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Issue #1614      October 16, 2013

Culture & Life

Abbott, gold reserves and getting back at the banks

So the honeymoon is over already! Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party government is already reneging on it electoral promises and disappointing its supporters among the masses, folk who fell for the propaganda and naively thought that a government that was primarily interested in the needs of business would also – somehow – look after the interests of small farmers, shop keepers and workers.

Abbott’s policies basically comprise a series of attacks on the working class.

Tony Abbott looks on ordinary folk much the same way mediaeval lords looked on their serfs: a necessary evil, there to do a job and as long as they did their job and knew their place, they would be tolerated. For, no matter how much Abbott’s minders push him to promote his image as “one of the boys”, he does not and never will regard ordinary Australians as his equals. For the pundits of the Liberal Party, ordinary Australians are mugs, to be manipulated at each and every election.

Abbott’s policies basically comprise a series of attacks on the working class, and over the course of time will turn the electorate against him and the Libs just as similar policies did under Howard. This does not seriously affect your Liberal Party politician however, for they know that it merely means the other lot get in for a change.

Nothing significant is altered in the political landscape: both major parties, Liberal and Labor, are subservient to their big business masters in the so-called “big end of town”. Ministers who are tossed out of office can confidently look forward to picking up lucrative directorships from a grateful corporate world.

From capitalists’ point of view it’s a well-run world.

Talking of a well-run world, did you see where New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked for all 620,000 residents in the city’s public housing projects to be finger-printed, “as a crime prevention measure”.

The general public in New York are more inclined to think that more (and bigger) crimes would be prevented if he fingerprinted all the bankers and other financiers on Wall St.

And while on the subject of possible high finance crime, did you see where the German Central Bank wants to relocate 54,000 gold bars belonging to the German government and being held in storage in the US. The Germans want to move them to a safer, more secure location. Their doubts about leaving their money in US hands were not allayed when the US Reserve responded to their request by saying the relocation could not be arranged before at least 2020.

Now the Germans have asked to at least be allowed to see their gold. The US prevarication will have done nothing to reassure other European banks that have placed their reserves in the US for safekeeping. Instead, speculation is rife that the Fed may no longer contain all the gold that it should, that the US may have sold some of it off to cover its toxic debts or to provide equity for the USA’s huge loans (it is the world’s biggest debtor nation, after all).

One of those cunning Russians, Dimitri Agarkov, received an unsolicited credit card offer from an online bank, Tinkoff Credit Systems. Se he decided to pay them back in their own coin. He scanned the application form and then inserted his own terms and conditions, after which he signed it and sent it back. It looked superficially like all the other forms so the bank didn’t bother to read it.

Dimitri used the card for two years before the bank ultimately cancelled it and payment of US$1,363 for charges, interest and late payment fees. That was when they discovered that according to the small print in Dimitri’s self-written contract, they had agreed to a zero percent interest rate, unlimited credit and no fees. The court agreed with Dimitri. Now Dimitri is suing the bank for US$727,000 for not honouring the contract.

That is what is called being hoist with your own petard.

In the US, a training manual put out by the Department of Defence has caused some angst, by describing the founding fathers, the heroes of the Revolution against British colonial rule, as an example of an extremist movement. Why anyone should be surprised by this, however, is a bit of a puzzle. After all, the US has intervened against every national liberation movement anywhere in the world since the end of WW2. They have designated all of them as “terrorists” or “bandits” and have used their alleged “extremism” as justification for using extreme violence against them.

What has upset some Americans is the belated realisation that if the American Revolution took place today, the USA would be first in line to bomb them back into subservience and to crush their revolt, all in the name of democracy.

Here is a quote from the Cuban newspaper Granma: “Today, Vietnam is one of the few countries in the world close to meeting the UN Millennium Goals, having made a sustained effort to improve its human development index and achieve equality among different regions of the country, which has some 90 million inhabitants of different creeds and ethnicities.

“With the Communist Party’s leadership, the Vietnamese people have been able to adapt economic changes to the historic context and the nation’s needs, facing difficulties but without sacrificing political stability.”

This kind of report is in marked contrast to examinations of developed capitalist economies. Take France, for example: official figures show that unemployment in France is now above three million. Even worse, the jobless rate for young people is running at a staggering 24.6 percent. One in four young people in France cannot find a job.

France has joined a group of other developed countries with double digit unemployment rates: they include Spain and Italy. Their governments have responded with promises and austerity measures that have provoked militant fight-back responses from the workers, who are determined not to carry the can for a failing system based on exploitation.

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