these motivations in terms of the workings of the scientific profession and of the global corporate and finance network and its government shadows.”

“I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized.”

Other passages read this way [4]:

“Environmental scientists and government agencies get funding to study and monitor problems that do not threaten corporate and financial interests. It is therefore no surprise that they would attack continental-scale devastation from resource extraction via the CO2 back door. The main drawback with this strategy is that you cannot control a hungry monster by asking it not to shit as much.”

“Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middle class. Nobody else cares about global warming. Exploited factory workers in the Third World don’t care about global warming. Depleted uranium genetically mutilated children in Iraq don’t care about global warming. Devastated aboriginal populations the world over also can’t relate to global warming, except maybe as representing the only solidarity that we might volunteer.”

“It’s not about limited resources. [“The amount of money spent on pet food in the US and Europe each year equals the additional amount needed to provide basic food and health care for all the people in poor countries, with a sizeable amount left over.” (UN Human Development Report, 1999)] It’s about exploitation, oppression, racism, power, and greed. Economic, human, and animal justice brings economic sustainability which in turn is always based on renewable practices. Recognizing the basic rights of native people automatically moderates resource extraction and preserves natural habitats. Not permitting imperialist wars and interventions automatically quenches nation-scale exploitation. True democratic control over monetary policy goes a long way in removing debt-based extortion. Etc.”

And there is a thorough critique of the science as band wagon trumpeting and interested self-deception [4]. Climategate only confirms what should be obvious to any practicing scientist: That science is a mafia when it’s not simply a sleeping pill.

Conclusion

It just goes on and on. What is not a lie?

Look at the recent H1N1 scam – another textbook example. It’s farcical how far these circuses go: Antiseptic gels in every doorway at the blink of an eye; high school students getting high from drinking the alcohol in the gels; out datedness of the viral strain before the pre-paid vaccine can be mass produced; unproven effectiveness; no requirement to prove effectiveness; government guarantees to corporate manufacturers against client lawsuits; university safety officers teaching students how to cough; etc.

Pure madness. Has something triggered our genetically ingrained First World stupidity reflex? Is this part of our march towards fascism [8]?

Here is another one. Educators promote the lie that we learn because we are taught. This lie of education is squarely denounced by radical educators [9][10].

University professors design curricula as though the students actually learn every element that is delivered whereas the truth is that students don’t learn the delivered material and everyone only learns what they learn. One could dramatically change the order in which courses are delivered and it would make no measurable difference in how much students learn. Students deliver nonsense and professors don’t care. Obedience and indoctrination are all that matter so the only required skill is bluffing. Students know this and those that don’t don’t know what they know, don’t know themselves [8][9][10].

Pick any expert opinion or dominant paradigm: It’s part of a racket.

We can’t know the truth because the truth is brutal.

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He was trained as a physicist and practiced physics, Earth sciences, and environmental science, areas in which he was funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009. [See www.academicfreedom.ca]

Notes

[1] “No Ivory Tower – book” by Ellen W. Schrecker.
[2] Radio interview with Dr. Barbara Starfield: CHUO 89.1 FM, Ottawa; January 21, 2010.
[3] Nature 449, 382-383 (2007).
[4] “Global Warming: Truth or Dare? – essay” by Denis G. Rancourt.
[5] “Questioning Climate Politics – Denis Rancourt says the ‘global warming myth’ is part of the problem”; April 11, 2007, interview in The Dominion.
[6] Climate Guy blog.
[7] “The Corporate Climate Coup – essay” by David F. Noble.
[8] “Canadian Education as an Impetus towards Fascism – essay” by Denis G. Rancourt.
[9] “Pedagogy of the Oppressed – book” by Paulo Freire.
[10] “The Ignorant Schoolmaster – book” by Jacques Rancière.

US media demands Greek-style austerity for American workers

WSNM

In recent days, the US media—led by the standard bearer of American liberalism, the New York Times—has insisted that workers inseek truth the US, like their brethren in Greece, have been living the good life for far too long and must accept a drastic and permanent reduction in their living standards.

In a May 9 piece, Times columnist Thomas Friedman denounces workers in the US and Western Europe for believing in the “tooth fairy” and expecting government services without paying for them. In America, Friedman says, the baby-boom generation, which supposedly had inherited the prosperity of the post-war years, had “eaten through all that abundance like hungry locusts.”

“After 65 years in which politics in the West was, mostly, about giving things away to voters, it’s now going to be, mostly, about taking things away. Goodbye Tooth Fairy politics, hello Root Canal politics.”

Describing what he has in mind, two days later Friedman wrote about his meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in a rooftop restaurant in Athens. Praising Papandreou for defying mass protests, theTimes columnist hails the government for carrying out a “revolution,” including raising the retirement age and slashing wages and pensions for public sector workers, imposing regressive consumption taxes and wiping out two-thirds of the country’s publicly owned companies.

Another May 11 article, appearing on the front page of the Times, is entitled, “In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S.” Its author, David Leonhardt, led the newspaper’s campaign to promote Obama’s health care overhaul, explicitly supporting limits on medical treatments ordinary people could receive. (“In truth, rationing is an inescapable part of economic life”).

“It’s easy to look at the protesters and the politicians in Greece—and at the other European countries with huge debts—and wonder why they don’t get it,” Leonhardt writes. “They have been enjoying more generous government benefits than they can afford…

“Yet in the back of your mind comes a nagging question: how different, really, is the United States?… Both countries have a bigger government than they’re paying for. And politicians, spendthrift as some may be, are not the main source of the problem.

We, the people, are.”

It is rich to hear demands for sacrifices and lectures about “the people” living beyond their means, particularly from the likes of Leonhardt and Friedman. The latter, who is paid $50,000 per speaking engagement, is married to the heir of a multi-billion dollar real estate fortune. According to theWashingtonian magazine, the couple owns “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house” in suburban Washington, DC, valued in 2006 at $9.3 million.

In these circles it is taken for granted that massive cuts must be imposed on the living standards of the working class, but not a word is said about the hundreds of billions that are funneled into the personal fortunes of the financial aristocracy and the subordination of the entire economy to increasing their piles of wealth.

The events of the last several years have revealed to the world that the greatest burden on society is not ordinary working people but the anti-social activities of an unproductive and parasitic financial elite. The grotesque consumption and appropriation of social wealth by this oligarchy is not a minor factor in the crisis of the global capitalist system itself.

The bankrupting of whole countries—chiefly through the transferring of the bad debts of the financial speculators onto the books of various governments—is being used to demand austerity from workers and ever-greater riches for the elite.

The four biggest US financial firms—Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase—made money from trading every single day during the first quarter of the year, according to their financial filings. The banks, which all benefited from the Wall Street bailout, reaped hundreds of millions in profits from betting on the movement of currency, commodity and sovereign debt markets, including in relation to Greece.

At the same time, the value of corporate shares has risen, chiefly through a campaign of job cutting, wage and benefit concessions and a staggering 3.8 percent increase in worker productivity in 2009. As a result, corporate CEOs, who took stock options in lieu of pay increases when profits were down, are now cashing in, according to an Associated Press report, entitled, “America’s top CEOs are set for a once-in-a-lifetime pay bonanza.” Yahoo’s Carol Bartz, for example, received a $47.2 million package during her first year on the job, 90 percent of which came from stock awards and options.

While these vast personal fortunes have been made, there has been no recovery in the wages and benefits workers have lost during the recession. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reported that real wages fell last year by 2.7 percent in Japan and Ireland, 1.1 per cent in Germany and 0.8 percent in the US.

The unbridled greed of America’s ruling elite—and the complete subservience of the political establishment, from Obama on down, to its needs—can only be compared to the ancien régime in France. The parasitism and extravagance of the aristocracy became a major factor in the country’s breakdown, and ultimately the eruption of the French Revolution in 1789.

Workers must reject the demand for austerity. The working class did not create this crisis and must not pay for it. Instead, the ill-gotten gains of the ruling elite must be confiscated and used to meet the interests of society as a whole, instead of gutting social programs and destroying jobs.

This must include a multi-trillion dollar program of public works to put the unemployed to work—at decent wages and full medical care—to rebuild the cities and suburbs, repair the nation’s infrastructure and provide high quality housing, medical care and education for all.

In the midst of the Great Depression, the founder of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky, argued in the Transitional Program that it is “impossible to take a single serious step in the struggle against monopolistic despotism and capitalistic anarchy—which supplement one another in their work of destruction—if the commanding posts of the banks are left in the hands of predatory capitalists. In order to create a unified system of investment and credits, along a rational plan corresponding to the interests of the entire people, it is necessary to merge all the banks into a single national institution. Only the expropriation of the private banks and the concentration of the entire credit system in the hands of the state will provide the latter with the necessary actual, i.e., material, resources—and not merely paper and bureaucratic resources—for economic planning.”

The nationalization of the banks, however, will produce positive results, Trotsky explained, “only if the state power itself passes completely from the hands of the exploiters into the hands of the toilers.”

For this to be realized the working class must build its own mass political party, independent of and irreconcilably opposed to the two parties of big business, and dedicated to the fight for a workers’ government to replace capitalism with socialism.