feeling the fall of america

wow.  who would have thought that we would see the american economy collapse like a house of cards, bringing the whole world down with it.  diyata’t hindi pala invulnerable ang superpower na ito.   diyata’t nagkakamali rin, pumapalpak, bumabagsak.  at ngayo’y nangangapa, ikot ang puwet, trying to figure out how to reboot a financial-economic system that has crashed.

to get a handle on what happened and why, read
francis fukuyama’s the fall of america, inc.
john gray’s a shattering moment in america’s fall from power
walden bello’s a primer on the wall street meltdown
nobel laureate joseph stiglitz’s how to get out of the financial crisis

the question is: tayong mga bilib na bilib sa amerika — we who allow america to dictate our economic policies — what lessons should we be taking away from this?   it’s not enough to breathe a sigh of relief that our banks are relatively sound — that’s only because praning na sila after having been burned by the asian meltdown in 1997.

at the very least we should be seeing, and acting on the fact, that america’s kind of deregulated and globalized and greedy free-market capitalism is no longer the appropriate model for li’l 3rd world us, not if we truly aspire for economic recovery and stability and prosperity for the majority of filipinos.

otherwise, things are just going to get worse.  those foreign investments that government expects to come in from middle east now that america and europe are in financial doldrums are, as usual, not going to make that much difference to the poor, not in the long run, if the same discredited rules and systems continue to apply.

economic growth will continue to be a myth, except for the already-rich.  what will grow for sure lang besides would be the population, hunger, joblessness, and the diaspora, which is the saddest of all.  we’re a country of broken families, broken hearts, no thanks to economic policies that serve the interests of the few at the expense of the many.

what to do to turn things around?  said john bellamy foster, editor of the socialist-anti-imperialist monthly review, when asked by pagina/12 what kind of policies the u.s. government should implement to sort out the crisis, how to bail out the people and not just the banks:

I don’t think anyone knows how to “sort out” or stop this crisis. What we are seeing is a lot of improvising while the house is falling down around us. There is no possibility of avoiding a very severe world economic crisis at this point….

My own view is that the sole object at this point — though it is hard to imagine this in the United States at present due to the weakness of labour and of working-class organisations in general — should be to reorganise social and economic priorities to meet the needs of those at the bottom. It is a fact that the US economy over decades has drastically weakened the conditions of the wider population, which is at the root of the whole problem. So addressing those conditions is the real key.

But even if that were not the case, the goal of those who identify with the great majority of the population, with the working class, the propertyless, the poor, should be clear: to put the employment, food, nutrition, housing, health, education, environmental conditions of those at base of society first. This is simple humanity and justice.

Why flood the financial world (which means first and foremost the rich, the near-rich and corporations) with trillions of dollars ultimately at taxpayer expense, probably to no avail, when something might be done for the greater population?

Marx said, in one of his ironic moments, that the only part of the national wealth that was held in common amongst all the people was the national debt.

If the wealth is not shared, why should the public take on more debt, supporting the opulence at the top while the great majority of the people are seeing their basic conditions deteriorate?

Let the system take care of itself; let us devote our public resources to the people. More good would be accomplished that way. Of course what this means is a reactivation of class struggle from below; something we haven’t really seen in the United States in a long time.”

interesting.  now that america is down, we’re so like america.