Sanitation Department Slow Snow Clean Up Was Budget Protest

From a previous post:

At some point though, something may happen to trigger the anger of the masses. It could be the death of a child because an ambulance did not show up in time or the death of a bunch of passengers on a bus or train due to absence of safety infrastructure or its state of disrepair. The trigger is not what matters; anything will do. What matters is that when unemployment is high, savings are low and prospects hazy, the masses get twitchy and can go on a rampage for any number of reasons. Politicians and administration officials don’t need me to tell them that even in a recession, let alone a depression, maintaining social harmony is a tall order particularly when the shenanigans of the power elite come to light as they inevitably do – that’s because as the tide goes out, you get to see who was swimming naked (think Madoff but count on many more to come out down the road).

Today we have:

The workers said the work slowdown was the result of growing hostility between the mayor and the workers responsible for clearing the snow.

Public anger is triggered due to issues seemingly unrelated to the economy. In Germany it was because government decided to build a rail-road station in a wooded park. In Italy and in England it was due to university tuition fees.

Nothing happened in New York or in the USA yet; well, nothing extreme yet. But this is a situation that is pregnant with possibilities. Imagine if due to the go-slow mandated by the unions to protest budget cuts, an ambulance could not reach a victim. Or imagine if a bus filled with school children could not have been rescued due to snowed-in roads.


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3 Responses to “Sanitation Department Slow Snow Clean Up Was Budget Protest”

  1. Cass Says:

    Hi !
    I’m a newcomer to your blog, and I like what I see… I can confirm my status as a very ignorant person regarding economic affairs, but I’m trying to educate myself – and so I find myself here (and there – and elsewhere)! Very very interesting posts here.

    Thank you!

    I’d love to know what you think of the “Indignez Vous!” phenomenon in France? If you haven’t read the booklet, the text is here en francais.

    If you don’t know who Stephane Hessel is – he’s a 93 year old, German born/French naturalised, WW2 veteran, Buchenwald survivor, UN & other diplomat, contributor to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 500,000 copies of the booklet have been bought (@ €3 ea) in France since it was published in Oct. 2010

    I see you speak French from a post you wrote – you can see an interview with Hessel on Canal + here.
    I think he’s echoing a point you made in a different way. We are seeing the Economy (Banks) directing Politicians (Government) who direct Society (us), but this pyramid needs to be reversed.
    To him, Society should direct the Government who should direct the Banks.

    I’ll make no secret of the fact that I’d love to see the “Indignez Vous!” phenomenon spread from France to other countries. I love the way this man writes and talks, although there’s cause for great fear there too… I’d love to know what you think?

    • guidoamm Says:

      I’ve given “Indignez vous” the once over. I seem to remember having come across the thoughts of this man some years ago but am not sure. The intent is undoubtedly noble. What I find Mr. Hessel does not provide is the “how” to achieve the ideals he speaks of. I grant you he states without hesitation that a conditio sine qua non of a free and equitable society is a free press. What is not clear is if he understands the how and why a free press within an open society based on democratic principles is bound to become beholden to centralized interests.

      Here are some passages that caught my eye:

      Rappelons-le, c’est alors qu’est créée la Sécurité sociale comme la Résistance le souhaitait, comme son programme le stipulait : « Un plan complet de Sécurité sociale, visant à assurer à tous les citoyens
      1 des moyens d’existence, dans tous les cas où ils sont incapables de se les procurer par le travail » ; « une retraite permettant aux vieux travailleurs de finir dignement leurs jours. »

      And right there is the problem with idealism. The Resistance formulated the idea but clearly they failed in putting in place the mechanism that would ensure that social security could deliver on its promises in the long term. The Resistance asked or even pressured the government to make provisions, but then they failed to scrutinize how these provisions would be managed for example. Or, more prosaically, as an entity The Resistance evolved politically and, as dictated by electoral politics, found compromise to be a more expedient means to and end thus allowing government to make use of social security money whilst replacing the sums with IOUs. Hoccam’s razor at work here I am sure.

      « l’instauration d’une véritable démocratie économique et sociale, impliquant l’éviction des grandes féodalités économiques et financières de la direction de l’économie ». L’intérêt général doit primer sur l’intérêt particulier, le juste partage des richesses créées par le monde du travail primer sur le pouvoir de l’argent. La Résistance propose
      « une organisation rationnelle de l’économie assurant la subordination des intérêts particuliers à l’intérêt général et affranchie de la dictature professionnelle instaurée à l’image des États fascistes », et le Gouvernement provisoire de la République s’en fait le relais.

      Once again. Very noble thoughts. But how do you achieve that? A democracy in an electoral context can only lead towards corporatism. It is a mathematical certainty. The only variable is time. It cannot be otherwise.

      Mais comment peut-il manquer aujourd’hui de l’argent pour maintenir et prolonger ces conquêtes alors que la production de richesses a considérablement augmenté depuis la Libération, période où l’Europe était ruinée ?”

      That is a naive question. The production of wealth may well have increased since the liberation but the credit markets expanded much faster; ergo, debt increased faster. Without going as far back as 1945, since 1980 federal, corporate and consumer debt in the USA increased by well over 1000% (one thousand per cent). In the meantime, GDP barely doubled during the same period of time. This is the magic of debt based fiat money operating in a fractional reserved banking system. And presto! The minute you are no longer able to expand credit markets, the state no longer has the money to make good on all the promises it has made to society.

      And allow me here to go off on somewhat of a tangent here. Les aquis sociaux are nothing of the sort. In a debt based fiat monetary system, things like social security as, indeed, things like the United Nations are needed for the survival of the system itself. Social Security was most certainly not an aquis. La Resistance may have fought for it but in fact it is something that works in favor of the monetary system… as today is abundantly clear… there is no money there. The money has been spent. It has been spent so the state could report a lower budget deficit. Thank you La Resistance.

      Une des composantes indispensables : la faculté d’indignation et l’engagement qui en est la conséquence.
      On peut déjà identifier deux grands nouveaux défis : 1. L’immense écart qui existe entre les très pauvres et les très riches et
      qui ne cesse de s’accroître. C’est une innovation des XX` et XXI` siècle. Les très pauvres dans le monde d’aujourd’hui gagnent à peine deux dollars par jour. On ne peut pas laisser cet écart se creuser encore. Ce constat seul doit susciter un engagement

      Wealth disparities can be reduced but they can certainly not be abolished. Disparity is what creates dynamics. There cannot be any dynamics in the absence of disparities. This is true for the natural world as, indeed, it is true for the synthetic world of man.

      Car là est bien l’enjeu au sortir de la seconde guerre mondiale : s’émanciper des menaces que le totalitarisme a fait peser sur l’humanité. Pour s’en émanciper, il faut obtenir que les États membres de l’ONU s’engagent à respecter ces droits universels.

      Mmmmmpphhh! Yeah. OK. But for that bothersome concept better known as “la raison d’etat”.

      Que des Juifs puissent perpétrer eux-mêmes des crimes de guerre, c’est insupportable. Hélas, l’histoire donne peu d’exemples de peuples qui tirent les leçons de leur propre histoire.”

      Indeed!!! The French should know a thing or two about learning from history. To wit. No sooner had France been liberated by the nasty Nazis, they found nothing better to do than march into Indo-China. But, other than the French, look at the Armenians and the Abkazis or look at any African country. That’s what man is about. That is one of the reasons that people in the West decided to give power to a central government. Democracy is a terrible system except for all the others that have been tried before.

      La pensée productiviste, portée par l’Occident, a entraîné le monde dans une crise dont il faut sortir par une rupture radicale avec la fuite en avant du “toujours plus”, dans le domaine financier mais aussi dans le domaine des sciences et des techniques. Il est grand temps que le souci d’éthique, de justice, d’équilibre durable devienne prévalent. Car les risques les plus graves nous menacent. Ils peuvent mettre un terme à l’aventure humaine sur une planète qu’elle peut rendre inhabitable pour l’homme.

      Idem. Grand thoughts… but how do we achieve that? Democracy and electoral politics can only result in centralization of power. Call it fascism or corporatism but it is a mathematical certainty. The only variable is time and this particular variety of “time” is dependent on being able to expand credit markets.

      Les Nations unies ont su convoquer des conférences comme celles de Rio sur l’environnement, en 1992 ; celle de Pékin sur les femmes, en 1995 ;…

      Les Nations Unies are nothing but a tool of the monetary system. This said, I don’t want to detract from the handful of true idealists that few though they may be actually have noble intent. The empirical truth today is that the UN are a self serving gravy train devoted to its own perpetuation regardless of the glaring failure past and present of their various bodies, branches, committies or organs. Today, the UN are an unwildy, bloated, wasteful, arrogant and expensive club of pompous, self important minions that couldn’t hack it in the real world. If the UN were disbanded today, unemployment around the world would surge to even more ridiculous levels.

      You think I am kidding? Go find any UN employee current or past that has any respect for this institution. And though disgusted these people may be, few have the balls or the dignity to resign. Why? Because the perks are way, way, waaaaay and ridiculously too generous and each one of them will put the ostensible well being of their family before the well being of the global citizen. The only people that leave the UN are those that are fired. And let me tell you. There aren’t many that are. You really have to work at it to be fired. Other than that, all UN employees are always recycled in some function or other within the organization; if not as a direct employee then as a “consultant” at, once again, indecent salaries and perks.

      Am I ranting?… :))

    • guidoamm Says:

      And in case you hadn’t yet come across it, there are similar thoughts from Hazlitt whom in 1977 wrote a short book available online today.

      Excerpt from the conclusion:

      A big hat tip to Corey

      The first edition of this book appeared in 1946. It is now, as I write this, thirty-two years later. How much of the lesson expounded in the previous pages has been learned in this period?

      If we are referring to the politicians—to all those responsible for formulating and imposing government policies—practically none of it has been learned. On the contrary, the policies analyzed in the preceding chapters are far more deeply established and widespread, not only in the United States, but in practically every country in the world, than they were when this book first appeared.

      We may take, as the outstanding example, inflation. This is not only a policy imposed for its own sake, but an inevitable result of most of the other interventionist policies. It stands today as the universal symbol of government intervention everywhere.

      The 1946 edition explained the consequences of inflation, but the inflation then was comparatively mild. True, though federal government expenditures in 1926 had been less than $3 billion and there was a surplus, by fiscal year 1946 expenditures had risen to $55 billion and there was a deficit of $16 billion. Yet in fiscal year 1947, with the war ended, expenditures fell to $35 billion and there was an actual surplus of nearly $4 billion. By fiscal year 1978, however, expenditures had soared to $45’ billion and the deficit to $49 billion.

      All this has been accompanied by an enormous increase in the stock of money—from $113 billion of demand deposits plus currency outside of banks in 1947, to $357 billion in August 1978. In other words, the active money supply has been more than tripled in the period.

      The effect of this increase in money has been a dramatic increase in prices. The consumer price index in 1946 stood at In September1978 it was 199.3. Prices, in short, more than tripled.[12]

      The policy of inflation, as I have said, is partly imposed for its own sake. More than forty years after the publication of John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory, and more than twenty years after that book has been thoroughly discredited by analysis and experience, a great number of our politicians are still unceasingly recommending more deficit spending in order to cure or reduce existing unemployment. An appalling irony is that they are making these recommendations when the federal government has already been running a deficit for forty-one out of the last forty-eight years and when that deficit has been reaching dimensions of $50 billion a year. [13]

      An even greater irony is that, not satisfied with following such disastrous policies at home, our officials have been scolding other countries, notably Germany and Japan, for not following these “expansionary” policies themselves. This reminds one of nothing so much as Aesop’s fox, who, when he had lost his tail, urged all his fellow foxes to cut off theirs.

      One of the worst results of the retention of the Keynesian myths is that it not only promotes greater and greater inflation, but that it systematically diverts attention from the real causes of our unemployment, such as excessive union wage-rates, minimum wage laws, excessive and prolonged unemployment insurance, and overgenerous relief payments.

      But the inflation, though in part often deliberate, is today mainly the consequence of other government economic interventions. It is the consequence, in brief, of the Redistributive State—of all the policies of expropriating money from Peter in order to lavish it on Paul.”

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