The India that can (no longer) say No
October 13, 1949
"TONY BLAIR only recently learnt something that his critics say should have been obvious to him for years: gratitude is not a virtue that George W. Bush has in abundance."
"Blairs decision to stay with the US on Iraq in the face of enormous domestic political opposition was only the latest of his demonstrations of solidarity with America. Before that, and immediately after the attack on the World Trade Centre, he flew to America to offer his condolences at a Mass at St Patricks Cathedral, and attended a joint session of Congress to demonstrate publicly Britains determination to join Americas War on Terror. Bush pledged eternal gratitude. And proceeded to ignore Blairs loyalty and his own pledge.
"First came steel tariffs, hardly a proper reward for a trading partners loyalty. Then came the awarding of contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, a process in which the Bush Administration made no distinction between nations that had supported the German-French onslaught on American policies and allies such as Britain and Poland.
"There is more of this sort of thing most lately, cancelling plans to purchase Rolls-Royce engines for new fighter planes and refusing to share sensitive technology with Britain but you get the idea."
Blair's shabby role will be examined both in sorrow and in pity by historians. That a person of high intelligence and talent chose to side with the most retrograde administration in Washington's history will be the first thing on his record.
Shock and AWE: Depleted Blairium
As if Blair's above contributions were not enough, reports are just coming in of the effects of depleted uranium being felt in the UK, scientists think as a direct result of the Iraq war. Two articles, on in the London Times (UK Radiation jump blamed on Iraq Shells) and Robert Fisk's Is The Problem Weather, Or Is It War? talks of the same topic. From the Times article:
"Each detector recorded a significant rise in uranium levels during the Gulf war bombing campaign in March 2003. The reading from a park in Reading was high enough for the Environment Agency to be alerted."
"A British scientist, Chris Busby, has been digging through statistics from the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment which measures uranium in high-volume air samples. His suspicion was that depleted uranium particles from the two Gulf wars - DU is used in the anti-armour warheads of the ordnance of American and British tanks and planes - may have spread across Europe. I'm not a conspiracy theorist but here's something very odd.
"When Busby applied for the information from Aldermaston in 2004, they told him to get lost. When he demanded the information under the 2005 Freedom of Information Act, Aldermaston coughed up the figures. But wait.
"The only statistic missing from the data they gave him was for the early months of 2003. Remember what was happening then? A little dust-up in Iraq, a massive American-British invasion of Saddam's dictatorship in which tons of DU shells were used by American troops. Eventually Busby, who worked out all the high-altitude wind movements over Europe, received the data from the Defence Procurement Agency in Bristol - which showed an increase in uranium in high-volume air sampling over Britain during this period."
And who, do you think, runs the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment? Here's an extract from an article by Lauren Moret (Depleted Uranium Contaminates Europe) on the same subject:
"Out of concern for the public, the official British government air monitoring facility, known as the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), at Aldermaston, was established years ago to measure radioactive emissions from British nuclear power plants and atomic weapons facilities.
"The British government facility (AWE) was taken over 3 years ago by Halliburton, which refused at first to release air monitoring data to Dr. Busby, as required by law."
Attaboy, Tony. Now we don't need to bother fighting 'em 'over there'.
I have a suspicion that the current ruckus reflects the economic interests of not only the unions, but also Eller & Company, the Miami-based business formerly a partner of Peninsular that is now suing for being forced into an "involuntary" partnership with those feelthy Ay-rabs. The suit raises the security canard, and one wonders what sort of economic interests the smear campaign is intended to mask. A press conference held Tuesday decrying the ports deal was held in Miami, and the Miami-based nature of the smear campaign tells me that something is afoot in the land of the hanging chad. In any controversy like this, the first rule is to follow the money, and this AP report hints at the stakes:
"The lawsuit represents the earliest skirmish over lucrative contracts among the six major U.S. ports where Peninsular and Oriental runs major commercial operations: New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami, and Philadelphia. The lawsuit was filed moments before the court closed Friday and disclosed late Saturday by people working on the case."
It wouldn't be the first time a corporate entity tried to take out the competition by raising a bogus threat to "national security." Led by a disparate coalition of mindless opportunists, anti-Arab racists, and warmongering politicians, an effort to scare the American public into making a few ruthless "entrepreneurs" obscenely rich by giving them a virtual monopoly on America's port facilities shows every sign of apparent success. The victors will be laughing all the way to the bank.
Today Raimondo trains his guns on Arianna Huffington's writings in the Huffington Post. Here's an excerpt:
From Arianna Huffington, Racial Profier (Feb 24, 2006)
Huffington and her fellow Bush-haters want us to abolish the international maritime trade, introduce racial profiling into the process of deciding who can do business in the U.S., and issue a gratuitous insult to Arabs the world over, when maritime experts and common sense tell us that DPW is being unfairly targeted by bloviating politicians and pontificating pundits.
Parading her ignorance with all the arrogance of a wealthy dowager flashing her diamonds, Arianna doesn't even begin to realize that her polemics could have dangerous and even deadly consequences. By ratcheting up the atmosphere of hate and hysteria that has characterized the relations between the Arab world and the West in recent weeks, she is lining up with the War Party. In open alliance with neocons like Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, and the National Review/Weekly Standard crowd, Huffington and her fellow "progressives" are poisoning American politics to the point that "World War IV" the wet dream of every neocon becomes a distinct possibility.
Raimondo is a limited government enthusiast, but not (I think) a free trader. The opposition should not be merely to Dubai taking over port management, but to handing over such operations to foreign companies anyway. A well-argued case for this controversy to be a mere blip in a larger patter appears in today's Counterpunch. Written by Dave Lindorff, the article points out the stupidity of the Democrats:
The port of Long Beach, California was long ago turned over to a state company owned by the Communist government of China--a country it might be recalled, whose military leaders not long ago threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons if America were to interfere with China's efforts to capture the island nation of Taiwan. Nobody's fussing about that.
Sometimes it takes a symbolic incident to crystallize attention to a larger problem. Gandhi's salt satyagraha was one such example. It would be sad if the debate deteriorated into an anti-Arab or anti-Muslim feeding frenzy. Indeed, as Raimondo pointed out brilliantly:
Today's News: DWP Offers to Hold off Implementing Deal.
The worst demagoguery over this issue is coming out of Sen. Chuck Schumer's mouth. The Democrat from New York avers:
"Just as we would not outsource military operations or law enforcement duties, we should be very careful before we outsource such sensitive homeland security duties."
Yet it seems as if the security-conscious senator isn't against outsourcing when Israel is the beneficiary: Israeli companies, as well as direct input from the Israeli government, practically dominate the burgeoning homeland security industry. And the newly installed congressional phone system is franchised to an Israeli company, yet no one is making much of a stink about the security concerns raised by people like Philip Giraldi, who writes:
"One of the more intriguing aspects of the federal investigation into the activities of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff is his Israeli connections. His large $2.2 million bail is reported to be due to fears that he would flee to Israel, as some of his business associates have already done, to avoid prosecution. Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew and ardent Zionist, set up a charity called Capital Athletic Foundation, which illegally provided $140,000 worth of weapons and security equipment to hard-line Israeli settlers.
"Abramoff also allegedly convinced Congressman Robert Ney, House Administrative Committee chairman, to award a contract worth $3 million to a startup Israeli telecommunications firm called Foxcom Wireless. The contract was for the installation of antennas in House of Representatives buildings to improve cell-phone reception. Not surprisingly, such equipment can be designed to have what is known as a 'back door' to enable a third party, in this case Mossad, to listen in. That an Israeli firm should be given such a contract through a selection process that was described as 'deeply flawed and unfair' is inexplicable, particularly as there were American suppliers of the same equipment, and it suggests that the private conversations of some of our congressmen might not be so private after all."
When Schumer starts questioning this sweet deal, I'll listen to him when it comes to DP World.
"There never was a 'terrorist threat' to western civilisation or democracy, only to western lives and property. The threat becomes systemic only when democracy loses its confidence and when its leaders are weak, as now. Terror attacks are for the police. For George Bush and Blair to demand a long war against Bin Laden and, by implication, a long suppression of civil liberty is ludicrous. Western civilisation is not some simpering weakling that cowers before a fanatic s might, pleading for leaders to protect it by all means, however illegal. It has been proof against Islamic expansionism since the 17th century. It is not at risk."
Just look at all the things Americans could take pride in for over two centuries, shattered in an instant by a few desperate men with box-cutters.
- Almost without demur, America has accepted a Patriot Act which abridges some of its most cherished freedoms. Detention without trial is now increasingly accepted. Even as security agencies gain undreamt-of powers to intrude into the lives of the citizenry, the administration seeks even greater powers to do more of the same.
- On another front, America is embarked on what can justifiably be regarded as naked aggression against a sovereign nation. (That its leadership was cruel and crude makes no difference to this basic fact. Nor does the fact that victory came with minimal casualties).
- America has rushed into war with less deliberation than attends even routine decisions - renaming a road takes longer in America. In the process, it has painstakingly gutted the legitimacy of the UN, the International Court of Justice, and other universal bodies.
- The American people have been openly lied to over the course of these months, with the administration trotting out one sham reason after another for attacking Iraq. As each dissembling was exposed, Bush and Co. just recycled the fibs without the slightest embarrassment. As of date, the admininstration is yet to give a convincing reason why the war was necessary, not to mention why 70 billion dollars of "your money", as the president likes to call it, has been squandered at a time when American schools are scrounging for funds and millions are without jobs and health care.
- The Congress of the United States, whose Senate chamber has been called the 'greatest deliberative body in the world', has abdicated its duty to discuss the great issues before the nation, and become a handmaiden of the administration, churning out legislation in record time to suit the president's needs.
- A nation once proud of its free and independent press is now seized by a pervasive fear complex, evidenced by a new McCarthyism accusing anyone criticizing the Administration and its war (by what strange logic it is unclear, for the First Amendment makes no exceptions for war) of being "unpatriotic". The press itself (with very few exceptions) has mutely followed the administration's cues, wallowing in its formidable technological capacities while jettisoning its basic adversarial role.
Looking at this list, surely just a small subset of the damage we have done to ourselves, a Bin Laden might say to himself, "Not a bad morning's work."
"Do I overstate the concern? The New York Times recently editorialized We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less. The Times should know. Between rah-rahing the war for Bush, sitting on the Downing Street Memos as if they were banana import trade policy documents, and covering for Judith Miller while she covered for The Cheney Gang, they have about as much blood on their hands as does Donald Rumsfeld. But if even the Times can work up the concern to print a line like that, were in a world of hurt."..."The Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation. Can you say NSA? Guantánamo? Abu Ghraib? Its bad enough that Bush has authorized himself to bug anybody, arrest anybody, convict anybody and silence anybody, but his NSA chief doesnt even appear to have read the Fourth Amendment. That whole thing about probable cause was lost on him, as he and his president simultaneously trampled the separation of powers and checks and balances doctrines by eliminating two out of three branches of government from their little surveillance loop."
"America asks the world to believe itself so threatened as to require the kidnappings of foreign citizens in foreign parts, detention without legal process, the curbing of free speech and derogation from all international law. It asks the world to believe that it must disregard the Geneva conventions and employ foreign dictators to help it to torture at random. It uses the same justification for occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. The world simply refuses to agree. Only cringeing Britain appeases such actions and calls them merely anomalous. There are madmen aplenty, but they do not constitute a war."
Flemming Rose Replies
"When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy."
What Freedom? What Democracy? What Civilization?
By Aseem Shrivastava
13 February, 2006
“Let us not speak falsely now, the hour is getting late.”
- Bob Dylan
Among the recent incidents following the publication of the cartoons of Mohammed was one which went oddly unreported. In Teheran, the Iranian police managed to catch a few European teenagers who were throwing glasses and plates at the crowd from the windows of the Danish consulate when Danish flags were being burnt on the street outside.
Later, the police took the boys into the premises of the nearest police station and gave the boys a thorough thrashing. One of the boys was kicked in his genitals by a policeman, while some others held him down. Another was held against the wall and given a sound hammering with batons on his back. A third was kicked by several of them as he lay prostrated on the ground. “Naughty little boys!”, and various unmentionable abuses were barked at them by the policemen, who were obviously revelling in the sadistic enterprise.
All this was recorded on video by someone and handed over to the TV channel that broadcast it this morning.
Back to reality.
Of course, I made up the above story, but not really, because all I did was to make the characters involved switch roles, much like in role plays that schoolkids are often asked to do in multicultural neighborhoods around Europe, in order to understand where “others are coming from.”
The above is precisely what could be seen on TV screens across the world a few hours ago, after News of the World released the videoclip of the beating of Iraqi teenage boys carried out by British soldiers some months back.
Let´s have, if only for a change, the same rules for everyone.
Let us not fall into the temptation of the old alibi that it was the work of a few bad men working in an otherwise decent establishment. In the video there are plenty of soldiers passing by, as the beating is going on. None tries to stop what is going on. How many times they must have seen such things, or done them themselves, or seen their superiors do or order them!
When brutalization is banal, it is too boring to talk about, let alone stop.
How many pictures and videos have been banned from the TV screens of the world at the orders of the Pentagon! If there was nothing to hide, we would indeed be living in a free world at the moment.
No. It won´t do to pass the buck back downwards. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the highest military officer to be punished (“scapegoated”, in her own words) for Abu Ghraib (she was demoted to the rank of a Colonel), in her recent book One Woman´s Army says that the entire chain of command, starting with Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, must be held accountable for the crimes at the prison since the blame “goes all the way to the top.” Her interview by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! speaks volumes for the depth of cover-up going on quietly.
The New Standard had reported some months back that an FBI email released by the government at the demand of the American Civil Liberties Union back in December, 2004 revealed that President Bush himself had sent out an Executive Order permitting the use of new interrogation techniques. The White House has neither confirmed nor denied that torture orders were given from the very top.
When the rot is this deep, it is understandable that justice cannot be done: for each finger pointing down at someone who infringed, there will be many times more pointing up towards the bosses who, far from disallowing, actually appear to have encouraged the tortures.
Britain has boasted much about its standards of military justice being some of the highest in the world. Let us see how far up the chain of command investigations are able to reach. Let´s see whether the Defence Secretary is called upon to answer for the crimes.
If we are serious about such matters as peace and security, let us stop denying what is obvious to people living in Muslim countries. Let us not just keep our attention anchored on the silly cartoons and their aftermath on the streets of the Middle East. Let us consider the far graver matters threatening the moral core of civilization itself.
Now the actions last week on the streets of Cairo and Jakarta and Teheran appear in quite a different light. It should have been obvious that the issue – for people living in those countries -did not concern freedom of expression at all. It should have been evident that it wasn´t just a matter of a few cartoons. The actions against the cartoons are only the little rippling surface of surging anger among people living in Muslim countries at the systematic injustices they continue to suffer at the hands of the West, especially the US and the UK. The Muslim clergy is able to make hay only because the blazing sun of foreign injustices refuses to set.
Abu-Ghraib revelations took place almost two years ago. Guantanamo even earlier. More recently, it was learnt that special CIA flights were being routed through Europe to carry suspects to be tortured in places where it would be safe to do so. Illegal detentions and tortures continue in a global archipelago of prisons run by Washington.
No significant (by which I mean proportionate) justice has been done with regards to the torture revelations. Muslims, much more so than others, cannot forget that. Nor has there been any promise that the practices would be stopped. On the contrary Washington has sought to legalize torture.
When one has come to live in such a brutalized global village, when men in suits and ties calmly impose barbarities on others in the name of defending something they call civilization and for passing on the torch of liberty to less fortunate souls in strange lands, the time has come to ask for a clear definition of civilization.
If you reserve your brutality for bar-room brawls and post-soccer angst, or export it abroad in the shape of oil-seeking military missions, masquerading as human rights campaigns, it does not make you any less barbaric than those Muslims who were openly burning European flags and throwing stones at consulates last week. On the contrary, machines kill more effectively than machetes.
Much deeper things than just freedom of speech are at stake these days. The very dignity of human beings is under the sword – everywhere.
Long before the first atom had been split and the first-ever bomb dropped from the air (by the Italians on Libya in 1911), the great 19th century American writer Herman Melville had written with a self-critical honesty that few in this modern world (which, we are assured, is freer today than ever before) would dare to, though the truth is far more grim today:
“the fiend-like skill we display in the invention of all manner of death-dealing engines, the vindictiveness with which we carry on our wars, and the misery and desolation that follow in their train, are enough of themselves to distinguish the white civilized man as the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth...it is needless to multiply the examples of civilized barbarity; they far exceed in the amount of misery they cause the crimes which we regard with such abhorrence in our less enlightened fellow-creature.”
Times have moved on much since Melville. But the world is such that the integrity of a white man still has greater impact on human destinies than the honesty of others (who are by no means exempt from their duty to find and tell the truth). One shudders to imagine what Melville would have written today. But the rest of the world expects exactly such honesty from Western citizens today. And we know, from the example of numerous noble exceptions alive, that they are capable of it. It is for them to terminate their indoctrinated ignorance, seek the truth and make it count.
We are truly scratching the bottom of the barrel of civilization now.
Civilization is not just about good manners, about neat and tidy exteriors which conceal a beastliness that would put animals to shame. At least with the anti-cartoon protests in Islamic countries, the barbarities were on the surface, obvious to onlookers. But how do you detect the insane, well-entrenched barbarism of civilized societies if you are only going to be allowed occasional peeks at the scale of organized evil, if the iceberg of dehumanized depravity pops up but once in a while, staying underground long enough to lull us all into the sleep of drugged babies – till the next set of revelations arrive? When dated defensive ideologies of freedom or human rights are used to defend indefensible state actions?
Freedom is dead. Democracy is dying. There are no human rights for those without power. The example of Iraq should teach us that there are things – loss of human dignity, for one, civil war for another – worse than dictatorship.
It is for the citizens of Europe and America to terminate their shameful silence, resume the struggles for freedom, peace and justice that have been in abeyance since the 1960s, and march in their millions on the streets of Western capitals.
Next month we await a show called “Death to Iran”. If it is allowed to be aired, Westerners will find little left in their pockets after they have paid their rising oil bills.
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time. But last week produced a flood of evidence that vividly drove home the point.
DOMESTIC SPYING After 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the conversations and e-mail of Americans and others in the United States without obtaining a warrant or allowing Congress or the courts to review the operation. Lawmakers from both parties have raised considerable doubt about the legality of this program, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made it clear last Monday at a Senate hearing that Mr. Bush hasn't the slightest intention of changing it.
According to Mr. Gonzales, the administration can be relied upon to police itself and hold the line between national security and civil liberties on its own. Set aside the rather huge problem that our democracy doesn't work that way. It's not clear that this administration knows where the line is, much less that it is capable of defending it. Mr. Gonzales's own dedication to the truth is in considerable doubt. In sworn testimony at his confirmation hearing last year, he dismissed as "hypothetical" a question about whether he believed the president had the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance. In fact, Mr. Gonzales knew Mr. Bush was doing just that, and had signed off on it as White House counsel.
THE PRISON CAMPS It has been nearly two years since the Abu Ghraib scandal illuminated the violence, illegal detentions and other abuses at United States military prison camps. There have been Congressional hearings, court rulings imposing normal judicial procedures on the camps, and a law requiring prisoners to be treated humanely. Yet nothing has changed. Mr. Bush also made it clear that he intends to follow the new law on the treatment of prisoners when his internal moral compass tells him it is the right thing to do.
On Thursday, Tim Golden of The Times reported that United States military authorities had taken to tying up and force-feeding the prisoners who had gone on hunger strikes by the dozens at Guantánamo Bay to protest being held without any semblance of justice. The article said administration officials were concerned that if a prisoner died, it could renew international criticism of Gitmo. They should be concerned. This is not some minor embarrassment. It is a lingering outrage that has undermined American credibility around the world.
According to numerous news reports, the majority of the Gitmo detainees are neither members of Al Qaeda nor fighters captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The National Journal reported last week that many were handed over to the American forces for bounties by Pakistani and Afghan warlords. Others were just swept up. The military has charged only 10 prisoners with terrorism. Hearings for the rest were not held for three years and then were mostly sham proceedings.
And yet the administration continues to claim that it can be trusted to run these prisons fairly, to decide in secret and on the president's whim who is to be jailed without charges, and to insist that Gitmo is filled with dangerous terrorists.
THE WAR IN IRAQ One of Mr. Bush's biggest "trust me" moments was when he told Americans that the United States had to invade Iraq because it possessed dangerous weapons and posed an immediate threat to America. The White House has blocked a Congressional investigation into whether it exaggerated the intelligence on Iraq, and continues to insist that the decision to invade was based on the consensus of American intelligence agencies.
But the next edition of the journal Foreign Affairs includes an article by the man in charge of intelligence on Iraq until last year, Paul Pillar, who said the administration cherry-picked intelligence to support a decision to invade that had already been made. He said Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made it clear what results they wanted and heeded only the analysts who produced them. Incredibly, Mr. Pillar said, the president never asked for an assessment on the consequences of invading Iraq until a year after the invasion. He said the intelligence community did that analysis on its own and forecast a deeply divided society ripe for civil war.
When the administration did finally ask for an intelligence assessment, Mr. Pillar led the effort, which concluded in August 2004 that Iraq was on the brink of disaster. Officials then leaked his authorship to the columnist Robert Novak and to The Washington Times. The idea was that Mr. Pillar was not to be trusted because he dissented from the party line. Somehow, this sounds like a story we have heard before.
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001 through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don’t know what worry is.
Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth. That’s one good reason for controlling immigration. An economy that cannot keep up with population growth should not be boosting population with heavy rates of legal and illegal immigration.
Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities--primarily credit intermediation, health care and social assistance, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government.
US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.
The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-economy that is “the envy of the world.” Communications equipment lost 43% of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees. The workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12%. Furniture and related products lost 17% of its jobs. Apparel manufacturers lost almost half of the work force. Employment in textile mills declined 43%. Paper and paper products lost one-fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products declined by 15%. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco products experienced a 7% shrinkage in jobs.
The knowledge jobs that were supposed to take the place of lost manufacturing jobs in the globalized “new economy” never appeared. The information sector lost 17% of its jobs, with the telecommunications work force declining by 25%. Even wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping employment shrank by 4%. Computer systems design and related lost 9% of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs than 5 years ago.
In five years the US economy only created 70,000 jobs in architecture and engineering, many of which are clerical. Little wonder engineering enrollments are shrinking. There are no jobs for graduates. The talk about engineering shortages is absolute ignorance. There are several hundred thousand American engineers who are unemployed and have been for years. No student wants a degree that is nothing but a ticket to a soup line. Many engineers have written to me that they cannot even get Wal-Mart jobs because their education makes them over-qualified.
Offshore outsourcing and offshore production have left the US awash with unemployment among the highly educated. The low measured rate of unemployment does not include discouraged workers. Labor arbitrage has made the unemployment rate less and less a meaningful indicator. In the past unemployment resulted mainly from turnover in the labor force and recession. Recoveries pulled people back into jobs.
Unemployment benefits were intended to help people over the down time in the cycle when workers were laid off. Today the unemployment is permanent as entire occupations and industries are wiped out by labor arbitrage as corporations replace their American employees with foreign ones.
Economists who look beyond political press releases estimate the US unemployment rate to be between 7% and 8.5%. There are now hundreds of thousands of Americans who will never recover their investment in their university education.
Unless the BLS is falsifying the data or businesses are reporting the opposite of the facts, the US is experiencing a job depression. Most economists refuse to acknowledge the facts, because they endorsed globalization. It was a win-win situation, they said.
They were wrong.
At a time when America desperately needs the voices of educated people as a counterweight to the disinformation that emanates from the Bush administration and its supporters, economists have discredited themselves. This is especially true for “free market economists” who foolishly assumed that international labor arbitrage was an example of free trade that was benefitting Americans. Where is the benefit when employment in US export industries and import-competitive industries is shrinking? After decades of struggle to regain credibility, free market economics is on the verge of another wipeout.
No sane economist can possibly maintain that a deplorable record of merely 1,054,000 net new private sector jobs over five years is an indication of a healthy economy. The total number of private sector jobs created over the five year period is 500,000 jobs less than one year’s legal and illegal immigration! (In a December 2005 Center for Immigration Studies report based on the Census Bureau’s March 2005 Current Population Survey, Steven Camarota writes that there were 7,9 million new immigrants between January 2000 and March 2005.)
The economics profession has failed America. It touts a meaningless number while joblessness soars. Lazy journalists at the New York Times simply rewrite the Bush administration’s press releases.
On February 10 the Commerce Department released a record US trade deficit in goods and services for 2005--$726 billion. The US deficit in Advanced Technology Products reached a new high. Offshore production for home markets and jobs outsourcing has made the US highly dependent on foreign provided goods and services, while simultaneously reducing the export capability of the US economy. It is possible that there might be no exchange rate at which the US can balance its trade.
Polls indicate that the Bush administration is succeeding in whipping up fear and hysteria about Iran. The secretary of defense is promising Americans decades-long war. Is death in battle Bush’s solution to the job depression? Will Asians finance a decades-long war for a bankrupt country?
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org