The people of the Mediterranean states are no fools, they realize that they have been made the scapegoats and guarantors for years of mismanagement by their parasitic central governments and banking sectors. In a reasonable world, where the government respected its citizens, a region like Catalunya would have the right to shrug off the debts of the central government and make a go of providing basic services on its own.
Something, that most Catalans will point out, it is capable of doing very well.
However, when it comes to sovereign debt, it appears that there is no escape for the capable. Rather, the noose is generally tightened as the central government becomes increasingly desperate for revenue.
All reasonable dialogue is thrown out the window, and the central government makes a nationalist appeal and orders subservience at the point of a gun, as evidenced by the statement issued by the Spanish Military Association to Artur Mas.
The statement comes in response to protests calling for Catalan independence that included one in five Catalans (1.5 Million of 7.5 Million).
We must note, however, that the Catalans are an unusually peaceful people, and the chances of widespread violence are nil.
We were attending grad school in Barcelona when the tragic Madrid train bombing occurred on March 12, 2004. Apalled by the violence, we participated in a protest of similar size.
It was beautiful.
We took the Metro to Passeig de Gracia and slowly streamed down Barcelona’s grandest boulevard. As we came together with the main march, it was apparent that this was a large event which was hell-bent on rejecting the violence with an overwhelming show of peace.
As we marched down the Paseo, from time to time the procession of millions would stop, clap our hands, slap our legs, and then hold our hands, palms out, in front of us in silence in a grand gesture that shouted through the silence:
Enough of terrorism, enough of war. This message came to the world in stark contrast to the regular reaction of an eye for an eye that had been pursued up to this point with predictable results.
We pray that this latest round of protests in our beloved Catalunya and Spain end in a similar fashion, with a firm and peaceful rejection of austerity, and a show of solidarity and goodwill towards men.
The big news over the weekend was the partial nationalization of the Belian Bank, Dexia. What? You’ve never heard of Dexia? Most people this side of the pond hadn’t up until a few weeks ago. This tiny $707 Billion hedge fund disguised as a bank, which just months ago passed the European bank stress tests with flying colors, has become the first official victim of the dearth of interbank funding in the Eurozone.
In a world full of potential butterfly effects, Dexia’s staggering juggernaut could have a knock-off effect for the US Municipal bond market.
Unfortunately for France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, things will not settle down in time for their governments to remain solvent. Chalk another set of Eurozone governments up to the “effective loss of sovereignty club.” Surrendering sovereignty to international banking interests seems to be working out well for Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, so why not join the fun?
Slovakia appears to be the only nation willing to stand up against the wave of bailouts and subsequent loss of sovereignty as the bailouts costs crush already strained government balance sheets. It appears that they may hold out a couple more days, enough time to find a compliant government (the current one was voted out in a confidence vote tied to the EFSF earlier today).
The situation in Europe is giving the world a frightening message: When push comes to shove, the governments can be counted on to work in the interests of the banks. How long this untenable situation can last is anybody’s guess, but if the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to gain traction, it is clear that the situation, if properly understood, could change very quickly.
Observant fellow taxpayers will note that we have qualified our previous statement with the words “if properly understood” because, at the moment, the Occupy Wall Street movement appears to misunderstand the roots of their many and varied forms of discontent.
Protesters apparently see nothing wrong with the government selectively fleecing the productive class as long as they receive their “fair share.” If we have correctly identified the Socialist tendencies of these protests (as last check they had not adopted a manifesto), then the logical outcome is simply the ouster of one form of parasite, the banking interests, for another.
The problem, of course, lies in what we use as money. Placing the power to create money in the hands of a Central Bank and then turning a blind eye as they shamelessly debauch the currency, giving an inordinate amount of purchasing power to those closest to the money printing operation (banks and government) and placing an inordinate amount of regulatory and tax burden to those farther away from the money printing operation (that would be you and I, fellow taxpayer), is perhaps the surest way to destroy man’s faith in the capitalistic system, and in the process lay the blame for every evil unleashed by the debauching of the currency on the capitalistic system.
Rothchild, Marx, and Keynes understood this. They also understood that only one man in a million would be able to understand how debauching the currency serves to concentrate power in the hands of few at the expense of many.
On October 6th, Portland joined other US cities by kicking off its own version of the increasingly popular Occupy Wall Street protests with approximately 5,000 people amassing at Tom McCall Waterfront Park where SW Ankeny meets Naito Parkway. While no specific manifesto has come forth, the group generally comes across as unified against corporate greed and corruption.
Approaching Occupy Portland’s ground zero, it became apparent that the perhaps the only thing that unified this loose coalition of protesters was a general feeling of discontent. It was equally apparent that general discontent can be a powerful unifying force, and that as the marches and occupation got underway, the protesters found in one another the camaraderie that is inherent in common struggle and sacrifice.
Amongst the many and varied grievances that could be observed by reading the protesters’ signs, flags, and slogans, were: support for the cause of the Palestinians, pleas to tax the rich, outrage against corporate greed, and long-suffering environmental concerns. While these grievances have been longstanding for certain sectors of the population, what was most striking was the breadth of demographic and socio-economic makeup of those gathering to launch Occupy Portland.
Protesters of all Stripes Gathering to kick off Occupy Portland on Thursday, October 6th 2011
While students resembling John Lennon and Guy Fawkes masks tended to stand out in the crowd, the presence of veterans, college students, retirees, and stay at home mothers spoke to the wide ranging discontent that has gripped Americans who are increasingly identifying themselves as the “other 99%” in sharp contrast to the top 1%, the label that has come to represent the wealthy and corporate interests.
As the exuberance of the protesters grew and their numbers at Waterfront Park began to swell, a few blocks away, up Burnside and 5th, the mood was quite different.
Despite assurances by both the protesters and Portland Mayor Sam Adams that the protests would be peaceful, financial and governmental institutions, which imagined themselves in the path of the unannounced route of the march, were taking precautions. Banks planned to lock their doors and the increased Police and private security presence in the neighborhood was conspicuous.
There were rumors of Anarchists from Eugene coming to cause trouble. Adding to this perceived threat was the uncertainty of the effects on transportation in the downtown core. Needless to say, on this autumn day, Portland did not feel like the relaxed City in which we dwell.
Thankfully, these fears were unfounded. Both Protesters and Police are to be commended for tacitly working together to maintain the peace and dignity of the protest. Mayor Adams went as far as to waive the City’s no camping ordinance so that protesters could pitch their tents and stay the night.
Whatever the outcome, it is refreshing to see that Occupy Portland is helping so many people to find their voice and the City of Portland, true to form, welcoming them with open arms.