The blood-drenched money interests of U.S. weapons manufacturers and the military industrial complex win again:
While President Obama has forcefully called out Congress for not passing gun control, the United States has been one of the leading countries blocking a global treaty to regulate the $70 billion international arms trade, torpedoing it last summer and dragging its feet on it this week at the United Nations. While Iran, Syria and North Korea are generating headlines for officially blocking the treaty, less attention has been paid to the role of the U.S. — acceding to pressure from outside groups including the National Rifle Association — in stalling its progress.
In an earlier post ‘The Sandy Hook Massacre and the Merchant$ of Death‘, we talked about the control that the U.S. weapons industry and the military industrial complex(MIC) have over ‘our’ government. The MIC dictates American foreign policy in the interests of not only Big Oil and corporate capitalism, but also the U.S. arms industry which sees big profits in war and strife. Some call this corrupt arrangement the military-industrial-congressional complex or military-industrial-banking complex. Perpetual war has become an integral part of our economy and a majority of our wealthy Congress ‘leaders’ are heavily invested in this war-for-profit machine. Chances are that your 401K, if you still have one, is invested in the MIC one way or another. Here is the latest infographic illustrating our war-based economy:
And the costs keep getting bigger and bigger as the Empire bleeds its citizens dry at home, spreads ill will and animosity abroad, and continues to funnel wealth upward to the oligarch class:
This is why I have said that America is ‘The World’s Most Destabilizing Force‘. Do you really think a “pussy-ass” topic of saving the biosphere will ever be taken seriously? Environmental issues will always be relegated to the back pages when you have savages running the show.
If the supposed “most enlightened” and “advanced” nation on Earth profits from death and destruction and uses Orwellian titles, for example Operation [Iraqi] Freedom, to label their military invasions, then how can we judge the behavior and actions of foreign nations when they are often the blowback from America’s own depravity. A nation using high-tech weapons of war to plunder and murder while hiding behind the façade of democratic institutions and kangaroo courts is still a country of savages and barbarians, no different than Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun.
…Emmy-award winning TV journalist, author and media critic, Danny Schechter turns the cameras on the role of the media. His new film, WMD, is an outspoken assessment of how Pentagon propaganda and media complicity misled the American people…
Rising sea levels, monster storms, hordes of fleeing climate refugees, crop-destroying droughts and floods, hellacious forest fires, dying ocean sea life, rogue geoengineering projects, and distraught scientists – the beginnings of these are all taking shape as climate change starts to kick into gear, putting into question the future of the human race. Ten years earlier, the effects of a storm like that of Sandy were foretold in a report entitled “Nation Under Siege” by Architecture 2030, a “non-profit, non-partisan and independent organization, established in response to the climate change crisis by architect Edward Mazria in 2002.” As Inside Climate News reports, the most disturbing part in this study is a 3-D map of New York (pictured below), illustrating the effects of a 3-meter (9.8-foot) rise in sea level: “Lower Manhattan, the East Village neighborhood and the FDR Drive underwater. That’s exactly what Sandy’s 3-meter storm surge delivered.”
In a recent post, I mentioned that one of the world’s premier insurers, Munich Re, was pricing in the rise of climate change disasters. Speaking from an Australian perspective, a very astute and sobering comment was made on this very subject of the insurance industry and climate change damage. Note that in addition to the ineffective carbon trading scheme, this is the best response we are likely to ever get from our ‘free market capitalist system’ (bold emphasis is mine):
We can take it as a given that nothing of scale will be done about climate issues until the bells toll at a deafening level. Sort of like a heavy cigarette smoker puffing his life away in spite of getting a clear diagnosis of very ill-health.
Meanwhile the insurers, Swiss Re(the big one), and Munich Re, set their numbers folk on the problem and come up with a price(premium) for geographically weak areas around the planet. The price for living in say, flood prone Manhattan, will be determined by these numbers. Fire risk, no problem, theft, no problem – but acts of nature, well the historical data is on our side, to a degree where no one can dispute it, as is the call of the world’s foremost climate experts, which governments ought not argue with. Consequently the premium for flood and tempest will be high – Indeed very high. Do you want this element of our insurance coverage? – and by all means try another insurer. They will tell you the same thing. A bit like going to bat for a fair priced earthquake cover in Christchurch at the moment, let alone in the decades to come.
As a result governments, both local and Federal, will have to become insurers of last resort – putting them in position where they too can face bankruptcy, like all of the other insurers who failed to crunch the numbers.
More than likely this is how the business-as-usual world, will approach the climate problem.
Structurally it is already happening in Australia in a quiet way, where CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) have passed their climate models over to state governments, who in turn have passed the buck to local councils about the risks of rubber stamping building permits in storm and tempest prone coastal areas. Ergo, rate hungry local shires can be bankrupted in a trice from several directions. For one, the landowners claim they trusted the shire permit system – yet the insurers(if they take on the bet), have a clear path to recover their losses. Given that shires defied expert opinion from the country’s foremost climate authority, insofar as they were handed their projections, yet ignored them.
On the one hand some commentators might take these real world scenarios as leading indicators of how we are traveling in the climate fix – but the reality suggests they are trailing indicators at best. An after-the-event pricing for climate problems.
As for a global fix on climate – well insurers are leaving politicians in their wake. Coming up with real world pricing models, and all that.
As for the unwashed millions around the world – well there’s no money in them.
An interesting adjunct to this may be found in Australia’s refugee policy, where currently it appears to be suffering quite some stress. Yet it fails to include climate refugees in the decades to come. Say Bangladesh, where a small rise in sea level will have twenty million people on the move – begging questions from the UN – how many millions will Australia take.
Ian Angus observes on the website Climate and Capitalism that the masses will be left to fend for themselves like the survivors of Katrina:
As Naomi Klein wrote in the same year, in The Shock Doctrine, “It’s easy to imagine a future in which growing numbers of cities have their frail and long-neglected infrastructures knocked out by disasters and then are left to rot, their core services never repaired or rehabilitated. The well-off, meanwhile, will withdraw into gated communities, their needs met by privatized providers. ”
In short, now we all live in New Orleans.
Though the cost of Sandy to the Northeast is a small fraction of the total cost incurred by Katrina, this time climate change hit the seat of power and money in America rather than the poverty-stricken plebs of New Orleans who were quickly written off.
Even further back than the above study was one done ten years ago entitled “The Metro East Coast: Climate Change and a Global City.” One of the authors of that report and a senior research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies who heads the Climate Impacts Group is Cynthia Rosenzweig. She was on Democracy Now yesterday speaking about the forewarnings New York had been given:
CYNTHIA ROSENZWEIG: New York City—when we started over 10 years ago, we really started looking at New York City. New York City is actually—our estuary is shaped like a funnel. And hurricane winds and storms go counterclockwise, as we all know now. And when we have that arm, that strong arm of the storms, coming around, slamming right into our—the cone of our—the funnel of our estuary, we said over—over 10 years ago, we showed the maps of how vulnerable Lower Manhattan, Long Beach, parts of Staten Island, the low-lying areas—we’ve been telling people for over 10 years that these are the areas that we need to protect. We need to plan and protect them.
We’re also vulnerable because we have so much infrastructure. And, you see, we can’t think about our infrastructure in silos. “Oh, here’s the transportation system. Here’s the power. Here’s the water.” All of those three are interdependent. And we know now so strongly that when one goes out, especially the power, there’s cascading effects throughout all the systems…
Writing on Dissident Voice, Robert Hunziker comments on another Democracy Now interview from this week concerning the vulnerabilities of New York:
Here are a few pictorial commentaries from the net on Sandy:
And a perverse reaction from the barbarians at a Romney rally when a climate activist tries to break the silence on climate change:
No, it’s not dystopian fiction anymore; it’s terrifyingly real. Time to contemplate our existence on this little blue orb and decide what’s worth fighting for.
Democracy Now had an interesting little run-in with David Koch at the RNC that the corporate-laden media tried to sweep under the rug. With all the dittoheads in the audience chanting “USA! USA! USA!” as the Romneybot of the billionaires mouthed his platitudes, it was refreshing to see an actual journalist at work:
While oil and gas giant David Koch was protected from questioning by his ‘survivaball’ of humans that sprang upright around him, Amy Goodman was able to direct the same question to Edward Cox who answered in the following manner:
AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about, especially young people, looking at what’s happening in the country, where a handful of multi-millionaires and billionaires are so disproportionately determining the democratic process?
EDWARD COX:That’s a statement that isn’t true. This country is governed by the people. That’s what it’s always been based on.
RNC SECURITY 1: Will you keep this moving? One deep.
AMY GOODMAN: Yeah, I will. I will.
RNC SECURITY 1: OK, thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: OK, one deep, I got you. Mr. Cox answered a question. Why can’t—why can’t Mr. Koch answer a question? I only have one question.
KOCH HANDLER 2: He’s not going to answer. Get out of here.
If you really want to know how David Koch would have answered Amy’s question, a similar inquiry was put to him by Politicker “about the controversial level of influence major contributors have on American elections.” Here was his answer:
We have a free society and people are free to do what they want, you know, as long as they don’t hurt others and they obey the law,” Mr. Koch said. “So, I believe in free speech and if people want to spend money in politics or something else, it’s their right, nothing wrong with that. So, I endorse that.
So you see, as far as the elite are concerned, we live in a free society in which there should be no constraints on the corrupting influence that wealth has on government institutions and public policy. For them, freedom includes the ability to buy the instruments of government so that the interests of the elite may be best served rather than the common good of the citizenry who failed to rise to the ranks of the 0.001% in the game of capitalism. As Noam Chomsky explains in “Plutonomy and the Precariat: On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline“:
For the general population, the 99% in the imagery of the Occupy movement, it’s been pretty harsh — and it could get worse. This could be a period of irreversible decline. For the 1% and even less — the .1% — it’s just fine. They are richer than ever, more powerful than ever, controlling the political system, disregarding the public. And if it can continue, as far as they’re concerned, sure, why not?
Going back to Chomsky’s article, the interests of the elite do not include facing up to the reality of climate change because it’s a direct threat to their power and the wealth they have hoarded. Capitalism must be defended at all costs, even if that means denying that this system is causing our own extinction:
…Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps towards trying to do something about it. The United States is also taking steps, mainly to accelerate the threat. It is the only major country that is not only not doing something constructive to protect the environment, it’s not even climbing on the train. In some ways, it’s pulling it backwards.
And this is connected to a huge propaganda system, proudly and openly declared by the business world, to try to convince people that climate change is just a liberal hoax. “Why pay attention to these scientists?”
We’re really regressing back to the dark ages. It’s not a joke. And if that’s happening in the most powerful, richest country in history, then this catastrophe isn’t going to be averted — and in a generation or two, everything else we’re talking about won’t matter…
In the minds of the elite, if they can’t keep a stranglehold on the world, then they’ll be damned if anyone else is going to be allowed to live on a habitable planet.