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November 20, 2003

Quizzy Whizzy

Which 20th Century Theorist Are You?


You are Louis Althusser! You tried to bring
together structuralism, Marxism, and Lacanian
psychoanalysis. Your brilliant analysis of
ideology and the state is still widely
influential. You murdered your wife, were put
in a sanitarium, and lived the last decade of
your life alone before dying in 1990.

What 20th Century Theorist are you?
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Posted 06:55 PM | life generally

The Other News

While the media go goofy over yet another "Michael Jackson, accused pedophile" scandal, and mostly fall over themselves to show everything about Bush's visit to London except the thousands of protesters, there are actually some other pretty big things going on in our little world.

Did you hear about this little thing called the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? If you think NAFTA was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet; FTAA wants to be NAFTA on steriods:

Like NAFTA's Chapter 11, the FTAA's rules of investment would additionally allow corporations to sue governments for future profits lost (a recent example of this was when Canada's Methanex Corp. sued the state of California for almost a billion dollars for banning the use of MTBE in its gasoline, due to its high toxicity. Should Methanex win, California either has to pay out or significantly lower its environmental standards). A poor nation like Bolivia would have virtually no protection against the might of U.S.-based multinationals in a case like this. And the FTAA would also include services, which means that everything ranging from water to education to hospitals would be up for privatization.

Giving corporations the ultimate power to dictate everything from health policy to environmental standards? Sounds great to me!!

You may have heard a bit about this recently because FTAA negotiators are currently meeting in Florida amid more protests (also here w/out the subscription hassle). Don't be misled; the dispute here is not between "free traders" and "isolationists" or "protectionists." Those who support agreements like FTAA want unfettered rights to exploit the environment and the world's workers in order to make as much money as they possibly can. Those who oppose these agreements are simply demanding that business respect the environment and human rights. The protesters do not oppose trade, they oppose exploitation. There's a big difference. But you wouldn't know much about that from reading the mainstream news, now would you?

L pointed out the other big story that's getting a lot less coverage than it should: the arrest of 47 Wall Street currency traders. (You can't beat this headline: "Nightmare on Wall Street".) Why were these people arrested? Well gee, turns out they were stealing from thousands of people:

The scheme, known among the defendants as "the game" or "points for cash," involved bogus currency trades that included kickbacks paid to those who arranged them, Comey said.

In some cases the improper trades were converted into cash that would be delivered to people in diners, he said.

The charges allege that thousands of investors were ripped off. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also are expected to file charges.

The important part to remember here is that "thousands of investors were ripped off." That could have been you, or your neighbor. Yet, here's a diagram (PDF) that suggests that the "victims" were banks. Um, I don't think so: "thousands of investors were ripped off." Isn't it likely that these were largely investors with the least to lose? I mean, if you have a lot of money, can't you afford to get good advice about how to invest it, and wouldn't that advice largely protect you from scams like this?

Who knows. We'll probably learn little about who the real victims are in these cases because, just as was the case with the Enron and Worldcom and and and scandals, the banks and investment and trading firms involved here are going to do everything they can to make sure we don't care about this. Just another bunch of suits stealing, move along please.

Oh, but wait, it's really important that Michael Jackson got arrested again, right?

Posted 06:55 AM | Comments (1) | general politics

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