Applying The Shock Doctrine

Mkay, let’s get one thing straight here: politics are politics, it’s not another Entourage episode or discussing last night’s Leafs game– it’s not meant to be entertainment, so don’t expect it to be. So no matter how boring your country’s politics are, you should still care and still stay SOMEWHAT informed… I mean, it’s ONLY Canada, right? So stay informed and vote on October 14, please, it counts, believe me, you COUNT.

Politics can be entertaining though. It’s perfectly legit to be riveted by American politics at this moment, and I certainly am. I’m trying to stay on top of everything that is the presidential campaign, whether reading about it, or writing about it…

Here is the blog entry I wrote up Monday on Thursday’s upcoming vice presidential debate.

Coincidentally, The Star released a similar article the next day about everyone’s anticipation for the debate, only using NASCAR metaphors instead of boxing metaphors like I did.

This can only mean that they found my blog, copied my thoughts/opinions, and that I should be working for The Star (hahahaha).

However, the debate’s only second to rescuing Wall Street when it comes to the most talked about in current events right now.

Anyone and everyone should read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, no theory can be more befitting and applicable to describe what’s going on right now than The Shock Doctrine. I’m 80 pages in and it is the most harrowing piece of non-fiction I’ve read, EVER. I’m a clueless ass when it comes to economics– in fact, I’m a clueless ass when it comes to ANYTHING– but The Shock Doctrine helps you makes sense of a lot of things and you definitely won’t be able to help connect the Shock Doctrine to what’s happening in the markets right now.

After reading that article she wrote up for The Huffington Post, I decided to scan through some of Klein’s back entries and I read this one written for The Nation.

If there is anything that can shake the confidence of a lefty Democrat supporter, it’s reading The Shock Doctrine coupled with that article, and I have to admit, my confidence in Obama waned a tad after reading it.

In basics: A man named Milton Friedman was a leading economist and renown veteran professor at the Chicago School of Economics, based in the University of Chicago. He developed the famous idea that in times of natural disaster or crisis that “shocks” a people and devastates a land, it’s the most opportune time to rewrite EVERYTHING on the slate that the disaster has wiped blank, something akin to the story of Noah’s Ark. But rewriting was always in the interest of creating a “a pristine and perfectly balanced market”, achieved by deregulation and having free markets reign. It always came back to capitalism and profit. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, instead of rebuilding the already existing public schools, Friedman suggested it would be better to replace them all together with private schools because “the education system in New Orleans was poor”– which really meant “I hate anything that smells like a socialist society, and that includes free education”. The “charter schools” were run by private entities, and they were publicly funded. After suffering Hurricane Katrina, who the fuck in that city can afford private school education for their children!?

ANYTHING to line the pockets of private companies, right? This idea was obviously OK’d by the Bush administration and so they wiped out the public school system and poured in millions of dollars to start erecting a ton of private-owned “charter schools”– while the rest of New Orleans was still in a shambles, being fixed up at a snail’s pace.

That’s one example of Friedman’s M.O.; disallowing any sort of regulation imposed by the government, zero oversight, to take advantage of a “shocked” and devastated people, to take advantage of a blank slate that a disaster has wiped clean and rewrite everything in the interest of the markets and always try to pass it off as “freedom” and “the good kind of reform”. They did this when the Tsunami hit– instead of rebuilding devastated villages, private investors wanted to build hotels. This Friedman school of thought was breathed in and out in the Chicago School of Economics and was taught to generations of economic students in the US and around the world for a really, really, REALLY LONG TIME– actually, it’s only until now that faculty members of UofC are trying to stop the teachings of Friedman’s sort of economic thinking, because they’re just realizing now that the imbalance of markets is directly attributed to Friedman’s ideas. So up until recently, this was the stuff that economics post-secondary education was made of. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I suddenly found out that everything I’ve EVER been taught made rich people more rich and poor people more poor and plunged the economy into recession.

Obama taught at the University of Chicago and his economic advisers team is made up of Chicago School of Economics graduates— granted they’re all largely left-wing, but they still harbour a Friedman economics kind of thinking. Obama won’t deny he loves the markets, but he’s playing his cards right, he acknowledges that Friedman’s ideas are dated and disastrous.

But where do you even start when it comes to undoing decades of poisonous indoctrination inside and outside of Washington?

Friedman’s “reform” ONLY works in times of disaster, people are more responding and less resistant if they know they’ve absolutely hit rock bottom and are desperate for a solution– any solution. In the case of the markets right now, crying investors and the depressed indebted are so desperate because they’ve been “shocked” not once, but twice: a) the Lehman Bros. declaring bankruptcy on that Black Monday, and b) the rejection of the bailout plan that happened just this past Monday.

Investors may actually not have hit rock bottom yet. Part 2 of the bailout plan is happening right now, and if the revised bill is again rejected– “shocking” everyone and the markets a third time, it’s the perfect time for somebody to swoop in and rescue Wall Street, quite possibly on their own Friedman-thinking terms and triggering even more instability and volatility than we’re experiencing now.

And that’s a really shocking thought.

Your friendly neighbourhood,

special k.

P.S.: I promise that with the next entry, I’ll write something more vacuous fetching, I know this type of subject matter doesn’t really strike the fancy of most.

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