Alex Blaze

Video from the G20 protests

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 30, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

Protestors at the G8/G20 conference in Toronto, if anyone cares to notice, are calling for "jobs" in addition to human rights protections, fairer trade, and action on climate change. It makes sense, since the conference is working on ways to deepen and lengthen the current recession so that more people suffer and populations become easier to control. These should be issues that unite leftists and liberals, but it'll probably take a little time for American liberals to start caring.

Of course, as the representatives from each country returns home to convince their government to institute "austerity" programs that will make the working class suffer more and hurt their economies, the police have to get ready for more demonstrations, more actions, and more riots. American politicians have decided to let unemployed people go without any help (after already deciding that people should be let to lose their homes), and people going hungry not that far from people going yachting tend to get uppity. So here's a preview of years to come:

Actual economists can address the issues better than I could, but it is rich to see all this sudden concern for the deficit in Congress as we're discussing ADAP funding, fixing health care, extending unemployment insurance, and helping the homeless. Where were these people when the two wars were being discussed? Where were they when tax cuts were being created for the rich?

Americans are beginning to see this, finally, and I hope they're getting the bigger idea that rich people aren't looking out for their interests. It's encouraging to see people applaud Naomi Klein:

It's also encouraging to see queers, who generally know that increased police brutality is bad for them, showing up to protest Toronto's chief of police going to a Pride event. Seriously, why is this guy celebrating a riot? That makes no sense.

But this is only going to get worse. Why can't these people just go enjoy Pride without making it all political? Why can't people just let the G8/G20 go about their business? What about the Black Bloc showing up an terrorizing Toronto? And then people stop asking questions.

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"Protestors at the G8/G20 conference in Toronto, if anyone cares to notice, are calling for "jobs" in addition to human rights protections, fairer trade, and action on climate change."

This implies that protestors believe that "government" can magically create "jobs." It can't.

The ever-expanding "Recovery Act" has spent $787 Billion and recently VP Biden suggested this investment "might create 2 million jobs." That's almost $400,000 per job and it appears to be a significant waste of money.

Only "demand" can create real jobs. New products, new solutions or something of "value" that people want and are willing to pay for. When that happens the demand pays for those jobs and those employed spend their wages and more demand is created.

None of the $787 billion in "stimulus" funding was invested in innovation or creating the ability to respond to real market demands. These faux jobs will have to be paid for again next year and the year after and the year after .... they do nothing to change the fundamental problems with our economy.

Wait, so you're saying the cause of the current recession is that people just up and decided, all together, that the things on the market two years ago just weren't worth buying? Americans, in general, just decided that they didn't want iPods and shoes anymore?

It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that without jobs, people don't have the money to buy shoes and iPods?

Aggregate demand does need to be raised, and the only way to do that is to get money into people's hands. People still have the same wants and needs as before, and there's still plenty of innovation. People just aren't working, and their labor is a wasted resource that's impoverishing everyone.

And your numbers for the stimulus are wrong. It was allocated $787B, it's spent about half as of this month, and only about a third of that went to job creation. The rest went to keep jobs going (like state and local government employees), programs like food stamps which do a great job both stimulating the economy and keeping people fed, and a mix of refundable and nonrefundable tax credits.

I have just returned from a solidarity demo in front of the Ottawa Police HQ, part of a series of demos scheduled for today and tomorrow.

The immediate cause of the demo was the violence done to the protesters, "legitimate" and "illegitimate" alike.

There was a connection made to the larger structural issues, though the connection between what stimulus is and the effects of austerity are difficult to make--even enormously well paid mainstream journalists can rarely make the connection.

It has to do with demand.

In all our societies, the vast majority of demand comes from individual people--you and I--on the order of 2/3's of the entire economy comes from us. And when we are unemployed, when we are afraid of losing our jobs, when we no longer have homes as a sort of personal bank--for those that had homes--we don't buy as much as we did before.

Many, without homes or jobs, buy nothing

The reason why the credit market, so beloved of media, and its metaphors of unclogging or unfreezing never seemed to get to the heart of the problem, was that the problem was never that there wasn't enough money in the system--money can always be made--it is that people didn't have the income to be given credit in the first place.

This, however, is not a permitted reason in the American dream; the morality tale that if you don't have a job, don't have a home, its your own damn fault and no one will help you, let alone the federal government.

You can just go away and die.

Just read Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald on these points.

Money is always available, and can be made, when it is the banks, the health insurance companies, the oil companies, that need it. But never when people need it.

This is NOT economics, this IS politics and an evil morality that has wormed itself into the American psyche since the 70's.

What we see with the recent G20, and the leading role played by my Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to my shame, is nothing new. The role he played in derailing the bank tax and the financial transaction tax, which would have addressed some of the structural issues, was nothing more than appalling.

The Greek Myth, as Dean Baker and Paul Krugman have pointed out is just that, a myth.

Used by people like Pete Peterson, Alan Simpson, Alice Rivlin, Erskine Bowles, and all their ilk, to push through their long campaigned for cuts, not to military spending, or taxes on the wealthy--especially like re-establishing the estate tax--but cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, teachers, and on and on.

This is not economics; this is class war.

If it were something else, there would be proposals not only to maintain demand, there would be proposals to restructure the economy away from the banks, from the oil companies, from the health insurance companies.

Obama, breaking all his campaign promises, deliberately, does nothing more than Bill Clinton did before him--and he is just as destructive.

But due to 30 years of right-wing propaganda, there is little political will in this country for the type of public investment needed to create the technologies and jobs of the future. IT transformation was undergirded by huge public and publicly-funded academic investment in computing r&d going back to the 60s. Green tech would need the same thing. The basic science and the scope of what is required is beyond the capacity of private firms. AndrewW, you may have more faith in unaided markets than I, and Alex, you may have more faith in the Revolution. I don't think the Rev. actually turned out that well in the 20th century, and it was often pretty thankless for the queers who were down with it...

Where I am more afraid things are headed, is that the US proletariat, immiserated and indoctrinated, becomes ready to serve as the brown-shirt foot soldiers of the new "christian" /tea-party pogroms and kristallnachts,for which the queers will be prime targets.

Further to Harold's comment.

I believe the situation is immeasurably worse after Obama than it would have been without him.

The transformation he made in the political terrain, an overwhelming majority after years of virtually too close to call--where Rovian tactics of eliminating voters gave a decisive edge--more money that Croesus--through innovative internet tactics that allowed him NOT to need public funding, and no spending limits.

The most important, and deadly, change was his bringing in more youth and people of colour than any preceding president.

All of whom he was alienating as early as his vote for the FISA Amendments Act during the campaign--which he promised during the nomination he would filibuster.

Where I am more afraid things are headed, is that the US proletariat, immiserated and indoctrinated, becomes ready to serve as the brown-shirt foot soldiers of the new "christian" /tea-party pogroms and kristallnachts,for which the queers will be prime targets.

This may not be precisely what happens.

I'm not yet sure of the consequences of the disillusion and disaffection which is the result of Obama's cynical political calculations, the use of what Jane Hamsher, at Firedoglake, has called the "veal pen" to silence progressive organizations, among other tactics to kneecap his own progressive base, but it won't be pretty.

Clinton lead to Bush.

Who will Obama lead to?

Paige Listerud | July 1, 2010 3:01 PM

I'm afraid I have to agree. There is something treacherously Weimar Republic about both the Clinton and Obama administrations. The Christian theocrats who came so close to the seat of American power during the Bush/Cheney administration have not gone away. They are simply forming Christian militias, killing abortion doctors, and steering the Republican parties in Texas and Montana to re-criminalize sodomy. Sarah Palin is their shiny, happy face.

And all the while, our economy continues to be drained by two wars and the Dems do not even bother to turn BP's oil spill in the gulf into impetus for a WPA-style program that could shift our fossil-fuel culture to an infrastructure geared for green technology. Such a move would put people back to work now and reset the American economy to be a driving force in the world again.

Often, I look at the stagnation of the Democratic Party as see our nation slipping into second and third-world status--with its attendant dictatorships.

My comment above was not about "market demands" and their effect on the economy. I was referring to the folly of believing that the "government" can create sustainable jobs. They cannot. They can give money away and make believe they have created jobs, but they haven't.

Real, sustainable jobs can only be created by real demand. Let me provide an example:

Two-thirds of US Schools are more than 50 years old. They are not only outdated, but they are mostly sub-standard. Cities and towns know they need to be replaced, but they do not have the money to pay for new facilities. The demand is there, but not the capital. That very real "demand" can be satisfied by figuring out how to pay for it. That is happening now and it's very smart. Most of those "old" schools waste a lot of energy - and estimated $30 billion a year. New, energy efficient schools would cut energy costs in half. Those savings can be leveraged into $450 billion in new schools ($45 billion a year), creating more than a million real jobs. All paid for by the very real "savings." NO free government money required - just smart, and even clever innovation.

There are dozens of similar examples in our economy. Solving problems can create demand or create the ability to support/finance that demand. The US "Recovery Act" isn't solving any problems or investing in innovation to find solutions. It is simply giving money away - to both corporations (75%) and some workers (25%), but none of it is sustainable. It is largely a waste.

Back to the point of your article. Demand creates jobs, not "demanding."

When this demand as you describe the need for improved infrastructure, in this case, schools, where were the private capitalists for all the decades this infrastructure was allowed to rot.

All this talk of leverage, straight out of some MBA textbook, which assumes the money, and the profit, will end up in the deserving hands of the private sector.

Why not finance, and run, these entities in the public sector and put the profits back into people's lives--instead of extracting it like, well, oil from the gulf?

It was the morality of capitalism that allowed the rot of infrastructure to happen in the first place.

Everyone who believes in this private sector orthodoxy should read Mat Taibbi and his piece on how the desperate needs of communities were leveraged into endless payments to private corruptations, I'm sorry, private corporations and their local puppets.

These corporations just happened to have the name of Goldman Sachs.

Always socialism for the wealthy, especially if they are not human; private enterprise, and moralism, for living, breathing, dying human beings.

Supply side is nothing more than voodoo economics.

"It was the morality of capitalism that allowed the rot of infrastructure to happen in the first place."

I don't blame capitalism or politics for our lack of attention to the quality of schools - I blame all of us. We not only allowed it to happen, WE did nothing about it.

America used to solve problems. We used to invest in solutions. Like Obama said today "we continue to ignore our problems and defer them to future generations." He was talking specifically about immigration, but it applies to energy, healthcare, financial and other industries. We never FIX the problems. We argue about them and resort to "blame."

The problem of our schools is being solved and I've made a significant investment in that area. The government has not made that investment - they've deferred the problem for decades. I have no expectations that well-intention "government" will solve anything, mostly because they never have. Their incompetency applies to their thinking, too. Obama promised to reform healthcare. He didn't. There were a few minor negotiated changes, but nothing even approaching "reform."

Individuals still have the power to create change. Comparing capitalism to socialism - primarily to substantiate "blame" - doesn't change anything. We cannot rely on capitalism any more than we can rely on government. We need to rely on each other and our unique ability to solve problems.

We need to participate in efforts that actually make a real, sustainable difference. We need to understand what really creates jobs and stop pretending they are in some "lock box" somewhere waiting to be freed by angry "demands."

Solutions solve problems, not socialism. Socialism actually creates the very real risk of delaying the problems until they are too big to solve. Spain and Greece seem to be demonstrating that now. We all prefer prosperity over austerity and we should be more concerned with how to resurrect prosperity. In doing so we can learn how to make it reach more people and be truly sustainable. WE can do that, instead of expecting others to do it for us.

>> "It's also encouraging to see queers, who generally know that increased police brutality is bad for them, showing up to protest Toronto's chief of police going to a Pride event."

He was no doubt asked long before the G20 summit happened. The gay community and the Toronto police have had a good relationship for years, and frankly, I'm not sure I believe a lot of the stuff the (non-Canadian, in the main) protesters are saying about their time in the holding cells. It sounds more like the kind of things "professional protesters" say when they want to make a point about how terrible the cops are and how the Man is holding them Down

, but it damn sure doesnt sound like the Toronto policemen and -women I know.

Yes, the video is pretty shattering. I dont know what would have set them off to make a run like that at the protesters, and believe me I intend to ask. But let us not forget that the cops are there to do a job, which is to protect the 20 government leaders whose lives would be seriously threatened, were the police not there. Yes, it makes for a lousy situation all around, but I'm not so sure I believe that all of the blame can be thrown at Toronto's finest. Those men and women were in a no-win situation, and to be perfectly blunt, the protesters didnt make the job any easier.

I mean, please, let's get real for a moment. There were some 50,000 protesters, if not more. The ones who broke windows and set cars on fire didnt exactly wear t-shirts identifying themselves as such: they did their vandalism, then hid by blending in with the rest of the crowd. So what are the cops supposed to do, just shrug their shoulders and say "Well, no idea who it is, might as well call it a day"?

And knowing how tight the security was going to be, what did anyone think they were going to accomplish? Protesters have been following the G8 and the G20 summits for years -- and what do they have to show for it? A rising ill will from the public whose towns they trash and an ever-rising security costs. But beyond that, any policy changes? Any at all, after all this time?

Didnt think so.

If the point was to just work the media, even that's not doing them much good. Many of my Toronto friends were appalled at the violence from the protesters, and I cant say I blame them. Trashing someone else's property isnt exactly the best way to get your point across.

So sorry if this offends, but so far all I've heard is one side of the story, and some of it feels pretty suspect. After all this nonsense is over with, maybe the Toronto police chief will make a public statement about what happened. He's a pretty stand-up guy and, despite what we've heard these past days, a good friend of the community. I doubt he or his men wanted anything to do with it, but they got stuck with the assigment. And perhaps we should cut them some slack until we get all sides of the story.

:: putting on my asbestos suit ::

You raise very good points. Demonstrating is done to deliver a "message." Violence and the destruction of property obscures any potentially beneficial message. When disagreement becomes destruction it is dismissed by most thinking people. It becomes counterproductive.