17 April 2010

Tax Day Tea Party : Markets Overboard!

Cartoon by Mike Konapacki / solidarity.com.

Tax Day Tea Party
Tosses markets overboard

By Greg Moses / The Rag Blog / April 17, 2010

Like so many chests of tea tossed overboard into Boston Harbor, world markets fell straight down Friday in the aftermath of Thursday's Tea Party protests.

Whether they were Asian markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney, or Bombay (yes, even Bombay). Whether they were European markets in London, Paris, or Frankfurt. Or whether they were U.S. markets such as the Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P, Gold, or Oil (yes, even Gold and Oil) markets around the world tumbled down on April 16.

This totalizing tumble had nearly completed the global circuit by the time news hit (at 10:35 am EDT) that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was alleging fraud against the powerhouse investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.

A Prescience Award for this sudden turn down goes to Steve Hochberg, chief market analyst for Elliott Wave International who told CNBC's Joe Kernan on the morning of April 15 that "extreme opinions" were showing signs of a collective psychological turning point upon which social mood -- and its market expression -- was soon to slide lower. Of course, Hochberg had also called the downturn about five months too early, as a quick search of CNBC records (or a look at my own lousy portfolio) would show.

But if Hochberg is correct to correlate market activity with social mood, then what better symbol of impending mood decadence could one hope to find if not Thursday evening's satellite conversations among Larry Kudlow, Dick Armey, and Lou Dobbs brought to you live from the movement of Tea Party Patriots nationwide?

Kudlow actually floated the idea of Dobbs for U.S. President. It was a truly discouraging sign of what is called "free market capitalism" in the USA and it could not have been ignored even by the sun setting westward toward Tokyo.

We can call this downtrend the Tea Party Toss, for however long it lasts, even if it should mature into a Tea Party Depression as it threatens to sink us lower into a tank of intestinal juices that only old men can secrete. On the way down, we will have some choices about which parts of ourselves or the world to toss off.

Grapes of Wrath is how Steinbeck titled the social mood of depression. But wrath at what? For the Tea Party movement, wrath is being organized to attack the kind of federal government that the last Great Depression produced in the USA. The Tea Party movement is a preemptive attack on the social contract of the New Deal, demanding in advance of these hard times coming that we prepare to roll back our federal networks the better to make way for new heights of corporate power.

The word for it is, of course, fascism, which would be a little less scary to point out if there were some likely living counter movement. If there can be such a thing as left fascism, then the Tea Party would be better named a moderate-right fascism. Which, under the circumstances does make left fascism the lesser of evils, in case you are still trying to keep your head in some level corner of the room.

Now somehow on the model of analysis that seems to be anchoring the Tea Party ideology, I think we are supposed to believe that the federal government of the USA is the chief cause of the fact that 15 percent of American workers are having short-term difficulties finding employment (a figure that was reported in the New York Times on April 15).

Had we liberated in the past 10 years the awesome power of free market capitalism, says this Tea Party ideology (aka neoliberalismo), there would have been no financial meltdown because the meltdown was caused by poor people, many of color, who were shoved into homes by a too-aggressive federal housing program.

According to the Tea Party scheme of things, we should not develop concepts for the structural implications of privatizing sharks as portrayed in the alleged Goldman bond frauds. Instead, we should totally blame and shut down the federal housing program and give the mortgage business back to unfettered lenders who can properly repossess everything and reset the financial clock back to midnight.

With the housing market completely privatized there would be nothing to stand between proper prices or rigorous landlord-tenant relationships, although the Tea Party would presumably expect federal marshals to assist the landlord class with "whatever means necessary," etc.

Unfortunately, the Tea Party movement has some warrant for believing that the voters of America will in fact support this drift toward moderate-right fascism as an alternative to the threat of left fascism that we are seeing for example in the Democrat Party's construction of health insurance reform, complete with its anti-Mexican racism. And if you think it is extreme to charge the Democrats with anti-Mexican racism then how do you explain what's not happening to immigration reform?

I'm not sure the youth of America have weighed in properly on the flavor of fascism that they will prefer in November. They seem to be a stealth voice for "hope" and therefore not quite countable as the kind of "patriots" that the Tea Party movement is recruiting. But you have to admit that left fascism is not quite the kind of thing that makes you feel like a frenzy of youthful ideals. Complexity is the fashionable word for left fascism these days, because under these circumstances it may be the best barrier to throw up against the next worse thing.

Mostly, however, these thoughts are mere reflections in a plexiglass window. If world markets rebound and corporations go back to business as usual, we can remember a weekend when things looked like they could have gotten much worse even than that.

For my part, I'm hoping that the employed and unemployed workers of America insist upon structures of crisis that are productive, transparent, accountable, and subject to another change of guard each and every two years. Dare we call it the public option?

There are reasons to demand changes in government and spending quite different from what the Tea Party wants. And while America is not going to give up on some form of market capitalism, it is also unlikely that we have collectively blanked out on the meaning of total corporate control. As Frederick Douglass would say, the plain language of The Constitution was written "in order to form a more perfect union." The handwriting on the walls of Main Street and Wall Street still spells "We the People."

[Greg Moses is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com.]

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