September 17, 2008

Government Takeovers: Another Weapon, and a Truly Fearsome One

Step one. Via NYCweboy, via Corrente, I arrived at this graphic in the Financial Times.

I studied it for several minutes. You should, too. The "global reach" of AIG, indeed. Many different kinds of activities, all around the world. The kinds of activities that allow businesses, and individuals, and governments to continue to function efficiently and productively -- indeed, simply to function.

Let's move on to step two.

There are only a very few blogs with readers who offer insights that make it worthwhile to read through the comments. Calculated Risk is one of the rare exceptions.

Keep that FT graphic and its implications clearly in mind. Then consider this comment to this post:
Scooby writes:

Am I the only one who noticed that the US government has just bought itself the ability to inflict a whole bunch of "financial terror" worldwide by taking controlling interest in these huge financial firms?

Is everyone around the world too busy being smug that the US taxpayer is backstopping them to notice the big rusty iron vise into which their family jewels has slipped?
And you thought the takeovers were a problem. They're not a problem: depending on your goals, they're a huge, immensely valuable benefit. Depending on who you are and what you want, "financial terror" is an awesome and powerful weapon.

Consider. Country A through Z (look at that graphic again, lots and lots of countries all around the world, probably most of the countries on the globe) wants to renegotiate thousands, perhaps millions, of insurance policies. Or it wants a break on some rates, perhaps for a crucial construction project. Or it needs a grace period to make some payments, maybe in connection with a major government program. Or...fill in the endless possibilities at your leisure.

And the United States now says: "Well, sure! We'd love to help you out. In exchange, how about granting/extending/giving us better terms on those basing rights?"

Or: "But you know what we'd like? First rights to those valuable resources of yours. [Fill in your preferred resource.] Plus waivers of all those environmental protections you have in place." Probably plus a bunch of other things.

Or: "We'd be happy to do that for you. But we need some overflight rights for the next year. Make that three years. We may have a few, well, operations we need to execute. We're sure you understand."

Or: too many possibilities to begin to list.

Get it? And if Country A through Z says, "no" ... well, gee, too bad, says the United States. Guess we can't accommodate you. How many people, and businesses, and governments do you think will say no, as the screws begin to tighten?

The AIG takeover is a huge weapon. A monumental weapon. I'm certain it is far from the only weapon of this kind the U.S. government already possesses. And as the economy further weakens, the U.S. government will probably pick up some more. (Here, I am referring to comparatively new mechanisms of coercion, pressure and extortion, such as those described above, in addition to those "normalized" and "legal" forms of coercion, pressure and extortion that have been among the major instruments of U.S. foreign policy for decades.)

And do you think Obama and the Democrats will want to give up weapons of this kind? Just like they gave up the FISA weapons? Or the Military Commissions Act weapons? Or the Patriot Act weapons?



The ruling class wins. The ruling class always wins.

Suckers. Yes. Me, too.

The ruling class are bastards. Whenever you think they've hit a major snag, consider the problem again. Then once more. You probably missed something.

As my post the other day indicated, there is still a lot of blood the ruling class can drain from the decaying body of the United States as a whole, and from you. They are very far from done.

Now I've cheered you up. Again. I would say I'm sorry, but it's probably better to understand what's going on and what may be coming as best we can. There is a great deal of exploitation, bombing, chaos, and death that still lies in the future.

Thank God I bought some liquor today. You should get some, too, if you don't already have it. Or something stronger. And screw your brains out. That is my solemn prescription. Follow doctor's orders now!