Gulf disaster reveals U.S. economic woes

In the democratic republic, “wealth…exercises its power indirectly, but all the more surely,” wrote Frederick Engels in 1884. “On the one hand, it does this in the form of the direct corruption of officials, of which America is the classic example, and, on the other hand, in that of an alliance between the government and the stock exchange, which is effected all the more easily the higher the national debt mounts.”

If our current media were not so biased and dishonest, one might be forgiven for confusing this passage for a contemporary account of American society. Indeed, two recent industrial disasters have imbued Engel’s words with new relevancy.

On April 5, an explosion ripped through the Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, W.Va., claiming the lives of 29 miners. It was the deadliest coal mining disaster in the U.S. since 1970.

For nearly two months now, millions of barrels of oil have been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig which killed 11 workers. A financial and ecological disaster is unfolding off the coast of the United States with no end in sight.

Any serious review of the numerous warnings that had been issued over the years in connection with the risks and uncertainties of deepwater oil drilling shows such a disaster of this kind was not only foreseeable but likely to occur.

Is not the incestuous relationship, which has developed between politicians of both parties, agency regulators, and industry executives a form of outright bribery, which results in the “direct corruption of officials?”
High promises of new reforms are already emerging that will be used to conceal the real source of these crimes – an anarchic system in which all social decisions are subordinated to the interests of a financial aristocracy.

If the class character of the state is revealed in times of crisis, the American state has been exposed in all its ugly nakedness over the past year and a half in general and the last two months in particular. The bank bailout initiated by Republican President Bush – continued and expanded under Democratic President Obama – has cemented the “alliance between the government and the stock exchange” to an unprecedented level.

Having benefited from more than $23 trillion in direct cash and guarantees with virtually no strings attached, the banks and finance houses have engaged in an orgy of speculation. This is what lay behind the current tenuous stock market recovery. While whole sections of the population have been pushed into destitution, those responsible for the economic crisis are making more money than ever.

Now the Obama Administration is seeking to make the working population pay for this pillaging of the public treasury twice: once in the form of the initial theft, and, second, in the demands that the working population cut its consumption and make sacrifices to pay for the public debt incurred from its own robbery!


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