- (December 1999)
Never farther from the truth in the Martin Luther King case.
A court in Memphis has ruled that, as the King family always claimed, Martin
Luther King was not assassinated by a lonely lunatic (James Earl Ray) but was
the victim of a conspiracy of Mafia, CIA, British secret services, etc etc.
Notwithstanding the jury's decision, the evidence is still the same:
Ray killed King, and had no help. The Memphis trial was a farce. Nobody doubts
that. So why did the King family insist in going through it? They claim it's not for money:
they only asked for a penalty of $100. Of course, they forgot to mention
that, in truly American fashion, they sold the rights to the story to Hollywood.
For decades the name of King has inspired freedom fighters around the world.
After this farce and the Hollywood movie that will turn it into a Titanic-style
melodrama, King will become as revolutionary as Mickey Mouse.
Coretta King: now you can truly say that your husband died in vain.
- (November 1999)
The World Trade Organization and the return of lawless capitalism.
The Seattle meeting of the world's countries was supposed to be the celebration
of free trade. It is, indeed, a reason to celebrate for lawless capitalists.
It took decades of workers protests, grass-roots movements and student riots
to bring about a degree of control on capitalism. Un bridled capitalism, just
like any other force of nature, would simply divour everything it can and
leave a waste land behind. Western societies have introduced several mechanisms
to protect workers rights, the environment and even business itself (anti-trust
laws, for example). Most third-world and ex-communist countries have no labor
laws and no environmental laws. It is a law of nature that capitalism, driven by
Darwinian competition, will move its operations from highly-controlled
western countries to loosely-controlled third-world countries. The net result
will be 1. massive exploitation of the harmless peoples of those countries; and
2. the creation of an even bigger gap between rich employers and poor workers.
When the capitalists of the WTO talk about "capital flows", they are not talking
about charity sent by rich countries to poor countries. They are talking about
dirty, underpaid, life-threatening jobs dumped on poor countries for the purpose
of increasing the profits of their multinational corporations.
- (October 1999)
Is the American economy about to collapse?
If you think the American economy is in great shape, check out the following
- All indicators suggest that the stock market is significantly overvalued by
about 50-60%. For example, market capitalization is 140% of the
gross national product, which dwarves the previous record (81% in 1929).
A lot of this overvaluation is due to weak foreign economies: Japanese and
European investors flocked to Wall St because their own economies were
If those investors flee, the stock market will crash.
Like no other country in the world, the United States
is a country of stock owners. The number of Americans who gamble with stocks
is astonishing: almost 80 million Americans own stocks. Unlike Europe and
Japan, were stocks are owned by large financial organizations, the United
States stock market directly affects the wealth of ordinary people.
A crash of the stock market would greatly affect most households.
Those very households are not in a position to be affected by any negative
news: total consumer debt is not at 98% of total disposable annual income. On
average, Americans would have to sacrifice one full year of salary to pay
off their debts.
It is truly American households who have kept the economy going, with their
willingness to take loans for just about everything. It is not a coincidence
that the stock market has exploded exactly when private household debt has
The country as a whole is no less indebted than the individual Americans.
The trade deficit reached $80 billion in September 1999 (just about one
billion dollars a day), or 3.7% of the gross national product. It may
pass $300 billion by the end of the year.
Last year it was $164 billion, and for the previous three years it had been
stable at $100 billions.
Americans consume hundreds of billions of dollars more in goods than they
produce. Foreigners are financing this colossal debt by buying U.S. stocks
and U.S. bonds.
Obviously, the United States cannot consume forever more than it produces.
The easy way out of this trade imbalance is to let the dollar fall.
That should not be difficult.
The dollar has been boosted artificially by the same factors that kept
stock prices unrealistically high. A quiet sell-off of dollars has actually been
going on for a while (both the euro and the yen are up sharply from a
year ago) and could pick up steam if the Japanese and European economies
improve. But a sharp decline in the dollar would have these effects:
it would increase inflation (which has been low mainly because of cheaper
imports), which would push up interest rates, which would cause a sell-off
of stocks, which would cause a flight of foreign investment, which would cause
a decline in the dollar, which would cause... etc.
The Federal Reserve fears inflation, but the prices that people deal with
are falling, and the Internet is helping bring them down even faster.
Companies have to keep cutting prices if they want to survive in the
Internet world. No wonder that Internet companies make no profits, no matter
how big their market evaluation. Internet companies are a tool in the hands
of financial speculators to inflate prices and reap huge profits in stocks.
In the meantime they force healthy companies to cut their margins too.
This is a deflationary spiral.
The media love success stories and talk about all the sudden millionaires.
Very few media recorded the simple fact that in the first half of 1999, out of
$20 billion in corporate defaults worldwide, a scary 85% of the losses were
in the United States.
Last but not least, the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has widened to
a record. Since 1977, the richest 1% of Americans has more than doubled its
fortunes, but the poorest 25% of Americans are 9% poorer. In 1980 a top
executive's pay was (on average) 42 times the wage of a worker: in 1999
the same top executive is making 419 times what a worker makes.
The median family income (discounted for inflation) is the same as in the
early 1970's: $46,000.
And, in order to achieve that number, more women and children have to work,
and men have to work more hours.
The average wage (discounted for inflation) is about 10% lower than it was
The conventional wisdom is that the "new" economy (i.e., the high-tech
industry, represented by the NASDAQ index) is indifferent to these
"traditional" indicators. Since most of the recent boom is due to the "new"
economy, then there is no danger of a crash.
The truth is almost certainly at the opposite extreme. The traditional economy
is in good shape. Stocks of the "real" economy are overvalued, but only 20-25%.
On the other hand, the "new" economy is a gigantic bubble and it is going to
burst within six months. A 25% correction of the NASDAQ stock prices in the next
six months is very likely.
The flight from the "new" economy will benefit the "real" economy, as investors
will simply switch stocks. For a while, therefore, the real economy will look
at that point the traditional economy will come under pressure too, because
all of a sudden investors will rediscover the indicators that they have
neglected for so long. That will cause panic selling and a
violent correction in the Dow Jones index as well.
Foreigners will take their money back and the dollar will fall, causing ever
more foreigners to flee the U.S. As more and more high-tech millionaires
find out that they are actually broke, real estate will also collapse
(at least in the areas where it got out of control), and housing has always
been a crucial factor in U.S. economic recoveries. This will cause a
full-fledged recession. It will not last long, as the economic foundations are
solid, but America and Americans will have to learn to pay their debts.
Right now the stock market and the entire
economy are supported only by the positive feelings of millions of American
investors and of a few large foreign investors.
The higher it goes, the harder it will fall. Needless to say, once it falls
all the pundits will tell you exactly why it fell and why it had to fall.
They did the same thing last time in Japan.
- (September 1999)
France Investigates Microsoft monopoly.
French consumers said the obvious: it has become almost impossible to purchase
a computer which is not already equipped with Microsoft's operating system.
The difference between French consumers and American consumers is that, while
Americans accept this fact like sheep, the French were irritated at having
Windows automatically installed in their computers. You pay for that software,
and consumer groups in several countries have set up websites to explain how
to get refunds for the Microsoft software that you unwillingly paid for and
will never use.
Unfortunately, the French saw only half of the problem. Microsoft's monopoly
has far more devastating consequences. Every time Intel comes up with a
faster processor, Microsoft comes up with a bigger and slower operating
system, so your computer salesperson tells you that you need to throw away
your PC and buy a new one, faster and with more memory. Why you may wonder?
My current computer does everything I need. Because if you don't you will be
stuck with an operating system that nobody supports anymore. It's like having
a refrigerator that no electrician can fix anymore: the pressure to purchase
a new one is high. Once you decide to upgrade to a new Microsoft operating
system, you will find that you need a faster processor and a larger memory.
Since processor, memory and operating system account for most of the cost
a personal computer, you may as well just throw away your existing computer
and purchase a new one.
The truth is that, if you tried it, a very old Windows 3.1 operating system
would work perfectly well on your personal computer and (surprise) your
personal computer would even be a lot faster. Of course, you could not run
the new games and programs that have been developed for newer Microsoft
operating systems, but most of us don't use those games and programs.
Most of us would be perfectly happy with an old Windows 3.1, much happier
than we are with slow and cumbersome dinosaurs like Windows98.
This is a well known racket that has helped both Microsoft and the personal
computer industry grow at the expense of consumers budgets. This happens
because Microsoft has a monopoly of operating systems. As alternatives appear,
such as Linux and the new Macintosh, consumers are shocked to see how easy
and fast their computers can be. The only thing that countries like France
need to do is make sure that Linux and the Macintosh are given a fair chance
and are not unfairly boycotted by Microsoft.
Hopefully the current trail against Microsoft in the United States will reach
the consequences which are supported by overwhelming evidence (Microsoft's own
memos, countless witnesses including Microsoft's, and Microsoft's own sale
record): that Microsoft is a monopoly and has taken advantage of its power
to force others go its way and ultimately hurt consumers. Bill Gates' own
testimony makes Bill Clinton's lies about sex look like child's play.
Bill Gates has always claimed that any action from the US government would
hurt innovation. Bill Gates may be the reachest man on the planet, but he knows
very well that he has never innovated. Microsoft is not responsible for a single
technical innovation in the history of computers. Windows and mice were
invented by Xerox and made popular by the Apple Lisa. The Apple Macintosh
introduced most of the concepts which are employed by the Microsoft
operating systems. All of Microsoft's most popular applications were bought
from other companies or individuals (DOS itself, the software that started
Bill Gates' formidable climb, was bought from another individual, Bill Gates
did not develop it). Microsoft's software empire grew from the beginning
on the successes and failures of its competitors: Microsoft would produce
its own version of whatever was being successful and destroy with its
formidable machine whatever it could not acquire or copy (very often it would
cause a company's downfall only to purchase its technology cheap and turn it
into a multimillion dollar business).
In the 1990s Microsoft's strategy has been to fiercely oppose all innovations,
and, when forced, to wage war against their creators. The greatest innovations
of the 1990s (think Netscape Navigator, Lotus Notes, Sun's Java, SAP R/3
and Linux) have all been targets of Microsoft repression.
Bill Gates is correct when he says that
Microsoft has left others continue to innovate: what Microsoft has also done
is make sure that they would never "profit" from their innovations, unless
they surrendered them (one way or another) to Microsoft.
We will never know how software would look like today if Microsoft had not
existed, but we know that all innovations would be there anyway. And maybe
some of the legitimate inventors would be a little richer.
- (September 1999)
The morality test: give the GOP a reason to exist.
The Republican Party needs a man with a vision. It can't face the elections
as the party that investigated Bill Clinton's extramarital sex affairs
for 6 years and asked his removal based on the fact that they had the
majority to do so. That party is dead. Bill Clinton's impeachment closed
a phase of American politics that was dominated by the Republican Party.
It started with Reagan's stubborn anti-communism and with the Party's stubborn
message that government is bad. The Republican Party won the cold war, proved
that no mercy was due to Marxism and humiliated the more conciliatory approach
of the Democrats. Time proved that a smaller government works better than
a bigger government; reduce taxes, deregulated industries, and let the market
find its own rules. While their presidents did not abide by the principle
(Reagan created the biggest deficit in the history of the US, and it took
Clinton, a democratic president, to fix Reagan's multi-trillion dollar
heritage), the principle itself triumphed.
These two pillars of the Republican philosophy have evaporated. On top of that,
there is no slow down in sight for the longest economic expansion of all time,
which certainly comes as a major embarassment to the conservative pundits who,
year after year, predicted all sorts of economic disasters. In a sense,
the biggest drawback for the Republican Party is that today we live in a better world.
Republicans will have to face tough debates. Everything they said turned out
to be wrong, and Al Gore is likely to remind the American public of that.
Americans may have forgotten, but the Republicans painted each of these
initiatives as the beginning of the end for the American dream.
Everything they said turned out to be false.
- The NAFTA agreement did not cost a single job.
- Raising the minimum wage did not cost a single job.
- Clinton's tax increase did not hurt the economy.
- Clinton's social programs (from student financial support to increased police) have lowered social tensions and contributed to lower crime rates.
Worse: everything they tried to achieve bordered on the criminal.
Their tax package
(vetoed by Clinton) would have returned billions of dollars to billionaires
like Bill Gates but delayed payment of tax credits to low-income workers.
Their budget proposal would have spent billions of social security dollars
(in a time of budget surplus!) for special purpose interest groups.
Worse: they seem to fight against everything the American people really want.
Poll after poll showed that Americans want universal health care. Poll after
poll showed that Americans are not interested in building new weapons of mass
destruction. Guess what: the Republican Party has killed every single
proposal for universal health care and has passed one billion-dollar law after
the other to build more weapons of mass destruction.
Poll after poll showed that Americans are not too crazy about tax breaks, but
they are very worried about the future of Social Security. Guess what: the
Republican Party has proposed to cut taxes and take the money out of Social
Security. Poll after poll showed that Americans are extremely concerned about
guns. Guess what: the Republic Party has killed any meaningful law to take
guns out of the streets, out of schools, out of offices, out of society.
The Republican Party needs a reason. A reason to exist and a reason for voters
to vote Al Gore out of the White House. There is none in sight.
Of course, moral values is a loser (if there is one thing they can learn
from the president's impeachment). Americans just don't care what happens in
the private lives of other Americans (more than half of them are divorced
and more than half of them are the product of non-traditional families).
And the GOP's own candidates wouldn't fare much better than Clinton anyway
in a morality test...
- (July 1999)
The Atlanta massacre: welcome to America.
The NRA strikes again. Sadly there is nothing that we can add to what
we wrote about
The Littleton shooting: why Serbia and not the NRA?
How many more innocents will have to die before we outlaw what is arguably
terrorist organization in the world and we amend the first article of the
constitution to make it a CRIME to own a weapon?
- (July 1999)
Is "honest gun dealer" an oxymoron?
Undercover police officers have been investigating gun stores and gun shows
and found an infinite list of violations: gun dealers advise criminals on
how to get around gun laws, gun dealers compete to attract customers who
are notorious members of gangs, gun dealers
Gun dealers are so eager to sell and make money that would sell guns to
the very gangs who will kill their own children.
The authorities are powerless: laws passed by Republican politicians on the
limit what a police officer (or an agent of the ATF) can do to check a
gun dealer. The FBI and the ATF are forbidden to inspect the business of
a gun store. The NRA sponsored a law that kept any government agency
from tracing guns used in crimes (for 15 years government agencies could
not keep a database of such guns).
In the unlikely event that an irregularity is detected, a law
passed by Republican politicians on the NRA's payroll limits even the
penalties that a judge can charge a gun store.
There is a vast, murky network of gun sales for criminals (the gun industry's
And there is a vast, even murkier network of laws that the NRA successfully
sponsored to protect those illegal gun sales (and therefore those criminals).
- (June 1999) The U.S. Congress: give more guns to the criminals!
After a heated
debate the U.S. Congress has approved only one new law as a response to the
high school shootings: schools will be allowed to display the ten commandments.
Of course, parents all over America are relieved that such an important step
has been taken in such a timely manner...
This is not a joke, it is the sad truth:
the ten commandments law is the only step taken by Congress to limit violence
in the American society. Days later, all the laws sponsored by the National
Rifle Association have been voted in: these will allow criminals to purchase
guns without any problem, pretty much at their will and anywhere,
and will make
it much easier for kids to get a gun and use it.
The United States is now the only country in the world that cannot legally
prevent a mentally unstable person from purchasing and using a gun.
The gun lobby has a strong
interest that the recent wave of killings increases: gun sales have been
steadily increasing as gun killings have been increasing, and gun killings
have been steadily increasing as gun sales have been increasing... Get it?
The spiral of terror means billions of dollars in revenues for gun shows,
gun shops, gun makers, gun "collectors", and corrupt politicians who are
routinely bribed (also called "lobbied") by the NRA.
President Clinton may not be a model
of president, but he has been the only obstacle to a wider spread of guns.
Once he is gone, America is likely to become much more dangerous than Somalia
or Kosovo. And a paradise for criminals: America encourages you to kill
as many people as you can, with as modern a weapon as we can manufacture,
because this means business to us.
Next, we can expect Congress to approve a law to train gun buyers so that they
- (June 1999) The dangers of George Bush
Bush may be a better man (it doesn't take much to be more honest than Bill
Clinton), but he is likely to represent a danger for the U.S.A.
(see also Who will be the next president)
Texas is not exactly paradise: serial killers abound, the death penalty
is performed at rates similar to Africa and Iran, disparity of income is high,
the social "net" does not exist,
pollution is the highest in the country,
the poverty rate is the second highest in the country after Oregon,
and as for education... Texas schools ranked 45th out of all 50
states in SAT scores.
Ultimately, one has to decide: do you really want the entire United States
to look like Texas?
- In foreign policy, there is no doubt that Clinton restored America to
superpower status, after years of one embarassment after the other.
Reagan fled from Lebanon at the first bomb, invaded a tiny
Caribbean island, killed a few babies while trying to bomb Qaddafi's
residence, traded guns for hostages with Iran. Bush bombed Panama to get
the dictator Noriega that he, Bush, had installed there in the first place.
The United States had become a joke. Clinton has restored some dignity to the
U.S. foreign policy.
George W. Bush has no experience in foreign policy and could be as vulnerable as
that other inexperienced governor, Reagan.
Worse, his drug record will expose the Americans' hypocrisy on drugs: what
is the purpose of killing thousands of hispanic farmers, creating the premises
for guerrilla groups and civil wars throughout Latin America, fighting
high-level corruption that cost the lives of so many journalists and lawyers in
Colombia and Mexico, if America simply forgives a confessed cocaine-user and
elects him to president? Why should any drug trafficker surrender? Why
shouldn't poor peasants grow coca to feed their poor children if a rich
spoiled American child who used cocaine even becomes
president of the United States?
What kind of moral leadership could this man inspire in the rest of the world?
As far as domestic issues go, Bush's record in tackling the biggest problems of the U.S. is mixed. He would certainly do something
about the family breakdown, and the general decline of moral values.
But crime will probably skyrocket again, after eight years of steady decline:
he does not believe in crime prevention, he advocates the death penalty
(since he became governor of Texas in 1995 he has authorizes the killing of
136 convicts, a number which ranks him
along some of the worst dictators in the world), he
would remove whatever feeble gun control exists and flood the streets of America
with automatic rifles. All the other problems, from the lack of medical
coverage to the deterioration of the environment, would also worsen.
His biggest liability is that he has precious little experience in running
anything: he has spent less time as governor of Texas than his rival
John McCain spent as a prisoner of war.
Specifically, he has aborted any attempt to prevent or punish polluters in
Texas. He opposes lawsuits against polluting industries and would make it
a national policy that any industry can cause environmental damages and not
be held responsible for it. He asked industry leaders to draw a draft of what
became the only law against pollution in Texas (approved in november 1999).
It is not surprising that only businessmen praised it. Incidentally, nine of the
largest contributors to his campaign are members or represent members of the
committee that drafted the Texas "anti-pollution" law.
The consequences of his pollution-friendly policies are, alas, very tangible:
in 1999 Houston has passed Los Angeles as the most polluted city in the US,
Texas has registered the 24 worst readings of ozone pollution in the US,
and pollution-related deseases in Texas have had the highest increase in the US.
As for the economy, it is difficult to improve over the currest state. Cliton's
main achievement is not the longest expansion on record: Clinton's most
important legacy is the budget surplus. For the first time since 1969 the
U.S. government is even making money. Reagan and Bush created a gigantic budget
deficit that was threatening future generations. Worse, they used the money
to cut taxes for rich people, who became very rich at the expense of the
Both Reagan and Bush were Republicans. So is the new George Bush. The
Republicans have already proposed a 10% tax cut, which would save Bill Gates
about $1 billion but would save most Americans negligible amounts of dollars
(and would save poor people zero dollars, since they don't pay taxes, since
they don't have money).
That immoral tax bill will be vetoed by Bill Clinton: George Bush would
not veto it.
A study by the Dept Of Agriculture found that 5% of Texas households suffered
from hunger between 1996 and 1998. Worse: they were mostly employed, and still
they could not feed their families. This is Bush's economics.
The next president will be in a position to determine the course of America's
domestic policies for an entire generation: three of the Justices of the
Supreme Court are over 70, and are likely to step down in the next four years.
The Supreme Court is already wildly to the right of America's center.
Three Bush appointees would turn the United States in something very similar
to Iran, a democracy where people decide the Parliament and the President
but can't do anything against the clergy oligarchy.
Bush's own morality is at least dubious. What is worse: a philanderer or a
drug user? Is Bush, a spoiled rich kid who never had to work and took drugs
as a young man, a better role model for your children?
Bush still has to explain the difference between his "youthful indiscretions"
and those of all the "indiscrete" youngsters who have been jailed in Texas
according to his tough policies: had a governor applied them to his
generation, George W. Bush would have never run for governor and today he
would simply be
- (April 1999)
What do serial killers, terrorists and mass murderes have in common?
They are all WASPs.
It is not a matter of racism, it is a matter of statistics. All
serial killers except two were white, anglosaxon protestants. All major
terrorist acts in the U.S. (such as the Oklahoma bombing, the Unabomber)
except one (the World Trade Center) have been committed by white, anglosaxon
protestants. School shootings have been committed so far only by white,
anglosaxon protestant kids. And all of them, serial killers, terrorists and mass
murderers, tend to be from the heartland of America, not from New York or
California; and from communities which tend to be both very conservative
and very religious.
It's up to psychologists, politicians
and, yes, WASPs themselves, to figure out why WASPs are such a violent race.
And to figure out how to protect the rest of the world.
Imagine if all these crimes have been committed, say, by Arab people. Arabs
would probably be imprisoned by the thousands and persecuted by militias,
banned from schools and streets, and probably deported en masse...
- (April 1999)
The Littleton, Colorado shooting: why Serbia and not the NRA?
Here we go again. The numbers are getting higher and higher, but it's the
same scene all over again. Just like in the Arkansas shooting
and in dozens other incidents of this type, it's the heartland of America,
it's 100% white anglosaxon protestan kids, it's an average
"how-could-it-happen-here" community. And guns. And guns. And guns.
How many more kids will have to die? Where will it be next time? Texas?
Missouri? Tennessee? How can we ask the world to fight against Milosevic and
Saddam Hussein when the National Rifle Association and its corrupt supporters
in Congress are responsible for far more deaths?
The N.R.A. has lobbied in favor of laws that, one after the other, have
increased protection to organized and individual criminals. Congress has passed
laws that limit the ability of law enforcement to trace the arms of a crime.
In the U.S. it is basically illegal to trace who bought a gun or where he
bought it from, even if that gun was obviously purchased illegally and even
if it was used to massacre children. The murderers enjoy the highest level of
protection from the law. Why? Because criminals are the most loyal customers
of the gun industry, and therefore the gun industry (through the N.R.A.) does
everything it can to protect their right to purchase more guns and kill more
people. The NRA helped pass legislation that protects any felon who tries to
purchase a gun: the felon cannot be prosecuted. The NRA has boycotted
legislation to mark every gun that is manufactured, to fingerprint every
gun buyer, and to punish gun crimes more severely than, say, a car theft
(today, if you steal a car you are punished more severely than if you steal a
All the tears and all the funeral services... this is so hypocrite, as we all
know that it will happen again in a few months, some other school, some other
kids, some other guns. In the meantime, the real killers (the N.R.A., the
Republican politicians who oppose gun control and the owners of gun stores) go
- (February 1999)
Who caused the global financial crisis?
The answer is very simple: the U.S. America first colonized the world, by
forcing its economic model. Then, when things started going wrong, America
forced actions on those countries that would save the reckless western
investors rather than the living standards of the people.
Japan was ready to inject money in Thailand as early as summer 1997, at no cost
to the U.S. or the International Monetary Fund (which is more and more
run by the U.S.), but
Jerry Rubin of the U.S. objected and instead force Thailand to adopt austerity
measures. Those austerity measures had two effects: they saved the money that
western investors had poured into the Thai economy and they hurt the average
Thai worker. During the entire global crisis, the U.S. attitute was always the
same: let's first save our interests, even if this will cause more economies
to collapse. So the U.S., through their own political influence or the I.M.F.,
force one country after the other to adopt fatal measures that only increased
their problems and spread them to their neighbors.
Even the current "bailouts" of those economies (which add up to several
trillion dollars) will mainly benefit the (western) banks that lent money
to those countries. The banks will recover their money at a nice profit,
whereas the countries will be left poorer than they were. Each U.S.
intervention is specifically designed to save the western banking system,
which is the prime responsible for the global financial crisis.
In the past baks have always shared the cost of the financial crisis.
This will be the first time that banks (U.S. banks) don't lose a penny even
if they made very bad investments.
- (February 1999)
The global financial crisis and the U.S.
The U.S. critizing Far East and Latin American countries for the global
financial crisis is on oxymoron. Those countries simply followed the American
model, they were very much inspired by the Harvard business school that runs
most of corporate America and in some cases (notably, Russia) they were even
physically directed by American "experts". They all became financial colonies
of the U.S., directly or indirectly governed by the U.S.
Furthermore, it is not clear how different the U.S. situation is from theirs.
The only macroscopic difference is that financial markets in Asia and Latin
America have already crashed, whereas Wall Street has not yet crashed.
The United States is financing its economic expansion according to the Asian
higher stock prices generate artificial capital that investors can use to
invest and consumers can use to consume, thereby increasing economic
activity, thereby igniting higher stock prices.
This is what ruined Thailand and Russia, this is exactly what is happening
in the U.S.
The U.S. is borrowing money from foreigners (a large chunk of U.S. bonds is
owned by foreign investors) just like any Far Eastern and Latin American
The U.S. stock market is overpriced (market capitalization is 140% of the
gross national product, which dwarves the previous record, 81% in 1929).
The U.S. is simply a bigger "bubble" than the one that exploded in Asia and
Latin America and Russia. That is why it is taking longer to explode.
- (January 1999)
Crime declines nationwide: what is the secret?
1999 registered the single biggest decline in violent crime since statistics
are compiled. Homicides, while still dramatically more frequent than in the
rest of the western world, are becoming a rarity in neighborhoods where they
used to be the norm. Several factors may have contributed:
- Bill Clinton's program of increasing police in urban areas. More police
does deter crime.
- The "war on drugs" declared ten years ago by George Bush. While that war
is being lost in a general sense, as more and more Americans consume cocaine
and marijuana, the war is being won at least as far as "crack" goes. And the
"crack epidemic" was responsible for a terrible number of killings.
- Jobs. The economy is creating enough jobs, and jobs which are paid well
enough, to tilt the economic equation towards honesty and away from crime.
Crime is a risky business, which pays off only if it brings higher rewards
much faster. The current economy rewards honesty more than crime.
- (January 1999)
Who will be the next president?
The Democratic Party has virtually only two candidates, Al Gore and
Bill Bradley. Bradley is by far the most honest man running for president,
and the only one, with Buchanan, who has articulated a real program rather than
just boast about being the best. He is also willing to risk his career on two
dangerous (only in America) issues: gun control and universal health care.
Bradley's America would be a much safer place than Gore's or Bush's, a place
where nobody can cause a massacre and where nobody has to starve in order
to pay medical bills.
The Republican Party has several prominent figures, although no sure winner:
- Elizabeth Dole. She's the wife of a notorious politician and has been
around long enough to have important connections. Everything in her resume
speaks competence and diligence. But she has never been in a real political
battle, where telegenics and dialectics are more important than facts.
She also comes through as too "feminine", too soft and gentle and polite.
Few Americans would trust her as their new president.
The president must be a stern and masculine figure.
- George W Bush. Other than being the elder son of a previous president, it is
not clear what George Bush has accomplished so far. Texas is not particularly
better now than before, and certainly not any better than many other states.
In fact, looking at employment, education, environment and crime statistics,
Texas is just about the worst place to be in America.
- John McCain. A traditional candidate: a war hero, a Washington insider,
a consummate fund-raiser. He has emerged as the true unsung hero of the
Republican Party, far closer to the everyman than George W Bush could possibly
be. McCain has a vision for the Republican Party: bring back the ideals of
Roosevelt. The problem is that the economy is in excellent shape and
Roosevelt ideals are hard to grasp by wealthy households.
He is the only serious threat to George W Bush nomination. He probably deserves
the presidency more than any other candidate at least on one ground:
he is one of the most honest politicians in America.
- Dan Quayle. Gore prays day and night that Quayle wins the Republican
nomination. Nothing in his record gives him a chance.
- Steve Forbes. Wealthy businessmen don't normally do well in American
elections. Forbes has a vision for the survival of the Republican Party
(yet another tax reform) but, if the good times persist, Americans will not
be very sensitive to his vision.
- Pat Buchanan. Buchanan has a vision for America, although it is not
clear whether his vision complies with the principles of the Republican Party.
He is a visceral populist and a consummate talk showman. Every politician
would rather not have a public debate against him. His protectionist and
isolationist message will appeal to the blue collar workers who are afraid
of losing jobs to cheap third-world labor and possibly to some business men
whose industries are threatened by cheap imports. If the good times persist,
his message will be lost to the middle-class families who became millionaires
thanks to whatever economic model is reigning now.
(In October 1999 Buchanan announced that he would defect the GOP and join
the Reform Party of Ross Perot).
Ralph Nader, the leader of the Green Party, is hoping to get 5% of the votes
in order to qualify for federal campaigning funds. Since Perot destroyed the
reputation of his Reform Party, the Green Party may post a surprising showing
at the next elections. While America sails through its longest economic
expansion ever, many million Americans have been left behind, and even the ones
who have been getting richer do question America's behavior towards the
environment, the poors and developing countries. Nader is the only one who
is talking against big corporations. If he embraces the causes of universal
health care and gun control that Al Gore has never fully embrace, he may very
well get more than 5% of the votes.
Nader points to obvious inconsistencies that favor the very rich over the very
poor. For example,
if one buys a necessity at the supermarket, you pay a sales tax; if you
buy one million dollars of shares in a corporations, you don't pay any sales
tax. Second, corporations often exploit technologies (e.g., the Internet) that have
been invented by government-sponsored research programs. Corporations will
get extremely rich thanks to that research that was financed by the government.
The only people who will benefit from that wealth are the stock holders (the
owners) of that company. But the research was sponsored by the government
using tax money paid by all citizens of the country. Basically, the owners
of that corporations used taxes paid by citizens to get richer.
Large corporations exploit infrastructures (such as roads,
post, electricity) that have been built and are maintained with taxpayers'
money. But they do not distribute their profits to all the taxpayers who
helped build that infrastructure. If I help you start your business and then
you make a lot of money, I would expect you to reward my help. Furthermore,
there are countless scams for corporations to avoid paying taxes. Large
accounting firms routinely help corporations create fake business transactions
that will result in avoiding taxes.
(December 2000: This kind of scam was detailed in the New York Times of
Dec 19, 2000).
The IRS has never sued a single corporation for this
practice and, even if it did, corporations can afford to hire attorneys
that would drag the matter from appeal to appeal.
Large corporations swallow trillions of dollars that morally belong to
These and other paradoxes of modern democracy are the pillars of Nader's politics.
Third, police arrests people who take illegal drugs but does not arrest people
who eat fat food or smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, even if each of these
causes more damages to society (heart, lung and kidney diseases, plus car
accidents) than illegal drugs.
- (December 1998).
The end of the American democracy? As much as we may dislike Bill
Clinton, it is the Congress that is posing a serious danger to the democratic
institutions of the United States.
Congress has abused its powers and directly attacked democracy. Congress is
the greatest danger to this country's constitution.
- First of all, the President is the only
official of the country that has been elected by all the citizens of the
country. Congressmen, senators, etc have been elected by their electorate.
Everybody else has been appointed, not elected.
- Second, all polls show that Bill Clinton enjoys the support of the vast
majority of Americans. All polls show that Congress has been virtually
impeached by the people.
- The Congress that impeached Clinton had just been voted out by the
American people. Indifferent to the people's will, that Congress hastily
proceeded with the impeachment (after months and months of showing no
hurry) before the new democratically elected Congress could step in.
- Republicans basically claim that any crime committed by a President is
reason enough to remove it from his job (of course, Reagan's illegal dealings
with America's enemy Iran and Bush's invasion of Panama to cover up his
role in supporting dictator Noriega do not count). Any person who does not
see the difference between a crime (say, a murder) and another crime
(say, stealing an apple) should not be trusted with any decision. A person
who does not recognize the difference between a murderer and a pickpocket
is a danger to the country. Clinton committed a crime (carefully orchestrated
by Ken Starr) but that crime does not compare with, say, Reagan's treason.
- (December 1998).
The right to know who bear arms: the NRA has sued the FBI. The FBI wants
to keep a database of all transactions related to guns. Eventually, that
database would make it very easy to track down the owner of a gun, and to know
how many guns a person owns. In other words, it would speed up and simplify
investigations of murders. The NRA has strongly opposed this. Why? Because it
would intimidate criminals from buying guns. The NRA's biggest supporters
ought to be the criminals.
What chances does the NRA have of succeeding in its lawsuit? Almost
100%. Why? Because the right to bear arm is in the Constitution and the FBI
is planning to collect information about people exercizing their constitutional
right. The only way to stop the spread of guns is to revise that article of
the U.S. Constitution. Any other means will fail. The U.S. is the only country
in the world that makes it legal for an organization supported by criminals
to sue the police!
- (December 1998).
Who's the greatest danger to our Constitution? Bill Clinton or Ken Starr?
Bill Clinton is a scoundrel (although not as much a pervert as Ken Starr), but
even his most fierce opponents have fallen short of accusing him of meddling
with the Constitution. On the other hand, Ken Starr has violated the spirit of
the Constitution so many times that one wonders what he really is after.
Monica Lewinsky was denied the basic rights that even dictatorships like China
and Iraq grant to dissidents. Ken Starr kept her from calling her attorney while
he was about to file the affidavit: had the attorney known, he would have not
filed the affidavit and no crime would have committed. Basically, Ken Starr
had an investigation but no crime, and he wanted the crime to be committed.
It's like a murder specialist who found out there was no murder and helps
somebody commit a murder so that he can then investigate it. Ken Starr
literally fabricated the crime that now stands as the only serious indictment
against the president. In the process, he has subpoened everybody who happened
to be on his trail of investigation and threatened almost everybody of jail
sentences if they did not say what he needed for his investigation.
By skirting the law as the skilled attorney he is, he has basically rewritten
the U.S. Constitution on his own terms. Is this what we are paying him for?
- (November 1998).
To impeach or not to impeach? Here are the questions to which you have to
Personally, I would be very happy if we started by jailing all attorneys who
have lied (which means most of them) and by firing all governors and senators
who lied. This would increase the moral standards in two bodies that have
fallen to the level of third-world banana republics. The President's offence
is nothing compared with the corruption in the Senate and the social damage
caused by attorneys who protect rich criminals no matter what.
- Did Clinton lie under oath and obstract justice? In my opinion, there is
no doubt that he did. He lied when he didn't tell the whole truth. That is
everybody's definition of "truth". He didn't tell the truth, therefore he
- If he lied under oath, did Cliton commit perjury? That is another story.
He lied, but he did so
as attorneys do (most attorneys lie all the time, in case you have not noticed
yet, and they almost never get punished for it, actually they make a lot of
money out of it). Whether he committed perjury or not is debatable. One thing
is clear: if you want to prove that he did commit perjury, you have to call
Monica Lewinsky as a witness. You cannot convict somebody without a single
witness. It's the law. Monica Lewinsky has been heard only by the
"investigator" (whom, incidentally, is not the most credible person around).
Congress has not done
so, and one wonders why. Either Congress is not so crazy about impeaching
Clinton, or Congress fears that Lewinsky's testimony would prove just about
the opposite. Whatever: perjury has not been proven yet.
- If perjury is proven, should Clinton be impeached? The Constitution clearly
refers to high crimes. Whether perjury is a high crime is an entirely subjective
matter. I personally think it is, because I like to believe that lying is a
serious crime, but I also believe that the framers of the Constitution meant
"treason and the likes", not perjury and not lying about sex. They were
contemplating the case in which the President of the U.S. sides with the enemy
(only Reagan has done so, when he sold weapons to Iran, but he was not even
indicted) or systematically violates the Constitution (as Nixon did).
I believe the framers of the Constitution never thought of what to do with
a President who is not a scoundrel and not a traitor, but a pervert.
(If you believe like me that lying is a serious offence, keep in mind the
consequence: almost every governor and senator has lied several times to
her/his constituency and the press, and probably more often than Cliton...
all of them deserve to be "impeached").
- If perjury does grant impeachment, should Clinton be impeached? Very few
people believe that this is in the interest of the country. Most Americans
think that Clinton has been a good president. Most experts believe that
impeaching Clinton would have devastating effects on the economy. It certainly
would derail all international affairs underway and cause one of the biggest
stock crashes in history. I suspect that very few Americans want this to
happen, no matter how much they dislike Clinton.
Besides, one could point to impeachable offences by previous presidents that
went largely or totally unpunished: Kennedy tried repeatedly to assassinate
Castro, Johnson lied about the Tonkin incident (which had been fabricated
by the CIA), Reagan lied about the Iran-Contra affair, Bush killed 600
civilians in the process of removing from Panama the man he had installed as
dictator. All of these sound like far more serious crimes, but none was
- (November 1998).
Is it a democracy when 95% of richest candidates get elected?
The 1998 elections confirmed that
we are moving towards a society in which the richer candidate will win,
regardless of the merits. Money has always mattered: in a country where few
people bother to listen to televised debates and even fewer meet the candidates
in person, commercials are a key factor. The more you spend attacking your
opponent on TV, the more likely you are to win. The exceptions are fewer and
fewer. In 1992, 89% of the House candidates and 86% of the
House candidates with the most money won. In 1994, the percentages grew to
86% for the Senate and 88% for the House. In 1996,
88% for the Senate and 92% for the House. This year,
94% of Senate races and in 95% of House races were won by the candidate who
had the most money to spend. If this trend continues, America will reach the
point at which 100% of the candidates with the most money will win. At that
point, it will be useless to go to the polls: we will simply elect politicians
based on how much money they raised and spare ourselves the annoyance of
driving to the voting stations.
This is certainly not what the Framers of the American Constitution envisioned,
but unfortunately it stems directly from the freedom that the Constitution
grants to every U.S. citizen, including those running for office.
- (October 1998).
The #1 Anti-American Terrorist: Ken Starr
Nobody has attacked democracy as viciously as Ken Starr. He has progressively
eliminated all rights for all people that he investigates. His approach to
"justice" is very simple: you "confess" what I want you to "confess" (i.e.,
you help me fabricate false evidence) or I will investigate your life until
I find one minuscule wrongdoing and then I will prosecute you with no mercy
on that wrongdoing. If you invoke client-attorney privilege, or call the press,
or anything, I will be even more thorough in my investigations. If you
"confess", I will let you go unharmed. Read about Julie Hiatt Steele, who is
guilty of refusing to testify what Starr wants her to testify. Steele has been
persecuted for months by Starr and his people who have intimidated with every
means. It turns out that Steele is a model citizen (she even adopted an orphan
whose parents were killed during the Romanian dictatorship of Caesescu). Even
without a shred of evidence against her, Starr has not relented: he is targeting
one by one all her relatives and friends, whom have been one by one subpoened
for insignificant reasons. This amounts to no less than torture: Starr is
torturing her dears hoping that sooner or later Steele will give up.
Starr has still to find anything against Steele that would justify his
determination in persecuting her. But he may just have stumpbled on something,
something that is emblematic of this man's delirious practice. Apparently,
when your daughter stays at your place she is legally required to pay rent
(otherwise it's like not declaring an indirect income in your tax return).
No parent in her or his own mind would ask a daughter to pay rent for visiting.
But that may amount to a crime. And that will be enough to increase the pressure
on Mrs Steele. She may be indicted of being an accomplice in a tax fraud because
her daughter did not pay rent to her while staying at her place!
Starr is not only a pervert and a pornographer. He is also the most dangerous
attack against the American democracy since the demise of the Soviet Union.
How reducing the speed limit saved lives: the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration has just released data that show how
death rate on the roads fell to a record low. While the numbers are still
staggering (41,967 people killed by motor vehicles, including some 700 bicycle
riders and 5,700 pedestrians), these numbers are considerably lower than the
previous before, and the best on record since 1973 (when the agency started
monitoring these data). The decline in deaths come right after the elimination
of the 55mph national speed limit (1995), which allowed most states to
increase speed limits. The result is that thousands of lives have been saved,
and it is not difficult to see why: at low speed we are less attentive and
prepared, at low speed we tend to drive in groups, at low speed we are often
flanked by heavy trucks and utility vehicles. At low speed we simply spend
more time on the road, and the chances of getting involved in an accident
are not proportional to the distance driven but to the time spent on the road.
The speed limit should be removed or relaxed further in all circumstances in
which it makes sense.
- (October 1998)
How economists destroy economies
History repeats itself. The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve,
Paul Volker, raised interest rates in 1979 to quell inflation, thereby causing
the worst recession since the end of the world. The current chairman, Alan
Greenspan, also obsessed by inflation, has resisted lowering interest rates,
even when it had
become obvious that the only risk was deflation, and is now causing a world-wide
recession that promises to be the first global catastrophe in the history of
manking. It proves that one idiot in the wrong job is enough to cause widespread
damage to the human race.
- (September 1998)
Capitalism is no longer democratic : how economists are going to run the world.
Democracies around the world are losing of their democratic essence.
In the old world order, the democratically elected representatives of the
people had the capability to direct economic and foreign policy. Today both
economic policy and foreign policy are largely a matter of financial
intervention, which, for historical reasons, is not under the control of
the democratically elected officials. As an example, the U.S. economy is
ever increasingly driven by interest rates, which are decided by the Federal
Reserve (aka Alan Greenspan). The foreign policy of the U.S. is ever
increasingly related to the state of the world economy not to diplomacy and
war. In turn, the world economy is largely dominated by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), which is beyond the control of American (or any other
nation's) elected officials. This leaves the world in the hands of very
competent specialists but whose authority has not been endorsed by the people.
Competence is a valuable skill, but it is not all that matters. Economists
tend to forget the human values, and the fact that our ultimate goal is to
live a nice life. For example, the IMF has consistently sacrificed the
quality of life in developing countries to foster "development", which in
most cases has meant that a few people got very rich and multinationals
have increased their profits ten-fold. Unfortunately, the vast majority of
the population in those countries has seen no direct benefits from
"development". They have seen prices go up steeply, jobs being lost and
welfare systems being dismantled: higher costs, lower incomes and no safety
net. They don't find much consolation in the fortunes of the few capitalists
around town. From the IMF's macroscopic viewpoint, austerity leads to
prosperity. But things are pianfully different at the microscopic level:
very often the burden of austerity falls on one segment of society, whereas
prosperity benefits another segment of society. And in most countries around
the world the formers have vastly outnumbered the latters.
Even the Federal Reserve has often ignored the long-term wishes of the people.
Greenspan, with his fixation on inflation, is amazingly indifferent to the
fortunes of small investors. He is only concerned about the economy as a whole.
This creates paradoxes that are not easy to fix. For example, ordinary
people who bought a house during the age of hyper-inflation remember those
years fondly, as their mortgage quickly devalued while the value of their
property increased. Financial moguls fear inflation, but they are not the
Everywhere in the world, monetary institutions tend to ignore human needs and
social justice. This was traditionally the task of the government and it was
prevailing over fiscal policy. Not anymore. In the global village the economy
drives everything else, and the economy is in the hands of cold, heartless
scientists who have little concern for the people that their economic models
affect by the millions.
While the economy sinks, the lobby industry prospers
The lobbying industry is flourishing in Washington. People think that their
elected representatives care for their needs. The truth is that their elected
representatives have been elected because they had money to pay for
advertisements. What they need is the money, which gets them the votes.
What you think is irrelevant: they can always change your mind, given enough
money to spend on promoting their image. No law forbids the current
promiscuity in lobbying and fund-raising: lobbists are among the biggest
contributions to fund-raising campaigns. This is as close as you can get to
a legal "bribe". Even when they cannot count on money alone, lobbists can
mount powerful personal attacks on dissenting officials. Enough to discourage
even the most powerful men in Washington.
The results are devastating, but mostly unknown to the American public.
For example, lobbying led by the firm of Kenneth Klies managed to kill
a tax provision that would have raised about 2 billion dollars from
the oversea operations of American-based multinationals. That's equivalent
to every American family being taxes an additional $2,000 dollars a year.
On the other hand, those corporations saved 2 billion dollars, and are more
than happy to reward Mr. Klies with a hefty compensation. Washington is
rich in unscrupled lawyers like Mr. Klies who would do anything for money.
This is the modern version of the "mob", except that it is perfectly legal.
Two Americans are responsible for the international crisis:
: it is discorcenting that two Americans, Kenneth Starr and
Alan Greenspan, are responsible for the turmoil on the international markets,
and they both share the same privilege, namely that they were NOT elected by
the American people. Nonetheless, they seem to control the wealth and the
peace of mind of the world much more than any elected official in this or any
other country: one has collapsed the world economy with his pathetic crusade
against a ghost called "inflation"; the other one has destroyed the credibility
of the United States presidency and political process in general. The American
people should start wondering whether it can be allowed that two non-elected
officials, two officials who were simply hired by the government to do a job,
can enjoy such a scary power.
Why were Kennedy and Reagan never impeached?
The American people have been too distracted by Clinton's escapades to
remember the real horrifying dealings of previous presidents.
There is plenty of evidence (including CIA testimony) that John Kennedy
directly ordered the assassination of Castro. To the latest count, there were at least
33 plots. Some of the involved the Mafia. Both Kennedys were involved in
secret dealings with the Mafia. This is one of the few cases in history in
which an evil man is punished by his own wrongdoing: all of the CIA plots
to assassinate Castro failed, but, on the other hand, somebody (either
Castro or the Mafia or the CIA itself) killed Kennedy. Never was the death
of a head of state more deserved.
Ronald Reagan has never admitted ordering it, but only his most staunch and
naive supporters believe that he was not behing the secret and illegal
negotiations that ended up sending arms to Iran and to the Nicaraguans
rebels (the "Contras"). Both were illegal in the plain sense that they
violated the law. The Iran deal was also as close as a president can get
It is a little astonishing that these two evil presidents are remembered
fondly by the American people, whereas Clinton is being treated like the
worst type of scoundrel. Incidentally, Kennedy also had mistresses (including
a famous one, Marilyn Monroe), and probably several intimate encounters in
the White House.
The other presidents obviously lied to the American people too, albeit in
more subtle ways: obviously George Bush did not declare war to Iraq to defend
the Kuwaitis' freedom (they had none, Kuwait is a dictatorship as much as
Iraq) but to protect the oil routes from which American wealth depends.
President Johnson even invented the Tonkin incident that was the official
excuse for escalating American intervention in Vietnam (which costed tens
of thousands of American lives).
It is a little shocking that Congress is willing to impeach a president for
lying about sex, but not for sponsoring a rogue country (Reagan),
trying to assassinate a head of state (Kennedy), sponsoring terrorism in a
foreign country (Reagan), fabricating false evidence (Johnson), etc.
Has America really such a puritan country that would tolerate any sort of
high-level crime but never condone lying about sex?
Impeach Congress! Will the elections punish the persecutors?
According to all polls we are aware of,
Congress has lost any credibility with the American people and therefore should
Polls consistently show that Congress is no longer representing the American
people by protracting the investigation on Clinton's sex life. They have managed
to turn Clinton the pervert into a victim. This Congress is a disgrace.
It has no interest in dealing with America's problems. It performs only two
functions: accepting bribes from all sorts of lobbies, and finding excuses not
to do its job. Were they employees of a company, they would have already been
The American people have repeatedly expressed their opinion: Clinton is a
disgusting individual, but he's ok as a president, and they want him
to keep his job. The American people are getting more and more annoyed with
the Congress' political games. The Starr investigation is obviously politically
motivated and has achieved only one goal: to keep the president from doing his
job (and to spend $40 million of taxpayers' money). It is so obvious, that at
every new disclosure Clinton's approval rate goes up.
Obviously, that approval rate does not reflect the public's admiration
of the President, but rather the public's dissatisfaction with Congress.
It is very likely at this point that Americans will express the same opinion
in the forthcoming elections: they will severely punish the senators who
wasted so much time and money trying to impeach Clinton, rather than solving
real problems. Americans will punish their representatives who did not
represent their opinion (and their needs) in Washington. Democrats risk of
reaping a landslide from Clinton's sex scandal. For the Republicans it will be
just punishment: The only thing more disgusting than the President's behavior
is the Republicans' insistence on investigating his sex life.
These elections have turned into a referendum. Americans have a chance to decide
whether Congress should work on solving America's pressing problems (from health
care to international terrorism, from drugs to crime) or whether Congress should
investigate the president's sex life. The current Congress obviously has no
intention of working on solving real problems and enjoys investigating the
president. It is up to the people to reward them or to punish them.
- (August 1998)
Bombing Sudan and Afghanistan : what for?
The U.S. has bombed Sudan for helping terrorists and Afghanistan's camps
where Osama bin Laden trains his militants. Apart from the fact that the U.S.
would certainly not approve if another country bomb American territory
(the U.S. has often sheltered international criminals and welcomed
dictators of all sorts), there are strong doubts on the targets themselves.
The Sudanese factory was almost certainly making medicines (enough Western
officials have confirmed this) and its bombing will simply worsen the
conditions of one of the poorest, malnourished people in the world, who have
no responsibility for their tyrants' alliance with terrorists.
The Sudanese government has offered to open its doors to an international
commission to prove its innocence, but the U.S. has refused any investigation.
It has also refused to share with the world the "evidence" that led it to
attack that specific factory.
In other words: they hit the wrong target.
The Afghani camp was one of the many built with the help of Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia (both U.S. allies). The intelligence to link this camp to the African
attacks came from
witnesses that had been tortured by Pakistani police and that reneged the
moment they were released. One of them, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, is currently
in Washington and has repeatedly denied any knowledge or involvement in the
attacks. He is also the only one who has linked bin Laden to the attacks,
but, again, only under torture.
This was "vigilante justice" at its worst.
The only ones to gain from the American bombings are the Muslim fundamentalists.
America never misses an opportunity to make them look more and more
reasonable in the eyes of the Arab public opinion.
The stock market crash
: capitalism in trouble.
Japan, Russia, Southeast Asia and soon Latin America prove that capitalism
is far from being the perfect model (both socially and economically). Capitalism
won on communism on both counts: socially speaking, it created more happiness;
and economically speaking, it created more wealth. But capitalism has its own
shortcomings, and now there is no competing ideology to compare it with, those
shortcomings are painfully visible.
In the capitalist world, a person has to work like a slave, often without
vacation; social values are neglected in favor of personal income and success;
and wealth can be destroyed by mere fluctuations in the "market". At the end
of each cycle, a few people are much richer, but at the expense of most people
being dispossed of time, money and sometimes even jobs.
The stock market, in particular, is an aberration. It has become a lottery,
a legalized lottery. It does not encourage moral values, it encourages gambling
and "risk". It's return does not reflect hard work, but merely luck.
In capitalism, the role of government is ever negligible. The result is a
steady decline in public services and a steady increase of individual excesses.
The role of a government should be precisely to limit excesses, to protect
from scams, and to provide a safety net. Modern capitalism has forgotten the
basic truth that (public) police and (public) schools and (public) hospitals
are much more important than betting on the right stock.
- (september 1998)
The Bull Pit
Stock fell simply because they were overpriced (26 times the earnings, versus
a historic average of 14, and versus 17 times the earnings in the Sixties,
the period that most closely parallels the Nineties),
but the widespread repercussions around the world are a sympton of a far
The "global" market stands on two dogmas: 1. that Inflation is the public enemy
number one, and 2. that a strong currency means a strong economy. These two
dogmas can be condesed in the belief that stable prices ensure prosperity.
For example, from Russia to Indonesia interest rates have been risen
dramatically to stabilize currencies, even if this has caused the ruin of
several corporations and banks and a general slowdown in the economy.
Greenspan and the IMF are the symbols of this age and of this dogma.
They control the daily lives of the people of the Earth much more than
Clinton and Yeltsin do.
Because everybody is acting the same way, all the economies tend to move
There is no other reason why a crisis in Russia, or even in Japan,
should influence Wall Street: U.S. companies have greater exposure to Latin
America than to Asia (Japan accounts for less than 3% of the combined revenues
of the S&P 500 companies, Russia accounts for less than 0.1%). The only
exception is high-tech companies, which export about 15% to Japan (but still
zero to Russia). Europe is even safer from these markets: most European
companies have no exposure at whatsoever to Japan, Southeast Asia and Russia.
Russia accounts for even less, since the Russian economy is now so small:
in one week alone in september 1998 the
Japanese stock exchange dropped in value by $241 million, more than the value
of the entire Russian economy.
- (August 1998)
Pat Buchanan for President:
right now, he is the only politician who has a vision. You may agree or not
with his vision, but you must recognize he is talking facts and not only
words. And his message is very simple: U.S. corporations are led by the global
economy to move jobs abroad, while foreign corporations are encouraged to
export cheap goods to the American public. The net result is a loss of
American jobs and increasing national debt. The remedy? Very simple: tax
foreign corporations. This simple trick would have an avalanche of positive
effects: foreign goods would not be cheap anymore, U.S. corporations would
be encouraged to keep their factories in the U.S.
and the additional tax money could be used to cut taxes currently
paid by impoverished U.S. workers.
Of course, Buchanan neglects the fact that U.S. goods would quickly become
as uncompetitive as U.S. cars were in the Sixties before the cheap and
well-designed Japanese cars forced U.S. manufacturers to learn how to build
cars. He also neglects the fact that the U.S. still is the world's largest
exporter and would be the first loser in any trade war. He also neglects that
the very reason the U.S. is the world's largest exporter and the world's
largest economy is that U.S. corporations are forced by continuing foreign
competition to improve productivity through better and smarter technologies.
But he does have a point: 1. the middle and working class, who has not invested
in the stock market because it does not have any cash to invest, has been
passed by the booming economy and is losing jobs to foreign workers; 2.
America may be losing too much of its industrial know-how (even at the peak
of its industrial and service revolutions, America never lost the dominant
position in agriculture, which means that right now America is number one
not only in high-tech, but throughout the whole spectrum, from potatoes to
space shuttles); 3. the regimes which are rewarded by the global trade are
the worst dictatorships, where labor is cheap because workers have no rights,
if they are not convicts or children. These are ills that need to be mended,
and a less extremist Pat Buchanan could be the right person to do so.
Also, Pat Buchanan comes through as a speckless citizen, a honest buddy who
has none of the murky business and sex deals that obscure Clinton's
Pat Buchanan's message may well unite the middle working class and corporate America.
Still, Buchanan is facing an upward struggle to convince all those new
stock market millionaires that a protectionist approach would not hurt their
Wall Street fortunes. That's close to impossile: Buchanan's cure would
work wonders for the middle working class, but the tab would be picked up
precisely by those who became rich during the stock market bull years.
Right now in America you don't need to work to make money, you need to invest
in the stock market. In a Buchanan world, you would need to work to make money,
and too many Americans would find that unpleasant.
- (August 1998)
The tobacco wars: defending honest farmers or dangerous criminals?
One of the arguments that the pro-tobacco coalition keeps waving in front of
our noses to defend their defending the tobacco industry is that so many
jobs are at stake, and those jobs affect the honest, hard-working farmers
of the Southeast. These politicians argue that we should keep cigarettes
around for as long as possible, and as many as possible, so that all those
honest citizens can make a decent living. This is a bizarre argument, but
let us see if, at least, they are consistent in their beliefs: coca leaves
(the raw ingredient from which cocaine is manufactured) is harvested mainly
by honest and hard-working farmers, from Peru to Colombia. Coca saved their
lives and the lives of their children, because Americans are willing to pay
a lot more money for coca leaves than for bananas (their traditional crop).
Therefore so many thousands of farmers shifted production from bananas (and
other exotic fruit) to coca. They often have no ties to crime, they simply
need to make a living, and it turns out that growing coca is the only way
they can make ends meet. Should we protect the cocaine industry so that
these honest farmers of South America can still make ends meet?
- (July 1998)
The tobacco wars: taxing vice?
The media have been depicting the tobacco companies as the
ultimate evil corporations. Newspapers and tv stations discovereb labs where
teenage addiction to nicotine was scientifically manufactured. What else can
be more cruel? And shouldn't these companies be punished? And shouldn't the
public be protected against their brutal experiments? Yes, of course. But the
American public is forgetting that cigarettes are not the only evil and
certainly not the worst one. In fact, cigarettes kill very few people (they
don't even rank in the top 10) and they mainly kill only those who smoke them.
Compare with alcohol: 10,000 people killed by drinking and driving, countless
shot after drinking arguments, countless killed by their own drinking habits.
It is at least one order of magnitude worse. And the victims are mainly people
who do not drink. Then one could say that cars kill more people than cigarettes.
Pollution in any major city is so bad that whether you live with smokers or
not really makes no difference for your lungs. Should we tax vice? Sure, for
two reasons at least: 1. to save lives; 2. to reduce the astronomical medical
bill the nation is paying for them. But why single out the tobacco industry?
If nothing else, smokers have a choice, whether to smoke or quit.
The victims of a drinking and driving accident had no choice. The victims
of pollution had no choice. The victims of guns had no choice.
Shouldn't we start taxing also guns (#1 problem in America), alcohol
(#2 problem in America) and (excuse me) pollution?
- (June 1998)
Will the United States go bankrupt in a stock market crash?
The Stock Market is overvalued
to the point that the slightest tremor in Japan would case a devastating
45% of American household holds shares, as opposed to 25% in 1987
and to only 3% in 1929; stock market gains amounted to about 35% of personal
disposable income in the U.S. in 1997 (versus 6% in Germany).
A crash of the stock market will have far more dramatic
The value of the U.S. stock market has increased from about 2 trillion
dollars in 1988 to over 10 trillion dollars in 1998.
A crash of the stock market will have far more dramatic
repercussions than in 1929.
Even a slight decline will start a chain reaction
that will affect catastrophically everything from jobs to real estate prices.
Ther recent merger craze is another sign that the economy has reached a
dangerous point of overheating. The previous three merger manias all ended
in a stock market crash (1904, 1929 and 1969).
- (May 1998)
The Oregon Shooting: The name of the game is, again, hipochrisy.
For the two thousandth time, we have to listen to the honest citizens of a small
town community in rural America (in this instance, Springfield) who cannot
believe one of their own children took a gun and made a carnage.
How many more times do we have
to hear this kind of ridiculous statements before we decide to stop the spread
of guns? In this case, the killer had only been "reproached" for carrying a gun
within the school premises: all the police did was to turn him over to his
Carrying a gun is such a minor offence that the kid was allowed to walk into
the school the very next day. And shoot thirty people. Had he stolen a
book from the libray, he would have probably been punished more severely than
for carrying a gun around. Now everybody wants revenge: kill him, or least
put him in jail for the rest of his life. The truth is that the real killers
are still at large, and some of them are the very honest citizens who are
craving for revenge. All the people who own guns aer potentially helping
another kid commit another massacre somewhere elsen America.
And, for those who missed the coincidence, one more time this is a white
anglosaxon protestant kid... just like all the other school shootings, just like
all serial killers, just like the Unabomber.
The Jonesboro, Arkansas Shooting: The name of the game is hipochrisy.
Americans keep missing the point.
One honest and godfearing citizen of Jonesboro professed that
their community is not the kind "that breeds this sort of violence".
That's exactly what they said in Oklahoma City when one of them peaceful
country boys blew up the federal building. And I guess that's what every
hometown of a serial killer claims when the guy is apprehended and publicly
exposed. The truth is rather different. Of the ten most recent school shootings
in the country (by the way, for mysterious reasons school shootings seem to
happen only in the U.S.), six occurred in the Midwest, one in Alaska and even
the two that occurred in California occurred in small communities far from the
big metropolitan areas. All but one were committed by kids of the white middle
class. Would you like a list of the worst serial killers in U.S. history (or,
for that matter, world history, because serial killers are also pretty much
a U.S. exclusive)? Guess what: almost all of them were born and bred in the
Midwest in white anglosaxon protestant communities. It keeps happening over
and over again, but Americans refuse to face the truth: it's the "peaceful"
white, rural middle class that breds that kind of violence.
Why? Well, it's a long story... but it starts with the right to bear arms
(a right that Midwestern Americans interpret way too literally) and it ends
with the macho image that they so proudly keep alive in those towns (none of
the killers are girls, are they?).
Kenneth Starr is the most expensive man in America:
The cost of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's Whitewater investigation had reached $45 million in September 1998.
Indictements? A few, all very minor.
Evidence of misconduct by the president? None.
Witnesses? They all recanted. Accusers? One (Paul Jones) has been proved
irrelevant. Two (the state troopers) admitted being paid money to accuse
the president. The others have never accused the president of anything
If Kenneth Star worked for a company, instead of the government, he would have
been laid off a long time ago, not for inefficiency or bad attitude, but
simply because his job does not exist.
This is probably the very reason why he had to dig deep into the Monica Lewinsky
affair. He had to justify all the money he spent. By amplifying the sex life
of the president he has generated enough interest in his investigation that
some Americans will concede it was worth the money.
But there is another aspect to Starr's personality that is worth studying.
Starr is an old-fashioned justice fighter. He is a fundamentalist determined
to bring about justice, no matter what. Now
Starr is sincerely convinced that Bill Clinton is a bad person, but Clinton
enjoys the highest rating of any president. Starr felt that he had to do
something to right things. He had to expose the president's revolting
personality. Starr could care less that millions of people around the world
would lose their savings in a market crashed caused by his findings, or that
Monica Lewinsky would never be able to live a normal life, or that America
may suffer on the international stage by an impeachment of its president.
All Starr was concerned with was prove that Clinton is a bad person. And he
would go to any length to do so.
Starr is the tormented protagonist of a Dostoevskyan novel.
The trouble with the several Clinton investigations is that the public
dislikes the accusers far more than it dislikes the accused. Ken Starr is,
at best, a paranoid set to destroy the world rather than let go, a pornographer
voyeur bent on exposing the crudest details of celebrities, and, at worst,
a paw piloted by a right-wing conspiracy. Paula Jones and the other women are,
quite simply, indecent sluts or blow-job specialists who would do anything for
a chance to become famous.
How come we haven't seen one single decent woman come forward and accuse
Clinton of improper behavior? Why can they only find this kind of less than
Dan Burton, the chairman of a committee that should investigate
the president, has committed one improper action after the other, to the point
of doctoring tapes to alter their meanings.
Ken Starr has threatened anybody who refuses to testify against Clinton.,
something that puts him in the same league with Al Capone.
Newt Gingrich has proved that he is even less intelligent and less educated
than his worst enemies thought.
We almost forgot that the Republican Party has highly respected politicians,
because the only ones who have been so vocal about the Clinton investigations
are the mean ones.
The question americans are asking is not "Why is Clinton still president"
but "Why is Starr still an independent prosecutor",
"Why is Paula Jones still allowed to enter a court of justice?",
"Why is Dan Burton still a congressman?"
Do all these people deserve to be still in the limelight?
The public feels that they should all be "fired", metaphorically or literally
Bill Clinton is far more respectable than his accusers. He is an adulterer
who has lied about his sex life. Burton is virtually a mass murdered, having
suggested that the U.S. drop nuclear bombs on Iraqi cities; Ken Starr is a
lawyer turned gangster, out to get anybody who does not give in to his
demands; and Paula Jones is the epitome of the greedy, opportunistic plaintiff.
They are turning Clinton into a hero and a martyr.
- (March 1998)
Presidential sex scandals:
Why does the president of the U.S.A. have such bad taste when it comes to
lovers? A governor who, out of so many young and attractive assistants, picks
a long-nosed Paula Jones must be really desperate.
A president who, out of so many pretty interns, picks a fat and sloppy Monica
Lewinsky, must be a real pervert.
In Paula Jones' case few doubts that she is after money and publicity
(which translates into more money). She came out to clear her name (a name
which no one knew until then) only after the harasser became president of
the U.S. The "harassee" has now a guaranteed career as a book author and
possibly an even more profitable one as a stripper.
She has not cleared her name - on the contrary, she has built herself
a reputation as a low-class slut (whether she is indeed one or not).
Anita Hill may be a hero of feminism. Paula Jones is something to be ashamed
of for all feminists.
In Monica Lewinsky's case, the charge of "right-wing conspiracy" may actually
be close to the truth. This girl had no intention of turning in the President.
She probably enjoyed enough favors that her lips would be sealed forever.
She also projects the image of a slut (and, worse, of a rich, spoiled Beverly
Hills slut), but she has no need for money, she lacks the motivation.
She was trapped by an astute prosecutor who saw how he could use her against
Clinton's impeachment would actually be a boon to the Democratic Party.
What the Republicans fail to realize, is that an impeachment of Clinton would
result in devastating consequences for the Republican Party. Clinton is a
popular president, and the economy is doing extremely well. Regardless of
their lies, Clinton's United States is a far better place than Ronald Reagan's
United States. The deficit that was Reagan's main legacy has been erased.
The average income (not just the highest ones) has increased. Etc.
This is probably the very reason why the Republicans want Clinton's head
before his success translates into Al Gore's success at the next elections.
But, if Clinton falls, the economy will fall with him. Wall Street is
greatly overpriced. It takes the slightest tremor in the government to
send it free falling. An impeachment of the President would certainly result
in a stock crash of unprecedented magnitude. This would leave millions of
middle Americans bankrupt. Those Americans would know who to blame: the
heartless Republicans who wasted their precious tax money to pursue a silly
investigation into the innocent sex escapades of the President.
The Republican Party would never recover from this debacle. Democrats would
rule the federal government for decades, just based on the recklessness
showed by the Republican Party in 1998, the reckless behavior that resulted
in the worst financial crisis of the century.
And, worse, next day Paula Jones or another of Clinton's flames would start
performing as a stripper in Las Vegas and produce a porno movie a month. The
whole country would be left wondering "we sacrificed a good president and our
wealth to protect the good name of this whore?"
Kenneth Starr is playing into the hands of the Democratic Party: they win
and he loses regardless of the outcome of his investigation.
- (March 1998)
The right-wing conspiracy:
Whose shadow looms behind the Whitewater scandal, the sex scandals and Kenneth
Starr's witch hunt? Quite simply good old Richard Mellon Scaife, a
multi-millionaire who declared war on the Democratic Party long ago.
Scaife has never denied investing over 2 million dollars to finance an
American Spectator's investigation of the Clintons' lives in Arkansas, which
became one of the main sources of accusations in the Whitewater proceedings.
In particular, some of his money, it has been rumoured, was used to convince a
key witness, David Hale, to testimony against the Clintons.
Scaife has been linked, through the mysterious Rutherford Institute, to the
money that Paula Jones is using to sue the President.
Scaife has been credited with finding a prestigious job for Starr as the dean
of Pepperdine University.
Scaife started his conservative crusade about 30 years ago and has distributed
(according to the New York Times) over 200 million dollars to organizations
and people who fight the Democratic Party.