Published: June 25, 2013
By Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research UK.
This article was originally posted in Good Society
In late May, J P Morgan issued a chilling review of what they saw as the state of progress on tackling the Eurozone crisis. As they put it:
“The narrative of crisis management in the Euro area has two dimensions: first, designing new institutions for the next steady state (EMU-2); and second, dealing with the national legacy problems, some of which were there at EMU’s launch and some of which arose during the first decade of the monetary union’s life.”
Their assessment of progress is:
• Sovereign deleveraging—about halfway there.
• Real exchange rate adjustment—almost there for a number of countries.
• Household deleveraging in Spain—about a quarter of the way there in stock terms, but almost there in flow terms.
• Bank deleveraging—hard to say due to heterogeneity across countries and banks, but large banks have made a lot of progress.
• Structural reform—hard to say but progress is being made.
• Political reform—hardly even begun.
I could comment on the first five issues, but it is the last that is most chilling. A view of ‘the journey of national political reform’ as they see it:
“At the start of the crisis, it was generally assumed that the national legacy problems were economic in nature. But, as the crisis has evolved, it has become apparent that there are deep seated political problems in the periphery, which, in our view, need to change if EMU is going to function properly in the long run. The political systems in the periphery were established in the aftermath of dictatorship, and were defined by that experience.
Constitutions tend to show a strong socialist influence, reflecting the political strength that left wing parties gained after the defeat of fascism. Political systems around the periphery typically display several of the following features: weak executives; weak central states relative to regions; constitutional protection of labor rights; consensus building systems which foster political clientalism; and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo. The shortcomings of this political legacy have been revealed by the crisis.
Countries around the periphery have only been partially successful in producing fiscal and economic reform agendas, with governments constrained by constitutions (Portugal), powerful regions (Spain), and the rise of populist parties (Italy and Greece).
There is a growing recognition of the extent of this problem, both in the core and in the periphery. Change is beginning to take place. Spain took steps to address some of the contradictions of the post-Franco settlement with last year’s legislation enabling closer fiscal oversight of the regions. But, outside Spain little has happened thus far. The key test in the coming year will be in Italy, where the new government clearly has an opportunity to engage in meaningful political reform. But, in terms of the idea of a journey, the process of political reform has barely begun.”
What J P Morgan is making clear is that ‘socialist’ inclinations must be removed from political structures; localism must be replaced with strong, central, authority; labour rights must be removed, consensus (call it democracy if you will) must cease to be of concern and the right to protest must be curtailed.
This is an agenda for hard right, corporatist, centrist government. There’s another word for that, and it’s what the bankers seem to want.
You have been warned. Amazingly, they had the nerve to issue the warning.
Part 2: They mean business – Kitty S Jones
“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini.
“The real corruption that has eaten into the heart of British public life is the tightening corporate grip on government and public institutions – not just by lobbyists, but by the politicians, civil servants, bankers and corporate advisers who increasingly swap jobs, favours and insider information, and inevitably come to see their interests as mutual and interchangeable… Corporate and financial power have merged into the state.” – Seumus Milne
Harriet Baldwin:Conservative MP for West Worcestershire is the former managing director of JP Morgan Asset Management.
JP Morgan are major players in healthcare. According to their website they serve: 1,100 hospitals, 8 of the top 10 health insurers, thousands of physicians groups, top five pharmacy benefit managers, six of the top eight pharmacy retailers. JP Morgan are very heavily invested in healthcare.
And the growing corporatocracy means business…
We are witnessing increasing privatisation of key State functions – particularly in previously “untouchable” areas, such as policing and our legal system. The coercive functions of the State are being subsumed by private corporate entities. These are very frightening developments with horrific implications – for example, many citizens will no longer have a right to access to justice: an inalienable right to a free and fair trial. This is an established, fundamental human right, and it’s expected that human rights and laws are observed and upheld by a so-called free democratic and liberal State.
Chomsky’s concept of Necessary Illusions in Manufacturing Consent is linked to powerful elites dominating how life happens – shaping human experiences – and most people, some 90% of the population, are marginalised, diverted from political awareness, participation in self-governing, and reduced to apathy so they don’t vote or take responsibility for the quality of our lives, as a social collective. Media are a tool of society’s elites and owned and controlled by them and are used to impose those illusions – propaganda tools – that are necessary to keep people diverted from participation, empowerment, and the political process.
Chomsky said that the major form of authority that really needs challenging is the system of private control over public resources. Such privatisation (and economic enclosure) is something our own government is galloping along with at full tilt. It’s a system that entails the dispossession of the majority of citizens (the 99%) by a wealthy and powerful minority (the 1%).
“The real corruption that has eaten into the heart of British public life is the tightening corporate grip on government and public institutions – not just by lobbyists, but by the politicians, civil servants, bankers and corporate advisers who increasingly swap jobs, favours and insider information, and inevitably come to see their interests as mutual and interchangeable… Corporate and financial power have merged into the state.” – Seumus Milne.
Chomsky believes (and so do I) that our biggest hope lies with ordinary people and in the understanding that all changes in history have come because people build a foundation for change at a grassroots level. Ordinary people are very capable of understanding the world, yet must work TOGETHER to get beyond the imposed information and strive to act in accordance with their own decent interests, developing independent minds and critical thought.
Chomsky asserts that in order to break free, citizens must take 2 actions:
1. They must seek out information from ALTERNATIVE MEDIA (media outside of the mainstream)
2. They must move toward change by becoming engaged in (cooperative) community action – because people can use their ordinary intelligence to make changes in their lives and communities. Grassroots movements begin there. And we must also practice what we preach. If we want a more equal society, we must treat each other as equals. If we value human rights, we must also recognise the fundamental fact that each life has equal worth.
So, my friends, we have already begun this journey here, as our own virtual community, and now we must continue to build and grow.
That means we have to learn to be cooperative, mutually supportive, strong and purposeful. We have to stay focussed, refuse to be diverted or divided by superficial difference. We have to be united, because this really is a fight; it’s a battle that we must win. All that is decent and civilised depends on us winning, because the Tory-led coalition are not going to suddenly see the error of their ways and begin to recognise and realise the equal worth of all human lives, nor are they going to stop prioritising generating profits for their sponsors and donors over and above the fundamental priority of human lives, and as is increasingly the case now – it is often at the expense of those lives that private companies prosper.
The dominant ideology – neoliberalism – is propped up by ideals of competing interests, artificial divisions, divide and rule strategies, and elitist psychological egoism. We need to stand outside of that to breath and to survive, ultimately.
We know that the Coalition have served the needs of private companies very well via “business friendly” policies, and that has been at the expense of recognising the human needs of many. Indeed “costs not needs” ought to be the mantra of the Tories, and reflects very well what we see: the shifting priority and funding of public services that meet social needs to private companies that exist solely to generate profit, and they do this by cutting cost and providing services as cheaply and as barely as possible.
This is all propped up by an overarching New Right Conservative brand of ideology. We see the once discredited notions of competitive individualism and social Darwinism embedded in contemporary media narratives, and at the heart of draconian policies. Ideology is mainstreamed and naturalised.
Those brutal policies threaten the very fabric of our civilised, democratic society, and undermine the quality and authenticity of our experiences as human beings.
“Competition may be the law of the jungle, but cooperation is the law of civilization.” – Peter Kropotkin
The company (JP Morgan) is currently providing the banking license and the electronic benefits transfer banking engine for the card accounts of the Post Office for the financial issuances of the DWP, after an application to the High Courts of England and Wales on the 24th of January 2006 for transfer of banking operations from the previous provider Citibank. The deal of exchange of services was valued at $380,000,000. That’s £249,147,760.00.
That’s a lot of private profit to be had from a publicly funded social safety net originally designed to meet basic human needs in times of hardship.
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