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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news

The Littleton shooting: why Serbia and not the NRA?
What do serial killers, terrorists and mass murderes have in common? They are all WASPs.
Never farther from the truth in the Martin Luther King case
The World Trade Organization and the return of lawless capitalism
Is the American economy about to collapse?
The morality test: give the GOP a reason to exist
France Investigates Microsoft monopoly
The Arkansas Shooting: The name of the game is hipochrisy.
The Atlanta massacre: welcome to America
Why were Kennedy and Reagan never impeached?
Pat Buchanan for President:
Clinton's impeachment would actually be a boon to the Democratic Party.
The right-wing conspiracy: Is Richard Mellon Scaife the main conspirator?
Who's the greatest danger to our Constitution?
The stock market crash (september 1998): capitalism's in trouble
Capitalism is no longer democratic
The end of the American democracy?
Is it a democracy when 95% of richest candidates get elected?
Impeach Congress! Will the elections punish the persecutors?
The global financial crisis and the U.S.
Who caused the global financial crisis?
How economists destroy economies
Is "honest gun dealer" an oxymoron?
To impeach or not to impeach?
Who will be the next president?
Crime declines nationwide
The dangers of George Bush
The U.S. Congress: give more guns to the criminals!
While the economy sinks, the lobby industry prospers
The right to know who bear arms
The Oregon Shooting: The name of the game is hipochrisy.
Why does the president of the U.S.A. have such bad taste in women?
How reducing the speed limit saved lives
The #1 Anti-American Terrorist: Ken Starr
Kenneth Starr: the most expensive man in America.
Will the United States go bankrupt in a stock market crash?
Bombing Sudan and Afghanistan (august 1998): what for?
The tobacco wars: Taxing vice?
Two Americans are responsible for the international crisis
Clinton investigations: The public dislikes the accusers far more than it dislikes the accused.

  • (December 1999) Never farther from the truth in the Martin Luther King case. A court in Memphis has ruled that, as the King family always claimed, Martin Luther King was not assassinated by a lonely lunatic (James Earl Ray) but was the victim of a conspiracy of Mafia, CIA, British secret services, etc etc. Notwithstanding the jury's decision, the evidence is still the same: Ray killed King, and had no help. The Memphis trial was a farce. Nobody doubts that. So why did the King family insist in going through it? They claim it's not for money: they only asked for a penalty of $100. Of course, they forgot to mention that, in truly American fashion, they sold the rights to the story to Hollywood. For decades the name of King has inspired freedom fighters around the world. After this farce and the Hollywood movie that will turn it into a Titanic-style melodrama, King will become as revolutionary as Mickey Mouse. Coretta King: now you can truly say that your husband died in vain.
  • (November 1999) The World Trade Organization and the return of lawless capitalism. The Seattle meeting of the world's countries was supposed to be the celebration of free trade. It is, indeed, a reason to celebrate for lawless capitalists. It took decades of workers protests, grass-roots movements and student riots to bring about a degree of control on capitalism. Un bridled capitalism, just like any other force of nature, would simply divour everything it can and leave a waste land behind. Western societies have introduced several mechanisms to protect workers rights, the environment and even business itself (anti-trust laws, for example). Most third-world and ex-communist countries have no labor laws and no environmental laws. It is a law of nature that capitalism, driven by Darwinian competition, will move its operations from highly-controlled western countries to loosely-controlled third-world countries. The net result will be 1. massive exploitation of the harmless peoples of those countries; and 2. the creation of an even bigger gap between rich employers and poor workers. When the capitalists of the WTO talk about "capital flows", they are not talking about charity sent by rich countries to poor countries. They are talking about dirty, underpaid, life-threatening jobs dumped on poor countries for the purpose of increasing the profits of their multinational corporations.
  • (October 1999) Is the American economy about to collapse? If you think the American economy is in great shape, check out the following data:
    • All indicators suggest that the stock market is significantly overvalued by about 50-60%. For example, market capitalization is 140% of the gross national product, which dwarves the previous record (81% in 1929). A lot of this overvaluation is due to weak foreign economies: Japanese and European investors flocked to Wall St because their own economies were in shamble. If those investors flee, the stock market will crash.
    • Like no other country in the world, the United States is a country of stock owners. The number of Americans who gamble with stocks is astonishing: almost 80 million Americans own stocks. Unlike Europe and Japan, were stocks are owned by large financial organizations, the United States stock market directly affects the wealth of ordinary people. A crash of the stock market would greatly affect most households.
    • Those very households are not in a position to be affected by any negative news: total consumer debt is not at 98% of total disposable annual income. On average, Americans would have to sacrifice one full year of salary to pay off their debts. It is truly American households who have kept the economy going, with their willingness to take loans for just about everything. It is not a coincidence that the stock market has exploded exactly when private household debt has exploded.
    • The country as a whole is no less indebted than the individual Americans. The trade deficit reached $80 billion in September 1999 (just about one billion dollars a day), or 3.7% of the gross national product. It may pass $300 billion by the end of the year. Last year it was $164 billion, and for the previous three years it had been stable at $100 billions. Americans consume hundreds of billions of dollars more in goods than they produce. Foreigners are financing this colossal debt by buying U.S. stocks and U.S. bonds. Obviously, the United States cannot consume forever more than it produces. The easy way out of this trade imbalance is to let the dollar fall.
    • That should not be difficult. The dollar has been boosted artificially by the same factors that kept stock prices unrealistically high. A quiet sell-off of dollars has actually been going on for a while (both the euro and the yen are up sharply from a year ago) and could pick up steam if the Japanese and European economies improve. But a sharp decline in the dollar would have these effects: it would increase inflation (which has been low mainly because of cheaper imports), which would push up interest rates, which would cause a sell-off of stocks, which would cause a flight of foreign investment, which would cause a decline in the dollar, which would cause... etc.
    • The Federal Reserve fears inflation, but the prices that people deal with are falling, and the Internet is helping bring them down even faster. Companies have to keep cutting prices if they want to survive in the Internet world. No wonder that Internet companies make no profits, no matter how big their market evaluation. Internet companies are a tool in the hands of financial speculators to inflate prices and reap huge profits in stocks. In the meantime they force healthy companies to cut their margins too. This is a deflationary spiral.
    • The media love success stories and talk about all the sudden millionaires. Very few media recorded the simple fact that in the first half of 1999, out of $20 billion in corporate defaults worldwide, a scary 85% of the losses were in the United States.
    • Last but not least, the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. has widened to a record. Since 1977, the richest 1% of Americans has more than doubled its fortunes, but the poorest 25% of Americans are 9% poorer. In 1980 a top executive's pay was (on average) 42 times the wage of a worker: in 1999 the same top executive is making 419 times what a worker makes. The median family income (discounted for inflation) is the same as in the early 1970's: $46,000. And, in order to achieve that number, more women and children have to work, and men have to work more hours. The average wage (discounted for inflation) is about 10% lower than it was in 1973.

    The conventional wisdom is that the "new" economy (i.e., the high-tech industry, represented by the NASDAQ index) is indifferent to these "traditional" indicators. Since most of the recent boom is due to the "new" economy, then there is no danger of a crash.
    The truth is almost certainly at the opposite extreme. The traditional economy is in good shape. Stocks of the "real" economy are overvalued, but only 20-25%. On the other hand, the "new" economy is a gigantic bubble and it is going to burst within six months. A 25% correction of the NASDAQ stock prices in the next six months is very likely.
    The flight from the "new" economy will benefit the "real" economy, as investors will simply switch stocks. For a while, therefore, the real economy will look healthy. But at that point the traditional economy will come under pressure too, because all of a sudden investors will rediscover the indicators that they have neglected for so long. That will cause panic selling and a violent correction in the Dow Jones index as well. Foreigners will take their money back and the dollar will fall, causing ever more foreigners to flee the U.S. As more and more high-tech millionaires find out that they are actually broke, real estate will also collapse (at least in the areas where it got out of control), and housing has always been a crucial factor in U.S. economic recoveries. This will cause a full-fledged recession. It will not last long, as the economic foundations are solid, but America and Americans will have to learn to pay their debts.
    Right now the stock market and the entire economy are supported only by the positive feelings of millions of American investors and of a few large foreign investors.
    The higher it goes, the harder it will fall. Needless to say, once it falls all the pundits will tell you exactly why it fell and why it had to fall. They did the same thing last time in Japan.
  • (September 1999) France Investigates Microsoft monopoly. French consumers said the obvious: it has become almost impossible to purchase a computer which is not already equipped with Microsoft's operating system. The difference between French consumers and American consumers is that, while Americans accept this fact like sheep, the French were irritated at having Windows automatically installed in their computers. You pay for that software, and consumer groups in several countries have set up websites to explain how to get refunds for the Microsoft software that you unwillingly paid for and will never use.
    Unfortunately, the French saw only half of the problem. Microsoft's monopoly has far more devastating consequences. Every time Intel comes up with a faster processor, Microsoft comes up with a bigger and slower operating system, so your computer salesperson tells you that you need to throw away your PC and buy a new one, faster and with more memory. Why you may wonder? My current computer does everything I need. Because if you don't you will be stuck with an operating system that nobody supports anymore. It's like having a refrigerator that no electrician can fix anymore: the pressure to purchase a new one is high. Once you decide to upgrade to a new Microsoft operating system, you will find that you need a faster processor and a larger memory. Since processor, memory and operating system account for most of the cost a personal computer, you may as well just throw away your existing computer and purchase a new one.
    The truth is that, if you tried it, a very old Windows 3.1 operating system would work perfectly well on your personal computer and (surprise) your personal computer would even be a lot faster. Of course, you could not run the new games and programs that have been developed for newer Microsoft operating systems, but most of us don't use those games and programs. Most of us would be perfectly happy with an old Windows 3.1, much happier than we are with slow and cumbersome dinosaurs like Windows98.
    This is a well known racket that has helped both Microsoft and the personal computer industry grow at the expense of consumers budgets. This happens because Microsoft has a monopoly of operating systems. As alternatives appear, such as Linux and the new Macintosh, consumers are shocked to see how easy and fast their computers can be. The only thing that countries like France need to do is make sure that Linux and the Macintosh are given a fair chance and are not unfairly boycotted by Microsoft.
    Hopefully the current trail against Microsoft in the United States will reach the consequences which are supported by overwhelming evidence (Microsoft's own memos, countless witnesses including Microsoft's, and Microsoft's own sale record): that Microsoft is a monopoly and has taken advantage of its power to force others go its way and ultimately hurt consumers. Bill Gates' own videotaped testimony makes Bill Clinton's lies about sex look like child's play.
    Bill Gates has always claimed that any action from the US government would hurt innovation. Bill Gates may be the reachest man on the planet, but he knows very well that he has never innovated. Microsoft is not responsible for a single technical innovation in the history of computers. Windows and mice were invented by Xerox and made popular by the Apple Lisa. The Apple Macintosh introduced most of the concepts which are employed by the Microsoft operating systems. All of Microsoft's most popular applications were bought from other companies or individuals (DOS itself, the software that started Bill Gates' formidable climb, was bought from another individual, Bill Gates did not develop it). Microsoft's software empire grew from the beginning on the successes and failures of its competitors: Microsoft would produce its own version of whatever was being successful and destroy with its formidable machine whatever it could not acquire or copy (very often it would cause a company's downfall only to purchase its technology cheap and turn it into a multimillion dollar business).
    In the 1990s Microsoft's strategy has been to fiercely oppose all innovations, and, when forced, to wage war against their creators. The greatest innovations of the 1990s (think Netscape Navigator, Lotus Notes, Sun's Java, SAP R/3 and Linux) have all been targets of Microsoft repression.
    Bill Gates is correct when he says that Microsoft has left others continue to innovate: what Microsoft has also done is make sure that they would never "profit" from their innovations, unless they surrendered them (one way or another) to Microsoft.
    We will never know how software would look like today if Microsoft had not existed, but we know that all innovations would be there anyway. And maybe some of the legitimate inventors would be a little richer.
  • (September 1999) The morality test: give the GOP a reason to exist. The Republican Party needs a man with a vision. It can't face the elections as the party that investigated Bill Clinton's extramarital sex affairs for 6 years and asked his removal based on the fact that they had the majority to do so. That party is dead. Bill Clinton's impeachment closed a phase of American politics that was dominated by the Republican Party. It started with Reagan's stubborn anti-communism and with the Party's stubborn message that government is bad. The Republican Party won the cold war, proved that no mercy was due to Marxism and humiliated the more conciliatory approach of the Democrats. Time proved that a smaller government works better than a bigger government; reduce taxes, deregulated industries, and let the market find its own rules. While their presidents did not abide by the principle (Reagan created the biggest deficit in the history of the US, and it took Clinton, a democratic president, to fix Reagan's multi-trillion dollar heritage), the principle itself triumphed.
    These two pillars of the Republican philosophy have evaporated. On top of that, there is no slow down in sight for the longest economic expansion of all time, which certainly comes as a major embarassment to the conservative pundits who, year after year, predicted all sorts of economic disasters. In a sense, the biggest drawback for the Republican Party is that today we live in a better world.
    Republicans will have to face tough debates. Everything they said turned out to be wrong, and Al Gore is likely to remind the American public of that.
    • The NAFTA agreement did not cost a single job.
    • Raising the minimum wage did not cost a single job.
    • Clinton's tax increase did not hurt the economy.
    • Clinton's social programs (from student financial support to increased police) have lowered social tensions and contributed to lower crime rates.
    Americans may have forgotten, but the Republicans painted each of these initiatives as the beginning of the end for the American dream. Everything they said turned out to be false.
    Worse: everything they tried to achieve bordered on the criminal. Their tax package (vetoed by Clinton) would have returned billions of dollars to billionaires like Bill Gates but delayed payment of tax credits to low-income workers. Their budget proposal would have spent billions of social security dollars (in a time of budget surplus!) for special purpose interest groups.
    Worse: they seem to fight against everything the American people really want. Poll after poll showed that Americans want universal health care. Poll after poll showed that Americans are not interested in building new weapons of mass destruction. Guess what: the Republican Party has killed every single proposal for universal health care and has passed one billion-dollar law after the other to build more weapons of mass destruction. Poll after poll showed that Americans are not too crazy about tax breaks, but they are very worried about the future of Social Security. Guess what: the Republican Party has proposed to cut taxes and take the money out of Social Security. Poll after poll showed that Americans are extremely concerned about guns. Guess what: the Republic Party has killed any meaningful law to take guns out of the streets, out of schools, out of offices, out of society.
    The Republican Party needs a reason. A reason to exist and a reason for voters to vote Al Gore out of the White House. There is none in sight. Of course, moral values is a loser (if there is one thing they can learn from the president's impeachment). Americans just don't care what happens in the private lives of other Americans (more than half of them are divorced and more than half of them are the product of non-traditional families). And the GOP's own candidates wouldn't fare much better than Clinton anyway in a morality test...
  • (July 1999) The Atlanta massacre: welcome to America. The NRA strikes again. Sadly there is nothing that we can add to what we wrote about The Littleton shooting: why Serbia and not the NRA? How many more innocents will have to die before we outlaw what is arguably the largest terrorist organization in the world and we amend the first article of the constitution to make it a CRIME to own a weapon?
  • (July 1999) Is "honest gun dealer" an oxymoron? Undercover police officers have been investigating gun stores and gun shows and found an infinite list of violations: gun dealers advise criminals on how to get around gun laws, gun dealers compete to attract customers who are notorious members of gangs, gun dealers Gun dealers are so eager to sell and make money that would sell guns to the very gangs who will kill their own children. The authorities are powerless: laws passed by Republican politicians on the NRA's payroll limit what a police officer (or an agent of the ATF) can do to check a gun dealer. The FBI and the ATF are forbidden to inspect the business of a gun store. The NRA sponsored a law that kept any government agency from tracing guns used in crimes (for 15 years government agencies could not keep a database of such guns). In the unlikely event that an irregularity is detected, a law passed by Republican politicians on the NRA's payroll limits even the penalties that a judge can charge a gun store. There is a vast, murky network of gun sales for criminals (the gun industry's best customers). And there is a vast, even murkier network of laws that the NRA successfully sponsored to protect those illegal gun sales (and therefore those criminals).
  • (June 1999) The U.S. Congress: give more guns to the criminals! After a heated debate the U.S. Congress has approved only one new law as a response to the high school shootings: schools will be allowed to display the ten commandments. Of course, parents all over America are relieved that such an important step has been taken in such a timely manner... This is not a joke, it is the sad truth: the ten commandments law is the only step taken by Congress to limit violence in the American society. Days later, all the laws sponsored by the National Rifle Association have been voted in: these will allow criminals to purchase guns without any problem, pretty much at their will and anywhere, and will make it much easier for kids to get a gun and use it. The United States is now the only country in the world that cannot legally prevent a mentally unstable person from purchasing and using a gun.
    The gun lobby has a strong interest that the recent wave of killings increases: gun sales have been steadily increasing as gun killings have been increasing, and gun killings have been steadily increasing as gun sales have been increasing... Get it? The spiral of terror means billions of dollars in revenues for gun shows, gun shops, gun makers, gun "collectors", and corrupt politicians who are routinely bribed (also called "lobbied") by the NRA.
    President Clinton may not be a model of president, but he has been the only obstacle to a wider spread of guns. Once he is gone, America is likely to become much more dangerous than Somalia or Kosovo. And a paradise for criminals: America encourages you to kill as many people as you can, with as modern a weapon as we can manufacture, because this means business to us. Next, we can expect Congress to approve a law to train gun buyers so that they don't miss.
  • (June 1999) The dangers of George Bush Bush may be a better man (it doesn't take much to be more honest than Bill Clinton), but he is likely to represent a danger for the U.S.A. (see also Who will be the next president)
    • In foreign policy, there is no doubt that Clinton restored America to superpower status, after years of one embarassment after the other. Reagan fled from Lebanon at the first bomb, invaded a tiny Caribbean island, killed a few babies while trying to bomb Qaddafi's residence, traded guns for hostages with Iran. Bush bombed Panama to get the dictator Noriega that he, Bush, had installed there in the first place. The United States had become a joke. Clinton has restored some dignity to the U.S. foreign policy. George W. Bush has no experience in foreign policy and could be as vulnerable as that other inexperienced governor, Reagan. Worse, his drug record will expose the Americans' hypocrisy on drugs: what is the purpose of killing thousands of hispanic farmers, creating the premises for guerrilla groups and civil wars throughout Latin America, fighting high-level corruption that cost the lives of so many journalists and lawyers in Colombia and Mexico, if America simply forgives a confessed cocaine-user and elects him to president? Why should any drug trafficker surrender? Why shouldn't poor peasants grow coca to feed their poor children if a rich spoiled American child who used cocaine even becomes president of the United States? What kind of moral leadership could this man inspire in the rest of the world?
    • As far as domestic issues go, Bush's record in tackling the biggest problems of the U.S. is mixed. He would certainly do something about the family breakdown, and the general decline of moral values. But crime will probably skyrocket again, after eight years of steady decline: he does not believe in crime prevention, he advocates the death penalty (since he became governor of Texas in 1995 he has authorizes the killing of 136 convicts, a number which ranks him along some of the worst dictators in the world), he would remove whatever feeble gun control exists and flood the streets of America with automatic rifles. All the other problems, from the lack of medical coverage to the deterioration of the environment, would also worsen. His biggest liability is that he has precious little experience in running anything: he has spent less time as governor of Texas than his rival John McCain spent as a prisoner of war.
    • Specifically, he has aborted any attempt to prevent or punish polluters in Texas. He opposes lawsuits against polluting industries and would make it a national policy that any industry can cause environmental damages and not be held responsible for it. He asked industry leaders to draw a draft of what became the only law against pollution in Texas (approved in november 1999). It is not surprising that only businessmen praised it. Incidentally, nine of the largest contributors to his campaign are members or represent members of the committee that drafted the Texas "anti-pollution" law. The consequences of his pollution-friendly policies are, alas, very tangible: in 1999 Houston has passed Los Angeles as the most polluted city in the US, Texas has registered the 24 worst readings of ozone pollution in the US, and pollution-related deseases in Texas have had the highest increase in the US.
    • As for the economy, it is difficult to improve over the currest state. Cliton's main achievement is not the longest expansion on record: Clinton's most important legacy is the budget surplus. For the first time since 1969 the U.S. government is even making money. Reagan and Bush created a gigantic budget deficit that was threatening future generations. Worse, they used the money to cut taxes for rich people, who became very rich at the expense of the middle class. Both Reagan and Bush were Republicans. So is the new George Bush. The Republicans have already proposed a 10% tax cut, which would save Bill Gates about $1 billion but would save most Americans negligible amounts of dollars (and would save poor people zero dollars, since they don't pay taxes, since they don't have money). That immoral tax bill will be vetoed by Bill Clinton: George Bush would not veto it. A study by the Dept Of Agriculture found that 5% of Texas households suffered from hunger between 1996 and 1998. Worse: they were mostly employed, and still they could not feed their families. This is Bush's economics.
    • The next president will be in a position to determine the course of America's domestic policies for an entire generation: three of the Justices of the Supreme Court are over 70, and are likely to step down in the next four years. The Supreme Court is already wildly to the right of America's center. Three Bush appointees would turn the United States in something very similar to Iran, a democracy where people decide the Parliament and the President but can't do anything against the clergy oligarchy.
    • Bush's own morality is at least dubious. What is worse: a philanderer or a drug user? Is Bush, a spoiled rich kid who never had to work and took drugs as a young man, a better role model for your children? Bush still has to explain the difference between his "youthful indiscretions" and those of all the "indiscrete" youngsters who have been jailed in Texas according to his tough policies: had a governor applied them to his generation, George W. Bush would have never run for governor and today he would simply be an ex-convict.
    Texas is not exactly paradise: serial killers abound, the death penalty is performed at rates similar to Africa and Iran, disparity of income is high, the social "net" does not exist, pollution is the highest in the country, the poverty rate is the second highest in the country after Oregon, and as for education... Texas schools ranked 45th out of all 50 states in SAT scores. Ultimately, one has to decide: do you really want the entire United States to look like Texas?
  • (April 1999) What do serial killers, terrorists and mass murderes have in common? They are all WASPs. It is not a matter of racism, it is a matter of statistics. All serial killers except two were white, anglosaxon protestants. All major terrorist acts in the U.S. (such as the Oklahoma bombing, the Unabomber) except one (the World Trade Center) have been committed by white, anglosaxon protestants. School shootings have been committed so far only by white, anglosaxon protestant kids. And all of them, serial killers, terrorists and mass murderers, tend to be from the heartland of America, not from New York or California; and from communities which tend to be both very conservative and very religious.
    It's up to psychologists, politicians and, yes, WASPs themselves, to figure out why WASPs are such a violent race. And to figure out how to protect the rest of the world.
    Imagine if all these crimes have been committed, say, by Arab people. Arabs would probably be imprisoned by the thousands and persecuted by militias, banned from schools and streets, and probably deported en masse...
  • (April 1999) The Littleton, Colorado shooting: why Serbia and not the NRA? Here we go again. The numbers are getting higher and higher, but it's the same scene all over again. Just like in the Arkansas shooting and in dozens other incidents of this type, it's the heartland of America, it's 100% white anglosaxon protestan kids, it's an average "how-could-it-happen-here" community. And guns. And guns. And guns. How many more kids will have to die? Where will it be next time? Texas? Missouri? Tennessee? How can we ask the world to fight against Milosevic and Saddam Hussein when the National Rifle Association and its corrupt supporters in Congress are responsible for far more deaths?
    The N.R.A. has lobbied in favor of laws that, one after the other, have increased protection to organized and individual criminals. Congress has passed laws that limit the ability of law enforcement to trace the arms of a crime. In the U.S. it is basically illegal to trace who bought a gun or where he bought it from, even if that gun was obviously purchased illegally and even if it was used to massacre children. The murderers enjoy the highest level of protection from the law. Why? Because criminals are the most loyal customers of the gun industry, and therefore the gun industry (through the N.R.A.) does everything it can to protect their right to purchase more guns and kill more people. The NRA helped pass legislation that protects any felon who tries to purchase a gun: the felon cannot be prosecuted. The NRA has boycotted legislation to mark every gun that is manufactured, to fingerprint every gun buyer, and to punish gun crimes more severely than, say, a car theft (today, if you steal a car you are punished more severely than if you steal a gun).
    All the tears and all the funeral services... this is so hypocrite, as we all know that it will happen again in a few months, some other school, some other kids, some other guns. In the meantime, the real killers (the N.R.A., the Republican politicians who oppose gun control and the owners of gun stores) go free.
  • (February 1999) Who caused the global financial crisis? The answer is very simple: the U.S. America first colonized the world, by forcing its economic model. Then, when things started going wrong, America forced actions on those countries that would save the reckless western investors rather than the living standards of the people.
    Japan was ready to inject money in Thailand as early as summer 1997, at no cost to the U.S. or the International Monetary Fund (which is more and more run by the U.S.), but Jerry Rubin of the U.S. objected and instead force Thailand to adopt austerity measures. Those austerity measures had two effects: they saved the money that western investors had poured into the Thai economy and they hurt the average Thai worker. During the entire global crisis, the U.S. attitute was always the same: let's first save our interests, even if this will cause more economies to collapse. So the U.S., through their own political influence or the I.M.F., force one country after the other to adopt fatal measures that only increased their problems and spread them to their neighbors.
    Even the current "bailouts" of those economies (which add up to several trillion dollars) will mainly benefit the (western) banks that lent money to those countries. The banks will recover their money at a nice profit, whereas the countries will be left poorer than they were. Each U.S. intervention is specifically designed to save the western banking system, which is the prime responsible for the global financial crisis. In the past baks have always shared the cost of the financial crisis. This will be the first time that banks (U.S. banks) don't lose a penny even if they made very bad investments. to .
  • (February 1999) The global financial crisis and the U.S. The U.S. critizing Far East and Latin American countries for the global financial crisis is on oxymoron. Those countries simply followed the American model, they were very much inspired by the Harvard business school that runs most of corporate America and in some cases (notably, Russia) they were even physically directed by American "experts". They all became financial colonies of the U.S., directly or indirectly governed by the U.S.
    Furthermore, it is not clear how different the U.S. situation is from theirs. The only macroscopic difference is that financial markets in Asia and Latin America have already crashed, whereas Wall Street has not yet crashed. The United States is financing its economic expansion according to the Asian spiral, whereby higher stock prices generate artificial capital that investors can use to invest and consumers can use to consume, thereby increasing economic activity, thereby igniting higher stock prices. This is what ruined Thailand and Russia, this is exactly what is happening in the U.S.
    The U.S. is borrowing money from foreigners (a large chunk of U.S. bonds is owned by foreign investors) just like any Far Eastern and Latin American country.
    The U.S. stock market is overpriced (market capitalization is 140% of the gross national product, which dwarves the previous record, 81% in 1929).
    The U.S. is simply a bigger "bubble" than the one that exploded in Asia and Latin America and Russia. That is why it is taking longer to explode.
  • (January 1999) Crime declines nationwide: what is the secret? 1999 registered the single biggest decline in violent crime since statistics are compiled. Homicides, while still dramatically more frequent than in the rest of the western world, are becoming a rarity in neighborhoods where they used to be the norm. Several factors may have contributed:
    • Bill Clinton's program of increasing police in urban areas. More police does deter crime.
    • The "war on drugs" declared ten years ago by George Bush. While that war is being lost in a general sense, as more and more Americans consume cocaine and marijuana, the war is being won at least as far as "crack" goes. And the "crack epidemic" was responsible for a terrible number of killings.
    • Jobs. The economy is creating enough jobs, and jobs which are paid well enough, to tilt the economic equation towards honesty and away from crime. Crime is a risky business, which pays off only if it brings higher rewards much faster. The current economy rewards honesty more than crime.

  • (January 1999) Who will be the next president? The Democratic Party has virtually only two candidates, Al Gore and Bill Bradley. Bradley is by far the most honest man running for president, and the only one, with Buchanan, who has articulated a real program rather than just boast about being the best. He is also willing to risk his career on two dangerous (only in America) issues: gun control and universal health care. Bradley's America would be a much safer place than Gore's or Bush's, a place where nobody can cause a massacre and where nobody has to starve in order to pay medical bills.

    The Republican Party has several prominent figures, although no sure winner:

    • Elizabeth Dole. She's the wife of a notorious politician and has been around long enough to have important connections. Everything in her resume speaks competence and diligence. But she has never been in a real political battle, where telegenics and dialectics are more important than facts. She also comes through as too "feminine", too soft and gentle and polite. Few Americans would trust her as their new president. The president must be a stern and masculine figure.
    • George W Bush. Other than being the elder son of a previous president, it is not clear what George Bush has accomplished so far. Texas is not particularly better now than before, and certainly not any better than many other states. In fact, looking at employment, education, environment and crime statistics, Texas is just about the worst place to be in America.
    • John McCain. A traditional candidate: a war hero, a Washington insider, a consummate fund-raiser. He has emerged as the true unsung hero of the Republican Party, far closer to the everyman than George W Bush could possibly be. McCain has a vision for the Republican Party: bring back the ideals of Roosevelt. The problem is that the economy is in excellent shape and Roosevelt ideals are hard to grasp by wealthy households. He is the only serious threat to George W Bush nomination. He probably deserves the presidency more than any other candidate at least on one ground: he is one of the most honest politicians in America.
    • Dan Quayle. Gore prays day and night that Quayle wins the Republican nomination. Nothing in his record gives him a chance.
    • Steve Forbes. Wealthy businessmen don't normally do well in American elections. Forbes has a vision for the survival of the Republican Party (yet another tax reform) but, if the good times persist, Americans will not be very sensitive to his vision.
    • Pat Buchanan. Buchanan has a vision for America, although it is not clear whether his vision complies with the principles of the Republican Party. He is a visceral populist and a consummate talk showman. Every politician would rather not have a public debate against him. His protectionist and isolationist message will appeal to the blue collar workers who are afraid of losing jobs to cheap third-world labor and possibly to some business men whose industries are threatened by cheap imports. If the good times persist, his message will be lost to the middle-class families who became millionaires thanks to whatever economic model is reigning now. (In October 1999 Buchanan announced that he would defect the GOP and join the Reform Party of Ross Perot).

    Among independents, Ralph Nader, the leader of the Green Party, is hoping to get 5% of the votes in order to qualify for federal campaigning funds. Since Perot destroyed the reputation of his Reform Party, the Green Party may post a surprising showing at the next elections. While America sails through its longest economic expansion ever, many million Americans have been left behind, and even the ones who have been getting richer do question America's behavior towards the environment, the poors and developing countries. Nader is the only one who is talking against big corporations. If he embraces the causes of universal health care and gun control that Al Gore has never fully embrace, he may very well get more than 5% of the votes. Nader points to obvious inconsistencies that favor the very rich over the very poor. For example, if one buys a necessity at the supermarket, you pay a sales tax; if you buy one million dollars of shares in a corporations, you don't pay any sales tax. Second, corporations often exploit technologies (e.g., the Internet) that have been invented by government-sponsored research programs. Corporations will get extremely rich thanks to that research that was financed by the government. The only people who will benefit from that wealth are the stock holders (the owners) of that company. But the research was sponsored by the government using tax money paid by all citizens of the country. Basically, the owners of that corporations used taxes paid by citizens to get richer. Large corporations exploit infrastructures (such as roads, post, electricity) that have been built and are maintained with taxpayers' money. But they do not distribute their profits to all the taxpayers who helped build that infrastructure. If I help you start your business and then you make a lot of money, I would expect you to reward my help. Furthermore, there are countless scams for corporations to avoid paying taxes. Large accounting firms routinely help corporations create fake business transactions that will result in avoiding taxes. (December 2000: This kind of scam was detailed in the New York Times of Dec 19, 2000). The IRS has never sued a single corporation for this practice and, even if it did, corporations can afford to hire attorneys that would drag the matter from appeal to appeal. Large corporations swallow trillions of dollars that morally belong to working Americans.
    These and other paradoxes of modern democracy are the pillars of Nader's politics. Third, police arrests people who take illegal drugs but does not arrest people who eat fat food or smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, even if each of these causes more damages to society (heart, lung and kidney diseases, plus car accidents) than illegal drugs.
  • (December 1998). The end of the American democracy? As much as we may dislike Bill Clinton, it is the Congress that is posing a serious danger to the democratic institutions of the United States.
    1. First of all, the President is the only official of the country that has been elected by all the citizens of the country. Congressmen, senators, etc have been elected by their electorate. Everybody else has been appointed, not elected.
    2. Second, all polls show that Bill Clinton enjoys the support of the vast majority of Americans. All polls show that Congress has been virtually impeached by the people.
    3. The Congress that impeached Clinton had just been voted out by the American people. Indifferent to the people's will, that Congress hastily proceeded with the impeachment (after months and months of showing no hurry) before the new democratically elected Congress could step in.
    4. Republicans basically claim that any crime committed by a President is reason enough to remove it from his job (of course, Reagan's illegal dealings with America's enemy Iran and Bush's invasion of Panama to cover up his role in supporting dictator Noriega do not count). Any person who does not see the difference between a crime (say, a murder) and another crime (say, stealing an apple) should not be trusted with any decision. A person who does not recognize the difference between a murderer and a pickpocket is a danger to the country. Clinton committed a crime (carefully orchestrated by Ken Starr) but that crime does not compare with, say, Reagan's treason.
    Congress has abused its powers and directly attacked democracy. Congress is the greatest danger to this country's constitution.
  • (December 1998). The right to know who bear arms: the NRA has sued the FBI. The FBI wants to keep a database of all transactions related to guns. Eventually, that database would make it very easy to track down the owner of a gun, and to know how many guns a person owns. In other words, it would speed up and simplify investigations of murders. The NRA has strongly opposed this. Why? Because it would intimidate criminals from buying guns. The NRA's biggest supporters ought to be the criminals. What chances does the NRA have of succeeding in its lawsuit? Almost 100%. Why? Because the right to bear arm is in the Constitution and the FBI is planning to collect information about people exercizing their constitutional right. The only way to stop the spread of guns is to revise that article of the U.S. Constitution. Any other means will fail. The U.S. is the only country in the world that makes it legal for an organization supported by criminals to sue the police!
  • (December 1998). Who's the greatest danger to our Constitution? Bill Clinton or Ken Starr? Bill Clinton is a scoundrel (although not as much a pervert as Ken Starr), but even his most fierce opponents have fallen short of accusing him of meddling with the Constitution. On the other hand, Ken Starr has violated the spirit of the Constitution so many times that one wonders what he really is after. Monica Lewinsky was denied the basic rights that even dictatorships like China and Iraq grant to dissidents. Ken Starr kept her from calling her attorney while he was about to file the affidavit: had the attorney known, he would have not filed the affidavit and no crime would have committed. Basically, Ken Starr had an investigation but no crime, and he wanted the crime to be committed. It's like a murder specialist who found out there was no murder and helps somebody commit a murder so that he can then investigate it. Ken Starr literally fabricated the crime that now stands as the only serious indictment against the president. In the process, he has subpoened everybody who happened to be on his trail of investigation and threatened almost everybody of jail sentences if they did not say what he needed for his investigation. By skirting the law as the skilled attorney he is, he has basically rewritten the U.S. Constitution on his own terms. Is this what we are paying him for?
  • (November 1998). To impeach or not to impeach? Here are the questions to which you have to answer:
    1. Did Clinton lie under oath and obstract justice? In my opinion, there is no doubt that he did. He lied when he didn't tell the whole truth. That is everybody's definition of "truth". He didn't tell the truth, therefore he lied.
    2. If he lied under oath, did Cliton commit perjury? That is another story. He lied, but he did so as attorneys do (most attorneys lie all the time, in case you have not noticed yet, and they almost never get punished for it, actually they make a lot of money out of it). Whether he committed perjury or not is debatable. One thing is clear: if you want to prove that he did commit perjury, you have to call Monica Lewinsky as a witness. You cannot convict somebody without a single witness. It's the law. Monica Lewinsky has been heard only by the "investigator" (whom, incidentally, is not the most credible person around). Congress has not done so, and one wonders why. Either Congress is not so crazy about impeaching Clinton, or Congress fears that Lewinsky's testimony would prove just about the opposite. Whatever: perjury has not been proven yet.
    3. If perjury is proven, should Clinton be impeached? The Constitution clearly refers to high crimes. Whether perjury is a high crime is an entirely subjective matter. I personally think it is, because I like to believe that lying is a serious crime, but I also believe that the framers of the Constitution meant "treason and the likes", not perjury and not lying about sex. They were contemplating the case in which the President of the U.S. sides with the enemy (only Reagan has done so, when he sold weapons to Iran, but he was not even indicted) or systematically violates the Constitution (as Nixon did). I believe the framers of the Constitution never thought of what to do with a President who is not a scoundrel and not a traitor, but a pervert. (If you believe like me that lying is a serious offence, keep in mind the consequence: almost every governor and senator has lied several times to her/his constituency and the press, and probably more often than Cliton... all of them deserve to be "impeached").
    4. If perjury does grant impeachment, should Clinton be impeached? Very few people believe that this is in the interest of the country. Most Americans think that Clinton has been a good president. Most experts believe that impeaching Clinton would have devastating effects on the economy. It certainly would derail all international affairs underway and cause one of the biggest stock crashes in history. I suspect that very few Americans want this to happen, no matter how much they dislike Clinton. Besides, one could point to impeachable offences by previous presidents that went largely or totally unpunished: Kennedy tried repeatedly to assassinate Castro, Johnson lied about the Tonkin incident (which had been fabricated by the CIA), Reagan lied about the Iran-Contra affair, Bush killed 600 civilians in the process of removing from Panama the man he had installed as dictator. All of these sound like far more serious crimes, but none was prosecuted.
    Personally, I would be very happy if we started by jailing all attorneys who have lied (which means most of them) and by firing all governors and senators who lied. This would increase the moral standards in two bodies that have fallen to the level of third-world banana republics. The President's offence is nothing compared with the corruption in the Senate and the social damage caused by attorneys who protect rich criminals no matter what.
  • (November 1998). Is it a democracy when 95% of richest candidates get elected? The 1998 elections confirmed that we are moving towards a society in which the richer candidate will win, regardless of the merits. Money has always mattered: in a country where few people bother to listen to televised debates and even fewer meet the candidates in person, commercials are a key factor. The more you spend attacking your opponent on TV, the more likely you are to win. The exceptions are fewer and fewer. In 1992, 89% of the House candidates and 86% of the House candidates with the most money won. In 1994, the percentages grew to 86% for the Senate and 88% for the House. In 1996, 88% for the Senate and 92% for the House. This year, 94% of Senate races and in 95% of House races were won by the candidate who had the most money to spend. If this trend continues, America will reach the point at which 100% of the candidates with the most money will win. At that point, it will be useless to go to the polls: we will simply elect politicians based on how much money they raised and spare ourselves the annoyance of driving to the voting stations. This is certainly not what the Framers of the American Constitution envisioned, but unfortunately it stems directly from the freedom that the Constitution grants to every U.S. citizen, including those running for office.
  • (October 1998). The #1 Anti-American Terrorist: Ken Starr Nobody has attacked democracy as viciously as Ken Starr. He has progressively eliminated all rights for all people that he investigates. His approach to "justice" is very simple: you "confess" what I want you to "confess" (i.e., you help me fabricate false evidence) or I will investigate your life until I find one minuscule wrongdoing and then I will prosecute you with no mercy on that wrongdoing. If you invoke client-attorney privilege, or call the press, or anything, I will be even more thorough in my investigations. If you "confess", I will let you go unharmed. Read about Julie Hiatt Steele, who is guilty of refusing to testify what Starr wants her to testify. Steele has been persecuted for months by Starr and his people who have intimidated with every means. It turns out that Steele is a model citizen (she even adopted an orphan whose parents were killed during the Romanian dictatorship of Caesescu). Even without a shred of evidence against her, Starr has not relented: he is targeting one by one all her relatives and friends, whom have been one by one subpoened for insignificant reasons. This amounts to no less than torture: Starr is torturing her dears hoping that sooner or later Steele will give up. Starr has still to find anything against Steele that would justify his determination in persecuting her. But he may just have stumpbled on something, something that is emblematic of this man's delirious practice. Apparently, when your daughter stays at your place she is legally required to pay rent (otherwise it's like not declaring an indirect income in your tax return). No parent in her or his own mind would ask a daughter to pay rent for visiting. But that may amount to a crime. And that will be enough to increase the pressure on Mrs Steele. She may be indicted of being an accomplice in a tax fraud because her daughter did not pay rent to her while staying at her place! Starr is not only a pervert and a pornographer. He is also the most dangerous attack against the American democracy since the demise of the Soviet Union.

  • How reducing the speed limit saved lives: the National Highway (October 1998) Traffic Safety Administration has just released data that show how death rate on the roads fell to a record low. While the numbers are still staggering (41,967 people killed by motor vehicles, including some 700 bicycle riders and 5,700 pedestrians), these numbers are considerably lower than the previous before, and the best on record since 1973 (when the agency started monitoring these data). The decline in deaths come right after the elimination of the 55mph national speed limit (1995), which allowed most states to increase speed limits. The result is that thousands of lives have been saved, and it is not difficult to see why: at low speed we are less attentive and prepared, at low speed we tend to drive in groups, at low speed we are often flanked by heavy trucks and utility vehicles. At low speed we simply spend more time on the road, and the chances of getting involved in an accident are not proportional to the distance driven but to the time spent on the road. The speed limit should be removed or relaxed further in all circumstances in which it makes sense.
  • (October 1998) How economists destroy economies History repeats itself. The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volker, raised interest rates in 1979 to quell inflation, thereby causing the worst recession since the end of the world. The current chairman, Alan Greenspan, also obsessed by inflation, has resisted lowering interest rates, even when it had become obvious that the only risk was deflation, and is now causing a world-wide recession that promises to be the first global catastrophe in the history of manking. It proves that one idiot in the wrong job is enough to cause widespread damage to the human race.
  • (September 1998) Capitalism is no longer democratic : how economists are going to run the world. Democracies around the world are losing of their democratic essence. In the old world order, the democratically elected representatives of the people had the capability to direct economic and foreign policy. Today both economic policy and foreign policy are largely a matter of financial intervention, which, for historical reasons, is not under the control of the democratically elected officials. As an example, the U.S. economy is ever increasingly driven by interest rates, which are decided by the Federal Reserve (aka Alan Greenspan). The foreign policy of the U.S. is ever increasingly related to the state of the world economy not to diplomacy and war. In turn, the world economy is largely dominated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is beyond the control of American (or any other nation's) elected officials. This leaves the world in the hands of very competent specialists but whose authority has not been endorsed by the people. Competence is a valuable skill, but it is not all that matters. Economists tend to forget the human values, and the fact that our ultimate goal is to live a nice life. For example, the IMF has consistently sacrificed the quality of life in developing countries to foster "development", which in most cases has meant that a few people got very rich and multinationals have increased their profits ten-fold. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population in those countries has seen no direct benefits from "development". They have seen prices go up steeply, jobs being lost and welfare systems being dismantled: higher costs, lower incomes and no safety net. They don't find much consolation in the fortunes of the few capitalists around town. From the IMF's macroscopic viewpoint, austerity leads to prosperity. But things are pianfully different at the microscopic level: very often the burden of austerity falls on one segment of society, whereas prosperity benefits another segment of society. And in most countries around the world the formers have vastly outnumbered the latters. Even the Federal Reserve has often ignored the long-term wishes of the people. Greenspan, with his fixation on inflation, is amazingly indifferent to the fortunes of small investors. He is only concerned about the economy as a whole. This creates paradoxes that are not easy to fix. For example, ordinary people who bought a house during the age of hyper-inflation remember those years fondly, as their mortgage quickly devalued while the value of their property increased. Financial moguls fear inflation, but they are not the majority. Everywhere in the world, monetary institutions tend to ignore human needs and social justice. This was traditionally the task of the government and it was prevailing over fiscal policy. Not anymore. In the global village the economy drives everything else, and the economy is in the hands of cold, heartless scientists who have little concern for the people that their economic models affect by the millions.
  • (September 1998) While the economy sinks, the lobby industry prospers The lobbying industry is flourishing in Washington. People think that their elected representatives care for their needs. The truth is that their elected representatives have been elected because they had money to pay for advertisements. What they need is the money, which gets them the votes. What you think is irrelevant: they can always change your mind, given enough money to spend on promoting their image. No law forbids the current promiscuity in lobbying and fund-raising: lobbists are among the biggest contributions to fund-raising campaigns. This is as close as you can get to a legal "bribe". Even when they cannot count on money alone, lobbists can mount powerful personal attacks on dissenting officials. Enough to discourage even the most powerful men in Washington.
    The results are devastating, but mostly unknown to the American public. For example, lobbying led by the firm of Kenneth Klies managed to kill a tax provision that would have raised about 2 billion dollars from the oversea operations of American-based multinationals. That's equivalent to every American family being taxes an additional $2,000 dollars a year. On the other hand, those corporations saved 2 billion dollars, and are more than happy to reward Mr. Klies with a hefty compensation. Washington is rich in unscrupled lawyers like Mr. Klies who would do anything for money. This is the modern version of the "mob", except that it is perfectly legal.
  • (October 1998) Two Americans are responsible for the international crisis: : it is discorcenting that two Americans, Kenneth Starr and Alan Greenspan, are responsible for the turmoil on the international markets, and they both share the same privilege, namely that they were NOT elected by the American people. Nonetheless, they seem to control the wealth and the peace of mind of the world much more than any elected official in this or any other country: one has collapsed the world economy with his pathetic crusade against a ghost called "inflation"; the other one has destroyed the credibility of the United States presidency and political process in general. The American people should start wondering whether it can be allowed that two non-elected officials, two officials who were simply hired by the government to do a job, can enjoy such a scary power.
  • (September 1998) Why were Kennedy and Reagan never impeached? The American people have been too distracted by Clinton's escapades to remember the real horrifying dealings of previous presidents. There is plenty of evidence (including CIA testimony) that John Kennedy directly ordered the assassination of Castro. To the latest count, there were at least 33 plots. Some of the involved the Mafia. Both Kennedys were involved in secret dealings with the Mafia. This is one of the few cases in history in which an evil man is punished by his own wrongdoing: all of the CIA plots to assassinate Castro failed, but, on the other hand, somebody (either Castro or the Mafia or the CIA itself) killed Kennedy. Never was the death of a head of state more deserved.
    Ronald Reagan has never admitted ordering it, but only his most staunch and naive supporters believe that he was not behing the secret and illegal negotiations that ended up sending arms to Iran and to the Nicaraguans rebels (the "Contras"). Both were illegal in the plain sense that they violated the law. The Iran deal was also as close as a president can get to treason.
    It is a little astonishing that these two evil presidents are remembered fondly by the American people, whereas Clinton is being treated like the worst type of scoundrel. Incidentally, Kennedy also had mistresses (including a famous one, Marilyn Monroe), and probably several intimate encounters in the White House.
    The other presidents obviously lied to the American people too, albeit in more subtle ways: obviously George Bush did not declare war to Iraq to defend the Kuwaitis' freedom (they had none, Kuwait is a dictatorship as much as Iraq) but to protect the oil routes from which American wealth depends. President Johnson even invented the Tonkin incident that was the official excuse for escalating American intervention in Vietnam (which costed tens of thousands of American lives).
    It is a little shocking that Congress is willing to impeach a president for lying about sex, but not for sponsoring a rogue country (Reagan), trying to assassinate a head of state (Kennedy), sponsoring terrorism in a foreign country (Reagan), fabricating false evidence (Johnson), etc. Has America really such a puritan country that would tolerate any sort of high-level crime but never condone lying about sex?
  • (September 1998) Impeach Congress! Will the elections punish the persecutors? According to all polls we are aware of, Congress has lost any credibility with the American people and therefore should be disbanded. Polls consistently show that Congress is no longer representing the American people by protracting the investigation on Clinton's sex life. They have managed to turn Clinton the pervert into a victim. This Congress is a disgrace. It has no interest in dealing with America's problems. It performs only two functions: accepting bribes from all sorts of lobbies, and finding excuses not to do its job. Were they employees of a company, they would have already been fired.
    The American people have repeatedly expressed their opinion: Clinton is a disgusting individual, but he's ok as a president, and they want him to keep his job. The American people are getting more and more annoyed with the Congress' political games. The Starr investigation is obviously politically motivated and has achieved only one goal: to keep the president from doing his job (and to spend $40 million of taxpayers' money). It is so obvious, that at every new disclosure Clinton's approval rate goes up. Obviously, that approval rate does not reflect the public's admiration of the President, but rather the public's dissatisfaction with Congress. It is very likely at this point that Americans will express the same opinion in the forthcoming elections: they will severely punish the senators who wasted so much time and money trying to impeach Clinton, rather than solving real problems. Americans will punish their representatives who did not represent their opinion (and their needs) in Washington. Democrats risk of reaping a landslide from Clinton's sex scandal. For the Republicans it will be just punishment: The only thing more disgusting than the President's behavior is the Republicans' insistence on investigating his sex life.
    These elections have turned into a referendum. Americans have a chance to decide whether Congress should work on solving America's pressing problems (from health care to international terrorism, from drugs to crime) or whether Congress should investigate the president's sex life. The current Congress obviously has no intention of working on solving real problems and enjoys investigating the president. It is up to the people to reward them or to punish them.
  • (August 1998) Bombing Sudan and Afghanistan : what for? The U.S. has bombed Sudan for helping terrorists and Afghanistan's camps where Osama bin Laden trains his militants. Apart from the fact that the U.S. would certainly not approve if another country bomb American territory (the U.S. has often sheltered international criminals and welcomed dictators of all sorts), there are strong doubts on the targets themselves. The Sudanese factory was almost certainly making medicines (enough Western officials have confirmed this) and its bombing will simply worsen the conditions of one of the poorest, malnourished people in the world, who have no responsibility for their tyrants' alliance with terrorists. The Sudanese government has offered to open its doors to an international commission to prove its innocence, but the U.S. has refused any investigation. It has also refused to share with the world the "evidence" that led it to attack that specific factory. In other words: they hit the wrong target. The Afghani camp was one of the many built with the help of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (both U.S. allies). The intelligence to link this camp to the African attacks came from witnesses that had been tortured by Pakistani police and that reneged the moment they were released. One of them, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh, is currently in Washington and has repeatedly denied any knowledge or involvement in the attacks. He is also the only one who has linked bin Laden to the attacks, but, again, only under torture. This was "vigilante justice" at its worst. The only ones to gain from the American bombings are the Muslim fundamentalists. America never misses an opportunity to make them look more and more reasonable in the eyes of the Arab public opinion.
  • (september 1998) The stock market crash : capitalism in trouble. Japan, Russia, Southeast Asia and soon Latin America prove that capitalism is far from being the perfect model (both socially and economically). Capitalism won on communism on both counts: socially speaking, it created more happiness; and economically speaking, it created more wealth. But capitalism has its own shortcomings, and now there is no competing ideology to compare it with, those shortcomings are painfully visible.
    In the capitalist world, a person has to work like a slave, often without vacation; social values are neglected in favor of personal income and success; and wealth can be destroyed by mere fluctuations in the "market". At the end of each cycle, a few people are much richer, but at the expense of most people being dispossed of time, money and sometimes even jobs.
    The stock market, in particular, is an aberration. It has become a lottery, a legalized lottery. It does not encourage moral values, it encourages gambling and "risk". It's return does not reflect hard work, but merely luck.
    In capitalism, the role of government is ever negligible. The result is a steady decline in public services and a steady increase of individual excesses. The role of a government should be precisely to limit excesses, to protect from scams, and to provide a safety net. Modern capitalism has forgotten the basic truth that (public) police and (public) schools and (public) hospitals are much more important than betting on the right stock.
  • (september 1998) The Bull Pit . Stock fell simply because they were overpriced (26 times the earnings, versus a historic average of 14, and versus 17 times the earnings in the Sixties, the period that most closely parallels the Nineties), but the widespread repercussions around the world are a sympton of a far larger phenomenon. The "global" market stands on two dogmas: 1. that Inflation is the public enemy number one, and 2. that a strong currency means a strong economy. These two dogmas can be condesed in the belief that stable prices ensure prosperity. For example, from Russia to Indonesia interest rates have been risen dramatically to stabilize currencies, even if this has caused the ruin of several corporations and banks and a general slowdown in the economy. Greenspan and the IMF are the symbols of this age and of this dogma. They control the daily lives of the people of the Earth much more than Clinton and Yeltsin do.
    Because everybody is acting the same way, all the economies tend to move together. There is no other reason why a crisis in Russia, or even in Japan, should influence Wall Street: U.S. companies have greater exposure to Latin America than to Asia (Japan accounts for less than 3% of the combined revenues of the S&P 500 companies, Russia accounts for less than 0.1%). The only exception is high-tech companies, which export about 15% to Japan (but still zero to Russia). Europe is even safer from these markets: most European companies have no exposure at whatsoever to Japan, Southeast Asia and Russia. Russia accounts for even less, since the Russian economy is now so small: in one week alone in september 1998 the Japanese stock exchange dropped in value by $241 million, more than the value of the entire Russian economy.
  • (August 1998) Pat Buchanan for President: right now, he is the only politician who has a vision. You may agree or not with his vision, but you must recognize he is talking facts and not only words. And his message is very simple: U.S. corporations are led by the global economy to move jobs abroad, while foreign corporations are encouraged to export cheap goods to the American public. The net result is a loss of American jobs and increasing national debt. The remedy? Very simple: tax foreign corporations. This simple trick would have an avalanche of positive effects: foreign goods would not be cheap anymore, U.S. corporations would be encouraged to keep their factories in the U.S. and the additional tax money could be used to cut taxes currently paid by impoverished U.S. workers.
    Of course, Buchanan neglects the fact that U.S. goods would quickly become as uncompetitive as U.S. cars were in the Sixties before the cheap and well-designed Japanese cars forced U.S. manufacturers to learn how to build cars. He also neglects the fact that the U.S. still is the world's largest exporter and would be the first loser in any trade war. He also neglects that the very reason the U.S. is the world's largest exporter and the world's largest economy is that U.S. corporations are forced by continuing foreign competition to improve productivity through better and smarter technologies.
    But he does have a point: 1. the middle and working class, who has not invested in the stock market because it does not have any cash to invest, has been passed by the booming economy and is losing jobs to foreign workers; 2. America may be losing too much of its industrial know-how (even at the peak of its industrial and service revolutions, America never lost the dominant position in agriculture, which means that right now America is number one not only in high-tech, but throughout the whole spectrum, from potatoes to space shuttles); 3. the regimes which are rewarded by the global trade are the worst dictatorships, where labor is cheap because workers have no rights, if they are not convicts or children. These are ills that need to be mended, and a less extremist Pat Buchanan could be the right person to do so.
    Also, Pat Buchanan comes through as a speckless citizen, a honest buddy who has none of the murky business and sex deals that obscure Clinton's presidency.
    Pat Buchanan's message may well unite the middle working class and corporate America. Still, Buchanan is facing an upward struggle to convince all those new stock market millionaires that a protectionist approach would not hurt their Wall Street fortunes. That's close to impossile: Buchanan's cure would work wonders for the middle working class, but the tab would be picked up precisely by those who became rich during the stock market bull years. Right now in America you don't need to work to make money, you need to invest in the stock market. In a Buchanan world, you would need to work to make money, and too many Americans would find that unpleasant.
  • (August 1998) The tobacco wars: defending honest farmers or dangerous criminals? One of the arguments that the pro-tobacco coalition keeps waving in front of our noses to defend their defending the tobacco industry is that so many jobs are at stake, and those jobs affect the honest, hard-working farmers of the Southeast. These politicians argue that we should keep cigarettes around for as long as possible, and as many as possible, so that all those honest citizens can make a decent living. This is a bizarre argument, but let us see if, at least, they are consistent in their beliefs: coca leaves (the raw ingredient from which cocaine is manufactured) is harvested mainly by honest and hard-working farmers, from Peru to Colombia. Coca saved their lives and the lives of their children, because Americans are willing to pay a lot more money for coca leaves than for bananas (their traditional crop). Therefore so many thousands of farmers shifted production from bananas (and other exotic fruit) to coca. They often have no ties to crime, they simply need to make a living, and it turns out that growing coca is the only way they can make ends meet. Should we protect the cocaine industry so that these honest farmers of South America can still make ends meet?
  • (July 1998) The tobacco wars: taxing vice? The media have been depicting the tobacco companies as the ultimate evil corporations. Newspapers and tv stations discovereb labs where teenage addiction to nicotine was scientifically manufactured. What else can be more cruel? And shouldn't these companies be punished? And shouldn't the public be protected against their brutal experiments? Yes, of course. But the American public is forgetting that cigarettes are not the only evil and certainly not the worst one. In fact, cigarettes kill very few people (they don't even rank in the top 10) and they mainly kill only those who smoke them. Compare with alcohol: 10,000 people killed by drinking and driving, countless shot after drinking arguments, countless killed by their own drinking habits. It is at least one order of magnitude worse. And the victims are mainly people who do not drink. Then one could say that cars kill more people than cigarettes. Pollution in any major city is so bad that whether you live with smokers or not really makes no difference for your lungs. Should we tax vice? Sure, for two reasons at least: 1. to save lives; 2. to reduce the astronomical medical bill the nation is paying for them. But why single out the tobacco industry? If nothing else, smokers have a choice, whether to smoke or quit. The victims of a drinking and driving accident had no choice. The victims of pollution had no choice. The victims of guns had no choice. Shouldn't we start taxing also guns (#1 problem in America), alcohol (#2 problem in America) and (excuse me) pollution?
  • (June 1998) Will the United States go bankrupt in a stock market crash? The Stock Market is overvalued to the point that the slightest tremor in Japan would case a devastating free fall. 45% of American household holds shares, as opposed to 25% in 1987 and to only 3% in 1929; stock market gains amounted to about 35% of personal disposable income in the U.S. in 1997 (versus 6% in Germany). A crash of the stock market will have far more dramatic The value of the U.S. stock market has increased from about 2 trillion dollars in 1988 to over 10 trillion dollars in 1998. A crash of the stock market will have far more dramatic repercussions than in 1929. Even a slight decline will start a chain reaction that will affect catastrophically everything from jobs to real estate prices.
    Ther recent merger craze is another sign that the economy has reached a dangerous point of overheating. The previous three merger manias all ended in a stock market crash (1904, 1929 and 1969).
  • (May 1998) The Oregon Shooting: The name of the game is, again, hipochrisy. For the two thousandth time, we have to listen to the honest citizens of a small town community in rural America (in this instance, Springfield) who cannot believe one of their own children took a gun and made a carnage. How many more times do we have to hear this kind of ridiculous statements before we decide to stop the spread of guns? In this case, the killer had only been "reproached" for carrying a gun within the school premises: all the police did was to turn him over to his parents. Carrying a gun is such a minor offence that the kid was allowed to walk into the school the very next day. And shoot thirty people. Had he stolen a book from the libray, he would have probably been punished more severely than for carrying a gun around. Now everybody wants revenge: kill him, or least put him in jail for the rest of his life. The truth is that the real killers are still at large, and some of them are the very honest citizens who are craving for revenge. All the people who own guns aer potentially helping another kid commit another massacre somewhere elsen America. And, for those who missed the coincidence, one more time this is a white anglosaxon protestant kid... just like all the other school shootings, just like all serial killers, just like the Unabomber.
  • (April 1998) The Jonesboro, Arkansas Shooting: The name of the game is hipochrisy. Americans keep missing the point. One honest and godfearing citizen of Jonesboro professed that their community is not the kind "that breeds this sort of violence". That's exactly what they said in Oklahoma City when one of them peaceful country boys blew up the federal building. And I guess that's what every hometown of a serial killer claims when the guy is apprehended and publicly exposed. The truth is rather different. Of the ten most recent school shootings in the country (by the way, for mysterious reasons school shootings seem to happen only in the U.S.), six occurred in the Midwest, one in Alaska and even the two that occurred in California occurred in small communities far from the big metropolitan areas. All but one were committed by kids of the white middle class. Would you like a list of the worst serial killers in U.S. history (or, for that matter, world history, because serial killers are also pretty much a U.S. exclusive)? Guess what: almost all of them were born and bred in the Midwest in white anglosaxon protestant communities. It keeps happening over and over again, but Americans refuse to face the truth: it's the "peaceful" white, rural middle class that breds that kind of violence.
    Why? Well, it's a long story... but it starts with the right to bear arms (a right that Midwestern Americans interpret way too literally) and it ends with the macho image that they so proudly keep alive in those towns (none of the killers are girls, are they?).
  • (April 1998) Kenneth Starr is the most expensive man in America: The cost of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's Whitewater investigation had reached $45 million in September 1998. Indictements? A few, all very minor. Evidence of misconduct by the president? None. Witnesses? They all recanted. Accusers? One (Paul Jones) has been proved irrelevant. Two (the state troopers) admitted being paid money to accuse the president. The others have never accused the president of anything but adultery. If Kenneth Star worked for a company, instead of the government, he would have been laid off a long time ago, not for inefficiency or bad attitude, but simply because his job does not exist.
    This is probably the very reason why he had to dig deep into the Monica Lewinsky affair. He had to justify all the money he spent. By amplifying the sex life of the president he has generated enough interest in his investigation that some Americans will concede it was worth the money.
    But there is another aspect to Starr's personality that is worth studying. Starr is an old-fashioned justice fighter. He is a fundamentalist determined to bring about justice, no matter what. Now Starr is sincerely convinced that Bill Clinton is a bad person, but Clinton enjoys the highest rating of any president. Starr felt that he had to do something to right things. He had to expose the president's revolting personality. Starr could care less that millions of people around the world would lose their savings in a market crashed caused by his findings, or that Monica Lewinsky would never be able to live a normal life, or that America may suffer on the international stage by an impeachment of its president. All Starr was concerned with was prove that Clinton is a bad person. And he would go to any length to do so. Starr is the tormented protagonist of a Dostoevskyan novel.
  • (April 1998) The trouble with the several Clinton investigations is that the public dislikes the accusers far more than it dislikes the accused. Ken Starr is, at best, a paranoid set to destroy the world rather than let go, a pornographer voyeur bent on exposing the crudest details of celebrities, and, at worst, a paw piloted by a right-wing conspiracy. Paula Jones and the other women are, quite simply, indecent sluts or blow-job specialists who would do anything for a chance to become famous. How come we haven't seen one single decent woman come forward and accuse Clinton of improper behavior? Why can they only find this kind of less than honorable witnesses?
    Dan Burton, the chairman of a committee that should investigate the president, has committed one improper action after the other, to the point of doctoring tapes to alter their meanings.
    Ken Starr has threatened anybody who refuses to testify against Clinton., something that puts him in the same league with Al Capone. Newt Gingrich has proved that he is even less intelligent and less educated than his worst enemies thought. We almost forgot that the Republican Party has highly respected politicians, because the only ones who have been so vocal about the Clinton investigations are the mean ones. The question americans are asking is not "Why is Clinton still president" but "Why is Starr still an independent prosecutor", "Why is Paula Jones still allowed to enter a court of justice?", "Why is Dan Burton still a congressman?" Do all these people deserve to be still in the limelight? The public feels that they should all be "fired", metaphorically or literally speaking.
    Bill Clinton is far more respectable than his accusers. He is an adulterer who has lied about his sex life. Burton is virtually a mass murdered, having suggested that the U.S. drop nuclear bombs on Iraqi cities; Ken Starr is a lawyer turned gangster, out to get anybody who does not give in to his demands; and Paula Jones is the epitome of the greedy, opportunistic plaintiff. They are turning Clinton into a hero and a martyr.
  • (March 1998) Presidential sex scandals: Why does the president of the U.S.A. have such bad taste when it comes to lovers? A governor who, out of so many young and attractive assistants, picks a long-nosed Paula Jones must be really desperate. A president who, out of so many pretty interns, picks a fat and sloppy Monica Lewinsky, must be a real pervert.
    In Paula Jones' case few doubts that she is after money and publicity (which translates into more money). She came out to clear her name (a name which no one knew until then) only after the harasser became president of the U.S. The "harassee" has now a guaranteed career as a book author and possibly an even more profitable one as a stripper. She has not cleared her name - on the contrary, she has built herself a reputation as a low-class slut (whether she is indeed one or not). Anita Hill may be a hero of feminism. Paula Jones is something to be ashamed of for all feminists.
    In Monica Lewinsky's case, the charge of "right-wing conspiracy" may actually be close to the truth. This girl had no intention of turning in the President. She probably enjoyed enough favors that her lips would be sealed forever. She also projects the image of a slut (and, worse, of a rich, spoiled Beverly Hills slut), but she has no need for money, she lacks the motivation. She was trapped by an astute prosecutor who saw how he could use her against his arch-enemy.
  • (March 1998) Clinton's impeachment would actually be a boon to the Democratic Party. What the Republicans fail to realize, is that an impeachment of Clinton would result in devastating consequences for the Republican Party. Clinton is a popular president, and the economy is doing extremely well. Regardless of their lies, Clinton's United States is a far better place than Ronald Reagan's United States. The deficit that was Reagan's main legacy has been erased. The average income (not just the highest ones) has increased. Etc. This is probably the very reason why the Republicans want Clinton's head before his success translates into Al Gore's success at the next elections.
    But, if Clinton falls, the economy will fall with him. Wall Street is greatly overpriced. It takes the slightest tremor in the government to send it free falling. An impeachment of the President would certainly result in a stock crash of unprecedented magnitude. This would leave millions of middle Americans bankrupt. Those Americans would know who to blame: the heartless Republicans who wasted their precious tax money to pursue a silly investigation into the innocent sex escapades of the President. The Republican Party would never recover from this debacle. Democrats would rule the federal government for decades, just based on the recklessness showed by the Republican Party in 1998, the reckless behavior that resulted in the worst financial crisis of the century. And, worse, next day Paula Jones or another of Clinton's flames would start performing as a stripper in Las Vegas and produce a porno movie a month. The whole country would be left wondering "we sacrificed a good president and our wealth to protect the good name of this whore?"
    Kenneth Starr is playing into the hands of the Democratic Party: they win and he loses regardless of the outcome of his investigation.
  • (March 1998) The right-wing conspiracy: Whose shadow looms behind the Whitewater scandal, the sex scandals and Kenneth Starr's witch hunt? Quite simply good old Richard Mellon Scaife, a multi-millionaire who declared war on the Democratic Party long ago. Scaife has never denied investing over 2 million dollars to finance an American Spectator's investigation of the Clintons' lives in Arkansas, which became one of the main sources of accusations in the Whitewater proceedings. In particular, some of his money, it has been rumoured, was used to convince a key witness, David Hale, to testimony against the Clintons. Scaife has been linked, through the mysterious Rutherford Institute, to the money that Paula Jones is using to sue the President. Scaife has been credited with finding a prestigious job for Starr as the dean of Pepperdine University. Scaife started his conservative crusade about 30 years ago and has distributed (according to the New York Times) over 200 million dollars to organizations and people who fight the Democratic Party.
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