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#692#693#694#695 Episode #696 - The Morality Play of Austerity
(Bailing out The Shipwrecked Plutocracy)



Sat 20 September 2014  Mark Blyth, Les Leopold, Chris Hedges
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2Three looks at the Financial 'Crisis':- First, Professor Mark Blyth, author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea" looks at the promotion of austerity as a financially necessary measure, uncorrelated to bailouts. Next Les Leopold, another new speaker on the show, author of "How To Make A Million Dollars an Hour - Why Hedge Funds Get Away With Siphoning Off America's Wealth", describes financial chicanery of dubious legality and even less morality. We conclude with a stirring speech by regular speaker, Chris Hedges, who sets the austerity in the context of a dying empire, and assets that the only consistent position for those of conscience is outright rebellion against "the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarianism capitalism".
The total length of all the media used to produce this show was more than 2 hours, so I had to trim not only silences, repetitions, stutters and but even one or two peripheral comments in order to get it to fit in the time available. The resulting program is quite dense and will reward re-listening. The bigger picture is familiar one to regular listeners - massive deception and financial fraud by a super rich elite, and misdirection by their servants, the corporate media. The fact remains that money is a relative measure of wealth, so for all the wealth lost by 99.9% of us, a 0.1% was gaining somewhere, even if the media spotlight was not on them.

Professor Mark Blyth, professor of International political Economy at Brown University and author of "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea". A historically and socially well ground economist, he gives a valuable perspective on the idea of austerity. The economic logic, he notes, doesn't stand up to any sort of close scrutiny, but the moral and psychological content of reporting on austerity and bailouts is more to the point. When the occupy movement was actively demanding fundamental changes to the system, austerity was off the agenda.

Next we hear Francesca Rheanen interviewing Les Leopold, on "How To Make A Million Dollars an Hour - Why Hedge Funds Get Away With Siphoning Off America's Wealth". Leopold's initial impetus for the book was curiosity as to how anyone could contribute so much value to society. His aim was to delegitimize the capture of so much wealth, and recommends a transaction tax to put a stop to conduct which, legal or not, is of no use to society.

We conclude the show with a talk by Chris Hedges from 2 months ago. His up to date speech uses two dystopias to characterize the decline of the US empire. While the cheap credit and mass produced goods from China could have been out of Huxley's Brave New World, the drone strikes, 2 minutes of hate of Al-Qaeda and the torture of Bradley Manning represent a darker face of repression that was foretold by George Orwell in 1984. Hedges' finishes his moving speech as follows:

Quotes-66.gif"We cannot allow ourselves to surrender to the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarianism capitalism. Acts of resistance which keep alive another narrative empower others, whom we may never meet, to stand up and carry the flame we pass to them. And I know of what I speak. It was my father's life of defiance, his fight, as a Presbyterian minister, for racial equality, against war, and finally his outspoken defense of gay rights, positions that sabotaged his own career and drove him out of pulpit after pulpit that set every single standard by which I measure my own life. It is my voice, tonight that you hear, but these are his words. In the Christian faith we call this resurrection."

Chris Hedges, 2014Quotes-99.gif

This reminded me how it was Lyn Gerry, whom I have never met, whose first 500 episodes of Unwelcome Guests empowered me to take over the flame from her. How much dimmer would my understanding of the world have been, had I not picked up light from her show, surrounded as I was by commercially controlled media darkness! If you are interested to help me carry the torch, get in touch!
Thanks to Doug Henwood for the Mark Blyth interview of and Francesca Rheanen who interviewed Les Leopold.
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